If you make bread yourself you are probably familiar with those small sachets of yeast you can buy in the store so you probably already know that the yeast is the crucial part of any bread making.
Yeast is a tiny living organism. There are many different types and the one that is used to make bread is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, or “sugar-eating” fungus. When the yeast “eats “the sugar it ferments, and it is this action which causes the bread to rise. Although yeast is a living single cell organism, it remains dormant in dried form until it is activated.
There are generally two types of dry yeast available to buy. These are Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast. Both are equally effective but require a slightly different method in preparation. First up we will look at how to use active dry yeast.
How to use active dry yeast?
Active Dry Yeast is the most commonly used yeast. To activate it ready for bread making, you should dissolve the sachet in a small amount of lukewarm water and for best results add a teaspoon of sugar too. Leave the yeast for around 10 minutes or so (time enough for a quick cup of coffee) until the mixture starts bubbling (fermenting). Then add the yeast mix to your flour and kneed the dough by hand.
Once you have got plenty of air into your mix, form the dough into a bread shape and leave it to prove in a warm place.
Once the dough has risen and expanded you can put it straight into the oven where it will expand again even more.
As a rough rule of thumb, the longer the bread takes to rise, the more the bread will expand. If you leave your bread mixture rising for too long, you may find that it collapses so it is important to put it into the oven at the right time.
You do not need to activate instant yeast in water. Instead simply add it dry to your bread mixture and mix it by hand, adding water to create the dough. As with the active dry yeast, this type of yeast also gives you two rises; the initial proving process where the dough rises at room temperature and the second rise when it is actually cooking in your oven.
In our opinion how to use active dry yeast is just as easy as using instant yeast and we like watching the fermentation process as it is just so satisfying. However whichever type of yeast you decide to use, makes no real difference to the end result.
Active dry yeast may take longer to rise but in truth the time that it takes for a loaf of bread to rise will largely depend upon the ambient temperature of your room rather than your yeast.
The great thing about yeast is that as long as you have some in your store cupboard you can always make your own bread without the need for any expensive equipment such as breadmaker or electric mixer.