Q: What type of yeast should I buy?
A: There are a number of kinds of yeast, all of which work wonderfully for bread. Our recipes call primarily for active dry yeast, as it's readily available and convenient to use. Here's a brief rundown of the types:
- Active dry: You'll usually see this in small packages in the dairy section. It needs to hang out in warm water for a few minutes before you use it this wakes the yeast up and gets it ready for your recipe. Check expiration dates on these, and keep your packets in a cool, dry spot.
- Rapid rise (sometimes called instant): This is a hardy strain of yeast, and does not need to be hydrated before using. While it doesn't actually rise more rapidly than any other yeast, you get to skip the step of hydrating, making the process a couple minutes faster. It is also more concentrated than active dry yeast so you'll get a fuller rise in some recipes than with the same amount of active yeast. We use it in our Challah and potato rolls.
- Fresh yeast: This is a favorite of hardcore bakers. As much as we love it, we don't recommend it for our recipes because it's hard to find, and needs to be used up pretty quickly once you buy it. If you do have access to fresh yeast, use 0.6 ounces per packet of active dry in any given recipe.
- Sourdough: Sourdough comes from a starter, which is basically an active yeast culture. You can make it on your own (by combining organic flour, water and sugar, and allowing it to ferment) and keep it indefinitely. While it takes longer than yeast, it pays off in flavor.