The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Warning: Possible Stupid Question ahead

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BKSinAZ's picture

Warning: Possible Stupid Question ahead

I am an amature baker who has been baking standard artisan bread (in home oven) for about 1 year now.

Instead of buying expensive yeast in a jar from the local grocery store, I have been watching many videos on how to make my own starters. It appears that all the bread recipes that use starters are sourdough breads.

My question: I like the idea of making my own yeast, naturally and FAR LESS expensively then what is for sale in the stores, how ever I am not crazy about sourdough breads. Can a normal artisan or sandwich bread be made with a starter that is NOT a sourdough? Any options for me to make my own yeast that is used in non-sourdough breads?

(By the way, I have been buying the jars of Fleischmann's yeast, which has been yeilding some nice homemade loaves for me, but costs about 7 dollars plus tax for the damn jar.)

pmiker's picture

I converted a yeast recipe to one using my own starter.  If you knew what sourdough was and you suspected it you could tell it from the commercially yeasted bread.  Barely.  The recipe was an enriched one using butter and sugar but the texture, look and taste were just about identical to the ones I normally made with instant yeast.  Of course, it did take longer to rise.  Starters vary and so may your results.

You can also purchase one pound bricks of instant yeast online.  Economical if that's not the only thing being shipped.  That makes the cost of yeast REAL low.


BKSinAZ's picture

where is a good place to buy quality yeast online?

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

Homemade sourdough might not be as bad as you are thinking. In my experience, you have to make special effort to obtain any kind of sour taste, mostly you just get the flours (wheat, rye) and rich crust flavour.

However, as Mike points out, the sourdough process takes longer. So this might not meet your time constraints.

You can also cut down the amount of yeast you use, and allow longer proofing times. If your schedule allows. How many loaves can you get out of a jar of Fleischmans?

BKSinAZ's picture

Not sure of the amount of loaves... but each recipe calls for approx 2-2.5 teaspoons. Not sure howmany teaspoons in a jar.

pmiker's picture

These are just two of many places that sell the yeast.  Amazon probably does also.  I usually order it when my order qualifies for free shipping.  A pound cost less than your 4 ounce bottle.  I use the SAF Instant yeast.


Breadandwine's picture

Basically - this is massively over-simplifiying things, but - the more yeast you use, the faster your bread will rise. The less you use, the longer it will take.

So you could use 5g of yeast to make a dough with 200g of flour in less than a couple of hours. Or, you could use the same amount to raise a dough with 1kg of flour overnight.

Have a look at my overnight, no-knead method, here:

By the way, no such thing as a stupid question on here! :)

clazar123's picture

Natural levain is a better description of yeast cultured from flour,water and time. None of my breads taste sour.It depends on how you keep and feed your levain or sourdough and how you do the bulk ferment.

barryvabeach's picture

BK, as ciazar123 says, while some call it sourdough, it doesn't have to be sour.  In fact, the more sourdough starter you use, the less sour it is- because it takes less time to rise.  For commercial yeast, try Sams Club, they sell 2 pounds of Fleischmann's Instant Dry Yeast  for under $4.50

adri's picture

"sourdough" is a symbiosis of natural yeasts and lactobacillii."a sourdough" is the abbreviation or denomination for a bread, usually made with sourdough, that has a tangy/sour taste. Commercially these kinds of bread are often even made without the use of sourdough.

I don't want to stop you in creating your own starter. It gives great aroma to breads and cakes. There are a view things that make it not-sour:

  • Feeding the starter with wheat instead of rye
  • Keeping the starter wetter (higher hydration).
  • Freshly build "levain" from the starter for baking.
  • Build the levain wet and warm
  • Introduce air when building the levain: mixing water+starter with a whisk and then stir in the flour.

It really is a great experience and gives good aroma. But acutally yeast is very cheap. Instand dry yeast of best quality (Fermipan) over here cost 5€ for a metric pound (1.1 pound). For heavy cake doughs with short fermentation, it will just last for about 80 pounds of flour. With long fermentation (10 to 12 hours) at room temperature you can easily use it for 2000 pounds of flour or more than 3000 pounds of bread.

The problem is more: how to measure this little amounts (like 0.056% of the flour weight) of yeast? I actually do so by diluting more in water and then use just a part. :-/

Another reason to prefer sourdough. :D


Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Whole Foods Market carries instant yeast (at least in Missouri) in vacuum packed bricks for a reasonable price. According to the Whole Foods web site, there are 3 locations in the Tucson area.

DavidEF's picture

Yeast water may be just the thing for you. It is a natural yeast culture, but it is made from fruits or vegetables (or even tea leaves) rather than flour, and isn't sour at all. For more info, look up yeast water in the search box top right of the page here. It's very easy to start with raisins or other dried fruits, but it can be started with fresh fruit or vegetables as well. It is very active, somewhat stronger than sourdough, so it doesn't take as long to raise the dough. It can also be used along with sourdough in the same recipe, to give it extra raising power.

However, as others have said, there is nothing inherently sour about sourdough as a leavening agent. It is quite possible to make some very delicious bread with lots of complex flavor and aroma, without any sourness at all. I do it all the time because my family doesn't like sour bread, and sourdough is all I ever use. We never buy yeast.

As others said above, if you'd rather just use commercial yeast, you can reduce the amount you use by giving it a longer fermentation time. There are loads of ways to do that, and some have been mentioned. Probably the easiest way is to just mix your dough several hours ahead of time, with a small fraction of the yeast called for. But, if your schedule will not allow for that, you could mix up a pre-ferment such as a poolish or biga with just some of the flour and water from the recipe, and a fraction of the yeast, and let that ferment for several hours before making your dough. You can find recipes on this site that already include the pre-ferment, or if you post your recipe, someone here will surely be able to help you convert it.

Any method of long fermentation will not only cut down on the amount of yeast you use, but will add lots of good flavor, too. It will also unlock a lot more of the nutrients from your flour that you probably didn't know it had!

cranbo's picture

If you have access to Costco or Sam's Club in your area (or other big box stores), check them out. Easiest way to buy yeast in bulk for cheap: my local Costco has Red Star active dry yeast for <$5 for a 2lb bag. 

Costco yeast link

Sam's Club yeast link