Time to ferment bread with raisin water

Can you make bread without yeast or sourdough starter? Try fermented fruit water

Whilst chatting with fellow female breadbakers from Bread Chat, Michelle, from Planet Leicester Bakers mentioned she was going to make raisin water and inspired by a South African bread from her childhood, Mosbolletjies. This fired up everyone’s imagination, so we all set out to have a go.

Could we make bread without yeast?

Would raisin water work for everyone? Did we all have the ingredients? And would we follow the recipe exactly as that’s just the sort of thing we do, experiment (and not follow instructions). But there really was nothing to loose!

Over a period of 4 days, the raisins would ferment. After that time, hopefully, it would be lively enough to use in a bread recipe rather than using yeast or sourdough.

Through trial and error, we found (in general) that untreated dried fruit worked best – probably no surprise there. There were some issues, some people’s mix didn’t work at all, on others there appeared to be some mould. So if it looks weird, it probably is. Discard it and start again.

Sonya then suggested making a paste with the fermented water and flour (equal quantities). This was treated left to ferment half a day, then used in the same way a sourdough starter would be used. Results below!

First of all the recipe. Links to Michelle’s original instructions are included later.

Inspired by the recipe, we tried making different versions – some sweet others with different flours. Some were successful, others weren’t. We all agreed it was a great challenge and one that inspired many people to have a try. I hope you will too. It is always good to try something new!

Raisin Water Bread

Fermented raisins

Bread recipe using raisin water

Danielle Ellis
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the wine growing area of South Africa where grape must (mos) was used to bake buns (bolletjies) without commercial yeast. Learn how to make a fermented water and make an unsweetened bread. The fermented raisin water can be used for other recipes that would usually use commercial yeast or dough. The temperature of your location will impact on how long it takes the raisins to get going.
This is my interpretation of Michelle's instructions.
Fermentation 4 days
Course Bread, cakes
Cuisine South African


  • A jar with a lid that will hold 400 ml; large bowl, baking tray or baking tin


  • 57 grams raisins sultanas work well. Try to use untreated fruit
  • 280 millilitres water 170 for initial fermentation
  • 400 grams white bread flour
  • 6 grams salt


  • In your jar, add 57 grams of raisins and 170 ml water. Make sure the water is 5 cm above the raisins. Replace the lid, but do not seal. Leave for 4 days giving it a shake each day. For the first few days, very little will happen. By the 4th day, you should see plenty of bubbles and some of the raisins will float to the top.
  • You will now use the water in the ferment in your dough. Set the raisins aside for another use. Top the water up to 280 ml.
    Fermented raisins
  • Place your flour and salt in a bowl and add the 280 ml water. Mix well and knead until smooth. This will take about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a stand mixer.
  • Place in a container with a lid and leave out in the kitchen for 6-8 hours. The dough will be springy and have risen. You should see some bubbles
  • Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the dough and drawing in the sides. Turn the dough ball over and roll. At this stage you can place it in a 2lb baking tin or on a well-floured couche or linen tea towel
  • Preheat your oven to 200°C half an hour before needed
  • Prove for 6-8 hours before baking. It should be well risen and if prodded the dimple will fill very slowly


Do make sure your jar is sterilised before use. Wash and place in an oven set at 150C for ten minutes. Wash your dried fruit before use. If your raisin ferment goes mouldy, do not use it. Simply start again
Keyword Bake better bread, bread, sourdough, yeast
Tried this recipe?Mention @Breadbakerdani or tag #SevernBitesBreadmaking!

Look what we made!

Soon, we found we had success on our hands and rather than simply make the mosbolletjes, we started experiments with different fruits and flours. Of course, not everything went well, and we made quite a few bricks along the way. Michelle’s videos inspired others on Instagram. There was no stopping us now.

Steph’s sultanas seemed to be turbo charged. Her unsorbated date water proved to work really well.


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I’m always looking for something different to make, especially when it involves flour..so when @planetleicesterbakers posted her raisin water challenge I got involved straight away. But I hadn’t any raisins only sultanas but gave it a go anyway. Well my sultanas were rocket fuelled and this is the result of the bake.. well chuffed with this. So if you have raisins and flour and don’t want to make sourdough starter.. have a go. Looking forward to seeing @greenfield_bakers bake too. #sourdoughbread #yeastwater #fruityeastwater #realbread #doughwrangler #marriagesflour #naturallyleavened #breadbaking #weekendbakingproject #weekendbaking #sourdoughaddict #bakersofinstagram #homemadebread #homebaking

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I tried sultanas and made these sweet cinnamon buns. Although my second attempt with figs was not a success. There was fermentation, but I baked a brick.

Joan Ransley is a food photographer. She also tried the raisin water and produced such a beautiful Instagram post


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Fermented raisin water bread! Who would have thought throwing a few raisins in a jar with tepid water to ferment for four days could produce enough natural yeast to make a loaf as lovely as this? I followed Michelle’s clear, no nonsense instructions over on @planetleicesterbakers via a series of step by step video instructions. I know I could have slashed the top more decisively but hey ho I am really pleased with this first attempt. I cooked the loaf in the cast iron pot shown behind the bread. The flour used was a mix of organic strong white and wholemeal rye from @dovesfarm My favourite bread knife by @davidmelloruk #realbread #raisinwater #raisinwaterstarter #raisinwaterbread #organicflour #lockdownbreadmaking

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Bread made with fermented raisin water
I fermented sultanas and made a sweet bread

Sonya usually bakes bread in her woodfired oven, her domestic oven got a turn for the raisin bread.

Taking it a step further, transforming the fermented water into a paste and then using that to ferment.

Michelle’s Videos and Instructions for Raisin Water

The full set of instructional videos are available on Planet Leicester Bakers Instagram feed.


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Day one of the Fermented Raisin Water Bread Project folks! You need 57g of your raisins, 177g of tepid water and your clean jar. Watch the video for tips. Also, just a couple of additional notes: . Raisins: I have been successful with both standard raisins with sunflower oil coating and organic. However, the speed and success can be affected by what you use. I’ve got both on the go at the moment so we will see how they compare! I didn’t want to be too strict at a time when it can be hard to get hold of things, so let’s see. It’s a natural process so just go with it. . Jar: It needs to be big enough to have space at the top after you’ve put your raisins and water in. Also, just leave the lid loose, as shown in the video! . Questions? Just ask ? . A WORD ON MOULD AND SAFETY – a couple of people have seen this on their ferments. It can happen. Frustrating. I’d throw it and start afresh. It is better to be safe. Decisions on using this very natural method are up to the individual but if anything smells or looks strange then I advise caution. . #raisins #fermentedfoods #slowfood #projects #bakingvideo #adventure #pandemicbaking

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Who are we?

We are a lively group of female breadbakers who love to experiment. We’re reviving Bread Chat check out the next edition.

Who we are:

Sonya Hundal. Rural wood-fired baker and writer. Owner of Greenfield Bakers. Follow Sonya on Twitter and Instagram

Ameena Nur: Owner of Jeju’s Bakehouse, based in Scotland. Baking the world a better place one loaf at a time. Follow Ameena on Twitter and Instagram

Steph Clubb, Bread, pastry and pasta tutor, home economist and food stylist. Specialised area, gluten free new product development. Follow Steph on Twitter and Instagram

Danielle Ellis, creator of Severn Bites Breadmaking Classes, French trained, World Bread Awards Judge, Rofco fanatic. Follow Danielle on Twitter and Instagram

Ruth Macintyre: owner of Ruth’s Little Kitchen . Follow Ruth on Twitter and Instagram

Dilly Boase – Bread baker specialising in sourdough, with a love of experimental baking. Follow Dilly on Twitter and Instagram

Michelle Stratford Founder Planet Leicester Bakers. Fourth generation home bread baker. Baking, teaching and building community bridges with good bread. Follow Michelle on Twitter and Instagram

Find out more

The Fresh Loaf delve further into the science of raisin water.

Discover bread making techniques in my Bake Better Bread series

5 thoughts on “Time to ferment bread with raisin water”

  1. 5 stars
    My 1947 South African Department of Agriculture cookbook says dedicate a calabash to fermenting raisins, and do not wash it out. The fermentation process is a lot faster and one gives it a wipe after use.

  2. What I cannot understand is putting the salt in when you mix the flour with the raisin water. Isn’t that impeding the development at that stage? Also I am going to try doubling the raisin water and flour and put 1/2 in fridge for my new wild yeast starter!

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