Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make your Yeast Rise

Yeast can be intimidating to work with especially if you are new to breadmaking.  My first attempt with yeast was a disaster.  My water was too hot and I killed it.  Instead of beautiful golden brown fluffy breadsticks, I got hard dense, bricks of something that kind of looked like bread but was barely edible.  My poor husband tried to eat them to spare my feelings but he didn't have to tell me I destroyed them.

I have learned a lot about using yeast since then and with practice and some knowledge in your back pocket you can create beautiful homemade breads and baked goods your family will love!

So, stop being intimidated and make your yeast rise!

What is Yeast? Yeast is alive.  Yeast a single-celled fungus.  This micro-organism can be found in the air, in the soil, and on plants.  Yeast has been around for so long it is even referred to as the oldest plant cultivated by man.  Research shows that ancient Egypt was the home of modern bread. Archaeologists digging in Egyptian ruins found grinding stones and baking chambers, as well as drawings of 4,000-year-old bakeries. 

The yeast used for baking is derived from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Yeast is an essential part of making bread.  It is a leavener which is a catalyst in the fermentation process.  A leavener produces gas that makes the bread rise.  Yeast releases gas by feeding on the sugars in flour and expelling carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide from the yeast forms several bubbles throughout the dough giving baked bread its airy texture.

The fermentation has three functions in bread making: Rising the dough; dough development; and flavor, aroma, and texture.

When you go to the store two forms of yeast are available:

Wet yeast (Cake) Compressed or fresh yeast
·         Cake Yeast usually comes in 2oz packages and is available in limited markets
·         Usually used by professional bakers.  It perishes quickly so use immediately and store properly.
Dry yeast: includes Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast
·         Active Dry Yeast
·         Instant Yeast
o   Quick Rise
o   Bread Machine Yeast
o   Fast Rising Yeast

 Yeast Conversion:
·         Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 3 for the equivalent amount of fresh yeast.
·         Multiply the amount of active dry yeast by 2.5 for the equivalent amount of fresh yeast.
·         Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 1.25 for the equivalent of active dry yeast. 

Conversion Chart:
Using the chart below, determine your yeast requirements based on the total amount of flour in your recipe. 

Yeast measures will also have to be adjusted at higher altitudes.  This will take experimentation on your part for your altitude. 
Dry Yeast
Cake Yeast
Cups *
Packages (0.25 oz)
2 + ¼
2/3 (1/3 of a 2oz cake)
4 + ½
1 + 1/3 (2/3 of a 2 oz cake)
6 + ¾
2 + 2/3 (1 + 1/3 of a 2 oz cake)
11 + ¼
3 + 1/3 (1 + 2/3 of a 2 oz cake)

* One pound of flour is approximately equal to 4 cups of flour.

** Cake yeast is usually available in 2 oz. cakes.  If you divide the 2 oz. cake into three equal sections (thirds), each section (one-third of a 2 oz. cake yeast) is equivalent to 0.6 oz. cake yeast, or one 0.25 oz. packet dry yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast. Each section will raise up to 4 cups of flour.

·         If the ratio of sugar to flour is more than 1/2 cup sugar to 4 cups flour, an additional packet of yeast (2+1/4 tsp) per recipe is needed. An excessive amount of sugar slows down yeast fermentation.
·         When changing your bread recipe from cake yeast to dry yeast, any of the dry yeast types (Active Dry Yeast, Instant Yeast or Bread Machine Yeast) may be substituted.  Dry yeast requires different water/liquid temperatures than cake yeast.
·         If you have dry yeast & your recipe doesn't have any liquids: Dissolve the yeast in about 1/4 cup of warm tap water, 110°F-115°F, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the water to give the yeast a good start. Since you will be adding the extra liquid, you may have to work in a small amount of additional flour to achieve the appropriate dough consistency.

The two types of dry yeast can be used interchangeably. 
·        When using Instant Active Dry Yeast, the bread recipe only needs one rise where as fresh yeast requires a full two rises before shaping. The first rise is replaced by a ten minute rest, and you don't need to "punch the dough down" afterwards. The second rise takes place after the dough has been shaped into a loaf.  It will take approximately one hour in a warm place (longer in the refrigerator as a slow rise) until the dough is just about doubled in bulk.

·         One advantage of the rapid-rise is the rising time is half of the active dry and it only needs one rising. It gets its second rise when you shape the loaf before baking.  Instant or Rapid Rise Yeast does not require warm liquid to be activated. This type of yeast has been genetically engineered from different strains of yeast to produce breads.  Instant yeast is more finely ground than active dry yeast so it can absorb moisture faster which enables it to rapidly convert starch and sugar into carbon dioxide helping the bread expand and stretch and it also does not need to be dissolved in water first. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients, making it a popular choice for use with bread machines.

Yeast is the essential ingredient in bread baking. Since yeast is alive, having fresh yeast and using it properly will help you be successful at baking.

Important tips
·         Yeast activity may decrease if it comes in direct contact with sugar or salt.
·         Always use dry yeast at room temperature.
·         The most accurate way to determine the correct liquid temperature is to use a thermometer. Any thermometer will work as long as it measures temperatures between 75°F and 130°F.

Two ways to incorporate yeast into your dough

 1.  Yeast can be added directly to dry ingredients.
·         Use liquid temperatures of 120°F to 130°F for dry yeast.
·         Use liquid temperatures of 90°F - 95°F for cake yeast.

2.  Yeast can be dissolved in liquids before mixing with the rest of the dry ingredients.
·         Rehydrating Dry Yeast before using it in your recipe gives it a "good start."  The yeast has time to start feeding on the sugar allowing it to become very active and ready to work in your dough.
·         Water is recommended for dissolving yeast.
·         Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup 110°F-115°F water. (Yeast will start to die at 120°F so don’t get the water too hot) Add up to 3 packets of yeast, depending on your recipe, to the sugar solution.
·         Stir in yeast until completely dissolved.
·         Let mixture stand until yeast begins to vigorously bubble (5 - 10 minutes).
·         Add mixture to remaining ingredients.
·         Remember to decrease the total liquids in your recipe by 1/2 cup to adjust for the liquid used to dissolve the yeast unless already accounted for in the recipe.

Expiration Date and Yeast Testing:
Yeast does expire.  Yeast will last longer than the date printed on the packet if kept in the refrigerator.  It will last even longer if kept in the freezer (up to a year and sometimes even more).

Test your Yeast: Sugar is used in testing yeast.  To test: add ½ tsp of sugar to the water and then stir in the yeast and dissolve.  If it bubbles and makes a foam within 5-10 minutes you know it is alive and active.  It is better to spend an extra few minutes to check your yeast than to make bread that never rises.

Measuring Yeast:
When measuring yeast for a recipe you don’t have to be exact.  The yeast is going to multiply anyway.  A little less yeast is fine; the dough will rise more slowly and may even taste better.  If you add too much yeast, however, it can give the bread an unpleasantly yeasty aroma and flavor.
Keep Rising Dough Warm
Yeast works best between temperatures of 70°F and 80°F. If your house is cool in the winter, place the bowl somewhere warm, like the top of a fridge or in a warm (turned off!) oven. I have even been known to raise dough on top of a heating pad.  If you put the dough on a heater to rise, insulate the bottom of the bowl with a few fluffy towels. If your house is very warm, the dough may rise more quickly than expected. (If your yeast rises out of control you can add a bit of salt to slow it down)
Butter, Eggs, Milk, and Sugar slow down Yeast Activity
If you are making a bread with a lot of these ingredients like a sweet bread.  The dough may rise more slowly or not quite as much as usual.  There is nothing wrong with the yeast or the bread it will just require more patience.  One thing I have learned with bread making is you can’t rush it.  You will be rewarded by waiting to let the yeast do it’s job!
Salt and Sugar in bread:
Although salt does inhibit the growth of yeast, it does give a firmer crust, a finer crumb, and adds flavor. Your bread will not taste right if you forget the salt.

Sugars are not essential to leavened baked goods, but they make the product more tender due to postponement of protein coagulation, allowing the dough/batter to grow to a greater volume before being frozen into stasis by the baking process, as well as adding to flavor. If too much sugar is used, it can slow down the growth of the yeast, with a low-rise result. The relationship of sugar to salt to leavening is crucial to a pleasing final product.

Why is kneading of yeast breads required? It helps distribute the yeast cells uniformly throughout the dough, so it does not rise unevenly. Kneading also develops a firm gluten structure, providing the framework for the carbon dioxide bubbles. 

Storage of Yeast
Open Package -Active dry yeast will keep well beyond its expiration date printed on the package for one (1) year if unopened at room temperature. It will keep longer if frozen. Place directly in the freezer in its vacuum sealed container. If frozen, you can use it directly without thawing. I usually keep my open packages in the refrigerator and unopened packages in the freezer.
Unopened Package - If opened, active dry yeast will keep 6 months in the refrigerator and 12 months in the freezer. Keep yeast in its original container with the opened flap folded closed in a re-sealable plastic bag. Stored at room temperature and opened without a protective outer container it loses its power at about 10% per month.

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