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A crafty, nommy, occassionally geeky blog-thing.

Yeast

As Son of Gleep and I take a much needed break from each other, I’ve been baking conventional yeast breads. Mostly its been variations on Danial Leader’s baguette normal: super quick, super easy, and almost boring in its reliability.

Like many bread recipes written for home bakers, Leader uses instant yeast in his baguette normal. Which typically, I have on hand. Not so today. In my Grocery Gateway drunkenness, I evidently ordered active dry instead.

Now really, yeast is yeast. It all does the same thing. Different forms are fundamental interchangeable, so long as you understand their conversions. I took a look at what Leader had to say on the matter, and he made it sound so simple.

If you like, you can substitute traditional active dry yeast [for instant active dry yeast] in an equal amount. Just moisten it in the water before adding the flour. Once the yeast particles are thoroughly wet, the dough can be mixed right away. It is a myth that dry yeast needs to sit in liquid until it bubbles, in order for you to check that it is “working”.1

Yatta! So easy! So convenient! So utterly not my experience.

The dough has been fermenting in its proofing box ((set to a cozy 80°F)) for over an hour now, and not so much as a little pudge. I think I’ve bloated more in the time its been sitting. Typically, by 45 minutes, its risen about somewhere between 25 and 50%. :–/

Only mildly suspicious, I decide to see what Maggie Glezer has to say about things.

Lately many writers have said this step [rehydrating the yeast in 105° to 110°F water for 5 to 10 minutes] is unimportant, but that is only because most recipes contain such an overabundance of yeast that it really doesn’t matter. I prefer to use the minimum amount and handle the yeast carefully to draw out its maximum potential. Active dry yeast produces the least amount of carbon dioxide per yeast cell, and it is the slowest and most cumbersome type of yeast to use.2

And also:

Because instant active dry yeast produces more gas per yeast cell than active dry yeast, less of it needs to be used. The most common mistake in recipes written for home bakers is using too much instant yeast.3

Now, Glezer doesn’t actually provide an equivalency for the two, nor indicate just how “slow” active dry yeast is, because that would be too easy. But if I presume that by her estimation Leader calls for too much instant yeast in his recipe, then its possible that the equivalent measure in dry active yeast is indeed the correct amount. And if that’s so, by Glezer’s reasoning, the 5 to 10 minute rehydrating period would be necessary after all.

Which leaves me rehydrating more yeast, and mixing a second batch of dough.


  1. D. Leader, Local Breads (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007) 16.

  2. M. Glezer, Artisan Baking (New York: Artisan) 7.

  3. Ibid. 8.