Update April 2020. Fresh yeast can still be ordered online using the links below and many Sainsbury stores are also able to supply.
How using fresh yeast can improve your bread recipe
What yeast do you use in your bread? Do you think that fresh yeast is difficult to use? Let’s bust some myths.
Baker’s yeast or Saccharomyces cerevisiae is widely used in bread production. Until 1825, all yeast was supplied in liquid form. Nowadays, fresh yeast is mostly commonly pressed and supplied in cubes or blocks. Dried or quick acting yeast is the same strain of yeast supplied in a different form.
I use only fresh yeast as my recipes are based on those I was taught in France. It is so easy to use and readily available to purchase and I think gives a superior flavour.
Fresh yeast is easy to purchase
Most of the large supermarkets make yeasted products in store and are ready to sell you yeast! Just head for the bakery counter and ask for yeast at the counter. Expect to pay 50p per 50 gr or less. You simply store it in the fridge in a sealed container. It will last about two weeks.
I’m often asked if you can freeze yeast. You can, but it deteriorates quickly and loses its effectiveness. It is far better to use fresh.
Fresh yeast is easy to use
In many recipes the instructions say to pre-mix the fresh yeast with sugar and warm water and leave the mixture until bubble form. There is absolutely no need to do this. Fresh yeast can be mixed in with the flour, water and salt with no preparation and no sugar. If you are hand kneading, rub the yeast into the flour first for easy mixing uust as if you were rubbing butter into flour to make pastry.
Fresh yeast is approximately 70% water, dried yeast 7% water. Dried yeast can become more sensitive to high sugar or highly acidic doughs – another reason to use fresh.
Tip: Never put salt on top of fresh yeast, it will destroy the yeast.
How much fresh yeast to use
The amount of fresh yeast you require depends on whether you are making bread or an enriched dough (one that includes eggs and butter). You may find your recipe requires large amounts of fresh yeast which is not necessary!
Simple bread recipes require 1% to 1.5% of the weight of flour. If you’re using 1 kilo of flour, that means you need only 10 to 15 grams of yeast. I use 1.5% if I am making an olive oil dough.
Enriched doughs need 3% to 4% of the weight of flour. If you’re using 1 kilo of flour add 30 to 40 grams of yeast.
Using too much yeast can lead to a bitter flavour due too much amino acid being released.
Converting dried yeast quantities to fresh
If your recipe uses dried yeast and you’d like to start using fresh, Doves Farm have a handy conversion table. However, I’d suggest you take the weight of flour in your recipe and work out how much you need by percentage as mentioned above. eg 500 grams x .01 = 5 grams. It should be half of the fresh yeast noted.
The role of yeast in the breadmaking process – the techy bit
The yeast breaks down the starch in the flour to form carbon dioxide and alcohol (ethanol). The carbon dioxide forms small air bubbles, which makes the dough ferment and become airy. The small amount of alcohol formed in the dough disappears during baking.
Find out more
Why not join one of my classes? There are plenty to choose from, or you can tailor one to suit.
Here are few more bread topics you might enjoy reading: