The Fresh Loaf

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Testing instant yeast

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JIP's picture
JIP

Testing instant yeast

                         I just recieved my package of SAF instant yeast that I recently ordered and started to use it right away.  one of the recipes I am making is baguettes from ABAA and as part of the recipe it says to dissolve 1/4 tsp of instant yeast in water and let it sit for 5-10 mins.  So I proceded to do this and while expectin a "head" to form on the water I just got a little foam.  I am a little concerned by this becase I wonder about the power of the yeast.  I guess I have 2 questions I am asuming that since I was oly using 1/4 tsp in alot of water and no sugar I should not expect the nomal foam and if I am wrong on this can anyone suggest a way to test this yeast? is it dissolve like a packets worth in water and sugar or is there some other way.  I am really concerned about this as #1 of course I do not want my bread to fail and #2 I spent alot of money to order this yeast.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Instant yeast doesn't really like to be dissolved in water.  Just mix it in with the dry ingredients and make your dough.  The instant dry yeast vendors usually tell you this on the package.

 

If the recipe called for you to dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of water with 1 tsp of sugar, just add the water to the recipe and omit the sugar as it isn't needed.

 

My own experience with active dry yeast is that it doesn't need to be dissolved and proven either.  It works just fine mixed with the dry ingredients.

 

Mike

 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

What is the difference between instant and active yeast? Is the smaller grains in instant what makes it supposedly easier to disolve in wet dough where the larger grained active gets the soak? Or are they actually different types of yeasts?

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Paul

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

It's been a while since I last walked down this road... so I'll tell you what I know and then tell you when I'm relying on memory.

 

Fresh, active dry and instant yeast are all the same organism, the only difference is how they are prepared and packaged.  They even come out of the same vat at the yeast companies.  This isn't to say there's no difference between Fleischmann's and Red Star, or SAF red and gold labels, but within a product line, it's all the same stuff.

 

The fresh yeast is lightly processed to remove the excess water.  It's moist, ready for use and very perishable.

 

Now we're entering the memory zone... your mileage may vary.

Active dry yeast is dried under a moderte amount of heat and each granule in the packe, bottle, or package is covered by a layer of dead yeast.  The layer has to be removed before the yeast does much, which is why the yeast companies tell you to proof the yeast.  I personally haven't found it necessary.  Also, dead yeast releases glutothione (I am almost certain I misspelled that) which acts as a dough relaxer.  Some people use active dry yeast because they say the dough is easier to handle.

 

Instant dry yeast is produced using a lower temperature, slower, drying process.  The yeast cells are essentially naked to the world.  As a result, they can be killed very easily by the use of hot or cold water.  SAF suggests adding the yeast to the dry ingredients.  Remember, on a hot day the rule of 240 can have you using ice water to make up dough which will kill the instant dry yeast.  Instantly.

 

And that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

 

Mike

 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

You might want to make sure that recipe really means instant yeast and not active dry yeast.  The latter needs to be activated as you describe.  The former does not.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Be sure to check the "Best by" date on the package.

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Paul

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I just add the yeast to the flour and then add it to the wet ingredients; stir it into some of the flour first.  I've tried dissolving it in water just to see what would happen and it doesn't foam as much as the active dry does.  If you really want to test it, mix some with a bit of flour, add a bit of water, and let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered; it should rise.

JIP's picture
JIP

I know all of the things you say I know you do not generally dissolve instant yeast but that is what the recipe calls for. Someone posted it here http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5180/acme-baguettes-glezer039s-artisan-baking and you can see what it says. I have made this recipe quite a few times before but it has been a while and I can't remember if I did get a "head" on the yeast and water. Now that I think about it I guess since they want you to divide the water and yeast I would imagine they don't expect the "head" either.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

If the recipe is actually from Glezer's Artisan Baking book,it shouldn't be too difficult to have someone double check that she does indeed call for instant and not active. Just to confirm. Although I don't suppose dissolving instant yeast in water ahead of time is going to be terribly detrimental.

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Paul

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Glezer does call for instant yeast, however, it's to be mixed with half a cup of warm water (110F - 115F) when making the scrap dough (the recipe calls for scrap dough and a poolish).

One-third cup of yeast-water mix is to be used in mixing the scrap dough and the balance of the yeasted water is reserved for the poolish. And additional 1/4 tsp of instant yeast is added to the final dough, but it is mixed with the flour, followed by the poolish (pages 30-31).

JIP's picture
JIP

It did call for instant I know how to read a recipe and I have made this one MANY MANY times before I have posted the pics a few times last time was here http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7415/whole-foods-white-small-white-baguette-recipe-or-technique I just got a little nervous because it has been a while and I am making 2 pretty complex recipes right off the bat after not baking for at least 6 months. I guess things are o.k. they are rising all right and such so I figure things are well I just got concerned after spending $12 including shipping (but I guess we have read about that already.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The good people of TFL were just trying to help by responding to your questions.

SAF instant yeast is a great product and am sure your bread will turn out wonderfully.

Hope you are keeping a portion of that pound of yeast in an airtight container in your refrigerator and the rest in an airtight container in your freezer. It will serve you well.

dougal's picture
dougal

It is "unusual" in its instruction to let the instant yeast sit for 5 to 10 minutes in water before adding it to the flour.

 

However here, IMHO, this appears to not be related to the starting of the yeast.

What Glezer seems to be trying to achieve is to divide 1/4 teaspoonful of yeast - 2/3 of it into the 'scrap dough' and 1/3 of it into the 'poolish'.

So, instead of trying to get the home cook to measure out a tiny 1/12 th teaspoon quantity (1/3 of 1/4 of a teaspoon) for the poolish, she has the reader dissolve the yeast in a larger quantity of water, and then divide that yeast solution, 2/3 into the scrap dough and 1/3 into the poolish - which is much easier for the home cook to follow reasonably accurately.

The technique of measuring a large(ish) quantity of a dilute solution to improve the measurement precision of tiny quantities should be familiar to anyone that remembers their school chemistry. "Standard solutions" anyone?

 

Therefore here, what's needed is just to get the yeast to "dissolve" (or rather evenly disperse) into the water without killing it. Which accounts for her specifying a yeast-friendly temperature of around 110/115F - ie only very very very slightly warmer than 100F/38C/blood heat/baby's bath. The time specified is simply to allow the yeast to dissolve/disperse, not to "start" - it doesn't have any sugar/starch food to get it frothing (instant should be near as dammit pure yeast) - so the lack of froth at this stage does NOT indicate a problem with the yeast. So there is no need to worry about 'testing' the yeast.

And do be sure to give it a very good stir (to disperse it thoroughly) immediately before dividing the yeast solution between scrap dough and poolish!

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Bravo!  That's an excellent observation, and makes perfect sense!  I'm glad someone was able to figure this out, as it was truly puzzling me... :)

JIP's picture
JIP

O.k. so I guess I jumped the gun a little here.  I made Gleezer's baguette recipe today and it came out great.  I decided to do the extended version that is in The Bread Bible and have put the shaped loaves in the fridge to build some more flavor.  So far though everything is going as it has always gone in the past with this recipe.  The only problem I had was with the ww hearth bread in Reinhart's whole grain book but that was my fault.  Thanks everyone for your help though.

Henry's picture
Henry

 

Well since we were talking about testing instant yeast,

here’s a situation I ran into a while ago.

First day in a hotel pastry department and the chef asks

if I can make a focaccia…something to do with a dessert.

“No problem “ I say but the only yeast that seems to be around

is an opened package of instant yeast sitting on a counter at

room temperature.

“How long has this stuff been around” I ask, only to find that the chef remembers

seeing the opened package when he first started more than a year ago,

or has it been two years since he started?

Is the yeast still okay?

It looked fine…no odd colours or smell so

I added some to a little bit of warm water to see if anything would happen.

All it really does is dissolve, unlike traditional, which will froth in a short time.

I didn’t have time to make a small dough and proof to see if it was okay,

because in hotels, you gotta go and no matter when you start, chances are, you’re already behind.

Should I have made a dough and placed it in warm water to speed it up?

Needless to say, the yeasted dough worked out fine because it seems, this stuff

 is almost bomb proof but has anyone come up with a quick(no time to wait) method

to see if instant is okay?

H

 
KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Just to let people know. Smart and Final chain of stores sells SAF, as well as, a couple other brands of yeast for a very reasonable price. About half of what JIP paid for his.

Rudy 

JIP's picture
JIP

Well I actually paid less than half the rest was for shipping.  The actual price for the package was like $5.75.