Proof the yeast

Proof the yeast

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Proofing is a method to ensure that yeast is alive and ready to work in the dough.

Often, dough that fails to rise is due to stale yeast. You don’t want to waste your time by adding dead yeast to it.

If you are unsure of the freshness of your yeast, it is recommended that you proof or test the freshness of your yeast before using it.

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 proof 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. If your recipe calls for it, you can use brown sugar, molasses, honey, or maple syrup. However, I find it easier to use regular granulated white sugar and add 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 surface of the water.
    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 and allow sitting undisturbed and wait.

After 10–15 minutes (This step may take longer or quicker, depending on how warm your house is), check it.

Check the yeast activityThe 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 amount of liquid in your recipe by 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Important: No bubbles mean dead yeast, so there is no point in continuing 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.

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