Yeast At Least

Picture of bread with croissant

As I write this article, I’ve got a batch of fresh bread dough on-the-prove.

Which means the yeast in the dough is having a great time eating up sugars and starch and converting them into alcohol and bubbles of carbon dioxide.

These little gas bubbles get trapped in the sticky bread dough and cause the bread to expand like a balloon.

In brief technical terms, yeast is a single-celled living organism. It is classified as a fungus.

Yeast is a wonderful friend to all people who love baking. However, if you don’t treat it right, it can be a very unforgiving enemy.

I’ve spent a lot of my cooking career in pastry kitchens and have used a lot of yeast.

I’ve also had a couple of disasters, most of which could be attributed to the yeast feeling mistreated, disrespected and unappreciated. In return, the yeast punished me by not doing it’s job and producing flat heavy cow pats instead of light crusty bread.

There are three main types of yeast:

  • Fresh compressed yeast (which is my favourite) is the most active and alive. Its sold in blocks wrapped in wax paper and is a light tan colour. It smells very yeasty and needs to be refrigerated as it will die a horrible death if left out in the open. It has a storage life of about two weeks. Fresh compressed yeast is ready to use and just has be thrown into the bread dough with the other ingredients.
  • There is dried inactive yeast that has been dehydrated and in effect has sent the yeast to a sleepy dormant state. Once the yeast is re-hydrated with warm water it comes back to life.
  • There is also instant granulated dried yeast that can be thrown straight into a bread recipe with being reconstituted.

The general rule is that dried yeast does get a little damaged in the dehydrating process and doesn’t really work as good as fresh, but it is a very convenient product because it has a very long shelf life and doesn’t need refrigerating.

You only have to use approximately half the quantity of fresh yeast as you would dry (dried yeast is more concentrated).

Dried yeast is readily available in grocery stores, but you may have to go to your local bakery to purchase fresh yeast.

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