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How to Make Soft Hop Yeast (Plus Hop Yeast Bread Recipe)

I am a mom to five boys, and I love teaching, writing, and crafts. I currently live in a small town in the Rocky Mountains.

I discovered hop yeast in a quest to relieve my son's ADHD symptoms.

I discovered hop yeast in a quest to relieve my son's ADHD symptoms.

What Are Hops?

Hops are the papery, yellowish-green female flower of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus. Best known as an ingredient in beer, hops have also been used herbally for centuries. They have a relaxing effect on the central nervous system and are useful for relieving tension, anxiety, and insomnia. They can also promote healthy digestion.

Hops are native to Asia, Europe, and North America where they grow wild in meadows and along riverbanks in rich soil and full sun. Commercially, hops are cultivated for brewing, and the plants can be grown in a wide range of climates and soils.

Dry hop flowers

Dry hop flowers

Why I Use Hop Yeast

There is nothing like a sick child to make a parent search for a remedy, and I am no exception.

My second son was always full of spunk and go. He excelled at everything he did, especially if it involved running, jumping, or throwing. On the other hand, he could not sit still. He could not remember directions, nor could he focus on one thing long enough to even understand what he was being told. In short, he exhibited every sign of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Connection Between ADHD and Yeast Bread?

Knowing that many of these disorders are allergy-related, I sought to find out what he might be allergic to. Eliminating the usual culprits from his diet (e.g., sugar, food coloring, and preservatives) seemed to have no effect.

The beginning of our eureka moment came when we happened to run out of yeast bread. Since I had several loaves of quick bread in the pantry, plus biscuits and tortillas, I put off getting more.

Over the next few days my son’s behavior improved dramatically—but as soon as yeast bread returned to our kitchen he seemed to go crazy. He noticed this, too, and he cried uncontrollably over his inability to focus. We immediately cut yeast from his diet and received a loveable, responsive, active little boy in return!

However, making dietary changes can be hard. Eliminating yeast bread not only meant no more sandwiches, it also meant no more breadsticks or pizza. No more cinnamon rolls and no more raised doughnuts.

I began looking for an alternative. Homemade sourdough bread seemed to be okay for him, behaviorally speaking, and of course sourdough works well for sandwiches. But who wants a sour cinnamon roll?

Sweet Yeast Recipes in an Old Cookbook

I consulted a very old cookbook, originally published in the 19th century, called The Young Housekeeper's Friend. In this book, which gives directions for cooking on a hearth, I found recipes for making sweet yeasts. The book mentioned that brewer’s yeast (dry active yeast) could be used, but the results were not as pleasant. This intrigued me, and I figured I had nothing to lose by trying an old recipe.

Since the recipes in this book give measurements in handfuls and teacups, it took several tries for me to get the amounts right—but the smell and taste were well worth the effort. Our kitchen is now properly supplied with bread that not only nourishes but calms my son's hyper soul.

The following are my recipes, as adapted from The Young Housekeeper’s Friend.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

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Soft Hop Yeast Recipe

Equipment Needed:

  • 3-quart saucepan
  • 1-quart glass jar with lid
  • Small sieve


  • 1/3 cup dried hops (I use Yakima Chief hops)
  • 6 cups quality water
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast or 1/3 cup good soft yeast from a previous batch


  1. Simmer the hops in water for 30 minutes, letting the steam escape, to make a strong tea. The water will boil down to about 3 1/2 cups.
  2. Sterilize the jar and lid in boiling water. I do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and over the lid.
  3. Place the flour and salt in the sterile jar. Strain the boiling tea over the flour. Stir thoroughly. It is important to scald the flour to keep the yeast from souring.
  4. Cover loosely and allow to cool.
  5. When it is cool (not cold) add yeast and stir to incorporate. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment, producing a quality yeast.
  6. When it has fermented (6 to 12 hours), cover tightly and store in a cool place.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups soft yeast

Storage Notes: Keeps for two weeks, properly stored. When the yeast has a strong tart smell and watery appearance, it is too old for use.

You can tell the dough has risen sufficiently when indents you make with your finger remain

You can tell the dough has risen sufficiently when indents you make with your finger remain

Placed in a cold oven, the bread will finish rising while the oven preheats

Placed in a cold oven, the bread will finish rising while the oven preheats

Soft Hop Yeast Bread Recipe


  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 10-12 cups flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup soft hop yeast

Optional Glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. In saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt, and water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes to form a thin gruel. Transfer to a non-metal mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the milk. This will cool the mixture.
  3. Add yeast and 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat) to make a thick batter. Mix thoroughly and cover. This is called a sponge.
  4. Let sit in a warm (room temperature) place for 2 to 12 hours. It can be worked again when the surface appears somewhat watery, though it is best to mix the sponge in the evening and finish making the bread the next morning.
  5. Stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour to form a stiff dough.
  6. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, cover with more flour, and knead to incorporate ingredients (10 to 15 minutes).
  7. Leave the dough on the work surface to rest while you clean out and grease the mixing bowl.
  8. Knead the dough for 20 minutes to develop the gluten. Return dough to mixing bowl and cover.
  9. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk. This rising will take 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how long the sponge was allowed to develop.
  10. Knead again, divide, and shape into loaves. This recipe will make three 4” x 8” loaves, or two 5” x 9” loaves. It can also be divided and shaped into rolls or hamburger buns.
  11. Place the dough in greased pans, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk. This rising should take no more than 1 hour.
  12. Mix optional glaze and brush on loaves or rolls.
  13. Bake loaves at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the bread comes away from the sides of the pan and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Rolls and buns are baked at 375°F for about 25 minutes.
  14. When bread has baked, turn out of pans onto a wire rack to cool. For a softer crust, cover loaves with a hand towel while they cool.

Note: this dough tends to rise up and not out, so make the base of the loaves or buns the desired size of the final product.

Add extra ingredients for a customized gourmet flavor

Add extra ingredients for a customized gourmet flavor

Hops Bread Variations

You don't need to limit yourself to plain bread—there are plenty of options once you've made the basic dough. With the addition of butter, eggs, sugar, and/or spices, you can easily make sweet breads, doughnuts, and a lovely crust for pies or dumplings

When I make the basic dough, I keep it refrigerated and then bake one loaf at a time, thus providing fresh bread every day. This system allows me to make a variety of breads out of one basic recipe.

When to add extra ingredients: Combine these extra ingredients with the dough after the first rising to keep the dough as fresh as possible.

Sweet Bread

To 2 cups of light (risen) dough, add 1 egg, 1/4 cup softened butter, and 1/4 cup sugar, using enough flour to make it workable, and kneading until thoroughly incorporated. Dried fruit, herbs, seeds and/or nuts may also be added. Shape, let rise, and bake. Yields one loaf.

Raised Doughnuts

To 2 cups of light (risen) dough add 3/4 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons softened butter, 2 eggs, and your choice of cinnamon, allspice, lemon, cocoa, or vanilla. Work these ingredients together, adding enough flour to shape the dough. Deep-fat fry in oil. If using a skillet, heat 1 1/2" of oil until it is still. Fry until golden brown, turn, and fry the other side. Doughnuts should be turned twice while frying to cook clear through.

Pie or Dumpling Crust

Take 2 cups of light (risen) dough and roll in shavings of cold butter three times, adding as little flour as possible. To make the crust, roll the dough thin, sprinkle shaving on half of the dough, and fold. Roll again, to the same size as it was to begin with. Repeat two more times. Divide dough and roll to the appropriate size for the pie or dumpling.

Want More Beer Flavor?

If you like the basic bread but would like a bit more beer flavor, add 4 cups of barley malt and omit the whole wheat flour when making the sponge.

Cool under a towel, for a soft chewy crust

Cool under a towel, for a soft chewy crust


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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