BREAD BAKING TIPS - ACTIVE DRY YEAST vs. INSTANT YEAST

            In my opinion, active dry yeast produces better more consistent results for home bakers than the newer instant yeast. Active dry yeast has been around since WW II. Active dry yeast needs to be "activated" by soaking it in warm water when making bread. Active dry yeast can be used when making bread by hand, using a bread machine or using a mixing machine.

            Instant yeast, also known as quick yeast or bread baking machine yeast, has been around for about 15 years. Instant yeast was developed with commercial baking in mind, not the home baker. Instant yeast is added to the dry ingredients in big mixing machines at commercial bakeries. Instant yeast is also added to the dry ingredients in a home bread machine.

            Control of temperature is the key to successful baking at home or commercially. In commercial baking the big mixing machines create friction and produce needed heat. When making bread at home in a bread machine the heating element turns on during the mixing process and adds the needed heat to activate the instant yeast. When making bread by hand, if you use instant yeast, there is not enough heat in the process to produce big full loaves, even if you soak the instant yeast in warm water. Instant yeast and active dry yeast are not the same. Active dry yeast was designed for home baking. That is why I use and recommend the old standard active dry yeast. When using active dry yeast I am in full control of the bread baking process and I get consistent results.

            Most home bakers in Europe are using instant yeast for hand bread baking and bread machine use. I do not recommend instant yeast for home baking by hand. Can a whole continent be doing it wrong? Who knows? I have heard stories of people in the UK preheating their flour before making bread. That is indicative of temperature problems when using instant yeast. You do not have to preheat flour when using active dry yeast.

            In the US, two major brands of yeast are available - Red Star and Fleishman's. Red Star sells a two pound package of the good old fashioned Active Dry Yeast. That is what I use and recommend. Fleishman's sell a two pound package of what they call Instant Active Dry Yeast. Is it instant yeast or is it active dry yeast or is it both? I don't know? I have found that the good old fashioned active dry yeast produces better more consistent results in my home baking.

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