Yeast is a sugar-consuming microorganism that produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. It is an essential ingredient in many baked and brewed products. The “leaning” or “blooming” of yeast is a simple process to test if the yeast is alive. This process also causes the yeast to react faster. Modern yeast packaging methods make this process less necessary. It’s still a good idea to let the yeast rise first if it’s been stored for a long time.
Table of Contents
- 1 Let the active dry yeast rise
- 1.1 Skip the entire process if using instant yeast.
- 1.2 Measure a small amount of water or milk into a heatproof container and note how much you use.
- 1.3 Warm the liquid.
- 1.4 Mix 1 teaspoon (5mL) of sugar into the yeast.
- 1.5 Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid.
- 1.6 Stir in the yeast for at least 30 to 90 seconds.
- 1.7 Wait 10 minutes for bubbles or foam to appear.
- 1.8 Add the liquid yeast mixture to the other ingredients.
- 2 Set fresh yeast to rise
- 3 Tips
- 4 Warnings
Let the active dry yeast rise
Skip the entire process if using instant yeast.
The instant yeast or fine-grain “fast-rising” yeast doesn’t need to rise and can be added directly to the dry ingredients. It is always active and can be stored for a long time. Some professional bakers believe that instant yeast and products made from active dry yeast have an inferior taste compared to real fresh yeast. Others cannot tell any difference in the end product. You should never use brewer’s yeast, champagne yeast, or wine yeast in baking.
Measure a small amount of water or milk into a heatproof container and note how much you use.
The exact amount isn’t that important, but you should subtract that amount from the amount of liquid in your recipe. Usually, half a cup (120ml) is more than enough for a regular bread recipe. For example, if you use ½ cup (120 ml) of water to rise the yeast and the recipe calls for 1 cup (240 ml) of water total, you only need to add ½ cup (120 ml) to the batter because you’ll need the other ½ cup (120 ml) already added to the yeast.
Warm the liquid.
Reheat the liquid to a temperature of 40-43°C so it is warm but not hot or steaming. Although yeast rises best at slightly lower temperatures, active dry yeast needs a little extra heat to rise. If you don’t have your own food thermometer, you can warm the liquid until it’s lukewarm but not too hot. With a slightly cooler liquid, the yeast will take longer to activate. If the liquid is too hot, the yeast will die and not rise at all.
Mix 1 teaspoon (5mL) of sugar into the yeast.
Warm water is actually enough to activate the yeast, but the sugar allows you to test the yeast once it’s done. The activated yeast will consume the sugar and produce carbon dioxide and other substances that help the bread dough rise and give it its unique flavor. Stir in the sugar quickly until it dissolves. If you forget to add the sugar, you can add it after the yeast is already mixed with the water. This is almost as effective, but you should stir more gently to avoid destroying the yeast.
Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid.
Measure out the amount of yeast specified in the recipe and sprinkle it over the liquid. If the recipe calls for fresh yeast, you can use half the amount of dry yeast instead, since this yeast is more concentrated. If the recipe calls for instant yeast, you can use 1.25 times the amount of active dry yeast instead. Note that some types of yeast expand when they come into contact with water. If necessary, transfer the mixture to a larger container so that the liquid doesn’t overflow during this process.
Stir in the yeast for at least 30 to 90 seconds.
Because the yeast floats on the surface of the water or is slow to sink, the water will dissolve the inactive outer layer of the yeast and release the active yeast in the center. After the yeast has dissolved a bit, you can gently stir it into the water. It is not necessary to strictly observe the time for this process. The yeast is unlikely to be affected by the stirring, even if you stir it right away.
Wait 10 minutes for bubbles or foam to appear.
If the yeast is alive and active, it will start consuming the sugar and releasing carbon dioxide. This gas makes the bread rise. If the surface of the mixture becomes frothy or bubbles, the yeast is active and can be added to the other ingredients listed in your recipe. You may have to look closely to see the bubbles on the edge of the bowl. Other signs of active yeast may include a noticeable “yeasty” smell or an increased volume. But that is not always so obvious. If the mixture doesn’t foam, the yeast has probably died and cannot be used in this recipe. You can add a little more warm water, no hotter than 43°C, and let them rise for another 10 minutes. If it still doesn’t foam, you should discard the yeast.
Add the liquid yeast mixture to the other ingredients.
Mix the liquid with the other ingredients according to the instructions in the recipe. Don’t try to pour the yeast through a sieve.
Set fresh yeast to rise
Examine the fresh yeast for problems.
The fresh yeast is available in a slightly moist, pre-packaged form that allows it to remain active. However, it cannot be stored for nearly as long as modern packaged dry yeast. Be aware that fresh yeast will likely not survive if frozen. It will keep for just a week or two at room temperature or up to three months in the fridge. If the yeast has hardened or turned dark brown, you are probably no longer able to use it. You can always test if it works, but it’s better to have another batch of yeast to spare so you don’t have to stop your baking work. Note: Fresh yeast is also known as cake yeast, wet yeast, or compressed yeast. You should never confuse liquid brewer’s yeast with fresh yeast. Only use baker’s yeast (in any form) for baking.
Measure a small amount of water or milk into a heatproof container.
Measure out about ¼ cup (60mL) of the liquid mentioned in the recipe. You can use more liquid if you’re raising a lot of yeast, but make sure you write down how much you used so you can subtract it from the recipe later. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup (240mL) milk and you use ¼ cup (60mL) for the yeast, you only need to add ¾ cup (180mL) to the recipe in addition to the yeast mixture.
Gently warm the liquid to a temperature of 27°C to 32°C.
This is the temperature at which the yeast works particularly well. The fresh yeast is already active and not dormant like some dry yeast. Therefore, there is no need to heat the liquid more to “wake up” the yeast. This temperature is only slightly warm. If the milk steams or forms a skin, it means it’s way too warm. It will kill the yeast. Because fresh yeast already contains moisture, you don’t technically need to add water. The water is recommended in most cases because the room temperature may not be warm enough for the yeast to rise. When the room is warm, it is enough just to mix the sugar with the yeast.
Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar (5 ml) with the yeast.
The yeast consumes any type of sugar. You can mix them with white sugar, brown sugar, or any other natural sweetener. Artificial sweeteners cannot be used to leaven yeast.
Add the yeast to the liquid.
Stir the amount of yeast specified in the recipe into the liquid. Because fresh yeast contains liquid substances in addition to yeast, you will need to adjust the amount specified in the recipe if a different type of yeast is specified: If the recipe calls for active, dry yeast, you should use double the amount of fresh yeast. If the recipe calls for instant yeast, you should use 2.5 times the amount of fresh yeast.
Wait a few minutes and watch the bubbles.
If the bubbles form within 5 to 10 minutes, the yeast is alive and active. The mixture can be mixed with the other ingredients according to the instructions in the recipe. If the yeast isn’t foaming and the liquid wasn’t too hot or cold either, the yeast is probably dead and should be discarded. Because the fresh yeast stays active, it won’t take as long to rise as dry yeast.
If you are preparing a dough, you can let the yeast rise in the same container that you used to prepare the ingredients. Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast and liquid into the well. With regard to sugar, all types that contain no chemical sugars such as fructose, sucrose, etc.) and little or no acid are suitable. Brown or white sugar, molasses, or fruit juice are acceptable. Artificial sweeteners are not suitable. As the yeast rises, it will smell like beer or bread. That is normal. If you bake on a tight schedule and haven’t purchased the yeast you’re using recently, you can test-proof the yeast in a bowl before you start baking. If the yeast doesn’t rise, you have plenty of time to buy another packet from the store. Light can destroy the yeast. This is why bread recipes recommend letting the dough rise in a covered bowl.
Don’t put the yeast in water that feels ice cold or hot to the touch. This may kill the yeast or not activate it. At temperatures below 10°C, the yeast is put into a dormant state. It will die at temperatures above 50°C. Salt can slow yeast activity or kill it in high concentrations. Add the salt to the other dry ingredients in the recipe and not to the bowl of yeast mixture, even though the recipe says otherwise.