You have just unboxed your shiny new baking appliance and are now ready to make the dough, but you are not sure what yeast is the best for a bread machine.
So, let's take a look at the different yeasts available and why those differences matter when you're mixing up dough for the bread maker.
What Is Yeast And How Does It Work?
Yeast is an ingredient used in baking. It is made of single-cell, living organisms that convert starch into carbon dioxide. Although yeast is classed as a fungus, these organisms have been helping humans to make bread for thousands of years.
While there are several ways to get the dough to rise, yeast is one of the most common.
Using yeast allows the bread to rise more slowly than baking soda or baking powder.
The main difference between them is that yeast will provide flavor to the dough, while baking soda and powder do not.
There are around 160 separate species of yeast, and they are found almost everywhere. Some of them produce specific flavors in bread; for example, sourdough yeast originated from a wild yeast species native to the San Francisco area of California. Now, it can be bought in a dry and reactivated form ready for home baking.
The steps below show the process which allows yeast to make bread rise:
- Introducing warm water to the yeast packet wakes up the dormant fungi organisms.
- The yeast will then eat the sugar in the dough's flour, releasing carbon dioxide as it digests it.
- The carbon dioxide makes the dough rise.
- Dough fills the holes created by the gas bubbles during rising, creating the bread's fluffy texture.
Different Types Of Bread Yeast
While there are many different species of yeast, we only use some of them for baking bread. The common types are listed below, along with what makes them special.
This kind of yeast comes in several varieties, some of which work faster than others:
Active Dry Yeast: This is the most common form used in home baking recipes. It comes in little packets of dry granules.
Follow the directions on the packet and add it to warm water; then, once it is activated, add it to the other ingredients. This is a slightly longer process than with some other yeasts, but it also stays fresh the longest.
Instant Yeast: Also, it comes in small packets or jars, this version is called 'rapid rise, quick-rise' or 'bread machine yeast' due to its fast-acting nature. It does not have to be activated first and can be poured immediately into the mixture with the rest of the ingredients.
This is harder to find in the grocery store, but when available, it can generally be found in the dairy aisle.
It is highly perishable and requires refrigeration, usually lasting only four weeks before needing replacement.
To use it, you will need to measure out the right amount, crumble it into small pieces, and then use warm water to proof it – the same as active dry yeast. Or, you can crumble it directly in with the other ingredients. It requires two rises to be ready for baking.
Related article: Fresh yeast won't last long if not looked after properly. Here is how to store it to keep it alive.
This yeast adds a pleasant, sugary flavor to the bread. If you try to sweeten dough with plain sugar, it will be too heavy to rise, but osmotolerant yeast can give the same taste while keeping the bread light and fluffy. It is usually labeled in stores as SAF Gold Instant Yeast and is both harder to find and more expensive.
What Is The Best Yeast For Bread Machine Use?
Instant yeast is best for bread machines. It causes quicker rises and allows for faster completion time for loaves. Depending on a bread machine, you will want to use 1/2 tsp of instant yeast for every 1 cup of flour. You may need to increase this amount for shorter bread cycles according to manufacturer guidelines.
The design of bread machines means that they work best with fast-acting yeast, which does not require additional proofing before being added to the bread ingredients.
While you can use active yeast or other alternatives when using a bread machine, the results will not be as good. The yeast will not be active long enough for the correct amount of carbon dioxide to be released, so the loaf may come out denser and heavier than it would when using instant bread machine yeast.
Whenever you use a bread machine, make sure that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines for ingredient amounts as some bread makers require more of certain ingredients.
For example, for a one-hour express or rapid bake cycles, double or more yeast is necessary to release enough carbon dioxide within a shorter time frame.
Active Yeast For Bread Machines
You can use active yeast for machine baking, but it will not work as well as instant yeas. It should not be used for one-hour express or rapid cycles since it will not have enough time to release sufficient amounts of carbon dioxide.
It is recommended that you use 1/2 tsp for every 1 cup of flour for regular cycles when you choose to use active dry yeast.
Yeast And Traditional Bread Baking
Active dry yeast is the most commonly used option for traditional at-home bread recipes. Any other types work just as well as a substitute, but you will see active dry yeast included in recipes the most because it is easy to use and creates a standard taste and look for your bread.
There is more time involved with this form of yeast, however, so you may want to use instant or fresh one instead, which skips the proofing step entirely.
Some recipes require you to add specific yeasts in order to create a unique taste, so before making your choice, make sure you know whether or not the yeast type will significantly affect the outcome of your bread.
There are now instant sourdough yeasts available, so you no longer need to endure the long processes involved in getting a fantastic taste from your homemade sourdough. Check out my favorite one here on Amazon.
Bread Machine vs. Oven
Both baking methods are equally valid, but it will come down to how much of your free time you want to dedicate to creating a loaf of fresh, homemade bread. If you are busy or would like to be working on other parts of a meal while the dough is baking, then it is a good idea to use a machine.
Baking your loaf in an oven, on the other hand, requires careful monitoring and multiple steps. In the end, it comes down to personal preference.
The taste of machine loaves will be more consistent overall since the ingredient mixtures will remain unchanged, and the machine is automatic and will not vary any of the steps. This can make for a more consistent experience.
However, some people think that using an automated machine is not a 'real' art of baking and rather an easy shortcut.
Not sure if bread maker is worth the dough? Find out how much does a bread maker really cost, literally and figuratively. Check out my cost calculation for over one year.
If you choose to use a machine, then try not to overload it. You might need to use math to scale yeast amounts either up or down based on your specific machine's requirements. It will have a manual included that will help you determine how much yeast to use per cycle.
Once you have become familiar with your bread maker and baked a few loaves, the whole process will become straightforward.
Tips And Tricks
Below, I have listed some useful information for anyone who wants some extra tips on using yeast and creating homemade loaves.
The older yeast is, the longer it takes to rise once activated. It is best to use it before the expiration date on the packet for optimal results.
Testing The Viability Of Yeast
You can test the viability of your yeast to make sure it hasn't aged too much to be used in your bread recipe.
Follow these simple steps.
- Combine 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1/3 cup of warm water in a small bowl.
- Stir in 1 packet of yeast.
- Let stand for 10 minutes.
- If the mixture begins to foam, then it is active and good to use.
There are plenty of quick, easy to follow recipes online for creating the perfect sourdough starter. You can make it with or without yeast.
For the bread machines, there are now instant sourdough yeast packets available to buy for maximum convenience.
When using a bread maker, you may need to add more water or some oil to get the right consistency, since every starter batch is slightly different. For bread with more crust, you will want to use water instead of oil.
Looking for bread machine recipes and step by step instructions? Check out my top list of 7 bread baking blogs here.
Four Key Takeaways
- Instant yeast is the best option for bread machines, especially when you use shorter cycles.
- Check the expiration date on the packet before using it. For active yeast, proof it to test whether it is still usable.
- Read your appliance manufacturer recommendations to determine if it requires more yeast (e.g., for one-hour cycles).
- Store opened yeast in an airtight container at the back of your fridge.
Bread machines make baking homemade loaves a breeze. Read the guidelines that come with your device before you begin mixing in the dough ingredients and, when possible, try to use instant yeast for better results.