All About Yeast: 5 Key Facts Every Baker Should Know

NNicholas September 4, 2023 1:16 PM

Yeast, a key component in baking, is often shrouded in mystery and confusion. Many bakers use it without fully understanding what it does or why it's needed. Here, we aim to take the mystery out of the yeast, providing you with key facts that every baker should know.

Understanding Yeast

Yeast is a type of fungus that eats sugar and excretes carbon dioxide and alcohol as byproducts. This is known as the yeast fermentation process. In baking, this process is integral to dough rising. The yeast feasts on the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide which creates bubbles in the dough and causes it to rise.

Types of Yeast

There are three types of yeast commonly used in baking: active dry yeast, instant yeast, and fresh yeast. Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water before use, while instant yeast, also known as fast-rising or bread machine yeast, can be mixed straight into dry ingredients. Fresh yeast, on the other hand, is sold in compressed cakes and needs to be crumbled before it's added to a recipe.

Type of Yeast Preparation for Use
Active Dry Yeast Dissolve in water
Instant Yeast Mix with dry ingredients
Fresh Yeast Crumble before adding

Yeast Storage

Properly storing your yeast can extend its shelf life. Unopened yeast can be stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, store yeast in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Active dry yeast and instant yeast can be frozen for longer storage.

Yeast Substitutes

If you're out of yeast or need to avoid it due to dietary restrictions, there are substitutes you can use. Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents that can be used in place of yeast. However, they will not provide the same flavor and texture as yeast.

The Role of Yeast in Baking

The role of yeast in baking is to make dough rise. Without yeast, your bread would be flat and hard. Yeast is also responsible for the delicious flavors and aroma associated with freshly-baked bread.

By understanding yeast and its role in baking, you'll be better equipped to use it in your recipes and troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

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