Be prepared to make your own bread and cinnamon rolls.
As we all adjusted to fewer grocery trips and more time at home over the past six months, one of the first products to sell out was yeast. It is available now and most of it has a long shelf life. I am going to plan for the cooler weather and more time inside by stocking up now. Not all yeast is created equal – here is what you need to know.
The basic yeast used in bread is Brewer’s (known as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) and we buy it processed three ways: fresh, active dry, and instant.
Fresh Yeast is made of 100 percent living cells and about seventy percent water. It is also known as cake or compressed yeast. Each gram of compressed yeast contains roughly six billion active yeast cells. It will dissolve when added to sugar or warm water. It is fast, reliable and creates the most carbon dioxide of the three types of yeast. It is perishable, requires refrigeration, and must be used before it expires – usually within 2 to 3 weeks.
Active Dry Yeast is fresh yeast which is reduced to 95 percent dry granules. The granules have been exposed to heat, which creates inactive/dead outer cells which encapsulate dormant living cells in their centers. It must be dissolved in a very warm liquid and ‘proofed’ (mixed with sugar and warm water to bring the dry active cells to life). Active yeast was developed in WWII by Fleischmann Laboratories to get yeast to bakers in the battlefields without refrigeration – and get fresh baked bread to the soldiers.
Instant Yeast is 95 percent dry, but because of a milder drying process, all the cells are alive. It can be mixed directly into the batter without being proofed. It is also called quick yeast. Its leavening power is closest to fresh yeasts, but it has a shelf life of up to two years in a vacuum pouch and more if it is refrigerated.
Sourdough Starter is a culture of wild yeasts and bacteria which are naturally present on grains. It has been used to leaven bread throughout history from ancient times. In Seattle, ‘insiders’ claim that their ‘starter’ was directly descended from Gold Rush miners and has been tenderly fed, used, divided and passed on for over 150 years. To make starter for your recipes, you create a culture by leavening the grains in warm water and then ‘feeding’ the result. Sourdough Starter Recipe.
In some recipes, you can substitute one kind of yeast for another.
To substitute active dry for instant yeast: Use 25 percent more active dry. If the recipe calls for 1 TBS of instant yeast, add 1.25 TBS of active dry yeast – and remember to ‘proof’ the active dry.
To substitute instant yeast for active dry: Use about 25 percent less. No need to ‘proof’ the instant yeast.
To substitute fresh yeast for active dry yeast, use twice as much fresh yeast as you would have used active dry yeast.
Note: One packet of active dry or instant yeast contains about 2 1/4 teaspoons (.25 ounces) of yeast.
To substitute sourdough starter for active dry or instant yeast, substitute 1 cup of starter for each package of yeast, and then subtract about 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour from the recipe to compensate for the water and flour in the starter.
Fleischmann’s Instant Yeast – One 16 oz. bag. $9.07
SAF Red Instant Yeast is the top seller for King Arthur Baking Company. A vacuum-packed, 1-pound brick makes about 96 loaves of bread. Widely used by professionals, SAF is the #1-selling yeast worldwide. Gluten-free. Kosher. For best results, store in an airtight container in the freezer for 12 months or longer. There’s no need to thaw the yeast before using. 16 ounces for $5.95.
SAF Gold Instant Yeast says that it is the world’s top selling instant yeast. It is designed to give a long, strong, steady rise. No need to proof, just add to flour. It is a professional-grade yeast designed especially for doughs high in sugar (sweet breads). Comes in a vacuum-packed, 1-lb. brick. Makes about 96 loaves of bread. Gluten free and Kosher. For best results, store in an airtight container in the freezer for 12 months or longer. There’s’ no need to thaw the yeast before using.
From the Test Kitchen…
“Sweet breads can be agonizingly slow risers. Why? Because sugar attracts water, and when it’s in bread dough, it pulls water away from yeast – leaving the yeast thirsty and unable to grow. The special strain of yeast in SAF Gold is “osmotolerant” – it requires less water. So, it’s able to grow happily despite sugar’s attempts to leave it “high and dry.”
SAF Gold Instant Yeast, 1 LB Brick 16 Ounces, $6.95
Active Dry Yeast, Gluten Free. 8-ounce bag, $5.69.
Red Star, Fresh Yeast, 2 Ounces. $4.69 at Whole Foods Market.
This organic sourdough starter from The Blended Kitchen gets great reviews. 1 Ounce $9.95
Breadtopia Live Sourdough Starter arrives and needs to be ‘fed’ upon delivery. After that, you can use and sustain it indefinitely. Breadtopia Sourdough Starter. $8.95.
Sourdough Starter with Genuine Original Organic San Francisco Cultures. Sourdough Starter. $15.00
Breadtopia Sourdough Starter Kit with Italian blue-lid wide mouth jar, the Danish Dough whisk, and Breadtopia’s Dry Starter packet. Breadtopia Sourdough Starter Kit $29.95
Need a shortcut for warm and delicious treats? We say “Par-Baked”.