Wondering about a bread machine yeast substitute? I'm here to demystify yeast!
Baking bread is a process that has been around for centuries. The ingredients have remained relatively the same, with flour, water, salt, and yeast being the primary components. Over time, however, the methods of baking bread have changed and evolved as technology has progressed. One such change is the advent of the bread machine.
Bread machines are a convenient way to bake bread without hands-on effort. But what about the ingredients? Are they the same?
This guide to bread machine yeast substitutes is dedicated to demystifying.
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What Is Yeast?
When it comes to baking bread at home, whether you’re baking sourdough, traditional bread, or using a bread machine, the most essential ingredient is yeast.
Yeast is a microscopic organism that feeds on the sugars within the flour and helps the bread to rise by producing carbon dioxide gas. This gas gets trapped in the gluten network of flour, causing dough rise.
There are two main types of yeast used in baking: fresh yeast and dry yeast.
- Fresh yeast is also known as compressed yeast or cake yeast. It is sold in small blocks or cubes and has a short shelf life.
- Dry yeast, on the other hand, is a more stable form of yeast that can be stored for longer periods of time. Dry yeast is sold in either active or instant forms. Active dry yeast needs to be activated in water before it can be used, while instant dry yeast can be added directly to the flour.
What is Bread Machine Yeast?
Bread machine yeast is a type of instant dry yeast that has been specifically designed for use in bread machines. The texture of the yeast is finer, and the yeast itself is treated with ascorbic acid which is a dough conditioner.
Bread machine yeast is usually sold in small packets or jars near the instant and active yeast. I’ve always got a jar in the fridge (and usually one in the cupboard too!)
When using bread machine yeast, there is no need to pre-activate the yeast, as it will start working as soon as it comes into contact with moisture.
Basically, bread machine yeast is made up of smaller granules, it rises quicker than other types of yeast, it requires no proofing prior to adding to other ingredients, and it’s specifically designed to be easy to use in bread machines.
Can You Use Regular Yeast In The Bread Machine?
Yes, but with a couple of caveats.
Active Dry Yeast
One substitute for bread machine yeast is active dry yeast.
This type of yeast is made with larger granules and needs to be dissolved in water before being added to the rest of the ingredients. You'll also want to use about 25% more active dry yeast than the recipe calls for, due to the volume differences between the larger and smaller granules.
For example, if your bread maker recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast, you’d use 2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast and dissolve it in the warm liquid prior to adding the dry ingredients.
There is chatter on the inter-webs that active dry yeast can be used without first dissolving, and I can tell you from personal experience that I would not take that route! There’s been more than once that I grabbed active dry yeast instead of instant yeast or bread machine yeast and the results were haute garbage. For best results, always dissolve or activate the yeast in lukewarm water or liquid.
Instant yeast is like the man with 2 first names!
Instant yeast, fast-acting yeast, rapid-rise yeast, and quick-rise yeast are all types of instant yeast. It's a highly active form of yeast that doesn't need to be activated in water before being added to your dough.
In short, all three of these yeasts are interchangeable at a 1:1 ratio, so you can use whichever one you have on hand or prefer. They’ll all work the same, can handle the short rise time in some bread machine cycles, and you won’t see any significant difference in the end product.
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Can You Substitute Bread Machine Yeast for Regular Yeast?
The answer to this question is yes, but with modifications to the recipe.
Keep in mind that the yeast granules are different sizes between active dry and bread machine yeast, and that bread machine yeast does not need to be dissolved in water before being added to the flour mixture.
To overcome the granular difference, you'll reduce the amount of yeast used by 25%. So if your recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, you'll use 1 1/2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast.
So go ahead and use your bread machine yeast in place of regular yeast in your bread recipe, but don’t prove the yeast, it can be mixed in with the dry ingredients and added together.
How To Store Yeast
No discussion about yeast would be complete without a note on proper yeast storage! So much of the success of your bread relies on the strength of the yeast, and that is directly related to storage.
Unopened dry yeast, both active and instant, should be stored at room temperature, in a cool dry place. Yeast packets and yeast purchased in glass jars have a long shelf life, but their efficacy winds down a bit near the expiration date.
The best way to use yeast near or after that date is to prove the yeast. Proving yeast is easy, simply add 2 teaspoons of yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and a little sugar. The sugar provides food for the yeast, while the warmth helps to activate it. After a few minutes, the mixture should start to form bubbles, indicating that the yeast is alive and working. Once you have proved the yeast, you can be sure that it’s good to use in your recipes.
Opened yeast packages, on the other hand, require different storage considerations. Chances are that if you opened a packet of yeast, you used the whole thing in your recipe and you can simply carry on. But if you’re like me and you’ve always got jars of yeast on the go, the best place for them is in their glass jar, tightly closed and stored in the fridge.
If you’re an infrequent baker, store your opened yeast in the freezer in an airtight container, just allow it to come to room temperature before adding it to your recipe.
If you find yourself without bread machine yeast, don’t worry - there are a couple of bread machine yeast substitutes you can use to save a trip to the grocery store!
Use instant or rapid-rise yeast 1:1 just as you’d use bread machine yeast. Be sure to proof your active dry yeast, and increase the amount of yeast by 25% before adding it to your favorite bread machine recipes.