Yeast can be a tricky little microorganism to work with and the success (or failure) of your bread almost solely lies with your yeast. That said I hope to give you some useful tips and tricks here that will help make your bread baking “sure to rise”.
Yeast converts any available fermentable sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol and this is what gives the bubbles that will rise your bread. So two things are essential for your yeast to grow;
- The yeast must be fresh and still “alive”
- The yeast must be given some form of “sugar” to convert and grow bubbles with (more on sugars later).
It’s interesting to note that too much salt in your bread will inhibit yeast growth, so be careful of this.
Many of you have had questions about what yeast to buy and also what it should look like when it’s growing/working properly. I hope the photos and explanations below will help.
So what yeast to buy?
I recommend Active Dried Yeast, from a “bulk bin” style shop (like Bin Inn in New Zealand) as often the yeast in the supermarket can sit on the shelves for a very long time and even when its still in date can be past it’s best so will not grow properly. If you are baking a lot of bread you might find you use a “jar” of yeast fast enough before it’s performance becomes unsatisfactory. But if not the bulk bin shops allow you to buy smaller amounts and they also seem to have more of a turnover of stock allowing you to buy yeast that is fresher. Storing yeast in the fridge can also help it to stay fresh for longer.
Beware of yeast that looks like it has a “flour dust” on it, often called “surebake” yeast as that flour like stuff actually contains gluten, yes you read right!
The above photo shows what active dried yeast looks like (similar to heaps of tiny pellets, seeds or beads)
By the way, your bulk bin shop is often a great place to find the other ingredients you’ll need for baking bread like gluten free flours and molasses, saves making another trip!
So now you have your yeast, how do you make sure its working properly?
You need 4 things to grow yeast;
- Active yeast
- A source of sugar
A note about sugar. The yeast “eats” all the sugar, using it during fermentation to create the bubbles, but if you are still worried about using refined sugar you can substitute it for honey or molasses. But the yeast will be slower to grow, as you can see in the photo, so factor this into your timing when baking bread.
Your yeast is ready for baking with when it looks something like the amount of bubble in the photos, of course the size jug/bowl/jar you use will change the height of the bubbles but you still should get a good “strong” reaction. If your yeast doesn’t do something similar to this amount of bubble in proportion the the water then I recommend that you throw it out and start again with new yeast. No point in wasting all your bread ingredients, as if the yeast is not working well your bread will not rise properly, if at all.
I hope that helps you, happy bread baking everyone.