Learn how to work with yeast and make perfect bread every time. Step by step directions on how to proof yeast.
A few weeks ago I got a text from a friend who had tried my recipe for Sweet Orange Petal Roll and it hadn’t risen. She wondered what she had done wrong. As we texted back and forth and I tried to trouble shoot I asked her if she had proofed her yeast. She didn’t know what I meant. I asked her if the yeast got bubbly. She didn’t think so. Bingo! That was the problem.
So I decided that if my friend needed a little lesson in proofing yeast maybe someone else did too. So today I’m going to walk you through, step by step, how to proof yeast so that you can make sure your bread rises and turns out perfect every time.
Proofing yeast is what you do to the yeast before you add it into the dry ingredients. It gets the yeast activated and working and is what makes the bread rise.
But first a little yeast lesson. There are two types of yeast – dry active yeast and rapid rise yeast. Your recipe will designate what type you should use. The majority of recipes will call for dry active yeast. I keep mine stored in the freezer and just pull it out as I need it. No need to bring it to room temperature.
Rapid Rise Yeast does not need to be proofed. It can be added directly into the dry ingredients. The granules of rapid rise yeast are smaller than dry active yeast.
Active Dry Yeast needs to be proofed. The yeast is dormant and needs to be placed in warm water before adding it to the dry ingredients to get it activated.
The trick for activating yeast is making sure your water is the right temperature. Not too hot and not too cold. Just right. The perfect water temperature for activating yeast is between 100 and 110 degrees F.
Your recipe will tell you how much water and yeast you will need. Sprinkle your yeast on top of the water.
Some recipes will have you add in some sugar with your yeast and water which helps it activate. Even if my recipe doesn’t call for sugar I always add in a pinch or two.
Mix it up and then let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
The yeast will start to activate and get nice and bubbly. It will look like this.
If your yeast and water mixture doesn’t look like this it means your water was too hot and you killed the yeast or it was too cold and it didn’t activate. If that happens then it’s time to start over! If your water and yeast mixture look like the photo below then it is time to add it into your dry ingredients!
Now go bake some bread! One of my favorite and easiest bread recipes is this Easy French Bread. Give it a try!
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