The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast Amounts - beginner baker

leechild4's picture

Yeast Amounts - beginner baker


I have just got started in baking, having bought myself a couple of books for Christmas. The question I have is about the different amounts of yeast the two books ask for in their recipes. The difference being one is American and one English.

How to Bake by Paul Hollywood
- his general rule is around 7-10g instant yeast per loaf 

Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller
- for his batard recipe he creates a poolish with 0.1g yeast, and then in the dough uses 0.9g yeast

As mentioned I am only just beginning so the answer may be very obvious but would really appreciate an answer from more experienced bakers as there seems to be a big difference in the amounts of yeast asked for.

on another note both books are amazing and really informative. Especially love the bouchon bakery book.


Juergen's picture

Would you should aim for with any receipe, is to use as little yeast as possible. I know the standard rule for 'everyday' bread is about 7%. You can use 7% but this will make your dough rise very fast (in about an hour or less) so you can have bread on the table in about three hours from start to finish. The problem with doing it this way, is that there won't be a lot of taste to the bread.  

In order to create flavour in bread, the natural sugars available in the wheat grain (trapped in the starch), have to be released so the yeast cells can consume them. This is where enzyme activity comes into play. Enzymes start to 'attack' the starch so it releases its sugar, this process takes about 6 to 9 hours to complete. During this time, the yeast cells consume these sugars and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol as by-products. The carbon dioxide is what raises the bread, the alcohol is baked off during the baking stage. So it's only after 6 to 9 hours that the fermentation process is completed.

If you use lots of yeast, raise a bread in one hour and have it on the table in three hours, what happens is that there won't be enough sugar released at the early stages for all these yeast cells to consume. Hence many of them won't get any food and simply die or get choked by the carbon dioxide that is being produced by the other yeast cells. I've also read that they even turn in on themselves for the lack of food in the form of sugar.

The result of all of this is that you'll end up with a loaf of bread which tastes yeasty, not a taste you'll associate with artisan bread where you expect to get the full sweetness and nutty flavour of the grain. So yes, it is possible to make bread with lots of yeast in a short period of time but it will lack flavour.

If you want to create superior bread, use less yeast and a far longer fermentation time. If you don't use any sort of pre-ferment and just want to make bread in a single session (which is what I assume since you're a starter), my advice would be to make a standard size loaf and use only 1% of yeast. Make the dough in the evening,  let it ferment for one hour at room temperature, put it in the fridge overnight, take it out the next morning and proceed as you normally would (making sure to de-chill the dough first for about an hour).

Hope this helps! Happy baking!






leechild4's picture

thanks for the advice guys. really enjoying learning so much about what i previously thought was a simple process. will definitely try the long ferment method