What is bread machine yeast?

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bread-proofYeast is an essential ingredient for making bread. There are basically two categories of yeast: dry yeast and fresh yeast.

Because fresh yeast is highly perishable, many stores have a hard time handling them properly which is why they don’t bother selling them. As a result, fresh yeast is mainly used by professionals and you will rarely find it at your local store. On the other hand, dry yeast has a long shelf life so it’s the most common form of yeast for home use.

There are 3 types of dry yeast: active dry yeast, instant yeast, and rapid-rise yeast. Although all three of them are used interchangeably in bread baking, we’re going to take a look at each of them and show you what is a good bread machine yeast.

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most common for home use. As the name suggests, it is an “active” yeast but remains dormant until it comes into contact with liquid. This is why bread machine recipes will tell you to use flour as the barrier between the liquid and yeast so that the yeast doesn’t activate prematurely.

Active dry yeast are granules of live yeast cells wrapped in dry, dead cells. To use, it must be proofed, which basically means you have to activate it with warm water. The water must generally be between 105°F and 115°F – too cold and the yeast will remain dormant, too hot and the yeast will die.

When you make bread with active dry yeast, you’ll basically need to give your dough time to rise. That usually involves giving the dough two rises.

Instant Yeast

Instant yeast is the same as active dry yeast, only its granules are much smaller. It doesn’t require proofing so it’s quick to use. It gets the name “instant” for its ability to act faster than active dry yeast due to its larger percentage of live cells (given the same volume) and its ability to dissolve faster.

Instant yeast often includes one additional ingredient that active dry yeast does not have, which is ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a dough conditioner that’s responsible for making the dough rise faster, improving the elasticity of the dough, and increasing the volume of the loaf.

Rapid-Rise Yeast (aka Bread Machine Yeast)

These days, “rapid-rise yeast” or “bread machine yeast” are pretty much synonymous with instant yeast. Depending on which brand you get, rapid-rise yeast may have even smaller granules than instant yeast.

Rapid-rise yeast is typically marketed for bread machines because it can help bake bread faster (using the “rapid bake” cycle on bread machines you can bake bread in under an hour). However, critics say that bread made using rapid-rise yeast has an inferior taste because flavors aren’t allowed to develop when dough rises too quickly.

What yeast to use for bread machine?

You can use all 3 types of dry yeast in a bread machine. However, we would rank instant yeast first, active dry yeast second, and rapid-rise yeast third.

Instant yeast is perfect for bread machines because it acts faster than active dry yeast, which typically takes two rises to develop flavor, and produces a more flavorful bread than rapid-rise yeast.

A good-quality active dry yeast is our second choice. The longer you allow bread to rise, the better the flavor. In line with this principle of baking, we prefer to work with active dry yeast over rapid-rise yeast.

Which leads us rapid-rise yeast, our last choice. We really don’t recommend using it unless you’re REALLY in a hurry and need to bake bread using the “rapid-bake” cycle.

Hope this helps!

Last updated: May 10, 2020

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