When it comes to baking, it’s all about the science of combining ingredients that will work together to not just create something that’s soft, delicious, and flavorful, but also to give it the right texture and enough lift for it to be a successful baked dish.
The science behind baking is not the same as with cooking, and using the right ingredients and making accurate measurements can mean the difference between a successful baked dish and a failed one.
When it comes to bread, you have to know that not all yeasts are the same. Two of these, instant yeast and active dry yeast, may look almost the same but are used differently from the other.
Here are the main differences between these two yeasts and how to use it:
This yeast is the easiest to use for many home bakers. It’s made of tiny granules that don’t require any preparation to wake up the yeast bacteria before adding it to your flour mixture. The smaller granules allow it to dissolve quickly into your dough and more commonly, encourages a faster rise than other forms of yeast. You will also need to use less than the amount stated if you’re substituting this for active dry yeast.
To use, simply add the instant yeast to your dry mixture (usually, bread flour, sugar, and salt), mix, then stir in the wet to the dry ingredients.
But instant yeast does not automatcially wake up the dormant yeast bacteria. To do that, the wet ingredients usually include a warm liquid, usually lukewarm water about 105°F to 115°F.
Use a thermometer to accurately take the temperature of the water before adding it in. The temperature is specific and critical in activating the yeast, and you need to be within the range because if the water is too hot, the heat can kill the yeast while too cool, and the yeast doesn’t wake up. Once you have made your dough, continue with the recipe as stated.
Active Dry Yeast
Compared to instant yeast, this yeast has larger granules. That’s how you know that this is the type that needs to be activated even before starting.
Here’s what you do: dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water (again, about 105°F to 115°F) in a small bowl and set it aside for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you know you’ve successfully activated the yeast when the water has bubbled up. If however there are no bubbles at all, you either used water that was not at the right temperature or the yeast was already dead/expired. Repeat the process again to find out.
Once you’ve successfully activated your active dry yeast, add this bubbly mixture to the liquid part of the bread you’re making. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as stated and you’ll be assured of soft gently-risen bread that has a wonderful texture and is going to taste wonderful, all thanks to the yeast.