The right leavening agent is often the key to a perfect baked good. These ingredients help the baked goods rise and give them an airy texture. One such popular leavening agent is yeast. It is a single-cell organism that converts sugar and starch into carbon dioxide and alcohol through fermentation. This gas makes baked goods rise, giving them a lovely, light texture. The next time you bite into a deliciously fluffy bread, you might have yeast to thank!
Yeasteryears: The History of Yeast
Egyptians have been using yeast to make bread for millennia. The first bread in Gaul and Iberia is said to have been made in the first century AD, using beer foam to aid the fermentation process. However, Louis Pasteur discovered the fermentation process only in 1857, discovering that the agent behind alcoholic fermentation was yeast.
Yeast to West: The Types of Yeast in Baking
We have come a long way since 1857. There is now a myriad of yeast options available in the market. Let us decode a few of the main types of yeast and how to use them.
Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is available in a granulated, dehydrated powder form and is a living organism that remains dormant until it is proofed.
Active dry yeast must be introduced to a warm liquid containing a small amount of sugar to let it “bloom.” The yeast cells consume the sugar to convert it into alcohol and carbon dioxide, creating a frothy, aromatic mixture. This blooming is an essential part of the proofing process. The recommended temperature for blooming yeast is around 43°C. Yeast can be bloomed in liquids such as water, milk, or even beer and bakers usually add sugar or honey to facilitate the blooming process.
A thin layer of bubbles will form at the top of the liquid about 5 to 10 minutes after adding the active dry yeast. This reaction shows that the yeast is still active. If the yeast fails to bloom, it likely has expired and should not be used. Bloomed yeast can then be added to the rest of the mixture to leaven the dessert.
However, the active dry yeast comes with a few disadvantages. The proofing process is time-consuming and it is highly perishable and its potency can vary with time, leading to inconsistent results.
Instant Dry Yeast
Instant dry yeast was developed in 1973 by Lesaffre. Though it is manufactured using a similar process as active dry yeast, it is milled into finer particles and dried more quickly. It dissolves and activates faster than active dry yeast due to this. Because of its lower moisture content, instant dry yeast doesn’t need to be proofed first and can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients. The ‘proof’ is in the pudding! Instant yeast is also more stable and has a longer shelf life than active yeast. You can rely on consistent results from this leavening agent.
Fresh yeast is an active yeast, is highly perishable and will only last for about 2 weeks when refrigerated and stored in an airtight container. It is usually pale grey-brown, soft, crumbly and fragrant. This kind of yeast needs to be proofed in lukewarm water (27-32°C) with no contact with salt or sugar. Fresh yeast is suitable for breads that need a long, cool rise.
Another form of yeast to be noted is sourdough starter. This starter, also known as levain, is made of naturally occurring wild yeasts. Though sourdough starter can last indefinitely, it requires consistent maintenance.
Where to Source Instant Dry Yeast
We’re sure that reading all about these types of yeast has you ready to feast with yeast! Luckily for you, you can always count on The Select Aisle to rise to the occasion. We have just launched our instant dry yeast – so you can start baking those delicious baked goods you have in mind. Since you can’t spell “yeast” without “yes!”, order The Select Aisle Instant Dry Yeast now!