What is Yeast?
Yeast is a tiny plant-like microorganism that exists all around us - in soil, on
plants and even in the air. It has existed for so long, it is referred to as
the oldest plant cultivated by man.
The main purpose of yeast is to serve as a catalyst in the process of fermentation, which is essential in the
making of bread. The purpose of any leavener is to produce the gas that makes bread rise. Yeast does this by
feeding on the sugars in flour, and expelling carbon dioxide in the process. As the yeast
feeds on the sugar, it produces carbon dioxide. With no place to go but up, this gas slowly fills the balloon. A very similar process happens as bread rises.
Carbon dioxide from yeast fills thousands of balloon-like bubbles in the dough. Once the bread has baked, this is what gives the loaf its airy texture.
Types of Yeast Used In Bread Making:
There are two types of dry yeast: Regular Active Dry and Instant Yeast (also known as
Fast-Rising, Rapid-Rise, Quick Rise, and/or Bread Machine Yeast). The two types of dry yeast
can be used interchangeably. The advantage of the rapid-rise is the rising time
is half that of the active dry and it only needs one rising.
You can speed up standard yeast bread recipes by changing the yeast in the recipe. Substitute one package
Instant or fast-acting yeast for one package regular active dry yeast. Instant yeast is more finely ground and thus absorbs moisture faster,
rapidly converting starch and sugars to carbon dioxide, the tiny bubbles that make the dough expand and stretch.
Active Dry Yeast
(Cake Yeast or Compressed Yeast)
1 package active dry yeast = about 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 ounce
Active dry yeast
has a larger particle size than Instant
Active Dry Yeast, making it necessary to proof, usually with water, before using. Recommended water temperatures will vary by
manufacturer between 100 - 115 degrees F as measured with an Instant Read Thermometer.
4 ounce jar active dry yeast = 14 tablespoons
1 (.6-ounce) cube or cake of compressed yeast (also know as fresh yeast) = 1 package of active dry yeast
Cake yeast (compressed yeast) is
considered fresh yeast. It's sold in tiny cakes in the refrigerated
section of many supermarkets. Fresh yeast does not keep well; it will
last about two weeks if refrigerated. It is mainly used by professionals
as it is highly perishable and must be used within a short time of
Storage of Yeast:
-Active dry yeast will keep well beyond its expiration date printed on the package for one (1) year if unopened at room temperature.
It will keep longer if frozen. Place directly in the freezer in its vacuum sealed container.
If frozen, you can use it directly without thawing.
Unopened Package - If opened, active dry yeast will keep 6 months in the refrigerator and 12 months in the freezer.
Keep yeast in its original container with the opened flap folded closed in a re-sealable plastic bag. Stored at room temperature and opened without a
protective outer container it loses its power at about 10% per month.
(Fast Rising, Rapid Rise,
Quick Rise, and/or Bread Machine Yeast)
I use Instant Active Dry Yeast in all my breads. I use 1 teaspoon of instant yeast per cup of
flour. If the recipe calls for over 3 cups of flour, I still use only 3 teaspoons.|
1 envelope or packet of instant yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 ounce
1 (6-ounce) cube or cake of compressed yeast = 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons instant yeast.
See Conversation Measurements below.
To substitute instant or bread machine yeast for active dry yeast, use 25% less instant yeast than active dry.
Instant or Rapid Rise Yeast does not require warm
liquid to be activated. This type of yeast has been genetically engineered from different strains of yeast to
produce breads. Rapid rise yeast is also more finely granulated than active dry yeast, so it does not need to be
dissolved in water first. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients, making it a popular choice for use with bread machines.
Instant active or rapid rise yeast is added to the dry ingredients.
Then, the liquid portion of the recipe's ingredients, warmed to 120 – 130 degrees F, as measured with an Instant Read
Thermometer, are added to make a dough.
When using Instant Active Dry Yeast,
the bread recipe only needs one (1) rise. The first rise is replaced by a ten
minute rest, and you don't need to "punch the dough down"
afterwards. The second rise takes place after the dough has been
shaped into a loaf.
It will take approximately one hour in
a warm place (longer in the refrigerator as a slow rise) until the
dough is just about doubled in bulk.
Storage of Instant Yeast: Instant yeast will keep a year at
room temperature if unopened. If opened, it will keep 6 months in the refrigerator and 12 months in the
freezer. Keep yeast in its original container with the opened flap folded
closed in a re-sealable plastic bag.
Sourdoughs were originally produced by wild yeasts. The wild yeasts in the San Francisco
area produce a unique flavor in breads. Some sourdoughs are over a hundred
years old. The starter (or sometimes called a sponge) is a flour and water
mixture that contains the yeast used to rise the bread. You can buy dried
versions and then activate them or you can make your own, catching the wild
yeasts indigenous to your area.
How To Make Sourdough Starter.
Packaged Sourdough Starter Mix at the grocery store or by mail-order.
This is what I originally did many years ago.
Conversion Measurements for Using Different Yeasts in Recipes:
Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 3
for the equivalent amount of fresh yeast.
Multiply the amount of active dry yeast
by 2.5 for the equivalent amount of fresh yeast.
Multiply the amount of instant yeast by
1.25 for the equivalent of active dry yeast.
Expiration Date and Testing Yeast:
Expiration Date (printed on the yeast's package) - Yeast does expire.
Yeast will last longer than the date printed on the packet if it is kept in the refrigerator. It will last even longer in the freezer (for up
to a year or even more).
Testing Yeast - Sugar is used in testing yeast. To test yeast: Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the yeast
when stirring it into the water to dissolve. If it foams and bubbles within 10 minutes, you know the yeast is alive and active.
You do not need to be exact in measuring yeast. Remember it's going to multiply like crazy anyway. A little less is fine; the dough will rise more slowly and
may taste better. NOTE: Too much yeast will give an unpleasantly yeasty flavor and aroma.
Check out all of Linda's Bread Making Hints:
Bread Machine Bread Recipes
Sourdough Starter - How to make a Sourdough Starter
Sourdough Bread Recipes
Secrets to using the bread machine
Yeast in bread making - Yeast Bread Tips
Linda Bread Recipes using the Bread Machine.