It might not be too often that you resort to the experience of your preferred wholesale bakery supply distributors in order to get more information on your favorite baking pursuits, but that’s something we’d like to change. Customer service is our metaphorical middle name, and when it comes to serving our customers, we provide more than just wholesale flour, sugar, and other baking essentials. We also provide the insight and know-how to make all of your recreational pursuits possible.
If you’re looking for some more information on yeast and bread flours, we’re your team. Start here, and then get in touch with us if you want to learn more about some of the finer points we’ve included here!
Instant vs. Active Dry
Most of the yeast you’re going to come across is either instant or active dry yeast, although there are some other variants that you will find out there. Actually, you’ll find them right on our website and we’ll talk a little bit more about them in this article. However, the majority of the recipes you will come across will be one of these two.
Both instant and active dry yeasts are dehydrated forms of yeast, being Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which are ideal for the bakers looking for a quick and easy way to create doughs that require a leavener.
This is primarily because dehydrated yeasts are less particular than fresh yeast (see below for more details) and they will last much longer. Either of them, being instant vs. active dry, should be kept in the freezer to maximize their longevity. If they are frozen, they should last quite some time, even longer than a year. Some advertise that they do not need to be refrigerated or frozen, but this will extend their lifespan.
Before proceeding on how to use active dry yeast, we’d like to clear up a point on the matter of the difference. Many active dry yeasts need to be bloomed or proofed to ensure their viability before you proceed with using them. Instant yeasts are designed to be added directly to the dough before needing to bloom it, which we’ll cover more below.
Should I Try Compressed Yeast?
Before we get onto the matter of how to prepare and use active dry yeast, we’d like to take a minute to focus on compressed yeast, which is also known as fresh yeast. This is the form of yeast that some bakers actually prefer.
Fresh yeast usually is sold in a block that has the texture of crumbly cheese, and is made of active, live yeast cultures; as such, it needs fastidious care and refrigeration to keep it viable. Even with refrigeration, it will only last for a couple of weeks, but for the bakers who use it, they say it is worth it.
So then, what is the reason? Some bakers claim that fresh yeast is more reliable, more powerful, and adds a lot of flavor to the bread and other baked goods that are made using fresh yeast. If you’re unsure, call us up for more information or just get some fresh yeast and try it for yourself. Experience is a better teacher than hearsay, after all.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
One more thing we want to clear up before we get onto blooming, proofing, and using yeast is the topic of nutritional yeast, which is very different from the other forms of yeast that we offer here at Stover & Company. Nutritional yeast is a special form of yeast that cannot be used for baking because the yeasts contained within it have been deactivated, usually with heat.
Why then, would anyone want to use yeast after it has been deactivated? Well, as you probably know from your time baking in the kitchen, yeast smells wonderful when it’s in the oven. Therefore, nutritional yeast is used primarily for its flavor. It has a unique nutritional profile, but it is mostly used for its flavor.
It has been said to have a nutty, cheesy flavor and it is full of umami, so the yeast can be used to add flavor or to highly the flavor of the foods to which it is added.
With that in the rearview, we can get onto the matter of active dry yeast and how to use it!
Depending on the recipe you are using or the actual type of dough you are making, you might see it listed in the directions that two proofings are advised. There are two things that could be meant by this, but you’re reading the best advice from one of the most knowledgeable wholesale bakery supply distributors in the industry.
First, you might want to know what proofing is in the first place, especially since some people refer to blooming and proofing as the same thing when, in reality, they really are not.
Blooming refers to the process of suspending yeast in a mixture of warm water, often with sugar, in order to ascertain whether it is viable - alive - and thus fit for making a dough mixture. Some people refer to this as proofing.
Proofing is more accurately referred to as the period of time that the dough is allowed to rest and rise before it is baked. Oftentimes, there are doughs that are proofed right in the bowl in which the dough has been mixed, although sometimes the dough is partitioned and allowed to proof in “loaf” or “roll” form.
On the one hand, two proofings might mean that you are expected to bloom the yeast in warm water and usually sugar before even adding it to the dough. After this step is performed, the dough should be kneaded in accordance with the recipe.
On the other hand, two proofings sometimes refer to the first proofing that will occur after the dough has been mixed, kneaded, and allowed to rise - this is one proofing. The second one may come after the time that the dough has been partitioned into loaves and allowed to rest, rise, and proof once more.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for using active dry yeast in particular.
Tips for Using Active Dry Yeast
The truth is, with modern baking ingredients and practices, and of course, in accordance with the strict procedure prescribed by the recipe you are following, you might not need to bloom your yeast. However, some recipes call for it, specifically, it is the old fashioned way, and in addition, it does give you that final level of assurance that your yeast is alive and will work as a leavener when you add it to the rest of the dough. Therefore, a lot of people still bloom their yeast, whether the directions call for it or not.
If you are going to bloom your active dry yeast in a solution of water before you add it to the dough, here are some suggestions we have for you.
For one thing, if you are doing it in water before you add it to the dough mixture, it’s best if the water is somewhere between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many recipes will suggest that you make sure the water is actually below 110 degrees before blooming because if the water is too hot, the yeast will die.
Sources vary, but the consensus is that 140-degree water kills yeast invariably. There is a source that claims that all yeasts die at 138. Therefore it is never advisable to bloom yeast in water that is too hot. However, cold water will not activate the yeast, so you should either use a thermometer to ensure a temperature that is somewhere between 100 and 110 degrees, which can be checked via the help of a thermometer.
If you do not have a thermometer, you can use the age-old wrist test to see if the water is warm enough for yeast, or too warm for that matter. Take a drop of the water in question and let it fall onto your wrist. If the water feels cool, it is probably below 80 or 90 degrees. If the water feels warm, it is probably around 100 or a little bit warmer. If the water feels hot, it is somewhere around 120 and if it feels very hot, you’re getting up towards 140 degrees, which is way too hot for the yeast. It’s as simple as that. Of course, that will take a little practice to hammer out, but that’s the basis of it all.
Why does this matter, besides the fact that hot water will kill your yeast, thus rendering your baking exploits fruitless? Well, for one, it isn’t all about whether the yeast “works” or “doesn’t work.” It’s more complex than that.
Recall that we mentioned not only that hot water would kill your yeast but that cool water would result in little to no performance at all. Having the optimum water temperature is critical to make sure that the yeast “blooms” or produces little bubbles of foam at the surface of the water. If it doesn’t, it won’t ferment in the bread. But there is a step missing in this,
Sugar is another critical component of getting yeast to bloom, and some people only add the hot water and yeast to the preliminary mixture to get the yeast to “wake up.” Unless your recipe specifically forbids it, we would like to offer this bit of advice. Add the sugar that the recipe includes into the blooming mixture to get the yeast started fermenting. Even if you aren’t supposed to add it, add a little bit, like a teaspoon, just to get the reaction started.
The reason we would like to offer this advice is because it is not just the warmth in the water that activates the yeast, but the presence of food in the water, which takes the form of the sugar you have added. You see, the blooming that occurs in the water is really the microscopic yeasts feasting on the sugars; when they metabolize the sugar, they produce gas as a result. It is this gas that produces the foam on the top of the water and ultimately allows your bread to rise.
Once you have bloomed your yeast and added it to the mixture, you’re not done with the yeast. The recipe you use will vary, obviously, but after you’ve bloomed your yeast, you’re onto the next step of the baking process, which is the kneading and then the proofing.
Kneading enables the dough to form strands of gluten protein, which create the internal structure of the dough and allow it to capture the gas that the yeast produces not only when it is proofing but also while it bakes. Therefore, you should knead your dough exactly as the recipe calls for. When finished, the dough should be springy and resilient. When you pull on it, it should pull back a little.
Now, you’re ready to proof, but will you hot proof or cold-proof?
Warm Proofing vs. Cold Proofing
This still relates to the use and management of yeast, so it’s something we figured we would touch on. While you should generally follow what the instructions of the recipe calls for, there is some room for experimentation.
A lot of doughs call for you to cover the dough after you have kneaded it and to leave it in a warm location. The reason for the warmth is the same as the reason that you added the yeast to warm water in the first place. It fast tracks the proofing process and encourages the yeast to ferment in the dough, causing it to rise.
However, some recipes call for cold-proofing, which is the opposite - covering your dough and placing it in a cool place, like the fridge, for an extended period of time. Some proponents of cold proofing claim it improves the flavor and the texture of the finished product. That is something you’ll need to experiment with and find out for yourself!
Let’s Get This Bread!
Are you ready to get onto making some of the best bread you’ve ever made, now that you’ve had a crash course in handling yeast and using it properly? Get to it!
Or, you can call us up for the benefit of more in-depth advice. We’re one of those rare wholesale bakery supply distributors that you can come to for more than wholesale prices on your wholesale baking supplies and bakery products. Our stock is of the highest quality, but so is our experience, and therefore so is the advice that we can offer you.
Whether you just need a quick restock of wholesale cake supplies at great prices or you want some more personalized suggestions on how to make your recipes better, give us a call at 724-274-6314 and we will help you out!