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Yeast: Rapid Rise v. Regular

I bought some rapid rise yeast to make what I call "Easter Bread" -- a rich, eggy, stollen recipe with ground almonds and candied fruit kneaded in. I love this yeast and think it makes a much better bread product than regular yeast, but I'm curious what other people think.

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  1. I love instant yeast that you can even add with the dry ingredients (I don't). I buy it in one pound bags at William Sonoma and keep it in the freezer.

    Most of my bread recipes use long slow rises. The Almost No Knead uses just 1/4 tsp of yeast and an almost 24 hour rise. I have a hamburger bun recipe from Julia that involves about five rises and makes the finest crumb.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dutchdot

      Just to be sure I'm tracking, you use the regular yeast for the slow rises? (Like the NYTimes Bittman bread or the Artisian Bread in 5 minutes a day?

      I am constantly getting mixed up about what yeast to use.

    2. heh? so it DOES make a difference! Who knew?

      what does the recipes usually call for? and can i use one in lieu of another?

      1. It does what it says which is rises the dough faster but I like a slower rise for taste/texture. I use either, depending on how much time I have. Instant/rapid rise is easier to use.

        1. That's interesting that you like the regular yeast for slow rise and better texture. I think I get a better texture out of the rapid rise yeast, but you know, it's been so long since I've used regular yeast, that maybe it's just because I'm a better baker. Hmmm.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rememberme

            Generally I use rapid rise if I'm making dough to be baked the day of (often with the type the bread you're making, w/ egg, milk, etc additions) but if I have time to plan ahead, I'll start the day before and then use regular yeast. Leaving it overnight develops the flavor better but you can also use rapid rise with it, just less of it. It's not the yeast as much as the length of the rise.

            1. re: chowser

              Hmmm. Good point. This is the only bread I have time to make these days, and it does rise and bake the same day. So if I decide to make the dough the day before, which I think is actually a brilliant suggestion, should I use regular yeast? And it should rise in the fridge to preclude awful discoveries on the floor in the morning?

              1. re: rememberme

                If I make it the day before and use instant yeast, I use about 1/4 tsp and let it rise for at least half an hour room temperature (longer is fine but obviously not too long so that it finishes rising) and then put it in the refrigerator for it to finish rising. You can then wake up, bring the dough to room temp and bake and have fresh rolls or whatever you want in the morning. For regular yeast, though, I usually proof it in warm liquid first but am thinking about what todao has said below. I'll have to give that a try.

          2. I still don't understand all this specialized yeast bugaboo. I'm told I have to proof active dry yeast. I don't; I simply drop it in with all the other dry ingredients at room temperature and mix as usual. Never had a problem. The rapid/quick/instant etc. yeasts do work faster but if I wanted fast I' just run out to the store and buy a loaf of whatever it was I might want to eat or serve. I do find that using active dry yeast, because it requires a bit longer to get a good rise, improves the flavor somewhat. But beyond that factor I don't usually get too picky about yeast categories in my baking. If the results are a good texture and good flavor I'm pretty satisfied.

            1 Reply
            1. re: todao

              This all started because I feel like I get a better texture with the rapid rise yeast than I do with the regular yeast, which seems counterintuitive.

            2. what is the difference between rapid and regular yeast in terms of the organism?

              6 Replies
              1. re: Cebca

                i think the organism is the same. instant yeast is more porous and absorbs water faster so it gets down to business faster

                1. re: silverhawk

                  So . . . how is that possible? How do they treat the yeast to make it more porous, but still alive?

                  1. re: silverhawk

                    Sounds good but not really the reason. Instant yeast has a greater density of active yeast cells for the same weight measurement than active dry or fresh yeast. The key to natural yeast is to use the least amount possible to get the job done as the fermentation of yeast adds a flavor to the end product. Instant yeast is popular because you can use very small amounts and achieve the desired fermentation with less yeast.

                    1. re: Den

                      So then what is taking up the rest of the weight in regular yeast if it isn't active yeast cells?

                      sorry to keep asking but I'm really trying to get to the bottom of this.

                      1. re: Cebca

                        I believe it is essentially moisture as instant and active dry yeasts are just dried yeast "cream".

                      2. re: Den

                        before dismissing the "water" answer check shirley corriher's book, <bake wise.>
                        she's often right and i'd guess she's right here as well.

                  2. i'm interested to hear what people have to say about this. i've always picked up "whatever" cause i didn't know the difference. if only we have enough mouths in the house, i can bake two loafs and compare... =)

                    are you guys referring to biga or "pre-ferment" that sits overnight for some rustic loafs? or just regular sandwich or rolls that rises in room temp then kept in the fridge on the 1st rise? second rise in room temp with forming..

                    i've always thought if i rest or rise the dough out too long - or if i went out and forgot, the dough would develop a off-yeasty smell.

                    at this rate, who's making bread tonite? =)

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: jeniyo

                      If you're keeping the dough for a longer time, you can keep in the refrigerator so it doesn't rise too much. With the biga/sponge/etc. you leave it out of the refrigerator (but can also do it in for longer) . Essentially, the refrigerator just slows the rise and lets it develop flavor. If Father Kitchen were around, he could give the details. I'm making bread tonight--braided sandwich bread w/ salume and asiago cheese.:-) But, I didn't rise the dough overnight, just made it earlier today.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Pictures of the bread, please! It sounds right up my alley!

                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          Okay, but I'm a terrible photographer. I was careless at the bottom and the last braid came undone. Okay, it didn't work. Let me play with it more.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I think it looks really good! Yum!

                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                ohh... can you share the recipe!? that looks like fun!

                                1. re: jeniyo

                                  You can use your favorite dough. With that one, I used Best Recipe's sandwich bread, only using some white whole wheat and molasses for color/sugar. I can post if you want. Roll/stretch it out to a rectangle. Lay cold cuts in the center third. Cut diagonal snips (with scissors is easiest), same number on each side and just bring towards center. Brush milk, cream or egg on it and sprinkle your favorite spices (I used oregano w/ salume and asiago cheese). Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes until it reaches 190 degrees. I love it for picnics, skiing, etc. and it's dinner tonight since we don't get home until close to 9pm.

                                  What I love is that you can be creative with stuffing. Hard boiled eggs, tuna, some greens and drizzle w/ olive oil and vinegar for a nicoise twist. Oven dried tomatoes and mozzarella, some parmesan. Provolone and salami. Sometimes I plan ahead and sometimes I just use whatever is in the house but it always turns out well.

                      2. This is always an interesting topic. The thing that I've always been confused on is rapid rise vs. instant. The only kinds that I can find in the regular grocery store are active dry and rapid rise, but King Arthur says that instant is not the same as rapid rise (it seems like most of their recipes use instant). I ended up ordering something that specifically said "instant" yeast from KA, which is probably what they want, but I'm still confused! (I do like the stuff I ordered though!)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          This is interesting. I'd like to know about it, too. I've always treated instant, rapid rise and bread machine yeast as the same thing.

                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            Without realizing it, I bought the "Fleischmann's RapidRise Highly Active Yeast". On the back it reads "How to Use RapidRise (Instant) Yeast in Traditional Recipes".
                            There is no difference between Rapid Rise and Instant. Apparently with the instant you mix it in with the dry ingredients and then add your liquids. I've never used Rapid Rise before and plan to prepare it as I've always done in heated liquid (120-130F). I would feel more comfortable knowing the yeast is good before wasting ingredients and time. I assume I won't need to let it rise as long as if I had used regular yeast.

                          2. According to my Fleischmann's cookbook "rapid-rise is a highly active strain of yeast that makes bread doughs rise 50% faster than regular yeast. Its particle size is finer and for 50% faster rising, it should be added to dry ingredients before hydration (Quick mix method)" Does this help? I'm an instant guy, myself... adam

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: adamshoe

                              What I have is Fleischmann's "Rapid Rise Highly Active Yeast", which doesn't say anything about how to use it. This is what I've been using since it came out years ago. What I don't know is whether I'd get a different or just slower result with regular yeast. But my life is too crowded right now to do a test.

                              1. re: rememberme

                                Same results, but a slower rise time w/ traditional yeast. You can still do a fridge-rise w/ rapid yeast (or even freeze it...). Cold doesn't hurt yeast; heat does. adam

                              2. I usually find myself with active dry in the fridge and a recipe that calls for instant, or vice versa so this conversion chart has come in very handy.


                                1. Instant and Rapid Rise yeasts are expensive, more expensive in my neighborhood than good old Active Dry Yeast. I buy ADY in two pound bags, freeze most of it in small baggies and reserve about half a pound or so in the refrigerator. I thaw out one small baggie at a time as I need it. It takes a little more ADY to get the same results as the Instant/Rapid variety (about 1 1/3 times ADY to a specified amount of the other stuff, but it is just as potent and there is no difference in flavor.
                                  ADY actually contributed to better overall flavor of the bread because it ferments more slowly than the o the stuff, allowing the flavor to develop in the bread as it rests. Quick rise = less overall flavor.