I have used yeast for baking for several years. Both active dry yeast and instant yeast provide an airy, light texture, but they do so in slightly different ways.
For active dry yeast, you have to dissolve it in water before use while you can add instant yeast directly to your dry ingredients.
Active dry yeast is the original all-natural used. People have used it for many generations. Using active dry yeast gives you the ultimate baking experience.
Active dry yeast is granular and its consistency is similar to that of cornmeal. Active yeast is normally dormant until it is proofed or dissolved in a small amount of lukewarm warm water (about 110°F). Once it dissolves you can add it to your ingredients.
There is a variety of active dry yeast in the market. Most of them are sold in individual packets.
They are suitable for both machine baking and traditional baking methods.
Active dry yeast products include red star active dry yeast and bakipan active dry yeast. Instant yeast came into the market in the 1970s. It has finer particles compared to active dry yeast and it also dissolves and activates faster.
You do not need to proof instant yeast before adding it to your ingredients. You can add it to your ingredients directly and still get the same results.
Instant yeast rises faster compared to active dry yeast. This is because of its small particles and enzymes that are added to make the dough rise faster.
It is perfect for quick baking projects. You won’t have to wait for the dough to rise for a long time. Instant yeast products include saf instant yeast.
Each type of yeast reacts differently and the baked products may have slight variations. It is really up to you to decide which one works best for you. The best way to decide which one is best for you is by picking one and familiarizing yourself with it completely.
How is yeast used in baking?
When you combine yeast with liquid and sugar, it makes dough rise. Yeast provides flavor and creates carbon dioxide in the dough. It expands and stretches the dough. Normally, yeast thrives in warm temperatures and that is why we add lukewarm liquid to the dough.
You are advised not to add liquids that are too hot because yeast begins to die in temperatures of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The rule of the thumb is that if it is too hot to touch it is most definitely too hot for the yeast.
Yeast usually requires some time to expand the dough. That is why we usually let the dough rest before using it. Some people prefer a slower rise time because it tends to increase the flavor of the baked goods.
You should let your dough rise in a warm place for as long as your recipe dictates. When the dough is rising, the yeast ferments sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
You can always let your dough rise on your kitchen counter. However, if you are in a hurry, place it in your oven.
Simply preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and turn it off. Place the dough in the bowl inside the oven and leave the oven door cracked open.
You can also let your dough rise in cooler temperatures like the refrigerator but take note that the yeast activity slows down and it will take much longer to rise.
How to use active dry yeast
Active dry yeast can be used in traditional baking and also in bread machine baking. In traditional baking, you can dissolve it in liquid before using it or add it directly to your ingredients. Here is how to do it.
Dissolving it in liquids
Rehydrating dry yeast before using it usually gives it a good start. The yeast feeds on sugar making it very active and ready to work on your dough. I recommend dissolving active dry yeast in water.
Simply add a tablespoon of sugar in ½ cup of lukewarm water. The water should have a temperature between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the sugar dissolves, add the yeast.
You can add up to 3 packets of yeast in the water and sugar mixture depending on your recipe. Stir in the yeast until it dissolves completely. Let the mixture sit until it starts to foam vigorously.
Once it forms, simply add it to your other ingredients.
Adding it directly to the ingredients
Blend your yeast with all the other dry ingredients. Once you do, add warm liquids to the ingredients. The liquids should have a temperature of approximately 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Always keep in mind that the yeast activity will decrease if the yeast comes into direct contact with sugar or salt.
Can I substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast?
Yes, you can! Generally, active dry yeast and instant yeast can be used interchangeably. However, you always have to keep in mind that active dry yeast takes a long time to rise.
If a recipe calls for active dry yeast and you decide to use instant yeast, reduce the rise time by approximately 15 minutes. If a recipe calls for instant yeast and you use active dry yeast, increase the rise time by approximately 15 minutes.
You do not need to alter anything else in the recipe. It stays the same as long as you adjust the rise time.
How to proof active dry yeast vs how to proof instant yeast
Proofing yeast simply means testing your yeast to see whether it is still alive. We all know how frustrating it is when your dough fails to rise. It’s a waste of both your time and ingredients. Proofing yeast is a great way to avoid this mishap.
Yeast is a living organism. Yeast that is still alive is able to start the fermentation process that creates bubbles of gas causing your baked goods to rise.
If you do not store your yeast in ideal conditions or it is close to its expiry date, there may not be enough living yeast cells to create the gas needed to make your baked goods rise. Testing your yeast before you use it is important, especially if you are an occasional baker.
Not all kinds of yeast need to be proven. Active dry yeast should be proofed, however, instant yeast does not need to be proofed.
Items needed to proof yeast
- Heat the water to approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Always test the temperature of the water using a thermometer.
- In a bowl, combine the lukewarm water and sugar. Once the sugar is evenly combined, add yeast to the mixture.
- Let the mixture sit for approximately 10 minutes. If the yeast is alive, it will start eating the sugar and ferment it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast will bubble and foam up in the bowl and double in its height.
If the mixture does not bubble or foam, it is no longer good. Unfortunately, there is no way to revive spoilt yeast.
There is absolutely no need to proof instant yeast so there is no procedure for proofing instant yeast. Proofing instant yeast may make it lose its fast-rising ability especially if you dissolve it in liquids.
How much dry yeast for 500g flour
Active dry yeast easily dissolves in warm water and then becomes active by producing carbon dioxide which causes the dough to rise.
Most active dry yeast is sold in 7g sachets which is roughly one teaspoon of yeast. I prefer buying the one in tins because that way I can easily measure the exact amount of yeast that I want.
The general rule is that you should use 1% of yeast to the flour. For instance, for every 500g of flour, use 5g of yeast.
If you use more than 5g your baked goods will taste yeasty. You can decide to use less but the dough will definitely take longer to rise. However, your baked goods might develop more flavor.
Active dry yeast normally has a shelf life of approximately one year. Always make a point of storing it in the refrigerator once you open it to prolong its shelf life. If you are an occasional baker, you can even store it in the freezer.
The freezer will keep the yeast fresh indefinitely. The upside is that you don’t even need to thaw it before using it.
Always check the expiration date before buying your yeast. Yeast that is close to its expiration date may not be as efficient as you need it to be. You need to use all your yeast before it goes bad because there is no way to revive spoilt yeast.
Always store your yeast in an airtight container. If you don’t you might expose it to humidity and moisture which might activate it prematurely.
If you buy your yeast and it comes in a vacuum-sealed foiled poach, simply move it to an airtight container that you can seal tightly. This will help your yeast to remain fresh and you will also be able to avoid those messy spills.