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Please Explain Yeast.....

Without getting too scientific...please explain the differences of the many types of yeast out there used in baking. (Instant vs Active vs Quick-rise). I'm actually looking for what would be the best type to use in a pizza dough? Does it even matter? Do the different types actually change the flavor of the "end" product you're baking? Does it just come down to personal preference? Help.......Thanks!

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  1. Hi Phoebe,

    There aren't that many types of yeast out there, basically only three types: fresh, active, and instant or rapid/quick-rise. Instant and quick-rise are the same thing, I think. Active yeast should be proofed (dissolved in warm water to activate it before adding to the dough); instant or quick rise does not need proofing, you can add it to the dough with the dry ingredients and once it gets moist it starts working immediately.

    It probably doesn't matter which you use, but I actually prefer a slower rise when using yeast, so I avoid instant or quick rise unless I'm in a real hurry. Long slow rises or ferments give better flavor than a fast rise and bake.

    There is also fresh yeast, which you didn't mention, and probably haven't seen on your grocer's shelves. Here are three very useful links, all reliable sources, for info on yeast (and I'd venture that you'll find a good pizza dough recipe or two on each as well):

    http://www.joyofbaking.com/Yeast.html
    http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...
    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/...

    Yeast is a cheap ingredient, if I were confused about which to try, I would experiment with whatever yeast I could get my hands on to determine my personal preference and that's my advice to you: try both to determine which works best for you and gives you the flavor you prefer. Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      Can't you just use less of the quick yeast for a long slow rise? That's what the noknead breads call for.

      1. re: paulj

        I suppose one could less quick yeast and go for a long slow rise, but might it be possible that the instant yeast gives up a lot of leavening power for that fast rise and doesn't have the staying power necessary for a long slow rise? Interesting experiment, but not for me to try since I don't buy both kinds of yeast

      2. re: janniecooks

        jannie cooks...Thanks for all the info. I didn't mention "fresh" because it's just not available in my area. I purchased a bag of SAF instant from King A's...and it just doesn't seem to do as well as the quick rise I buy in packets.

      3. Until recently I always used active yeast in the little packets because that's what there was for home bakers. Reading about instant yeast in many sources, and attracted to it because it doesn't need the finicky step of proofing in warm liquid, I've been using it for about a year. As far as I can tell, the change hasn't significantly affected the flavor and texture of what I make with it, mainly bread, and the rise is quicker and higher.

        I've never made pizza dough and couldn't say if it's any different.

        1. Fleshmans make a pizza dough yeast that doesnt require a resting period before shaping the dough.

          1 Reply
          1. re: horseshoe

            It's not the yeast that needs to rest before shaping, it is the gluten. Fleishmann's pizza yeast is rapid rise yeast with added dough conditioners to relax the gluten and allow the dough to be worked with immediately. http://www.pizzacrustyeast.com/new_pi...

          2. Buy SAF instant yeast by the pound, store it in the freezer in glass jars. IMO, that's all you need to know about yeast. It works, it stores at least two years., costs a fraction of the cost of the individual packets.

            1. Active yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water (around 110F) before you use.
              Instant yeast (aka quick rise or bread machine yeast) does not need to be dissolved in water.

              In regards to pizza dough, I've tried many recipes and never really had a bad dough. It comes down to the rest of the ingredients.

              However, with that said, my favorite pizza dough recipe is from the Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. The recipe calls for a small amount of instant yeast and allowing the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The results are usually a thinner crust pizza that's cripsy on the bottom and tender on the inside.