What is Yeast

Understanding the Role of Yeast


A baker definitely knows the use of yeast in making bread. It is an essential ingredient that produces the best pastries in the world. The best bakers in the world took the time to study the effects of yeast on bread, and understanding these is essential in baking bread.

Older people and other commercial bakers prefer to use fresh yeast instead of the dry yeast that is available in the groceries. This is because fresh yeast works best, but it is at the same time hard to work with it since it is delicate. It must be refrigerated at all times and it must be put into use as soon as possible.

Because of that, dry yeast is now the popular choice for use, whether it is the instant variety of active dry yeast or not. They may sound the same, but their difference is in the way the cells of the yeast absorb moisture. Active dry yeast must be wet in water for about five to ten minutes, whereas instant active dry yeast can be mixed at once. When active yeast is mixed with water, allow the particles to dissolve until it grows and the whole mixtures turns foamy. At this point, the yeast can be mixed with flour. On the other hand, the instant variety can be added instantly to the flour, hence the name instant active dry yeast. It should not be forgotten though that this mixture of flour and yeast can get in conflict with the other ingredients, such as sugar. To avoid this, it would be best to mix a third of the total flour with the yeast and make a batter that is very wet out of it. This way, the yeast cells will be allowed to hydrate better, and after that add the remainder of the flour.

Just a simple reminder, yeast is a living matter. It is often misconceived as a plant, but it is actually a form of fungus. It is mixed in flour while it is still inactive. With the right amount of moisture and temperature, it can survive in dough and eat on sugar so that it can multiply. A single loaf of bread is enough to contain around a million cells of yeast. If you are thinking that the small particles in packet of yeast are the yeast cells themselves, then you are wrong. Those particles are specifically compacted yeast cells in starch or dextrose. Anyway, when the yeast cells start to feed upon sugar, alcohol and carbon dioxide are released. The carbon dioxide goes up and is trapped by the gluten matter found in the dough which is responsible in the creation of air cells. The leftover alcohol contributes to the yeasty taste. Since it affects the taste of dough, bakers control the proportions of alcohol and carbon dioxide by adjusting the acidity and temperature. This allows the baker to come up with different bread flavors.

Since yeast is a living creature, nurturing them for different purposes is speculated. As it is the case with any other living thing, food, water, and shelter are necessary for survival. Yeast can considerably thrive in environments where there is a lot of moisture. This is the very reason why dry dough has a tough time rising because yeast is not allowed to multiply in such an environment that is considered hostile in their nature. Therefore, the right bread dough should be moist but not sticky.

The starch found in flour is converted by yeast into sugar that can be eaten. The absence of sugar will not be beneficial for the yeast, so there is no room for yeast to live on French breads. Besides, salt is detrimental to yeast growth, and this is the logic behind slowing down the rise of dough with salt. On the contrary, sugar speeds it up. Adding half a teaspoon of salt is enough to keep dough from rising.

The ideal temperature to nurture yeast is between 78 and 80 degrees. Yeast is very sensitive to temperature changes. 40 degrees will not produce yeast growth while 140 degrees is enough to kill it. At 55 degrees, it can induce some growth, but at a really slow pace. To prevent you from killing it, water that is more than 120 degrees should not be used.

Because one needs to take guard of the temperature, a thermometer should be at hand. Baking bread involves the accurate and precise temperature measurements of water, dough, and bread as soon as it comes off the oven. It is also crucial to get the right temperature of the water when a bread machine is used. It should be noted that bread is baked between 190 and 210 degrees. Playing with the temperatures can result to breads with varying textures and breads with distinct flavors.

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If you are an aspiring bread baker, then it is integral for you to fully understand the role of that yeast plays in baking.

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