How to tell if yeast is still good
I've got some instant dry yeast that has been in my refrigerator for about a year, kept sealed. Though I've test-proofed it to make sure it's still active, and it most definitely is (it bubbles, smells yeasty, all that good stuff) my bread just isn't coming out right. The texture of the bread ends up being flatter, denser and almost.... wet but cracked, if that's possible. I'm wondering if it could be my yeast, even though it seems to be alive and kicking and then some? The bread does rise. It would be a shame to throw out the yeast since I have quite a bit still, but then again, it sure is a shame to be disappointed after going to all the trouble of making a loaf from scratch...
You Know You're a Food Snob When...
I'm not sure the problem is the yeast. If it's still alive and active. Is it possible for it to have "slowed down?" In that case, maybe you'd need a longer rise?
What I actually wrote to say is that I've heard instant yeast will keep virtually forever in the freezer. So far, my experience seems to bear this out.
Is it possible that you're overcompensating for what you think might be poor yeast by adding too much? Try using less yeast and a longer rise.
If it bubbles and smells yeasty then the problem isn't your yeast, and adding a bit too much(less than 50% excess wont change the recipe, but it will speed the process up slightly. I have to wonder how longer your initial ferment is, and then how long you are letting it proof before baking, as that is likely where the the problem lies.
According to Fleischmann's: Stir 1 envelope yeast into 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F). To proof (foam) yeast, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar; let stand 10 munutes. If mixture doubles in volume, yeast is active.