I would so appreciate a quick and easy way to remember the difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast. I know SAF Gold is for sweet doughs and SAF red for the rest, but I know there are some applications are better suited for active, and some instant.

I am more of a bread baker than sweets maker and do use my sourdough starter, Otis, and cheat a bit with packaged yeast. I use SAF and Red Star--Red Star seems to perform better. Any other yeast favorites? .

Has fresh yeast disappeared from your markets, as well?

  • Posted by: marynn
  • December 19, 2010
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marynn December 22, 2010
nutcakes, I have read this advice in several folks-who-know places and I always forget to do so. The old "clean the plate club" thinking. From now on, I resolve so to do!

And all of you, that Bon Appetit post on yeast ain't got nuthin' on y'all! This is the place to go.
AntoniaJames December 20, 2010
nutcakes, I'm no expert, by any means, and the amount of research I've done is next to none, but I have heard from reliable sources that world-class bakers agree that it really doesn't matter what kind you use . . what matters is how much you use, the temperature of your liquids, and the temperature of the environment in which the dough rises. That's perfectly consistent with my experience (again, not much, only 200 - 300 loaves a year, each baked one at a time + I haven't any professional training or experience, and very little time to read books or blogs on the subject).
nutcakes December 20, 2010
marynn I get big chewy holes in my no knead bread which is left to rise on the counter overnight. It uses a tiny bit of yeast. But I do usualy enhance it with a nugget or even cup of 'old dough'.
nutcakes December 20, 2010
Amanda, reading the CI article excerpted, if it is accurate, I did not get the idea that instant yeast is faster rising. Do you think this is the case? It seems to me to be more the case with the amount of yeast used. I agree with you on long slow cool rising. No Knead bread rocks!
marynn December 20, 2010
Thanks, all! HLA, your "active yeast needs activation" will remind me to slough off those dead yeast cells *ick*.
Amanda, I agree, a long, cool rise yields best results, particularly with baguette. But sometimes it feels like the "oomph" has left the dough and I love those big holes in the final product.
AntoniaJames, you are brave to pick through the minutiae of thefreshloaf. I do use it but find it overwhelming. I'm taking your word for it (and it's why I spend more time in food52!). >;)
AntoniaJames December 20, 2010
According to some fairly knowledgeable people (well, they appear to be so) in The Fresh Loaf forums, instant and rapid rise are two different types of yeast, but they are similar in that both have "enhancers" and the granules are larger. If that's all you have, just use less of it. And, if you were to make the English Country Bread someone posted on food52 some time ago, instant would be a great choice. It's not coated, like active dry yeast, so it doesn't need to be dissolved, as others have noted. That said, I believed for many years that the only reason to proof yeast is to make sure it's good (this advice from Julia Child), but I always knew my yeast was fresh because I buy it from the same company that provides flour and other baking ingredients to the best (read, household name) restaurants in the East Bay. So, for the longest time, I didn't bother to proof, just stirring the yeast in with the liquid ingredients and going on my merry way, i.e., dumping the dry ingredients in immediately. Frankly, it doesn't make a bit of difference, in terms of the performance of the yeast, whether you proof or not, as long as the yeast comes into contact with something wet. James Beard says it gives the bread a better flavor. In my kitchen, the jury is still out on that one. (My bread tastes great, either way.) ;o)

Voted the Best Reply!

hardlikearmour December 19, 2010
From Cooks Illustrated:
Despite indications to the contrary—created by the commercial largesse of the yeast companies—there are only three types of yeast: fresh, active dry, and instant. All are derived from the powerful brewer's yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but each is processed from a slightly different strain of this protypical yeast.


Fresh Yeast: The original commercial yeast, known as fresh, compressed, or cake yeast is about 70 percent water by weight and is composed of 100 percent living cells. It is soft and crumbly and requires no proofing—fresh yeast will dissolve if it is simply rubbed into sugar or dropped into warm liquid. Owing to qualities associated with its strain, fresh yeast will produce the most carbon dioxide of all three types of yeasts during fermentation. Fresh yeast is considered fast, potent, and reliable, but it has a drawback: it is highly perishable and must be refrigerated and used before its expiry date.

Active Dry: Active dry yeasts arrive at their granular state by undergoing processes that reduce them to 95 percent dry matter. Traditional active dry yeast is exposed to heat so high that many of its cells are destroyed in the process. Because the spent outer cells encapsulate living centers, active dry yeast must first be dissolved in a relatively hot liquid (proofed) to slough off dead cells and reach the living centers.

Instant Yeasts: Also called "Instant," "Rapid Rise," or "Bread" instant yeasts are also processed to 95 percent dry matter, but are subjected to a gentler drying process than active dry. As a result, every dried particle is living, or active. This means the yeast can be mixed directly with recipe ingredients without first being dissolved in water or proofed. It is in this context that the yeast is characterized as "instant." We prefer instant yeast in the test kitchen. It combines the potency of fresh yeast with the convenience of active dry, and it is considered by some to have a cleaner flavor than active dry because it contains no dead cells. (In our months of testing, we found this to be true when we made a lean baguette dough but could detect no difference in flavor when using the two yeasts in doughs made with milk, sugar, and butter.)

Substitution Formulas

To substitute active dry for instant (or rapid rise) yeast: Use 25 percent more active dry. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of instant yeast, use 1 1/4 teaspoons of active dry. And don't forget to "prove" the yeast, i.e. dissolving it in a portion of the water from the recipe, heated to 105 degrees.

To substitute instant (or rapid rise) yeast for active dry: Use about 25 percent less. For example if the recipe calls for 1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast, use 1 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast. And you do not need to prove the yeast, just add it to the dry ingredients.

To substitute fresh yeast for active dry yeast, use a ratio of roughly 2:1, i.e. use one small cake (0.6 ounce) of compressed fresh yeast in lieu of 1 packet (.25 ounces) of active dry yeast.

Note a packet of active dry or instant yeast contains about 2 1/4 teaspoons (.25 ounces) of yeast.
hardlikearmour December 19, 2010
Basically active yeast particles are live yeast encapsulated by dead yeast, so must be dissolved in water (proofed) before use to activate the yeast. Instant yeast (aka rapid rise or bread yeast) is all live, so doesn't need to have the outer coating dissolved in water. Substitution wise rapid rise is about 25% more potent than active.
A good way to remember is that active yeast needs activation. Hope this helps.
latoscana December 19, 2010
James Beard stresses the importance of freshness with any yeast. And fresh yeast, in particular, only works when it's fresh - so unless there are a lot of bakers at your market, they probably don't sell enough of it to warrant carrying it. I wonder if there are other sources available to the home baker?
mrslarkin December 19, 2010
I still find Fleischmann's fresh yeast in the dairy aisle, but don't ever use it. Some bakeries will sell it to you. I like Red star active dry yeast, because that's all I've ever used. As far as I know, with active dry, it requires a longer rise time. And with instant, less. Hopefully someone could illuminate us both!
Amanda H. December 19, 2010
This is not a direct answer to your question but .... in general, I'd never recommend instant (or rapid rise) yeast because you don't want any dough to rise quickly. Ideally, you want to use the least amount of yeast possible and you want to let dough proof slowly at cooler temperatures, so the flavor has time to develop. P.S. like the image you attached -- have felt like that in the kitchen many times!
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