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Learn how to activate yeast with these step-by-step directions and extra tips for troubleshooting. Happy baking!
Yeast is used by bakers all over the world to help provide a fluffy texture when making many different types of bread and sweet treats. This living organism works its magic by feeding on sugars and then releasing carbon dioxide which expands and rises making our dough fluffy and flavorful. The first step when working with yeast is to determine what type of yeast you have.
Types of yeast: When it comes to yeast, there are different varieties with varying requirements for activation. Two of the most common include active dry yeast and instant yeast.
- Active dry yeast. This type of yeast needs to be activated in warm water before using it in a recipe. Mixing active dry yeast with warm water (around 105-115°F or 40-43°C) and a bit of sugar allows it to “bloom” and become active. This process ensures that the yeast is alive and ready to be added to the dough.
- Instant yeast (also known as rapid-rise yeast or quick-rise yeast): Unlike active dry yeast, instant yeast can be directly mixed into the flour without prior activation. Instant yeast is designed to dissolve quickly and activate rapidly when exposed to moisture so it does not require blooming in water, but can be.
How to Activate Yeast
Activate dry yeast with these simple steps!
COMBINE. Add warm water to a bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar and stir it together.
WAIT! Let the mixture bloom for 10 minutes. You should see bubbles and foam forming, if after 10 minutes nothing has happened then the yeast has died and you will need to start over.
Once the yeast has been activated you can add it to the dry ingredients and continue with your recipe.
Blooming Active Dry Yeast
Yeast enters a dormant stage which allows it to be stored for later. When you are ready to use it it must be activated and in order to activate yeast you need the proper conditions.
- First, is a warm liquid that is between 105 and 115°F. Most often this is warm water, but some recipes use warm milk. If the liquid is too cool it won’t activate. If the liquid is too hot it will kill the yeast and keep it from blooming.
- The second factor is that it needs food to grow. Most recipes direct you to add a bit of white sugar into the warm water which will help speed up the blooming process and allow for the dough to begin to rise more quickly. Don’t worry if the recipe doesn’t add sugar to the water, the live yeast will find a sugar source within the dough.
If you run into trouble activating yeast, check the water temperature!
Why yeast doesn’t bloom. If the active dry yeast doesn’t bloom in the warm water, it will not help the dough rise. Unfortunately, you will need to start over with a new bowl of warm water and yeast.
The most common reason for yeast not to bloom is the water temperature. Another factor is old yeast that has expired. If any salt or acidic ingredients come into direct contact with the yeast can kill the yeast. Be cautious about adding too much to the dough recipe as they can hinder how well the yeast can make the dough rise.
Water temperature. Using a digital food thermometer is the most accurate way to ensure that the water has reached to ideal temperature to activate yeast. If you do not have a thermometer you can use your elbow or wrist. I often saw my mom run the faucet and stick her elbow in to test it. You can also heat water up on the stove or in the microwave and use a dropper to test the temperature on your wrist.
In either case, the water should be between lukewarm and noticeably warm, but not hot. The more you activate yeast, the better you will get at determining the correct water temperature.
Some other notes that may help you when working with yeast include:
- You can buy premeasured packets of yeast or larger jars of yeast. Yeast is most commonly found in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
- Dry active yeast can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 months past the expiration date before it starts to lose its abilities.
- When stored in an airtight container or a tightly sealed freezer bag, dry active yeast can maintain its quality for up to a year in the freezer.
- Fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast, doesn’t require activation. Unlike dry yeast, fresh yeast is already in an active state and can be directly incorporated into your dough.
If a recipe calls for a packet of yeast use 2¼ teaspoons from the jar.
For every packet of yeast, add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the warm water.
A packet of yeast only needs about ⅓ cup of water to activate. However, most recipes use a higher amount of water and it’s just as easy to activate in the needed amount as it is to measure out ⅓ cup.
For Some Recipes That Use Yeast, Check Out:
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Pizza Dough
- Cinnamon Roll Pretzels
- Homemade Bread
- Yeast Dinner Rolls
- White Bread Recipe
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Mickey Beignets
How to Activate Yeast
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Add warm water to a bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar and stir it together.
- WAIT! Let the mixture bloom for 10 minutes. You should see bubbles and foam forming, if after 10 minutes nothing has happened then the yeast has died and you will need to start over.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.