The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast Question

  • Pin It
Barefoot-Baker's picture

Yeast Question

I've been baking for a number of years, and am still learning. I have a rather simple question (which may have a complex answer). The question is: How much yeast should I use?

Yeast is, of course, a living thing, and will reproduce so long as food is available, and conditions are suitable (no organism can live in an environment of its own waste products.) This being so, it would seem that the major variable in leavening dough is time. A small amount of yeast, over a longer time should result in the same effect as a larger amount of initial yeast would produce in a shorter time. Why then do different recipes call for different amounts of yeast?

deblacksmith's picture

I think one of the major factors is are we in a hurry.  If so use more yeast but if we want flavor (and for some it may be hard to tell the difference) then use less yeast and use a starter too.  I have always liked to use a starter -- even if it is based on instant yeast, not sour dough and last Friday I made my standard sandwich bread but with 1/3 less yeast.  It took about 2 more hours, but the bread is great.

Are we in a "production mode" or do we just want great bread.


Elagins's picture

yeast doesn't exist in a vacuum, but reacts to the conditions around it. so, for example, doughs that are heavily enriched, like a high-butterfat brioche, need a lot more yeast than, say, a lean dough that contains sugar, or a flour that contains conditioners like malted barley flour, which is rich in amylases that break starches down into sugars.

it also may have to do with the kind of yeast being used. the general formula is that you need only 1/2 the amount of active dry yeast to match the performance of fresh compressed yeast, and 1/3 the amount of instant yeast -- although in practice, fresh compressed yeast has a higher concentration of live cells than either dry product, and so produces a faster, more even rise.

Stan Ginsberg

verminiusrex's picture

My default is 1 teaspoon instant yeast per pound of flour (about 3 1/4 cups if you go by volume).  It has worked well for me in every recipe from bread to bagels to pizza crust.

Barefoot-Baker's picture

I think the answers I've seen confirm my supposition. The amount of yesat used depends on the time one is willing to let the dough rise. Since we, most of us at least, bake because we enjoy the taste of our finished product, we should use the minimum amount of yesst we can. Peter Reinhart advocates slow risig to improve flavor, and I concur. Until someone gives me a reason to do otherwise, I will begin all recipes with a pre-ferment, use 1/4 tsp. of yeast, and read more books while I'm waiting for my bread to rise.