Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yeast Basics - From A Beginner's Perspective


My baking life was fairly peaceful with cakes and some simple desserts till the Yeast Beast stepped in and caused utter chaos. I suddenly got it into my head that I must bake bread. And this little voice in my head was hard to silence. So I set out to bake bread with the active dried yeast we get in our friendly neighborhood super-market. Warm water, sugar and in goes the yeast. Nail biting 10 minutes, froth here and there and I guess that's good enough! I mixed the dough and waited for it to rise, waited and waited, no rise sometimes, not enough rise at other times. Bricks of bread as dense as the forests of Amazon. Grumpy me. Baking bread on a weekend was torture for my family. The dough just would not rise enough (and this had to happen twice) and I would refuse to go out without finishing the bread baking business. Hair-tearing time for me and my family.

Obsessed, perplexed me.Improper proofing perhaps? Water too warm (no thermometer then) ? Lets start again, with water less warm. No different results. Aaahhh! Yeast in the pack is over, I rush to get another pack. (you are now convinced that I am mad) Wrong recipe for a beginner? This is crazy! Bread baking is just not my thing, I must give up and stick to cakes and the like. Optimistic me went ahead and baked a couple of loaves, thank fully better ones. May be the yeast was better in this pack and I chose the right recipe too. Joy!! But then, it was short lived, as I was getting inconsistent results.

Then I got a packet of yeast which read as instant yeast and more importantly a 'phoren' make. Hope! Looked so different, let me try! Consultation with Champa and I bake again. Good rise, every time, better breads. Aha! Finally nailed the major culprit factor - the yeast! Slow, but a momentous realization for me!

Good yeast, as we know is the first most important thing for a good bread. If the yeast is not good, even if everything else is perfect, the bread won't be good. So its important that we know yeast and how to identify it its good. This done, you have won half the battle. But if you live in the US or elsewhere, this is not relevant to you as you have access to only good yeast and you probably can't even think of (bad) yeast as a factor for a failed bread. For us folks here in India, good yeast is a real find and a rarity. Its imperative we know how to distinguish the hero from the villain. I have baked bread with bad yeast quite a few times not knowing that the yeast was not good enough (dense me, huh?) to even bother with. If you have not baked bread yet or been struggling with bad yeast, this post may be of help.

The below information has been compiled with reference to Champa's blog, Baking 911 and The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book.

Varieties of yeast: First things first. We have 3 types of yeast, Active Dried yeast, Instant Dried yeast and fresh yeast.


Active Dried Yeast : Is fresh yeast which has been compressed and dried until the moisture content is highly reduced. This yeast is available in the form of large granules in India, examples are Eagle, Kwality and a lot of other brands we see in our super-markets here. This kind of yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water and sugar for the yeast to be active again, this is called as proofing. Proofing is a test done to make sure the yeast is still active and good. 

If the yeast, fails this test, please discard and get yourself some good yeast. My experience has been really bad with these brands we get here as even the ones manufactured a couple of months earlier don't proof. It has worked once or twice for me, but not very reliable. So not worth trying out at all in my opinion. The one I got from the US (these are smaller granules) work fine.


Instant Yeast: This yeast, a relatively new thing, comes in tiny granules. I had been struggling with Active Dried yeast we get here and then got instant yeast. It looked almost like powder to me since the granules are really tiny. The way it looks when it proofs also a little different as compared to Active dried yeast. This yeast does not need to be proofed and can be added directly to the flour, liquid and rest of the ingredients of a bread recipe.

However, it does not hurt to proof this yeast. This yeast also has a long shelf life. This yeast works even if you use cool or ice cold water and no sugar, but of course the time it will take to rise and develop will be much much longer.  As in this recipe and Peter Reinhart's famous pizza crust.

As instant yeast does not need the kick-start with warm water and sugar to become active, this one is a safer bet when you are just starting.  Because even if you err with the water being less warm, the yeast will still work, albeit a little slower than what is mentioned in your recipe. As long as you don't kill the yeast with water too hot! And when you bake bread, you can just add all the ingredients together and mix the dough. I love using this yeast.

                                            Fresh Yeast - Image From WWW

Fresh yeast: Also called as cake yeast or compressed yeast or bakers yeast. Comes in small squares, is soft and moist and crumbles easily, stored in the refrigerator. This yeast has a short life of 2 weeks in the refrigerator and needs to be proofed before using. If frozen, you need to thaw the yeast in the fridge before proofing. Some of our local bakeries use this yeast. I have never seen or used fresh yeast. Supposedly quite potent and best used in breads needing long rises.

Choosing your yeast : Take a good brand of yeast, preferably instant or Active Dried. I prefer instant yeast and am very partial to a brand called Gloripan.  To repeat and bore you, do not bother with our local brands of Active Dried yeast. And be wary of repacked instant yeast if you are buying from an unknown or new source. Sources listed below.

Proofing: The test to determine if the yeast is good and active. If using a brand of yeast for the first time and you have never baked bread before, even before you gather all your ingredients and get ready to bake - proof the yeast. Take 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of yeast over it. Add some warm water say about 1/4 cup . The water must be warm(110 F to 115 F) - not hot. If the water is too warm or hot, it will kill the yeast. The water must feel like tepid bath water and feel comfortable on your wrist. 

If the yeast is good, it will start to foam and you can see bubbles over the surface. This starts to happen in about 2-3 minutes if the yeast is really good. This must happen within 10 minutes. If it does, you have found your 'good' yeast. Treasure it and spread the word! If it takes longer to foam, its not good enough - discard. A bubble or some froth here and there or too little froth are no good.

If using instant yeast, the bubbles will be really small, almost like whitish kind of froth. With Active dry yeast with larger granules, the bubbles will be bigger. And the yeast is going to just foam and not froth 'wildly'.

The below picture is instant yeast proofed. Its foamy.


This is active dried yeast proofed, if the granules are big, you will see the foam as well as some large bubbles.


This is poor quality which has not proofed its worth!! You can see foam here and there and this does not work well. From my experience!!

  
After you proof : Once you have found your brand of good yeast, you are all set to bake bread. Keep all your ingredients ready before you proof the yeast. You should add the rest of the dough ingredients preferably within 10 minutes of proofing the yeast. If you proof, find it good, leave it aside for a good 20 minutes and then proceed, the yeast will have lost its potency. So don't hunt for ingredients after you proof the yeast. Mise en place really pays!

Storing yeast: Store an opened pack in the refrigerator or chill tray of your fridge. If you buy one of those 500 gram packs, transfer some of it you could use with a month or two to an airtight box, keep this in the fridge. The rest can be stored airtight in the freezer. I have stored for about 4 months in the freezer. Unopened packs store longer.

But do remember, perfectly good yeast will not work well if not stored properly.

One envelope of yeast : Is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast.

Using ADY and Instant yeast interchangeably : If a recipe mentions ADY, you can use instant yeast in its place safely.  Then you can skip the proofing process and continue with the recipe. If a recipe calls for instant yeast (a recipe with warm water and sugar), then you can use ADY in its place, but you will need to proof it. In recipes which use cool water and no sugar you can't use active dried yeast here in place of instant yeast.

More yeast in a dough : Ideally its 2 1/4 tsp yeast for 3 to 3 1/4 cups of flour. If you use a little more than this, the rise will be faster. But if you use way too much, the bread will smell yeasty and funny. If using yeast for baking in a bread machine, the amount of yeast varies. As in these potato rolls.

If  you use slightly less yeast, less, no harm, the rise will be a little slower. Slow rise breads are more flavorful. But then you can't use too little as the amount of kneading and rise time also affect gluten development. Play around only if you know what you are doing.

Sources in Bangalore: You can buy instant yeast from IBCA and General Food Additives, also check The Brown Tree, Godrej Natures Basket. You could also check other whole sale shops which sell baking supplies. Most of them stock large packs of 500 grams. Gloripan, Angel and Eagle instant yeast (not Eagle active dried) have worked for me.

Online sources : ZansaarBakersmart

World Bread Day is on 16th October. Shall we roll up our sleeves and start working with yeast?

Disclaimer : This post is merely intended as information to identify good yeast and not with the intention of  bashing a particular brand or a paid review for promoting another brand.

 

49 comments:

Priti said...

Nice and useful post ..very well explained

Arch said...

God bless you for such a detailed post on yeast !! Gloripan has been a blessing, thanks to Sayantani and you...

Aparna S Mallya said...

I guess we just take ingredients for granted here in the U.S.
Good post, Suma.

Sum said...

Good info Suma! I too have had similar experiences... The Kwality brand worked very well first time and betrayed me next couple of times... Once since i mixed up the ingredients with over-confidence i had to turn the dough into 'mangalore bajjis'!

Thanks to you, i have got Gloripan and its been good. As you've explained, proofing did not ever yield in a bubbly mixture, but the dough when mixed, worked pretty well...
I want to know for how long can i store this Gloripan yeast after i have opened the pack... Since i bake rarely, and the smallest pack is big enough to use multiple times, i'm concerned my yeast will go bad... Also proofing it and finding out may be difficult as it does not bubble much....
Thanks for all these good info and tips :)

Priya said...

A page to be treasured, thanks for sharing Suma, very useful to anyone whoever wanted to start baking breads at home..seriouly fabulous work dear..

Mekala Ashokkumar said...

Very useful info! In case if I bake a bread i will keep in mind!

Krithi's Kitchen said...

Bookmarking this page.. really useful info.. Thanks for sharing...
Krithi's Kitchen
Event: Serve It - Festival Potluck

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

wow, thanks dear for all the details. Its good to have all this in one place to know and learn.

Neha said...

Very informative post...

Kadhyaa said...

Thank tou so much suma..very vey informative post..

zareena.b said...

Nice informative post dear. Thanks for sharing.

Divya Kudua said...

Ah,I think I can fill pages about my tryst with yeast!But strangely,it has not failed me very badly yet,whatever the outcome was,though not pretty by any standards,was edible!I've got some packets of Instant yeast,got to start baking.

Seema Kamath alias Seema Abbas Ali said...

This is such a valuable piece of information Suma. You are a blessing in disguise for all the bakers in Bangalore! Thank you so much...

organically speaking said...

very useful thank you! i have struggled with yeast in my attempts to bake bread at home.
i am now inspired to head to inst of baking art and buy some instant yeast and try again.
do let me know if you ever conduct any demos/classes

noodlehead said...

Hi, I have recently bought the same pack of Gloripan yeast. It works like a dream! However, I want to know how I can store it (right now, it's in a cool and dry spot in my pantry).

Suma Rowjee said...

@Sum, Organically Speaking & Noodlehead - An open pack of instant yeast is supposed to last well for months if refrigerated. I have had no personal experience as my yeast pack gets over pretty soon...

Sana said...

hii... ur post is really really helpful...
yday i made naans.. but it didnt rise v well neither was it v soft. It was just okay. So i did the yeast test today. Result was first 2 mins it just got dissolved and nothing as such happned... next 10mins it became foamy n lil frothy.. thn abt 40 mins later (i.e almost an hour) it had rose to a great height.
But i read after 20 mins of dissolvin, d yeast is of no use.
So i really cant understand d funda of yeast... did this happen coz of winter... if yes thn how do we work wid yeast in winter season.
Oopss ths has become long... Sorry .. n Thanks for being there for us beginners:)

Sana said...

Sorry forgot to mention... i used 1tsp active dry yeast... n dissolved in abt 2tbsp lukewarm water (microwaved for 10secs)and 1tsp sugar. Thanks!
Awaiting ur reply!

Saras said...

Thanks for your informative piece on yeast & the types available in the Indian market. For an absolute novice like me, with a keen interest to venture into baking bread, your well written article is really, really helpful.

Nandakumar said...

I had a similar exerience but then I got fresh yeast from Niligirs, Brigde road, Bangalore. It comes in 500gm pack costing around Rs.40. With fresh yeast, the bread comes out good. I keep in freezer and its been more than a month, still good to use.
You need to bring to room temp before using.

amy said...

very good post. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I try to bake a bread, my dough turns out to be extremely wet and sticky. Is it because the yeast is not good? It took me atleast 1 and half hours kneading to get a soft dough. This is the basic recipe I followed: 1.5 cups maida, 3/4 cup water, less than a teaspoon of active dried yeast, 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar. please suggest.

Suma Rowjee said...

@Anonymous - I think you have used more liquid than needed. If you use 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt is fine. I would suggest you pick up a good recipe and follow it. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Suma. I just checked your no knead whole wheat bread recipe -my white bread dough looks exactly like that - that wet and sticky. So kneading that is practically impossible. Most of the recipes that I've checked on the net are US based and they have this ratio -water is 50% less than the flour using the cup measurement. Let me try with what you've suggested.

Savitha said...

Can you please tell me in which supermarket in Bangalore gloripan yeast is available...and does the rising affected by weather conditions???

Savitha said...

Can you please tell me in which supermarket in Bangalore we get gloripan yeast.

Savitha said...

Can you please tell me in which supermarket in Bangalore we get gloripan yeast.

Suma Rowjee said...

@Savitha - Yes, weather does affect the time needed for the dough to proof. You can try Gloripan from IBCA and General Food Additives. Try Godrej Natures Basket, Brown Tree, you may get other brands of instant yeast.

Shanaya Sinner said...

Heya this post is very helpfull ,
Im from mumbai and we dont get gloripan over here. One of my frnd is on his way back from banglore and He is unable to find gloripan yeast. can you please tell me where can i find it ? Thanks a lot
http://littlemisssinner.blogspot.in/

SohNi said...

hi , is there any instant active yeast brand available in India.Pls suggest..:) Yesterday I tried making bread using dried active yeast and all went wrong:(

Sarav

Shivani Jain said...

Hi ive bought Royal n Blue bird active teast..how are they..???

Shivani Jain said...

I've tried every possible available yeast in the market.but it never works...tell me if i buy a 500gm bulk pack available online..will it last long if i store in freezer..??

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi Shivani! Sorry about the delayed reply. Have not tried Royal or Blue Bird. Yes, Gloripan instant yeast is good and you could freeze the extra yeast.

Shivani Jain said...

Thanx a ton..ive ordered it online..juz onething more..where can i get vital gluten is it available online ..or wat can be used as subsitute for it.??

Shivani Jain said...

Thanx a ton..ive ordered it online..onething more wat is vital gluten..?? is it available online??Or can i subsitute it wid sumthing??

Suma Rowjee said...

Guess it is available Shivani, check Foodforethought. Not sure if you could substitute it with anything.

Shivani Jain said...

It is available there but they ship only in banglore..i stay in Pune..sad...any other place where i can i buy online..??

Shivani Jain said...

Tell me wheat germ is same as wheat vital gluten powder..can it be uaed instead of that as someone told me it is same..is it ???

Shivani Jain said...

My pizza turned out delicious...thanx for directing to the right yeast..not itz time to play more wid it..!!

Richa Gupta said...

Hi, this is a great article! I keep coming back to it whenever I have queries about yeast. I have one question - How do you store Gloripan Instant Yeast? Mine came in a big packet, which once opened couldn't be closed. So I have taken out the contents and kept them in an air tight jar. Is that the right way? Can I keep this jar at room temperature or should I store it in the fridge? Thanks.

jyoti said...

I can relate to you when u tell about your initial experiences....and I am partial towards Gloripan too...after much hunting I found it on at zansaar.com ....those of you who want try this place

Suma Rowjee said...

@Richa -Pls store the yeast in an airtight box in the freezer. Keep some in the fridge in an airtight box for regular use. Replenish from the freezer as needed.

shan imi said...

Perfect ...no one can go wrong in baking now...I just bookmarked this page and gonna share it with all baking beginners like me..going to hunt for instant yeast very soon in kerala here..thank u

blahmachine said...

Thank you for the most informative post I have read on Yeast so far; you are godsent. I have struggled so much with the active dry Yeast that's available commonly... And have more or less given up on breads. Now I shall resume my quest!

vish said...

HI, thanks for putting so much time in researching all the details and sharing. i would soon try the proofing as i also failed couple of time and didn't have any idea whats going wrong...

Anonymous said...

such an inspirational article or whatever you would like to hear.
even I've been baking cakes and such things very well & when I got to think that i should make breads too,I killed too much time to do it.
but I never could make good bread just because of the yeast.It never actually got activated.I tried & tried at last i fed up.
But when I read this, I don't know i got inspired by your worthy details & I'm gonna restart my bread baking! hope it would end up in success! :) Thanks

aardee said...

Hii!!! What a great and helpful article!!! I've been struggling hard with the blue bird yeast available in mumbai...it's terrible!!!! Can not find gloripan here...tried really hard but no luck..though one shop here keeps tesco instant yeast...

Anonymous said...

Well written post

Ree Kasirajh said...

I am very happy to have found your blog through my friend and glad i followed so I dont miss any posts... All my queries have an answer in your blog!!! Very helpful for me suma!!! Well explained and hats off to your amazing work!!