Baker’s Yeast

Posted on August 19th, 2010 by Bread making machines in Bread Making Resources

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Baker's Yeast is a fungi, single-celled to be exact (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).  Are you familiar with edibleSponge
mushrooms, the molds used to make blue cheese, and baker’s yeast?  Yup, all fungi.

Yeast utilizes sugar for food.  When it is provided with a moist environment and sugar, it multiplies rapidly.  During the baking process, it is mixed with flour.  Flour is made up of starch and sucrose.

Amylase enzymes produced by the yeast help break the starch down into sugar.  Some of this sugar is used by the yeast for food and the rest is left behind creating the interesting flavor we find in bread.

As the yeast consumes sugar, two byproducts are created (Alcohol and Carbon dioxide).       Creative Commons License photo credit: treehouse1977
The alcohol simply evaporates.

The carbon dioxide is what leavens the bread.  The carbon dioxide gases rise, traveling though the dough.
The entire chemical/biological process is known as fermentation.  A slow fermentation is generally better than a quick one.  A slow fermentation helps the bread retain both its moisture and a better flavor.

Some breads actually call for the refrigeration of the dough prior to usage.  When the dough is refrigerated, yeast is force to grow more slowly.  This does not halt the fermentation process however it does slow it down.  Starch is broken down and sugar is relapsed at a much slower rate.  As the dough is thawed, fermentation explodes creating a surplus of sugar.  It is this sugar which is left behind to sweeten the bread.

Baker’s yeast (commercial yeast) can be found in several forms:

  • Instant yeast/Bread machine yeast - Yeast that needs no proofing, is mixed with dry ingredients and requires only one rising.  Instant yeast or Bread machine yeast has also been known to contain ascorbic acid which is added as a preservative.
  • Active dry yeast – The most common form of noncommercial yeast, it must be proofed.  It has been known to possess better storage qualities.  It can be stored at room temperature for at least a year and even longer when frozen.
  • Fresh yeast/Compressed yeast – Also known as cake yeast, it is more forgiving with low temperature usage.  Highly perishable, it is not common in certain markets.

Hope this helps you choose the right baker's yeast for your next project!

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Related posts:

  1. Bread Machine – Yeast Free Bread
  2. Yeast Free Bread, Yeast Free Diet
  3. Why We Need Gluten In Baking?
  4. Understanding the Chef
  5. Sourdough Bread

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