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Mar 17, 2010 03:15 PM

Yeast. Whats up with that?

As im reading im understanding that using less yeast is better?


Some recipes call for a pinch and others a full packet?

Can anyone give me a lil explanation on this?

Btw i am using Instant.

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  1. The amount of yeast you add will determine how long it takes for the dough to rise. But how much you add also determines the flavour. I wouldn't say "less is better" or "more is better" any more than I would say that in general "more or less sugar/salt is better". It depends on what you want it to taste like.

    1. Yeast reproduces which is what causes bread to rise. So, if you start off w/ less yeast but let it rise longer, you'll end up at the same place as if you used more yeast and let it rise less time. So, less yeast is better if you have a lot of time and want a slow rise which gives it better texture/flavor. But, if you're in a hurry, instant up to a packet, can give you the same rise in a couple of hours. Added to that, the amount of heat the yeast has can also make it rise faster. If you used a whole packet of yeast, in a very warm place, the dough would rise quickly. But, it wouldn't taste as good (taste is relative--I've done this and it's still good bread, just not as good as the long rise). Instant yeast responds faster and you use less of it. Some people activate active yeast in warm liquid but it's not necessary.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Actually, the yeast eat up the sugars in your dough and then release gas--which is what causes your bread to rise.

        1. re: bluemoon4515

          Thanks, yes, it's the CO2 byproduct that makes it rise. At the same time it's reproducing which increases that. I rushed through the explanation at the risk of accuracy.

      2. Less yeast means a longer rise time, sometimes much longer, like 18 hours rather than two. Recipes with less yeast taste less yeasty (sorry, no better term), and more sourdough-y. Some people prefer this. I like both kinds of recipes, and wouldn't term one or the other 'better.'

        10 Replies
        1. re: GilaB

          thank you all for clarrifying this to me.


          1. re: lestblight

            so what happens if you use the same yeast and let it rise longer?

            like for example.. pizza.. 3 cup bread flour and one packet or 2 1/4 teaspoon active etc

            if i use instant yeast and let it rise for 24 hours in fridge.. what happens to texture? flavor?? besides a big rise.

            1. re: lestblight

              It won't rise much in the fridge (if at all). Yeast is a living organism, and is happiest at a fairly warm room temperature (around 75-80). Indeed, on cold days, your bread will take quite a bit longer to rise. But no-knead breads use tiny amounts of yeast, and have a very long fermentation (like 18 hours at room temperature see: Regular breads use more yeast and a much shorter fermentation. I wouldn't want to try to guess how much yeast = how long you need to rise. It's more empirical, try it and see how long it takes to rise.

              1. re: lestblight

                There's only so much fuel (in the form of sugar compounds) for the yeast to process. The yeast will eventually consume all of the sugars, then cannibalize each other before they die. In science terms, that's called autolysis. If you start with more yeast, you'll reach autolysis quicker.

                In the context of bread, the dough will rise until it can't support the expanding gases any more, and then it will collapse into a slack, sticky, flattened dough that won't rise when you put it in the oven. After that, any remaining yeast will die from lack of food.

                So you want to put the dough in the oven before the dough is fully proofed. In the heat of the oven, the bread "springs" from the expansion of air bubbles and the last gasp of the yeast producing CO2 before they die.

                Nobody's mentioned this yet, but besides the amount of yeast you start with, you also control fermentation with temperature and other chemical components. If you want to rush the fermentation, you rise the dough in a warm, humid room. If you want to achieve a slow fermentation, you do it in the fridge overnight or longer.

                Salt also serves an important retarding function. Very important to use adequate salt for that reason, plus flavor, in your bread doughs.

                Long slow fermentation yields a wheatier, fuller flavor than a fast rise. During fermentation, enzymes in the flour break down the starches into simpler sugar molecules, which is what the yeast consume. The longer the enzymes work, the longer your yeast can work, and the more flavor you'll pull out of your flour.

                The broken down starches also gelatinize once baked. You know when you look at a slice of hearth type bread that has lots of small and big bubbles inside, rather than an even texture like Wonder bread? Some of those bubbles will have an almost translucent appearance because the starch has gelatinized, compared to the even-white color of Wonder bread.

                You can use the same flour, same recipe, and get completely different qualities solely by changing fermentation time and temperature

                1. re: Professor Salt

                  I'm with the professor. Long slow fermentation results in a nicer flavour than shorter, faster fermentation.

                  1. re: Indirect Heat

                    i agree to that. as well

                    btu what happens if you do a long slow ferment with alot of yeast?

                    does it just rise too much or does it just taste tooo much like yeast.

                    chemically does it ruin the bread or does it just have too much of a yeast taste as opposed to bringing the full flavor from the grain?

                    1. re: lestblight

                      It over-rises and produces a yeasty, alcholy taste. And if it's really gone too long, it will fall, The dough becomes more and more acidic, and eventually the acid eats away at the gluten strands. This can happen either at room temp or refrigerator temp, the difference is in how long it takes. It's called "yeast exhaustion" - when yeast has gone beyond it's ability to reproduce and produce carbon dioxide. The warmer it is, the faster the yeast reproduces.

                      One sign of _slightly_ over-risen bread that you'll see after you've baked your loaf is a large emply space between the crust and the body of the bread.

                  2. re: Professor Salt

                    I've just noticed these posts on yeast. I understand the full process of yeast eating single sugars and the enzymes breaking down the flour into single surgars so the yeast can eat it - then carbon monoxide gas etc. but my problem is how to switch a recipe which uses fresh yeast to a recipe that uses dry yeast. For example, my recipe today called for 60 gm fresh yeast - that's fine but I didn't have fresh , only dried. 60 gm of dry yeast is huge and obviously way too much but do you or anyone know how to figure out the substitution rate?

                    1. re: RuralDeb

                      See the chart here

                      It lists equivalences for fresh yeast, active dry and instant yeast. You'll have to extrapolate a little bit, since 60 grams in in between 2 measurements on the chart, but it will get you close enough. I've seen some formulas but the all use rounding for measuring convenience as opposed to accuracy.

                      Or you can do your own search for "yeast conversion formula" and you'll find a bunch of them.

                      1. re: housewolf

                        What a great link. Thanks so much, I'll never have trouble again.

            2. I would like to add one thing about flavor vs fermentation time. If you are making a dough for a sweeter product, short rises are better in my opinion since that alcohol-like acidic flavor doesn't get to pronounce itself. But honestly, I don't think I personally ever really notice that big of a difference. I will basically add the amount of yeast for the bread/whatever to be ready when I want it to be risen.