The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey


Is dried instant yeast always the best bet?

I use KAF SAF Red Instant.

I have read that Fresh Yeast (compressed, cake yeast) because it is also active has a lot to recommend it.

I know it doesn't last more than 10 days or so. But if I could find a local supplier and proofed it in warm water at each bake time, would I notice any advantages, please?

Then what about Active Yeast?


ElPanadero's picture

All the way for me.  Far superior tasting bread imo.  I would keep a small quantity of dried yeast just in case of emergencies and hope never to need it.   Everything I bake from loaves to french baguettes, fougasse, ciabatta, sourdoughs, rye breads, English muffins, grissinis and so on is all made with fresh yeast or sourdough culture.  It's wonderful stuff. 

As I learned more and more about real bread making, attended courses, then worked in top artisan bakeries I saw what they did and how they used different yeasts for different purposes.  As a result I use slow acting baker's yeast (Easybake DCL or L'Hirondelle) whenever I can get it from my local bakery in order to facilitate long fermentations to pack my breads with more flavour.  When I can't get this I'll get ordinary fresh baker's yeast from my local supermarket and adjust quantities for the length of proving I want to achieve.   Dried yeast will work, but I personally think fresh gives a superior taste.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks so much, ElPanadero. Very encouraging!

I used fresh (cake) yeast 25 years or so ago when i first made bread… still remember the taste and smell.

But all the books concentrate on dried instant, don't they.

Is it really so hard to find: again, the books suggest so.

Local supermarket, really? Fresh.

I have a Whole Foods near me.

Southern California…


Thanks again!

ElPanadero's picture

In the UK much of the general population is oblivious to the fact that the majority of the mainstream supermarkets do not bake fresh bread at their stores despite there being what appears to be a bakery there.  What's actually happening is that they are using horrible pre-frozen bread which they then revitalise in their "bakery" section which gives that lovely bakery smell we all like but the end product is generally a thing of the Devil, full of chemicals, enhancers, nastiness to preserve the bread beyond a natural timespan and so on.  People have no idea, they are still caught in The Matrix :-)   So go up to most supermarket bakery stores here and ask for some fresh baker's yeast and they will rather embarrassingly say, "sorry we don't use it" !!  But a couple of them do.  Sainsbury's will usually give me some, a good 200g portion being just 70p !  I think Morrisons at one time had it too but not sure now.  Tescos and Waitrose. . . nada.

Buying real baker's yeast like L'Hirondelle etc is a problem for amateur bakers because really they are set up to deliver large quantities to bakers so honestly the best bet is to say Hi to your local artisan bakery and tell them your enthusiasm for making real bread and ask for some of their yeast.  Offer to pay for it of course but most likely they won't charge as it's really not expensive.   If you haven't already, I also recommend asking them if you could spend a day or two working with them to learn more.  Most bakeries regularly take on young people for work experience and are happy to oblige.  I learned tons of stuff about shaping different loaves and baguettes, handling dough and so on. 

And again, if you find it hard to get fresh yeast then start to build up your own wild yeast starter.  It is really easy and will give you your own endless supply of yeast but you'll have to look after it in the fridge and feed it regularly.  If you bake often that shouldn't be a problem.  GL.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey


That's worth a try. I could keep 'polling' bakeries until I come to one who can help - regularly.

so honestly the best bet is to say Hi to your local artisan bakery and tell them your enthusiasm for making real bread and ask for some of their yeast.  Offer to pay for it of course but most likely they won't charge as it's really not expensive.

mrfrost's picture

For most, fresh yeast is not easily obtainable in the US. Otherwise, I believe you would see a lot more here on TFL baking with it, as opposed to dry yeasts.

I ordered some once, and it was in transit for over a week(8 days until delivery). Had a real strong smell by the time it reached me. Stronger smell than I believe it was supposed to have. I complained and got a refund. Still performed well and lasted for a month in my very cold refrigerator. The last little bit began to mold after that.

Can't say I really noticed any difference in taste in the recipes I was making. Not enough to bother trying to obtain any more.

Use what you can conveniently get. Most here, that use commercial yeast(as opposed to sourdough) seem to be satisfied with the great breads posted about here using dry yeast. Certainly can't vouch for the taste, but they sure look great. Of the commercial yeasts, besides my experience above, I have only used instant dry yeast, but doubt if ady is much different in the final results. Though surely there are ady advocates also.

This is one of those ever enduring topics that will be rehashed ad infinitum, but in spite of whatever, most seem to "get by" with the dry yeasts, and are quite pleased.

All that said, I have not used commercial yeast in almost 2 years because I don't like to buy it except in bulk, and I haven't gotten over to my local source to get some. So I "just do" with sourdough until...

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, MrFrost; I'll still try and find some locally. I emailed our local Whole Foods. Just to give it a try. Good luck.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, DOAADI! I looked at Fleischmanns; there doesn't seem to be a way actually to buy from them - so have emailed them.

BobS's picture
Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, BobS. Seems clear enough!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I've tried to find fresh yeast, AKA cake yeast, just about everywhere I can think of in the greater Kansas City area and had no luck locating retail quantity. Supermarkets won't special order a pound or 500g quantity for just one raggedy home baker such as myself so I use active dry yeast or my sourdough starter.

I bought my ADY at Costco over four years ago and have kept it in my freezer ever since. It still works. I'm very casual in my hydration method where I put the desired quantity in warm water (85-95F), let it sit for ten minutes, and put it to use. From my very unscientific and certainly not scholarly experience, using a preferment made with my ADY or instant dry yeast yields very satisfactory results. I still prefer using a starter but there are usually only crumbs left of the loaves I bring to parties or family dinners after using ADY.

There is no trick to obtaining the same results. All you have to do is to use preferments and plan your efforts to take a longer time to build up flavor. The English author Elizabeth David wrote that most people use too much yeast. They trade the convenience of a producing a loaf sooner for crafting a more flavorful bread. More patience may be required with a preferment but I know that there is only a slight bit more work, mostly cleanup, involved.

There are a lot of threads in the archives regarding preferments that are yours to read through using the search button. Even if you're already familiar with their use, the threads are still instructive and amusing as well. You've got nothing to lose by having some fun perusing all those posts.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Postal Grunt,

Thanks! What you say is very helpful. I shall continue to experiment.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

In case it might help anyone else, I have found what appear to be only two sources (after literally hours of searching) online that claim to sell and ship fresh (compressed, cake) yeast:

  1. The New York Bakers
  2. Rockland Kosher Supermarket

Good luck!

mrfrost's picture

The price at Rockland is unbelievable. Were you able to calculate a charge for shipping?

Antilope's picture

once you have fresh yeast, couldn't you grow more and maintain it like we do a sourdough starter?

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Glad that helped…

I'm still waiting for a handful of potential local suppliers to reply. If they do. Then I guess I should try Rockland.

Unless it's too good to be true.

Breadandwine's picture

Hi Antilope

I think it may depend upon what you feed it. If you fed it with wheat or rye flour it would eventually turn into a sourdough starter. I've read that commercial yeast is fed molasses - maybe that would do it?

Food for thought!

I've now made some fruit pikelets using my yeast - which proves, if nothing else, just how rugged the stuff is - and I've posted a pic of the 'lava flow' on my blog.

phalanxausage's picture

You could quite easily keep a fresh yeast starter going indefinitely but yeast mutates quickly. That is why commercial breweries, who maintain strict sanitation practices to ensure no other microbes get into their yeast supply, replenish their yeast regularly from a yeast bank. They refer to it as "strain drift." The yeast characteristics change over successive generations, giving unpredictable results. This is much more of a concern in breweries where the yeast character helps define the final product than in home kitchens but the principle is still the same. Furthermore, the fresh culture you maintain in your kitchen will quickly become contaminated with wild yeasts & other microbes such as lactobacillus and acetobacter. With luck it will eventually turn into a sourdough culture.

None of this is meant to discourage folks from trying to maintain a fresh yeast culture. These changes in the culture can be quite pleasant but the behavior & flavor will be different from the commercial product.

Gingi's picture

Do you have Whole Foods or Great Harvest by your house? try there.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

I'll ask; thanks. Though I've only ever seem packaged dry.

Perhaps in their bakery?