Witches yeast is actually wild yeast dough, or by its common name – sourdough that is kept alive on countertop in your own kitchen.
Doesn’t sound very magical, does it? It isn’t, if you look at it by the modern standard – you go in the shop, buy the yeast and do the sourdough. Yeaaaah, that’s if you are not so happy performing alchemy in your own kitchen.
I have tried keeping sourdough alive for a month. If you’d make bread at home in regular pace, keeping it alive would be much easier and getting it “good” would be easier task too. If you just take it up as one of these homey experiments, then you probably give up before your yeast matures enough to start giving good results in your bread making.
My grandmother still tells me how they had wild yeast pot which was kept hanged down in the well – they needed some, they went and took the portion, “fed” the yeast and hung it back. The reason it was kept in the well was because the most perfect way to keep the yeast from overproducing is to keep it on steady temperature and in a farm of four seasons, where the rooms go from 0 to 20 *C in couple of weeks, where is the most steadiest temperature? In the well! 4*C-s throughout the year.
The wild yeast however prefers warm kitchen. There are several technologies in the net, but my know-how goes that you just take some bread flour and mix it with warm water into thick paste. To get the process going, you can add something sour, like sour milk, kefir, fresh apple juice, fermented cabbage’s juice or anything of the sort. You let it sit for few days and it is ready when it has risen up and then flattened out again. After that you can cut it in pieces, add some flour and water and mix it smooth. In few days you notice it will froth up, smell a bit like wild beer and it turns liquid.
The best place to keep it is the fridge, but not longer than a week, too much co2 in the process I guess. You take the witches yeast, make bread dough like usually, then take a handful of the new starter out of the dough patch before adding the rest of the flour (mm, that is difficult to explain, you basically add little flour and little water until it is liquid form and let it sit, gather power, and before adding the rest of the flour to turn it into knead-able dough, you take a cup out of it for the next time).
First ones will be weird and beyond belief sometimes, but I know people, who have had the same dough starter for a decade if not longer. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Now that I’m writing of it, I think I want to start it again. It felt good to have it on the corner of the cupboard, sitting there like a steady house pet, a spirit in the corner that had to be treated well.