Types of Yeast: How to Pick the Best One for Baking?

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Best Types of Yeast

Baking is a culinary art form. It needs certain skills and no meal is complete without a fresh piece of bread. It’s not easy to bake fresh bread. Only those who have the passion and precision for baking bread can get it right.

The one ingredient which creates the form and fixture of the bread loaf is yeast. This ingredient can make a wonderful loaf but it can also destroy your bread completely. It is not easy to handle this ingredient and it’s certainly not easy to buy it.

There are several varieties of yeast available in the market and every other recipe demands for a different kind of yeast. It’s also important that you put the yeast in the dough precisely. Too much of it can make the recipe yeasty. There are different measures for every recipe like cakes, pizza dough, sourdough, bread, cinnamon rolls, etc.

So, if you want to become a serious baker, you need to know what kind of yeast to use for different kinds of baked goods and how to use it. So, let’s start with the basics.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a living organism which grows in a controlled environment. It needs a specific amount of temperature and moisture to grow. The yeast used in bread eats the sugar and starch in the dough and releases carbon dioxide. Since the dough is dense and stretchable, generated carbon dioxide cannot escape and it inflates and raises the dough. The elevation of dough is caused due to yeast eating the dough.

Not only does it produce the carbon dioxide, but it also produces more than 200 types of molecules which bring out that sought-after taste of baked goods.

Different Types of Yeast: Explained

There are many different types of yeast but it is mainly divided into two major categories:

1. Dry Yeast

Dry yeast is fresh yeast which has been separated from moisture by pressing it. This is the most commonly used yeast for domestic cooking by home cooks.

This yeast is easily available in the market.

There are two types of dry yeast used for baking which you should know about.

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most common variety of yeast that you’ll find in supermarkets. It’s made by removing the water in live yeast and grinding it into fine granules.

There is a myth about active yeast that you have to use it after you add it to mixture lukewarm water and a pinch of sugar. It then ferments and added to the bread mixture.

But you can directly add this yeast to the dry ingredients and bake bread – according to the experts in the field. You just need to get the moisture measurements right and you can get the perfect dough.

Bread Machine Yeast

What is bread machine yeast? The major difference between active dry yeast and bread machine yeast is that bread machine yeast has finer granules of yeast than active dry yeast. Because of that, it dissolves in the dough faster than active yeast. This process of faster dissolution will also elevate the dough faster. That’s the reason it’s also called Instant yeast.

Again, you can add instant yeast to a lukewarm water and sugar mixture to activate and ferment. But it’s not necessary. Like active yeast, it can be used directly with the dry ingredients with the correct measurement of water or milk – whichever you are using in your dough.

So, what’s the major difference between bread machine yeast and active dry yeast?

Both types of yeast give a slightly different flavor to the bread. But there’s no need to buy both. You can just analyse the behavior and taste patterns of both and stick to one by changing the measurements according to the recipe. But it’s important that you know what taste you are going for.

Also, it is necessary to activate the active dry yeast by adding water to it. Whereas, the bread machine yeast is mostly used in the mixture with the other dry ingredients.

2. Fresh Yeast

Fresh yeast is mostly used by head chefs or sous chefs in restaurants or to give it a specific taste by the professional cooks.

This type of yeast needs to be preserved in a very controlled environment as it is highly perishable due to a 70% moisture contentt. It is stored in deep freezers with controlled temperature and moisture ratios.

Some other varieties of Baking Yeast available are;

RapidRise yeast

This is another variety of yeast often found on supermarket shelves. Most people say that RapidRise Yeast is exactly the same as Instant yeast. But it’s not true.

Different strain capacities of Instant yeast are formulated to give a strong rise in RapidRise yeast. It’s mostly intended for recipes which require only one quick rise like cinnamon rolls. It is not used otherwise in pizza dough or no-knead bread.

Compressed Yeast

This is one of the most acclaimed types of yeast used by industrial bakers. There are various advantages of using compressed yeast which attract craft bakers as well. This yeast is very easy to use and can be crumbled directly into the mixer.

Due to its compressed nature, its contact with oxygen is very less and it can be preserved for a long time. This yeast is used for variety of different purposes. It is available in cube form.

Crumbled Yeast

Crumbled yeast is a type of fresh yeast used in the form of fine particles, which makes it suitable for automatic dosing. As a result, this yeast is mostly used in industrial production lines for making bread.

Things to Consider While Purchasing Yeast

Every yeast manufacturer uses a different procedure for formulating it. It can be a bit difficult to determine what kind of yeast you want.

There are different names of yeast you’ll find on the supermarket shelf. So, it can be confusing for a new baker.

So, here’s a guide to follow while buying yeast using the package instructions for your recipe.

  • Cake: The dough for cake needs to be very moist. A moist yeast is necessary for a cake to taste good. Hence, traditional live yeast, which is dissolved in water is good for the recipe.
  • Active Dry: This is traditional dry yeast and it usually needs to be dissolved in a solution of lukewarm water and sugar to ferment. It is then either added to flour or flour is added to it.
  • Instant Yeast: This contains a small amount of yeast enhancer and does not need to be activated with water. You can just add it to the mixture with all the dry ingredients and it gets activated with the moisture in the dough. You need to be careful with the water or milk you’re putting in the dough with the instant yeast.
  • Bread Machine: This is the same as Instant yeast. But the name and packaging are different. It works and behaves in exactly the same way as Instant yeast.
  • RapidRise: This contains a large amount of yeast enhancer, and the packaging changes to granules. It is formulated by using particular qualities of instant yeast to give the bread a faster rise. Like instant yeast it can also be added to the dry ingredients directly.

According to the measure of flour, you need 1% of dry yeast of total amount of flour, 0.5% of Instant yeast and 2% of fresh yeast. For example, if you’re taking 1000g of flour you need, 10g of dry yeast, 5g of Instant yeast and 20g of fresh yeast.

You need to be very careful while putting in yeast. If you ass too little, your bread will not elevate as much as you want it to and if you add too much, your bread will become too yeasty. It’s like putting salt in a dish. A little can be tolerable, but a lot is not. Also if you live in high-altitude areas, you might want to make some extra adjustments.

Don’t be tempted to put in a lot of yeast just because it’ll make your bread look really elevated. It might work like that, but your bread will certainly taste bad and you don’t want that to happen.

How to Taste the Activity of Yeast?

If you suspect that your yeast might be a little old or is not active anymore, you can check it by adding a small amount to a mixture of lukewarm water and sugar. Give it a stir and let it stand for some time. If the yeast is still active, it will dissolve completely in water and the liquid will start bubbling. If the liquid is not bubbling, that means that the yeast has expired and is not active anymore.

How to Use Yeast?

Yeast can be used in a few different ways. If you have a recipe for a specific dish you can get what kind of yeast is intended for that specific recipe. There are two main ways of using yeast.

  1. Add yeast to a mixture of lukewarm water and a pinch of sugar. Keep it aside for a few minutes and then add it to the mixture of flour.
  1. The same thing can be repeated by the flour being added to the yeast mixture. Since yeast is a living organism, adding moisture to jt will also test the yeast if its old.
  1. But nowadays due to experimenting in various formulations, yeast can just be added to the flour mixture with all the dry ingredients without activating it since it gets activated once it mixes in with the dough.

Yeast works best at a temperature between 70°F and 80°F. If your house is cool in winter, place the bowl somewhere warm. It can be on top of a warm but turned off oven. If your house is warm, the dough might even rise faster than you expect.

Butter, eggs, sugar, and milk slow down the working of yeast. So if you are using all of these ingredients it may rise slower than usual. So in recipes where all these ingredients are used you need to have patience.

There are various ways to use the yeast but it is important that you know the essence of your recipe and the taste you are going for. It will help you determine the type of yeast you need to use.

What is the Best Type of Yeast?

This depends on what you’re using it for. If you’re using it for home cooking, general supermarket yeasts like active dry or instant yeast are the best options.

Culinary chefs and restaurant sous chefs use fresh yeast or compressed yeast. Fresh yeast gives a different flavor to the bread but it is not easily available in supermarkets.

Most industries use crumbled cheese in the production line.

How to Store Yeast?

Fresh yeast should be kept in the freezer in very controlled conditions. This type of yeast is mostly stored in restaurant freezers or in supermarkets, it can be found in the deepest frozen corner of the freezer.

Whereas, dry yeasts should be kept in an airtight container before freezing. Freezing prolongs the life of yeast. Dry yeast reacts only when it comes in contact with a certain temperature or moisture, so keeping it sealed in an airtight container in the freezer helps it avoid contact with both of those elements.

Nutrition and Benefits

Yeast rich foods provide protein and Vitamin B. These are essential in keeping the digestive system in balance since yeast is a part of bacteria present in your stomach. The body also gets help from yeast in absorbing vitamins and minerals that are in the food.

It is essential to know the right kind of yeast for the right recipe and this ingredient can make or break your bread. To know which yeast can be used in which conditions and in what amount you need to try baking. Once start baking you’ll start understanding the yeast.

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Macy Wilson is a published author and bread baking expert. She is also known as the bread lady, and writes quality content for Make The Bread. When she's not writing, you will find her in the kitchen or playing with her cat.