How to proof & Check the yeast activity?

How To Proof & Check The Yeast Activity?


Before using yeast in dough, it’s important to check that it’s alive. This is called “proofing”. If yeast is stale, it won’t work and your dough won’t rise. To avoid wasting your time, always make sure your yeast is fresh. If unsure, do a “proof” test to check if it’s still good.

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

Check the yeast activity:

To determine the strength and freshness and ensure that it is still active:

  1. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/2 cup of lukewarm (40-46°C/105-115°F) water.
    If your recipe calls for it, you can prove the yeast in other lukewarm liquids like milk or juice.
    Do NOT use boiling water – that will kill it.
    Note that cold tap water will fail to activate the yeast, too.
  2. Then add and stir 1 teaspoon of sugar into the water.
    Yeast is fed by sugar, which will help it multiply and activate. It speeds up the process.
    Note that this sweetener does NOT have to be granulated white sugar. You can use brown sugar, molasses, honey, or maple syrup if your recipe calls for it. However, I find using regular granulated white sugar easier and adding the other required sweetener later.
    NEVER add salt to the yeast at this stage, or you risk killing it.
  3. Sprinkle 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast on the water’s surface.
    You do not even need to stir it in.
    Note: Instant yeast can make the rise time vary from the recipe.
  4. Place the cup in a warm area, allow it to sit undisturbed, and wait.

Check it after 10–15 minutes. This step may take longer or quicker, depending on how warm your house is.

The yeast should foam and rise to the 1-cup mark, and there should be a distinct odour. If it generates an airy foam, you know it is working correctly.

Once you see the foam, you can use your yeast in any recipe. Beer foam is the type of bubble you are looking for. Not soap bubbles, not the bubbles you get from kids’ toys. Beer foam bubbles are the green light to proceed.

At this point, you can add the yeast solution to the rest of the recipe. You can then use this mixture in your dough immediately; remember to reduce the liquid in your recipe by 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Important: No bubbles mean dead yeast, so continuing is pointless because your recipe will likely not turn out. If you DON’T see foam and you have been patient (given it 15 minutes or so), the yeast is old and should be thrown away, and you should purchase new yeast. Try again with another packet.


This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread


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