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Baking essentials bakers need to know:


Yeast is widely considered to be one of the most important ingredients in baking soft and tender meat products. You may also come across blogs that teach you ways to substitute this ingredient. If you are new to baking or want to change your baking style, you may have a lot of questions. For example, new bakers often wonder about the importance of yeast; intermediate bakers may look for its alternatives, etc. So today’s guide, starting with the basics, to how to use it in recipes, how to store yeast, and more!

What is yeast?

Yeast is a single-celled organism commonly known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Contrary to popular belief, none of the various yeast species are composed of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells; however, it is the most common type of yeast. As you know, yeast is alive and it requires favorable conditions to thrive and continue to exist. You may have noticed that after purchasing yeast, it often dies before its shelf life; this happens when its survival conditions are not met. So what does yeast need to survive? Humid atmosphere, warmth and food! Yes, that’s it. It’s easy to keep your yeast fresh and even extend its shelf life, as you’ll learn in this article.

How does yeast help ferment baked goods?

There are approximately 500+ species of yeast, but not all of them are suitable for baking and brewing. The main reason bakers rely so much on yeast is the texture it gives to bread and other baked goods. But have you ever wondered how these commodities rise in price? What’s the process behind it?

Yeast cells digest food, providing them with energy to grow. When yeast-raised bread is baked, it ferments the carbohydrates in the flour and emits carbon dioxide. Therefore, the carbon dioxide cannot escape due to the dough’s elasticity and ability to stretch. As the gas expands, it expands or rises. Yeast is also commonly used in the production of beer. Brewer’s yeast is the preferred species for breweries because the yeast consumes the sugar in the beer, resulting in the production of carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Let’s look at yeast varieties in detail to better understand their functions.

Commonly used types of yeast:

As mentioned above, we cannot simply offer you any type of yeast as they serve a different purpose, have different properties, and have different shelf lives. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the types of yeast suitable for baking to improve your baking skills.

Active dry yeast:

Active dry yeast is a common option that has been around for years and requires proofing before use. It is a dry yeast. You need to activate it in warm water around 110°F. This is a crucial step because temperatures that are too high or too low can kill the yeast or take too long to activate, or it may not rise at all. Active dry yeast requires patience as you have to rise it twice.

However, this type of yeast has a lifespan of four months after opening and declining potency. Therefore, it is best to use it if you have previous baking experience.

When is it best to use active dry yeast:

Active dry yeast is great for bread recipes that you can bake quickly, such as baguettes and cinnamon rolls, and it also works well for pizza dough. It’s convenient because you can store it effortlessly and it has a shelf life of up to two years when unopened.

Instant yeast:

Instant dry yeast is another type of dry yeast that rises in a “flash.” As you can imagine, it doesn’t require any proofing. Basically, it’s active dry yeast, but without a protective outer layer, so no activation is needed. So how do you use instant yeast for baking? It’s super easy; all you need to do is add it to the dry ingredients!

However, if the recipe you are following mentions proofing, you can do the same thing since it will not affect the yeast and the steps will be easier for you to follow. On the other hand, if you’re more advanced at baking, you don’t need to follow every step the exact same way. Also, keep in mind that instant yeast can survive higher temperatures than active dry yeast, up to 130°F.

Instant yeast also requires you to proof the dough twice. You can also keep it for four to six months after opening the package.

When is it best to use instant yeast:

You can use instant dry yeast in quick recipes such as dinner rolls, sweet rolls, and more.

Fast fermentation yeast:

Also known as fast-rising yeast, this type of yeast contains additional enhancers to help baked goods rise quickly. Its benefits mainly include reduced baking time. You can find it in the form of very finely ground granules, with a much finer consistency than instant yeast granules. These fine particles also give yeast its name because they are small and dissolve quickly. If you try making bread with this yeast, it may not have as much flavor. So if you’re trying a bread recipe, make sure it contains other ingredients to enhance its flavor and doesn’t rely on yeast. Also, keep in mind that you cannot interchange fast-rise yeast with any other type of yeast.

If you’re going to use fast-rising yeast, be sure to read the container’s instructions beforehand. The instructions may advise you to shape the dough immediately after mixing the yeast. Or, the instructions may recommend letting the dough rest after mixing and before shaping. Regardless, fast rising yeast will help you save time.

While its time-saving aspects may seem like a lifesaver, there are some downsides to using this yeast. As mentioned, it doesn’t impart any flavor, but it’s also not suitable for doughs that require a long fermentation period.

When is it best to use fast rising yeast:

You can use fast-rise yeast for everyday bread baking recipes; however, it is best to add some flavor to the recipe.

These are the most commonly used types of yeast in baking. Now, let’s look at the correct way to store them.

To store yeast:

Yeast packets with a recent production date will last up to two years without being opened when stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, it’s best to keep it refrigerated so that its shelf life lasts about four months. Alternatively, you can store yeast in the refrigerator for up to six months after opening. However, it is crucial to keep it in an airtight container, so the living conditions must not be disturbed.

If you’re not sure whether a yeast packet will work, be sure to prove it first. If it bubbles up and lathers nicely, then you’re good to go!


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