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Dissolving Yeast in Milk

I'm new to baking and just tried making a Cinnamon Rolls recipe from Emily Luchetti's "Stars Cafe" cookbook. The recipe calls for dissolving dry yeast in 3 T of lukewarm milk, but it wouldn't dissolve completely and became clumpy. I whisked the clumps out (I'm not sure if this is recommended). After going online, I found that 1) water is the preferred method to dissolve, and 2) the yeast should bubble up which it didn't (the yeast was not expired). Any suggestions or advice on what to do or what I'm doing wrong?

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  1. I've dissolved yeast in milk frequently as well as other liquids like juice; the milk must be heated enough to help the yeast dissolve. My rule of thumb is to heat the liquid between 108F - 110F. degrees; lukewarm may not have been warm enough. While the yeast may appear clumpy, keep whisking every few minutes until it dissolves & blooms (bubble up). Also, sometimes a recipe will say that the yeast should bloom in a specified time frame (i.e. 5 minutes,etc) but may take a bit longer.

    1. I've used milk as well, warmed as Cheryl describes, with no problems. It can take yeast some time to bloom, I give it at least a good 10 minutes but also play it by eye. The clumps are no big deal, just whisk them in and they will dissolve, and the yeast will foam, that is to say, develop a slighty foamy looking mass on the top of the liquid, rather than bubbles.

      1. Thank you both for your suggestions. I did warm the temperature to 110F, so I'm wondering if the yeast wasn't good, despite the expiration date being fine b/c it definitely didn't bubble up and I waited 15 minutes. I was worried that whisking it was a problem but since that isn't the case, it must be bad yeast.

        1. Depending on the fat content of the milk, the yeast granules can sometimes become coated with milk fat which restricts water from entering and dissolving the yeast. Dissolving yeast in milk has no culinary advantage so I assume the recipe simply wants to avoid adding more liquid than necessary to the ingredients, which would be the case if you dissolved the yeast in water and then added it to the liquid milk. In any case, IMO, if water is also an ingredient in the dough for these cinnamon rolls I'd suggest dissolving the yeast in that medium and allow the 3 Tbsp. of milk to enter the mix without first having married the yeast.

          3 Replies
          1. re: todao

            This is interesting about the fat and yeast. Thanks for your advice, I've stopped blooming my yeast and still get the same results. It's always nice to be able to cut out unimportant steps.

            1. re: todao

              Thank you for the info :) Water isn't added anywhere else in the recipe but I could change the fat content of the milk by using skim or 1%.

              1. re: sweetandsavory75

                If you used regular, 2%, 1% or fat free milk, the milk itself is not the problem. You may have some issue with using cream or 1/2 & 1/2 as it will take longer for the yeast to dissolve but I've used 1/2 & 1/2 for breadmaking and still no problem with my yeast dissolving, it just takes a bit longer.

                Just so you know, just because your yeast does not bubble up does not mean it's dead. Test it by mixing up your recipe then cover and allow to rise. If it rises, nothing wrong with the function of the yeast. If it doesn't, you know the yeast is no good. And about yeast, I have a bag in my freezer that is at least a year old....it's still works beautifully.

            2. 1) Clumping is a common occurrence when trying to dissolve in liquid (100 to 105F very warm to the touch, but not hot). I generally just my finger and mash the clumps on the side of the bowl.

              Whisking does not hurt the yeast.

              2) The bubbling up.. usually takes about 10 minutes. How vigirous the mixture bubbles just depends upon the age of the yeast, but if you have some bubbling you have live yeast.

              I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

              Side note about yeast... Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved while instant yeast does not need to be dissolved.

              1. I had the same problem, here is my solution. I was heating my milk in a small sauce pan 110 degrees then pouring the milk into a bowl no yeast bloom..So, I heated the milk back to 110 degrees removed the pan from burner and added yeast to this pan, the yeast bloomed within three minutes. With such a small amount of liquid being heated, when you transfer liquid from a warm pan, to a cool pan, and begin stirring,you loose your temperature. Loss of temp no yeast bloom

                1. Just buy instant (rapid-rise, bread machine) yeast instead and skip the dissolving step. Just mix the yeast with the flour instead. No proofing or dissolving necessary, and the instant yeast has more live critters, as well.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sandylc

                    I learned here on CH that active yeast can be used the same way and I've been doing it ever since. I keep my active yeast in the freezer and it's going on over two years now.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Yes, you're right.

                      The instant yeast is just a better thing all around.

                      And at Sam's Club, it's about 15% of the price of the little envelopes.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        I bought a three pound bag of Red Star from Costco for something like $2.99 way back. I'm surprised it's lasted as long as it has. These days since it's so old, I do proof it to make sure it's still viable.

                      2. re: chowser

                        I just added active dry yeast to dough for years before I switched to instant.

                      3. re: sandylc

                        You can dump active dry yeast into a recipe w/o proofing w/o any effects. The dough will take a little longer but the yeast will proof just fine.

                        Yeast is tough and wants to reproduce if given the proper conditions of food and warmth.

                      4. Don't worry that the yeast became a clump. The yeast will bubble up if given sufficient time but that isn't necessary.

                        Proofing yeast in warm milk is perfectly acceptable.