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Yeast: Types, Use, Storage, Conversions (instant<>active, US<>UK, etc.)


YKL
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I see we have an absolute consensus on all the yeast issues here. So just out of curiosity I will eventually try all suggestions above on some recipe. But not all at once, unless I get a clear weekend to spend on it.

I did pickup a pound of fresh yeast from a local artisan bakery, Main Street Bakery. So that should be about a lifetime supply for me.

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If you've had some fresh yeast, you'll immediately notice its strong aroma-- much stronger than the dried stuff. But I don't think I've ever been able to tell the difference in the taste of a final loaf of bread. You're not looking to taste yeast in your bread, anyway. That's one of the reasons you use as little as possible. The flavor you want comes from the wheat and bacterial & enzymatic growth.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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  • 10 months later...

Hi Everyone

I'm pretty new to bread baking so I'm basically starting with your average loaf type breads.

Here is my question. I've baked the following recipe twice. Each time, I immediatly put it in the fridge overnight for its first proof. Then, I take it out in the morning, shape it, place it in the pan and let it rise again, then bake it.

I remember reading somewhere( maybe bread bakers apprentice) that bread tastes better when slowly proofed in the fridge and that you can use less yeast. I've made this bread twice. (half recipe) The first time as written, using 2 1/4tsp of yeast( i buy it in bulk) The second time I only used 1 1/4 tsp of yeast. What is the minimum amount of yeast I can use for the maximum amount of flavor?

Thanks

Here are the ingredients. I'm leaving the directions out. I do make this in the food processor, using the dough blade.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

2 loaves

3 1/2 cups warm water (100° to 110°)

3 tablespoons honey

2 packets active dry yeast

4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup wheat germ

2 tablespoons salt

edited to add this picture:

Here is a sandwich using slices from the second loaf.

gallery_25969_665_503841.jpg

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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What is the minimum amount of yeast I can use for the maximum amount of flavor?

VERY nice looking sandwich - are you sure you're a beginner?

Given how attractive your bread is, perhaps a good starting point is asking which loaf you preferred in terms of texture and flavor? In my somewhat limited experience, there are so many variables in terms of grain, different additions, and climate, probably even the pH of your hands in shaping the loaf, that what works in one location for one person may not turn out the same for another person or place.

But....if you preferred the 1.25 tsp loaf, why not do a series of loaves, each using 0.25 tsp less yeast? I'd be very interested in your results.

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What is the minimum amount of yeast I can use for the maximum amount of flavor?

VERY nice looking sandwich - are you sure you're a beginner? 

Given how attractive your bread is, perhaps a good starting point is asking which loaf you preferred in terms of texture and flavor?  In my somewhat limited experience, there are so many variables in terms of grain, different additions, and climate, probably even the pH of your hands in shaping the loaf, that what works in one location for one person may not turn out the same for another person or place. 

But....if you preferred the 1.25 tsp loaf, why not do a series of loaves, each using 0.25 tsp less yeast?  I'd be very interested in your results.

I agree with this advice. It's not so much "maximum flavor" as what you're looking for. I would usually use about 1/2 tsp per loaf, but I would let the first ferment go at room temperature before refrigerating overnight. I think the better measure is to match the yeast with rising time: double your volume in the time you let ferment. The colder (in a fridge), the longer. It also depends on whether you preferment or mix everything together and then chill. That's the cool think about bread baking: you can adjust temp, time, yeast, preferments, & salt to create a unique flavor.

FWIW, I think the "Bread Baker's Apprentice" is an excellent source.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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What is the minimum amount of yeast I can use for the maximum amount of flavor?

VERY nice looking sandwich - are you sure you're a beginner? 

Given how attractive your bread is, perhaps a good starting point is asking which loaf you preferred in terms of texture and flavor?  In my somewhat limited experience, there are so many variables in terms of grain, different additions, and climate, probably even the pH of your hands in shaping the loaf, that what works in one location for one person may not turn out the same for another person or place. 

But....if you preferred the 1.25 tsp loaf, why not do a series of loaves, each using 0.25 tsp less yeast?  I'd be very interested in your results.

I agree with this advice. It's not so much "maximum flavor" as what you're looking for. I would usually use about 1/2 tsp per loaf, but I would let the first ferment go at room temperature before refrigerating overnight. I think the better measure is to match the yeast with rising time: double your volume in the time you let ferment. The colder (in a fridge), the longer. It also depends on whether you preferment or mix everything together and then chill. That's the cool think about bread baking: you can adjust temp, time, yeast, preferments, & salt to create a unique flavor.

FWIW, I think the "Bread Baker's Apprentice" is an excellent source.

Ok, im somewhat confused. If I can use 1/2tsp, then why does the recipe call for 2 and 1/4tsp. Whats the point of using more than you need? Also, i have some good instant yeast, can that be subbed? Would I use the same measurements?

What is the benefit of allowing the first rise and then refridgerating?

Thanks

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In my experience most loaf bread recipes want to get you from start to finish in a small number of hours. You can get the yeast to leaven the dough in that time if you use lots.

By reducing the amount of yeast and increasing the time, you let the other byproducts of the fermentation take hold without the yeast over-fermenting the dough.

If you use a small amount of yeast the night before and let it rise for 1-3 hours at room temperature, you give the yeast a head start. Putting it in the fridge slows down the remaining fermentation. If you just knead and stick in the fridge, the yeast will be largely dormant overnight.

My experience has been with pizza and rustic Italian hearth bread, rather than loaf pans intended for sandwiches, so the overnight rise may work against you in that you probably want a finer grained bread.

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Cali,

I'd agree with the others that you have a might fine looking bread already, and I'll gladly come over and taste some ;)

Usually, when you make a pre-ferment (biga, poolish, pate fermente, etc), you don't use the entire formula, and just let it sit. It's usually a fraction of the finished total. If you're up for an experiment, try this.... take 2 cups of the flour and mix with 2 cups of the water, and 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Let sit, at room temperature, over night, in a covered container (you need something big enough to allow for expansion). The next morning, use this in your dough, and add the remaining ingredients. You could probably cut the total yeast somewhat. Your goal here is to allow the yeast to eat everything in the pre-ferment just to the edge of totally, or, when the pre-ferment is just starting to recede on it's own. That should be your peak flavor point. How long that takes involves many variables, including the room temperature and the temperature of the ingredients. This time of year, you have to make sure it's not too cool, or you won't reach that flavor pinacle overnight.

And I thought poutine was a Quebec thing ??? ;)

Edited by UnConundrum (log)
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Cali,

I'd agree with the others that you have a might fine looking bread already, and I'll gladly come over and taste some ;)

Usually, when you make a pre-ferment (biga, poolish, pate fermente, etc), you don't use the entire formula, and just let it sit.  It's usually a fraction of the finished total.  If you're up for an experiment, try this.... take 2 cups of the flour and mix with 2 cups of the water, and 1/4 teaspoon yeast.  Let sit, at room temperature, over night, in a covered container (you need something big enough to allow for expansion).  The next morning, use this in your dough, and add the remaining ingredients.  You could probably cut the total yeast somewhat.  Your goal here is to allow the yeast to eat everything in the pre-ferment just to the edge of totally, or, when the pre-ferment is just starting to recede on it's own.  That should be your peak flavor point.  How long that takes involves many variables, including the room temperature and the temperature of the ingredients.  This time of year, you have to make sure it's not too cool, or you won't reach that flavor pinacle overnight.

And I thought poutine was a Quebec thing ???  ;)

Thanks. I'm going to try this on my next loaf. I'm in the middle of prepping for a catering event tomorrow night so no baking until this weekend is over.

Poutine is a Quebec thing( although really, its very Canadian). I'm from Cali and my spouse is Canadian and gave me the nickname Poutine. Thus, the moniker!!

I was given the nickname before my spouse even knew I was a chef!!

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  • 2 months later...

I'm converting bread formulas to bigger batches, so far up to ten times the original. With the sourdoughs, no problem. But with commercial yeast, big problems.

While every book and resource has very handy sections on how to convert from teaspoons to weight and the like, and how much yeast of all varieties (cake, active dry and instant) are required per cup or unit of measure of flour, I can't find anything that says whether making multiple batches of a particular bread simply requires one to simply multiply the original yeast requirement straightforwardly by the bigger batch.

For example, if the original formula calls for 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast, will a batch 8 times that simply mean you use 6 teaspoons of instant yeast? That just seems excessive to me. And does it matter what sort of instant yeast you use? One author says all instant yeasts are alike, despite claims to the contrary, so I'm not sure, because other sources disagree.

I've used SAF Perfect Rise Yeast (which is according to its package a fast-rising, active dry yeast) for a couple of years now, but my local source stopped carrying it and so I bought some SAF Instant, thinking it was the same. They are packaged differently.

I made a multiple batch (8 times the original formula) with the new SAF Instant and simply multiplied the yeast called for by 8. It fell apart in my hands during the final mix and was a total disaster.

Can somebody help me out with this? It seemed an excessive amount of yeast to me, but I've not been able to find any help in any text or resource I've looked at. Please don't tell me to simply use baker's percentages. I'm not good with numbers as a rule, so this is particularly difficult for me and I'm feeling like a total doofus. Or maybe someone knows a resource I've missed?

Thanks.

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You really need to learn how to bake bread by weight, rather than by volume measurements. Baker's percentages are very easy if you can grasp them mentally and is really the only way to figure this out. Using baker's percentages there is no muss nor fuss. If your formula calls for 2% yeast to make one loaf, it will be 2% to make 100 loaves. I would suggest finding a table of conversions in a Peter Reinhart book, and sticking to it. Off the top of my head I know that 1 tsp instant yeast is .11 oz for instance. It gets weird when you realize that most formulas are written with fresh yeast in mind, and then you have to multiply by .33 to get the weight for instant yeast. Scaling weight divided by formula percentage times 100 will give you the flour weight and all the other ingredients are a percentage of that. French bread is 100% flour, 60% water, 2% yeast, 2% salt, roughly, depending on your flour. So if you want to make 53 loaves weighing 14 oz each before baking it goes like this...

53 x 14= 742 oz for all the loaves

formula percentage all added up is 164%

divide 742 by 164= 4.52 times 100 is 452 oz of flour

452 x.60 for the water is 271 oz of water

452 x .02 for the salt is 9 oz salt

452 x .02 for the yeast is 9 oz fresh yeast

9 oz fresh times .33 = 2.98 oz instant yeast

this is probably confusing you more, but it's well worth the effort to learn it.

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A few more considerations to add to McDuff's post:

For artisinal bread, most bakers with whom I am familiar are using 40% of instant active yeast as compared to fresh yeast due to the cooler dough temperatures. For pan breads and sweet doughs, they are sticking with the 33% as recommended by the manufacturer.

Also, when switching from fresh yeast to inactive yeast, the difference in weight is replaced with water. So, for McDuff's illustration above, the water would be increased by 6.02 oz. to a total of 277.02 oz.

I second McDuff's suggestion to learn baker's percentage, and would go one step further and encourage you to work in metric. The math is easier and the system is more accurate, especially with a digital scale.

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Yes, okay, that was helpful. I already knew the .33 issue, but since I don't have a digital scale, it isn't helpful to me.

So what that really means is I have to get a digital scale. Everything else I do by weight because flour and starter and starter and water are easy to scale. Yeast isn't.

So thanks folks. I'll have to whine once more to my husband for one more piece of equipment. I was sort of hoping I could put that off for a month or so, but oh hell. I need it.

You're wonderful. And helpful. Thanks.

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You can fudge it for a while by knowing that a cup of flour is about 5.5 oz. And the reason I recommend finding a conversion chart and sticking to it is that you can pretty accurately guesstimate the yeast weights by knowing, as I said, that 1 tsp instant is .11 oz, a 1/2 t is .055 and so on. Google Craig Ponsford and see if you can find his Artisan Baker's site as he has a pretty complete explanation of baker's percentages. Most of the current crop of usable bread books does too. I'm a big fan of Reinhart's books.

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No, a digital scale is not absolutely necessay; it is, however, extremely helpful -- they are faster and more accurate than volumetric measuring. Excellent bread was made for centuries before digital scales were developed. It sounds as if you are greatly increasing batch sizes, and that is where the disparity in the inaccuracies of volumetric measurements can increase. Cups, tsp. and Tb. are not standardized; weights are. Using McDuff's example, what if your recipe required .08 oz. vs. the .11(1/2 tsp.)? You would have to extrapolate; not a terrible thing, but not something that promotes accuracy which in turn promotes consistency. If you are home baking and have reasonably consistent results, that's fine. If you are increasing batch sizes times 8 or more, perhaps you are getting more serious, and if you are, then perhaps a scale is in order. Would I quit baking bread if my scale were taken away? Absolutely not; I would find a way to do it.

Until you use a scale, baker's percentage is irrelevant. Jeffrey Hamelman's book on bread details baker's percentage in a manner that the professional and the home baker can easily process.

P. S.: Many scales come are available with 2 gram increments. Try to find one with 1 gram. I have had a Salter 5 KG/11LB scale with 1/8 oz/1gram increments for three years. Students borrow it, I have traveled with it, it has been subjected to a lot of use and I have only had to replace the batteries. It sells for around $60. I have other scales, but for the money, it's been great. For a selection of scales you can search www.oldwillknotscales.com

Mitch

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Okay, I guess I wasn't very clear. I already really do understand the conversions from teaspoons to ounces and to grams. I've already made the conversions from fresh and active dry yeast to instant yeast.

My question, though (which is why I noted earlier that simply noting I need to use Baker's percentages wouldn't help), was not those conversions, but whether it was then a simple matter of multiplying that initial conversion for one batch by the number of the larger batch.

For example. I've already got the converted # for the instant yeast for the formula for one batch. I now want to make 20 times that. Do I simply multiply the grams for one batch by 20?

Because that's what I did, and the whole batch died.

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No, a digital scale is not absolutely necessay; it is, however, extremely helpful -- they are faster and  more accurate than volumetric measuring.  Excellent bread was made for centuries before digital scales were developed.  It sounds as if you are greatly increasing batch sizes, and that is where the disparity in the inaccuracies of volumetric measurements can increase. Cups, tsp. and Tb. are not standardized; weights are.  Using McDuff's example, what if your recipe required .08 oz. vs. the .11(1/2 tsp.)?  You would have to extrapolate; not a terrible thing, but not something that promotes accuracy which in turn promotes consistency.  If you are home baking and have reasonably consistent results, that's fine.  If you are increasing batch sizes times 8 or more, perhaps you are getting more serious, and if you are, then perhaps a scale is in order.  Would I quit baking bread if my scale were taken away?  Absolutely not; I would find a way to do it.

   Until you use a scale, baker's percentage is irrelevant. Jeffrey Hamelman's book on bread details baker's percentage in a manner that the professional and the home baker can easily process.

P. S.: Many scales come are available with 2 gram increments.  Try to find one with 1 gram.  I have had a Salter 5 KG/11LB scale with  1/8 oz/1gram increments for three years.  Students borrow it, I have traveled with it, it has been subjected to a lot of use and I have only had to replace the batteries.  It sells for around $60.  I have other scales, but for the money, it's been great.  For a selection of scales you can search www.oldwillknotscales.com

Mitch

Yes, thanks, I am way serious. We built a woodfired oven from Alan Scott a year ago and I'm planning a business around it. I've made somewhat larger batches( 6 xs) preliminarily as practice and so far haven't had this problem, which is why I wondered too whether it might have been a difference between the instant yeasts I was using. I'd been using one instant yeast and not had a problem, and then couldn't find it at my usual place and ordered another which was different, increased the batch size from 6 xs to 8 xs, and the dough using the new batch of instant yeast fell apart in my hands.

I use a scale already (not a digital) for everything else, and it always seemed to me, as you note, that since bakers were baking massive batches of bread before digital scales were invented, then the scale I have should work. But then I had this annoying experience with this batch and I freaked out.

But a digital scale would surely make it easier, and I've been meaning to get one for a long time. So thanks for that recommendation. I'll look that up.

And I apologize for being scattered and unclear. This was a rough weekend for me and I'm just sort of climbing out of it.

Thanks for the responses everybody.

Edited by devlin (log)
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Yes, you can increase batch sizes and the yeast will remain in balance. Please forgive me for beating the drum for baker's percentage (again), but with this method as McDuff illustrated you can make precisely the amount of dough you need rather than relying on batch sizes which may produce more or lest units than you wish to bake.

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Yes, you can increase batch sizes and the yeast will remain in balance.  Please forgive me for beating the drum for baker's percentage (again), but with this method as McDuff illustrated you can make precisely the amount of dough you need rather than relying on batch sizes which may produce more or lest units than you wish to bake.

No, no need to apologize or to explain. Baker's percentage are actually what I've been gravitating to, and I've already got all the resources everybody's mentioned (Hamelman, Reinhart, etc.), and again I should have been more precise about what I was asking for, which was beyond the baker's percentages really, and a simpler question which was what I outlined above and which you have now very obligingly come back to answer.

Anyway, here's sort of what happened and why I was frazzled and cranky and out of sorts. My bakery is out of my garage, and it's been under construction off and on for about a year and a half (together with the oven). We've done it ourselves, hiring someone only to build the oven. And then other events came along to interrupt, like Katrina. I'm a volunteer for United Animal Nations and went down to one of the animal shelter outposts in Louisiana to help care for about 300 dogs during that. And then another emergency out of Arkansas happened with even more dogs, a horrifying place where some of the Katrina dogs ended up, some of them dying from neglect after all they'd been through, 450 dogs from everywhere, and then the holidays happened fast on the heels of that, and so the bakery's only just being finished. I've been working concentratedly for the past four years on learning artisan bread baking, but the oven is still a learning process, as is the process of the larger batches.

And my husband keeps pushing me to get stuff out, even when the bakery's not really totally user friendly yet, although nearly, and I have to keep resisting because I'm not together enough yet. And then he told a colleague I might be able to cater breads and cakes and cookies for her wedding rehearsal dinner this past Friday. He told her on Tuesday. And when I called her back I felt obliged and compelled or whatever to do it because it was a good opportunity and because she already knew some of what I did and loved it. So I got all the cakes and cookies prepared in two days while working on the bread and firing up the oven in stages over a couple of days to get it ready after sitting cold for about a month. And I made sure to have two breads going just in case. Thank god. Because my most reliable bread, typically, the one everybody loves in particular, the one I'd promised, the one that I use the instant yeast for and is fermented over three days, started falling apart the morning of the bake, which it's never done. And I'd done a larger batch about a month before, just not this big, although close enough. The other one, a really lovely garlic sourdough, turned out beautifully, but I had to trash the other.

Because I had the garlic, I was able to still give them bread, but I was in a panic the day of the bake, the day I was supposed to get the bread to the dinner, because my one batch totally fell apart on me. The evening was still a success, and in fact the customer insisted on writing a check for more than I billed them because they said there was no way they were going to let me charge them so little for what I'd done.

I unloaded everything on the table to exclamations of delight, and the bride, who unbeknownst to me, had already had some of my stuff, was confident from the start. And then I took my husband out for a drink and then went home to read the book I'd gotten from Amazon that afternoon, "Don't Try This at Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs." The first chapter beings, "The lobster's off," going on to reiterate a total fiasco where the prize dish for a crowd of something like 3000 people goes bad before they start and the scrambling to make it work somehow anyway and the lesson there, the necessity to have a Plan B. And I had to laugh.

Obviously I'm not anywhere near that level or the scale of disaster. But still, it felt disastrous enough to me. But then I realized, you know, I managed to pull it off anyway and everybody was thrilled with the stuff. And I still have my best bread to spring on them later.

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  • 4 months later...
I haven't baken since spring (IT's been hot).  I wanted to make some challah this weekend and I went to look for my yeast and my wife had put it in the freezer.  Is it ruined?

Soup

you can do a test by proofing it--take a bit, add some warm water and 1 tsp. of sugar, whisk, let sit in warm space for 10 mins. if activity is less than foamy, vigourous, and yeasty smelling, chuck and buy new. hope this helps...

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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I haven't baken since spring (IT's been hot).  I wanted to make some challah this weekend and I went to look for my yeast and my wife had put it in the freezer.  Is it ruined?

Soup

I store my yeast in the freezer. Won't affect it at all (and it will make it last longer).

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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