The essential bread making basic ingredients – Yeast leavenings

Bread making basic ingredients – Yeast leavenings


Yeast is the cornerstone when making leaved bread. It helps the dough to grow and makes the bread nice and fluffy. Yeast is a living organism (a microscopic plant) that, when warmed up, mixed with liquid, sugar and flour, creates gas and carbs (called fermentation). This gas fills thousands of balloon-like bubbles in the dough. When the bread is baked, the gas stays in the dough, making it light and airy.

You need to use the right kind of yeast that the recipe calls for.


Accurately measure the amount of yeast

If you add too much yeast to your bread maker, the dough will rise too much. This can cause problems like the bread rising too early and then sinking and the bread forming large bubbles, which can make it chewy. If the dough rises too much, the bread can also have a yeasty taste and smell like alcohol.

If you use too little, the bread won’t rise properly, taste bad, and feel sticky.

To avoid problems, using the correct amount of yeast is essential. To do this, measure the yeast carefully before adding it to the machine.


Weather temperature affects the yeast

Yeast likes temperatures between 24-38°C/75-100°F to make tasty bread. If it’s too cold, the bread won’t rise well. If it’s too hot, the yeast will become overactive, and the bread won’t rise properly. A bread machine ensures the temperature is right for the yeast to work. But the machine is not sealed off and may be affected by the surroundings, so the bread might not turn out well if it’s very hot or humid. It’s best not to bake in extremely high temperatures.


Types of yeasts

Understanding the different types of yeasts and their applications is important for choosing the best type of yeast for the desired purpose.

Active Dry Yeast

Active Dry Yeast is a type of yeast often used to make bread. It comes in a dry form that resembles small grains, similar to cornmeal. You can make bread in a traditional oven or a bread machine. You can typically find it sold in a 7g (¼-ounce) envelope, 113g (4 oz) jar, or 908g (2 lbs) bag at most grocery stores in North America. Alternatively, you can buy it in bulk to measure the exact amount needed for your recipe.

Recommended ratios

To make bread, use about 3/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast for each cup of flour. For example, if you have 3 cups of bread flour, use 2-1/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast.

Can I use Active Dry Yeast for quick/rapid/express (1 to 1:30 hour) bread “settings”?

Active Dry Yeast is NOT recommended for quick/rapid/express (1 to 1:30 hour) bread “settings.”

Do I need to dissolve active dry yeast first?

You do NOT have to dissolve active dry yeast in water before using it in a bread machine, even though the instructions may tell you to. Your bread will still rise properly.

Bread Machine Yeast

Bread Machine Yeast was developed and packaged for bread machines.

Instant Yeast

Instant Yeast (also known as fast-rising, rapid-rise, quick-rise, and quick-acting) is a type of yeast made using a process similar to Active Dry Yeast. However, it is dried more quickly and milled into finer particles. This means that it dissolves and activates faster than Active Dry Yeast. Instant Yeast is excellent for quick baking projects, as it only requires one rise, significantly shortening bread-baking time.
Also, Instant Yeast and Bread Machine Yeast contain ascorbic acid which increases loaf volumes. If you want to speed up your standard yeast bread recipes, you can change the yeast to Instant Yeast.

Are Instant Yeast and Bread Machine Yeast the same?

Instant Yeast and Bread Machine Yeast are virtually the same and interchangeable with one another. They are grown with a higher level of nutrients and are dried to lower moisture content.

Recommended ratios

To make bread, use 1/2 teaspoon of Instant Yeast for each cup of flour. For example, if you use 3 cups of bread flour, you need 1-1/2 teaspoon of Instant Yeast or Bread Machine Yeast.

Which type of yeast should you use for quick/rapid/express (1 to 1:30 hour) bread “settings”?

Use Instant Yeast for quick/rapid/express bread settings that require 1 to 1.5 hours to bake. If you’re adapting a recipe that usually takes 3 to 4 hours, use two or three times the recommended amount of yeast and make sure the liquid temperature is between 43-46°C/110-115°F unless instructed otherwise.

Is Active Dry Yeast and Instant yeast the same?

Active Dry Yeast and Instant yeast are different. The Active Dry Yeast has a larger particle size. Active Dry Yeast makes bread rise slowly and results in a better texture. Instant yeast is faster and should be used for quick or express settings. It rises in half the time and only needs one rising. Do NOT use Active Dry Yeast for quick bread. Instead, use Bread Machine Yeast or Instant yeast.

Can you use Instant Yeast for sourdough bread?

Don’t use Instant Yeast in sourdough bread or bread with eggs, cheese, or multiple whole-grain flour. These bread types require a longer rising time to be successful, especially in bread machines.

Sourdough starter

A sourdough starter is a mix of flour, water, sugar, and yeast. You let it sit for 2 to 7 days. It gets a sour taste and bubbles. You can use it as a leavening to make the bread taste sour and have a spongy texture.

Can you use sourdough starter in a bread maker?

Yes, it is possible to use a sourdough starter in a bread maker. However, it is important to note that bread machines typically operate on a faster cycle than traditional sourdough bread-making methods, which rely on more extended fermentation periods to develop flavour and texture. To adapt a sourdough recipe for use in a bread maker, it may be necessary to adjust the proportions of ingredients and select a longer cycle with a slower rise time to allow the sourdough to develop properly. It is also essential to use a high-quality, active sourdough starter that has been recently fed to ensure good results. It is possible to create delicious sourdough bread in a bread maker with some experimentation and adjustments.

Fresh (also known as cake or compressed) yeast

Fresh yeast is a type of yeast that bakers use to help bread rise. It comes in small creamy-white (pale beige) blocks, is moist (about 70% moisture), soft and crumbly, and has a powerful smell. You can find it in the refrigerated section of many stores. However, once you open the package, you must refrigerate and use it within two weeks.

Can you use fresh yeast in a bread maker?

This highly perishable yeast is NOT recommended for bread machines, as poor results may be obtained. Fresh yeast is for professionals. It fails easily. Use dry yeast instead. You’ll get better predictable results.


Can I substitute Instant Yeast instead of Active dry yeast?

You can use either type of yeast for basic settings, but for rapid/quick settings, use instant yeast and not active dry yeast.

To make bread in a machine, you can use instant or active dry yeast. They work the same way, but you need to adjust the amount you use in your recipe. Active dry yeast is slower to work but eventually catches up with instant yeast. Using instant yeast, your bread dough will rise faster than active dry yeast.
For basic bread recipes, use ½ a teaspoon of instant yeast or ¾ of a teaspoon of active dry yeast for each cup of flour.

How to convert to instant yeast if the recipe calls for active dry yeast?

Bread machines use a higher temperature to make the dough rise. If you use “Instant Yeast” instead of “Active Dry Yeast” in the same amount when making bread on the basic cycle, the bread may rise too quickly and too high, then fall when baking. So, you need to reduce the amount of “Instant Yeast” by 25% compared to what the recipe calls for in Active Dry Yeast.

The recipe calls for “Active Dry Yeast”Convert to “Instant Yeast” (or “Bread Machine Yeast”)
1 teaspoon¾ teaspoon
1 ounce¾ ounce
10 grams7.5 grams

How to convert to active dry yeast if the recipe calls for instant yeast?

Remember, “Active Dry Yeast” is NOT recommended for quick/rapid/express (1 to 1:30 hour) one-rise bread “settings.” Thus, just convert for regular two or three hours cycle settings.

The recipe calls for “Instant Yeast” (or “Bread Machine Yeast”)Convert to “Active Dry Yeast”
1 teaspoon1 ¼ teaspoon
1 ounce1 ¼ ounce
10 grams12.5 grams

How to convert to active dry yeast if the recipe calls for fresh yeast?

Fresh yeast is NOT recommended for bread machines, so you should always convert the recipe to “Active Dry Yeast.”

The recipe calls for “Fresh Yeast” (or cake or compressed)Convert to “Active Dry Yeast”
1 ounce1/2 ounce
10 grams5 grams
1 cube (17 grams / 2/3 ounce)1 envelope (7 grams / ¼ ounce)

How much is a “packet” of dry yeast?

Older recipes say to use “1 packet” of Active Dry Yeast. A packet (envelope) used to have 1 tablespoon of yeast, but now in North America, a packet has 2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4 ounce or 7g). This is because the process of making yeast has improved, so the yeast is stronger and more effective. 

In Brazil, a packet still has about 10g (about 1 tablespoon).


Storing and keeping yeast fresh

Fresh yeast works better than old yeast, so get the freshest yeast you can find at the store. If you use old or bad yeast, your bread won’t rise properly. Yeast is alive and needs a good environment to work well, so store it in a cool, dry place. Don’t put it near heat, like above your stove. If yeast gets too hot or isn’t stored correctly, it won’t work when you want it to. Ensure you put yeast in the freezer or refrigerator after you open it to keep it fresh.

Can you refrigerate or freeze dry yeast?

Yeast will die if you keep it too long, but you can delay this by putting it in the fridge. If you want to keep it longer, put it in the freezer. This will make the yeast cells dormant in a state of suspension so they won’t die. You can use it again when you want to bake.
Don’t freeze fresh yeast because it doesn’t react well to being frozen.

Yeast is highly perishable when exposed to any heat, moisture, or air, even in your freezer or refrigerator.

After buying yeast in bulk, divide it into smaller parts and keep each in an airtight container once you open it.

Remember: If you place an opened package of yeast into the fridge to store, it should be tightly sealed.

You have two choices:

  1. Keep the yeast in its original container by folding the opened flap and rolling it down to the level of the yeast. This will release any air that is trapped in the bag. Ensure that you secure the fold with a clip or tape to make it tightly closed. Put the container into a sealable bag to be safe from oxygen and humidity. Keep in mind that air can spoil the yeast.
  2. I suggest transferring the yeast into an airtight container made of glass or acrylic and storing it in the freezer.

Do I have to wait on the yeast to warm up (at room temperature) to start baking if I keep my yeast in the freezer?

To use frozen or refrigerated yeast, make sure it reaches room temperature. If your machine has a 30-minute rest cycle, that’s enough time. But if your machine kneads immediately, your yeast will be too cold and won’t work. This could cause your bread not to turn out well. However, the yeast only takes a few minutes to warm up. Take the yeast out of the freezer and let it warm up while you gather your other ingredients. By the time you measure everything else out, the yeast should be ready to use.

The main thing to do is avoid introducing yeast to moisture. Keep the air out.

Take the bag or jar from the freezer and scoop what you need. Cover the container after using it, and immediately put it back in the freezer or fridge. If you leave the jar open, the yeast will not last long because moisture will get in it.

Never use a damp measuring spoon.

How long does yeast last?

As yeast gets older, it becomes less effective. Unlike eggs, the yeast won’t spoil, but it will stop working and won’t help the bread rise anymore. The yeast issue is that it can become inactive without you realizing it has gone bad.

Dry yeast will keep fresh for months past the expiry date.

The time yeast lasts depends on how you store it. If yeast is expired and stored at room temperature, it’s likely dead. But if you freeze it, it can last indefinitely and restart once you thaw it.
Dry yeast has a “best by” date stamped on it but can last beyond that date.
If you keep yeast:

  • In a cupboard, unopened, it lasts about 6 months. If opened without protection, it loses power by 10% each month.
  • In the fridge, unopened, it can last a year. Opened, it lasts up to 4 months.
  • In a sealed bag, unopened yeast stays fresh indefinitely in the freezer. Once opened, it can last up to 12 months.

These times aren’t guaranteed, but yeast may still work after these times. Before using it, you need to ‘proof’ the yeast to ensure it’s still active and can make your dough rise.

How do I know if the yeast is dead?

If your bread or dough does not rise, it might be because the yeast is stale or dead. You can check if it is still good by testing it to see if it is active. This is proofing the yeast, where you let it eat sugar and multiply. To determine the strength and freshness and ensure it is still active, follow the method to Check the yeast activity described here.

The process of proofing is simple: yeast + water + sugar = beer foam bubbles.

If bubbles form on top, the yeast is good. Mix it with the other ingredients immediately, but reduce the liquid in your recipe by 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Important: No bubbles mean dead yeast.


Do I need to proof active dry yeast when using it in the bread machine?

You don’t have to proof the yeast before using it in your bread machine unless you want to check if it works. The instructions on the yeast packet are for traditional baking.

Ingredients that may affect the yeast

Certain ingredients may affect the growth and activity of yeast. Acidity can also affect yeast, with too much acidity hindering its ability to grow. Salt, sugar, and fat can also impact yeast growth, with too many of these ingredients potentially slowing down or killing the yeast. Ensuring that you are using the right type of yeast for your recipe and following the instructions carefully will also help to ensure successful yeast growth.

Cinnamon and garlic

Using too much cinnamon or garlic can change the size and texture of the bread. Follow the recipe, and don’t add too much cinnamon or garlic. Cinnamon affects how the yeast works, and too much can stop the yeast from working. This can change how the bread looks and feels. Adding high percentages of cinnamon can break down the dough structure. So use less cinnamon and add it only in the fillings to avoid changing the yeast activity. Similarly, too much garlic can also stop yeast activity.

Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel or zest, as well as alcohol

Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel or zest, as well as alcohol, will have a retarding effect. Too much will stop the yeast activity completely.

Tap water x Bottled water

Sometimes, water can prevent your bread from rising properly. This happens if your water is treated with chemicals like chlorine or if you have a water softener. To avoid this, you can use bottled water instead of tap water to make your bread.


Salt prevents the growth of yeast. Do not let the yeast touch the salt.


Chemical (non-yeast) leavenings

Chemical leavenings are commonly used in baking as an alternative to yeast. These leavenings release gases that cause the dough to rise, resulting in a light and fluffy texture. Baking powder and baking soda are the two most common chemical leaveners.

Different types of recipes require different types of leavening agents. Baking powder and baking soda can’t be swapped for yeast in recipes.

Baking powder

Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, acid and starch, allowing it to react with the liquid in a recipe without additional acid. It is used in quick bread (no yeast), cakes, and muffins. Double-acting baking powder doesn’t need time to rise before baking. You can mix it and bake it right away. The reaction happens twice, once when liquid ingredients are added and again during baking.

Baking soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) needs an acid, such as vinegar or buttermilk, to work and activates when it touches liquids. You don’t have to let it rise before baking because the reaction happens as it bakes. It’s different from baking powder, but sometimes people use them together.


What are the basic ingredients to make basic bread?

The basic ingredients to make bread are like instruments in an orchestra; each one does a specific job and gives a unique flavour to the bread. The right amount of each ingredient is essential to get the best taste. When you bake bread, a reaction happens to make a final masterpiece.

Excellent bread is as good as the ingredients that go into it. The basics for bread are simple: liquid like water or milk, fat like butter or oil, flour, sugar, salt, and yeastBread can taste better using additional ingredients, different grains and floursThere are also quite a few bread improvers that you can add to your home-baked bread, depending on what quality you are trying to improve.


This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread


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