The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast: Dry vs Rapid Rise

IanS's picture

Yeast: Dry vs Rapid Rise

Hi all,

Do you folks notice a difference when using Dry yeast? I have been using only Fleschmans RapidRise for ease, but most of the recipes I see call for proofed dry yeast. Any difference? Are they pretty much interchangable? If I do swap in RapidRise, should I still add the proofing water to keep the hydration correct?



JERSK's picture

 The two yeasts are interchangeable. You have to use more active dry yeast, I think about 50% more, for the conversion. Also, you add the proofing water, the yeast is dissolved in it so they are pretty much inseperable. This would come from the water in the recipe to maintain the hydration level. A 1/4 cup of water can proof a TBSP. of yeast I would say.

sphealey's picture

Personally I would avoid Rapid Rise yeast since its mechanism seems to be contrary to what artisan bakers are trying to achieve.

However, my overall observation is that bakers yeast technology has been perfected - the yeast makers really know what they are doing. Any of the types of yeast commercially available to home bakers will work, and due to the working of exponential growth it doesn't matter which type or exactly how much you use. I have used as little as 1/2 tsp and as much as 2-1/4 tsp instant yeast in the same recipe and achieved the same final result.

The King Arthur teacher who made the Artisan Bread video said that people stress too much about yeast and it becomes a barrier to learning. My experience matches up to that statement.


subfuscpersona's picture

IanS on November 4, 2007 wrote:
Do you folks notice a difference when using Dry yeast? I have been using only Fleschmans RapidRise for ease, but most of the recipes I see call for proofed dry yeast. Any difference? Are they pretty much interchangable? If I do swap in RapidRise, should I still add the proofing water to keep the hydration correct?

Active dry yeast works best if proofed (dissolved in water). Instant dry yeast works best if added directly to dry ingredients. Many bread recipes on the 'net and/or in older cookbooks assume you're using active dry yeast, which is why the instructions call for proofing the yeast. For more info re the difference, see my writeup on yeast.

I have been obsessing over whether "Rapid Rise" dry yeast is really any different than instant dry yeast for years. After collecting numerous articles (often contradictory) I've given up. Like sphealey, I avoid Rapid Rise yeast; I just buy a one-pound package of instant dry yeast for my baking and keep it in the freezer.

If you'd like more info, here's a post by Maggie Glezer, author of Artisan Baking, a favorite of many bakers here at TLF...

Maggie Glezer on Jan 2007 to the bread-bakers newslist wrote:
RapidRise yeast is Fleischmann's trademarked name for their instant
yeast. It is not a distinct type of yeast. There are four types of
yeast available to bakers: cream yeast, compressed yeast, active dry
yeast, and instant active dry yeast...

Active dry yeast is what most bakers have been using because it is so
easy to store. It will keep, in its original packaging, for about a
year at room temperature, making it a big improvement from the
compressed yeast. However, it is the least active yeast--producing
the least amount of gas, because of its large number of dead yeast
cells--and must be proofed, that is, rehydrated in warm water, before
use. It is a pain to use and a relatively large amount must be used
for decent leavening, so often recipes with active dry yeast have a
yeasty odor and flavor.

To improve this yeast, a new type of cooler drying process was
invented that resulted in a yeast product that had many more viable
cells than the active dry and a finer grain, and so did not need to
be proofed before use. This is instant active dry yeast.

Rather than call this yeast by its name--instant active dry
yeast--which is admittedly a mouthful, the yeast companies all use a
unique trademarked name for their product. Fleischmann's calls their
instant yeast RapidRise, and they also market an instant yeast with
ascorbic acid included as an improver called Bread Machine
yeast. Red Star calls their instant yeast Quick-Rise yeast. SAF
calls their yeast Perfect Rise.

All these yeasts have continued to be marketed in the three-envelope
strips, with 7 grams yeast. However, because the yeast has more
viable cells, less needs to be used to produce the same leavening
action as the old active dry yeast. Thus, the yeast appears to act
faster. What home bakers need to know is that they just need to use
slightly less yeast when converting between recipes calling for
active dry yeast to recipes calling for instant yeast, usually about
8% less. For instance, while 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast can
leaven about 1 pound of flour for ordinary bread recipes, 3/4
teaspoon instant yeast is sufficient. Yeast amounts can and should
be adjusted according to temperature and time.

spsq's picture

In his book, he distinctly says to avoid "rapid rise".  I only borrowed the book, so I wrote that down, but can anyone out there inform us of his opinion?  He may have been refering to "professional rapid rise", not the trademarked name of Fleishman's.  I remember something about adding "extra food" to the yeast formula, causing it to rise quickly, and exhaust quickly.

CountryBoy's picture

In his recent book on page 17 there is the following:

One kind of yeast that you should definitely avoid is called rapid-rise.  This is dry yeast that has been packaged with a lot of yeast foods and enzymes to accelerate fermentation.  Rapid-rise yeast was first developed for commercial bakers who wanted to save time and money....... and then he goes on to explain why the accelerationis not that good an idea.

I believe there are members here who disagree with that evaluation.  I have no idea who is right and why.  We need a judge.

pmccool's picture

Looking for a "right" or "wrong" outcome when considering different varieties of yeast kind of misses the central point: they all ferment your dough and cause it to rise.  A baker will have to modify his/her technique slightly to accomodate the characteristics of the yeast in use, but any of them will get the job done.

Leader's point about accelerated fermentation is most probably (note that I haven't read the book that is quoted) rooted in the realization that a longer, slower ferment allows various enzymatic processes to occur which produce flavor variations that are not achievable in a shorter fermentation.  Some people prize those flavor variations highly.  Some people are physically incapable of detecting the flavor variations.  Some people like the taste of Wonder Bread.

Rather than asking "Am I using the right yeast?", ask "What do I want to achieve with this bread?" 

If you want to extract every possible flavor nuance that your flour can offer, then use a slow, cold fermentation, as championed by Peter Reinhart with his Pain a la Ancienne.  You can even use Rapid Rise yeast to achieve this, if you start with a minute quantity, say 1/4 teaspoon or less.

Or, if you are in a hurry to produce a sandwich loaf whose flavor contribution will be pretty much overwhelmed by the meats, cheeses, condiments or whatever else goes into the sandwich, then you can get there using any yeast with a warm ferment.  Of course, something like Rapid Rise yeast may shave 10-30 minutes off the time required for Active Dry yeast. 

The neat thing is that any of the commercially available yeasts can be used to make delicious and delightful bread.  As can a sourdough starter, aka wild yeast.  So, use whatever is available to you, get acquainted with its idiosyncracies, decide which suits your tastes/purposes best and bake happily.  If you are of an inquiring turn of mind, like Mr. Wraith, you can do some side by side comparisons by baking the same bread with different varieties of yeast.  It's cheap to do and even your rejects will taste good.



IanS's picture

This is where my question was really directed (so sorry for not being more specific, and thanks for all your great answers). I've made about 7 different breads from the bread bible, and while they taste different, somehow they all taste about the same too. I was wondering if that had to do with the type of yeast I was using.

Is there a big difference in flavor when using dry active? Likewise, do you find that different brands have different flavors?


susanfnp's picture

There is no difference in flavor that I have been able to discern between fresh, active dry and instant (AKA rapid-rise AKA bread machine yeast).

I use these equivalencies (quoted from SFBI website):

"Active dry can be used at 50% of the weight of fresh yeast and instant dry can be used at 40% of the weight of fresh. Based on the recommendation of the yeast manufacturers, most people are under the impression that 33% is the proper conversion for instant yeast. This is true for an industrial process, but 40% is better in the artisan process, when dough temperatures are generally lower."


CountryBoy's picture

(posted this elsewhere but it was suggested I do so here as well........)Fleischmann's Active Dry YeastSubmitted by CountryBoy on November 7, 2007 - 3:05pm.

Some people have suggested that Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast may be kept in the fridge for a whole long time.

My suggestion is that people would be wise to Check carefully on the back for the very fine print that suggests an EXP   date.  I used one just now with an EXP date of Nov 24 and it was very active.  Whereas the one I had in the fridge was a month over the EXP date and v   e    r   y   s  l  o  w   to go off.

ejm's picture

I mentioned in the thread, Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast that usually when I use commercial yeast, I use Fleischmann's Active Dry.

I disagree with Glezer that active dry yeast is a pain to use (but then I do not bake bread for a bakery - I'm only making enough loaves a week for our family). I have also not noticed a problem with yeasty odors in the dough, although I do love the smell of my wild yeast bread baking and it IS markedly different with a nutty aroma rather than the apply aroma that the commercial yeasted bread produces.

For recipes that call for instant yeast (such as Glezer's recipes in "Artisan Baking Across America") I substitute exactly the same amount of active dry - in spite of the instruction to use more active dry than instant. There has been no problem with any of the bread made from that book not rising correctly. In fact, Acme's Rustic Baguettes is one of our favourites.  

When I am making bread with commercial yeast, I start by activating the yeast in a small bowl with quarter cup of the babybottle temperature water as well as a small amount of sugar ONLY if there is sugar in the recipe and setting it aside. I then mix all the other ingredients together in the big mixing bowl and finally add the yeasted water at the end. (Sometimes I withhold the salt until kneading time....) Usually, by the time that the yeast is being added, it is foaming up nicely - whether or not sugar has been added.  If there is sugar, the foaming is very active; if there is no sugar, the foaming is less vigorous.

I have read in various places (and of course, one can't believe everything one reads) that instant yeast is not so good for long slow cool rises - which is what I favour for all our bread. 

I have also used fresh cake yeast that is occasionally available from our butcher (!) It is wonderful but rather expensive as well as requiring to be used pretty much immediately because of its fragility.   



I too wrote a little about activating yeast: 

sphealey's picture

=== For recipes that call for instant yeast (such as Glezer's recipes in "Artisan Baking Across America") I substitute exactly the same amount of active dry - in spite of the instruction to use more active dry than instant. ===

I agree: there is way too much yeast stress out there. I have found that 1/2 tsp of any of the types of yeast in the supermarket will work for any amount of dough likely to to found in the home kitchen. Most recipes call for 2 tsp for any amount of flour between 4 and 12 cups (600 - 1800 grams) and this is more than sufficient. In fact 2 tsp (whether active dry, instant, rapid rise, or moist) is probably sufficient to make a dough that takes over the entire house like the one in Woody Allen's _Sleeper_ .


booch221's picture

Some recipes call for Rapid Rise Yeast and some call for Active Dry. Who wants to stock two types of yeast in their fridge?  

When I added AD yeast to dry ingredients the tough outer husk remained in dough. They looked like little brown seeds and the dough did not rise as quickly. Kneading got rid of them, but it defeats the purpose of No-Knead Bread. 

So now, if I don't have rapid-rise yeast (which I usually don't), I use tepid water, add a pinch of flour, and add my AD yeast. Let it proof for 5 minutes to dissolve those husks, and add it to my dry ingredients. Works every time! 

booch221's picture

I see this discussion of how much rapid rise yeast to use when replacing AD yeast. Doesn't yeast multiply in the dough anyway?

Whether you start out with 1/4 teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon, does it really matter? If the yeast has food (flour) and a warm environment, won't you get the same result eventually?