And with winter in full swing, cold grey days are ideal to try your hand at yeast cookery. Here's a few recipes and tips to help you get started.
Active dry yeast is granules of yeast without any added 'improvers'. I always dissolve this yeast first with a pinch of sugar in liquid, either water or milk – it reassures me that the yeast is "alive" and aids in dissolving the granules. This process is called 'sponging'.
Active dried yeast can be used in a bread maker, but should be sponged, as above, before being placed in the tin and set to process thereafter.
"Surebake" is the best known brand of the bread-machine yeasts. These products have 'improvers' added, which is particularly suitable for breadmakers, though the bread-making yeast can be used when making bread by hand.
Fresh yeast, a moist block, is far less readily available. Used only in very small amounts, it a hard to store successfully in the domestic situation.
Brewer's yeast, sold as a nutritional supplement, has nothing to do with brewing and is not suitable for bread-making. It has been deactivated through pasteurisation, and is a useful source of nutrients, especially the B complex vitamins, essential amino acids and trace minerals.
Savoury yeast flakes may be used in soups, gravy and casserole-type dishes and are a good source of nutrients, especially B vitamins for vegetarians.
When making any yeast-raised baked goods, allow plenty of time for the products to rise in a cool (not cold) to warm (not hot) place. Too cold, nothing much will happen; too hot, the dough rises too quickly.
Don't use too much yeast or over-prove the dough – it makes the bread heavy and it will not keep. Follow the instructions on the jar, tin or packet. It is better to use less yeast and let the dough prove for longer which by the way improves the flavour.
Ideally, prove the dough twice, once after kneading for about 40-60 minutes (until double in bulk or size) and then the second time when it has been fashioned into the desired shape, allow it to rest for a further hour, to allow the aeration to take place and increase the volume of the dough.
Fresh yeast to dried yeast
For fresh yeast, its not an easy substitution. Allow 1/2-1/3 the amount of active dry yeast to fresh yeast. For example 20 grams fresh yeast use 7-10 grams dried (7 grams active dry yeast = 1 1/4 teaspoons AG check). The richer the dough the more yeast is required – 1/3rd, while the more basic the dough say a white bread the less is required - 1/2).
Active dry yeast to Surebake
Taking a recipe that uses active dry yeast and changing it to Surebake yeast is possible, though one formula does not work for all recipe types. The basic conversions I work to are: