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Apr 12, 2012 01:10 PM

Instant Yeast

Hi all!

I am a gluten free baker, and have been using SAF brand instant yeast in my baked goods. When I first started baking gluten free I had no clue about the different yeasts and how they react. I eventually learned that instant yeast does not need to be proofed, but I have proofed it for all of my recipes, especially my many gluten free bread recipes. It is my understanding that when you proof other yeasts that it gives it a head start, along with added sugar. I am wondering if my breads will not rise as much if I stop proofing the instant yeast. Anyone?

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  1. It might rise even more. Instant yeast contains a ton more live yeast. It is designed not to be proofed. It might be wasting some of the activity. Or it may just be wasting time. I would certainly try it without proofing.

    1. You actually don't need to proof any yeast but it lets you know if the yeast is viable. So if you stop proofing yeast, you will get as much rise, it'll take longer, less time w/ instant than with active.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        I would predict there is no difference. Instant yeast is designed to be convenient for commercial baking in that it does require the extra step of being pre-hydrated in a liquid. Other than that, there is really zero difference.
        Assuming it's not expired, proofing non-instant yeast is more about dissolving it than making sure it's alive. And the add sugar thing is 100% unnecessary.

        1. re: splatgirl

          While it is conventional wisdom to dissolve active yeast in a warm liquid, a few avid CH bakers convinced me a couple of years ago that it wasn't necessary. I tried it and it works fine. I used to proof, now I don't. I just make the sponge with all ingredients at once.

          I agree sugar is unnecessary. Warm temperature liquids are also unnecessary--it just takes a little longer.

          1. re: chowser

            I almost agree, but I've had a few instances where my failure to pre-dissolve active dry yeast left some evidence of yeast granules in the finished product. Lesson learned and problem solved with a little mortar and pestle action first.

            WRT the question of rising less or more depending on whether the yeast is proofed or not: with all yeast leavened things, you're basically shutting down the leavening process with baking off long before the yeast has exhausted itself and stopped producing CO2. Rising is a given with any viable yeast. Rising time depends on the quantity of yeast used much more than whether it's spent a few minutes proofing first, and the degree of rise of a dough is much more a function of the structure of the dough and it's ability to retain those gas bubbles than it is of timing or proofing of yeast.

        2. re: chowser

          That makes sense. I've read that. I think because of the lack of gluten it may react differently. Only an experiment will tell. Thanks for your input!

        3. It's true that it will not rise as much in the same amount of time- the warmth and sugar kickstart it. But if you don't mind waiting, all will be well!

          1. The only time I proof yeast, instant or other types, is when I want to make certain it is evenly distributed throughout the dough, enabling it to start working more quickly. Otherwise, I simply combine it with other dry ingredients (and whisk to blend) before adding wet ingredients. Works just fine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: todao

              Hey, you're one of the CHs I was talking about who encouraged me not to proof--it saved me a step. Thanks!

              1. re: todao

                Thanks for the tip. Do you have any idea how much longer it will take if when proofing the instant yeast the bread rose in 40 minutes?

              2. Thanks for you advice all! I'm still scared to try, just from hearing that sugar and warm liquids kick start the yeast. Gluten free baking is like no other. I'll give it a try soon and will report back. Thanks again!

                1 Reply
                1. re: glutenfreerecipebox

                  Because I cook for people with special dietary needs, I understand your words "Gluten free baking is like no other" very well. Baking with ingredients that contain gluten gives the baker an advantage. GF baking must rely exclusively on sugar to feed the yeast and mating the perfect amount of yeast with the perfect amount of sugar over the perfect amount of time can be VERY frustrating. You can imagine my dilemma when I have to cook for both Celiac and Diabetic patients at the same meal. I have learned that there are too many variables in chemical reactions between ingredients to publish hard and fast rules for either sugar free (or low sugar) or gluten free cooking. I'd encourage you to continue to experiment, within reason, until you've found the ingredients/techniques that serve your individual interests/needs. IMO, this is a great first step in GF baking:
                  The xanthan or guar gum will provide structure that you might typically rely on gluten to produce.
                  I wish she had published the recipe using weights instead of volumetric quantities but very careful measuring can produce a useful GF flour.
                  Just don't be afraid to try. The worst thing that can happen is you create a nice meal for the puppy; and that's not all bad.