5 Keys To Using Yeast with Confidence in Your Bread Machine

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Sneak Peek: With these 5 keys to using yeast in your bread machine, you will be able to make better-informed decisions about what type of yeast to use and how to handle it in bread machine recipes.

instant yeast and active dry yeast in the packet

Yeast is an important and confusing topic when it comes to making homemade bread. Some of the information you find in books, old bread machine manuals, and even online is outdated. New and improved formulations of yeast have changed the game.

Please note: I wrote this article specifically to answer questions for my readers who make bread with a bread machine using the DOUGH cycle only. If you prefer to push one button to mix and bake your bread in a bread machine, the rules are not as flexible and you will want to stick closer to the directions found in your bread machine manual.

#1

Instant yeast is the best yeast for a bread machine.

Instant yeast is perfect for a bread machine because it dissolves “instantly.” That means you can dump the fine, dry granules of yeast into the bread machine along with the other ingredients without taking the time to dissolve them first.

Just so you know, instant yeast has many names and varies from one brand to the next. However, they are all considered instant yeast.

  • Red Star: Quick-Rise Yeast – also referred to as fast-acting or fast-rising instant yeast.
  • Saf-Instant: The red instant yeast is designed for dough recipes with minimal sugar (less than 10% of the recipe). The gold instant yeast is for sweet doughs.
  • Fleischman’s: Rapid-Rise Yeast, Bread Machine Yeast, Pizza Crust (also instant yeast, but formulated to use in a dough that needs no proofing).

I don’t get paid to endorse any particular brand. You can make good bread with all of these brands.

I rarely have a choice at the grocery stores where I shop as there is usually only one brand available. Shopping online offers more choices.


#2

The temperature rules for adding and using instant yeast are looser than with active dry yeast.

While I don’t recommend dropping instant yeast into ice or ice-cold water, the liquid you use does not need to be warmed to dissolve instant yeast. I use room-temperature water in all my bread machine recipes.

taking the temp of dough after the kneading phase

The friction produced by the paddles as they knead the dough will warm everything up in a hurry. If you are unconvinced, stick a quick-read thermometer into your dough when the kneading phase is finished and check out the temperature.

When adding instant yeast to your bread machine pan, I always use the following order:

  • Liquids or wet ingredients including eggs, sour cream, or yogurt
  • Sugar, salt, flavorings, oil or butter, dried milk
  • Flour
  • Instant yeast
assembling ingredients in the bread machine pan

Related Post: Should Liquids Be Warm When Using a Bread Machine?


#3

The amount of yeast required in a recipe is up for negotiation.

Although I recommend you follow the recipe the first time, don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of yeast you use in a familiar recipe.

Slowing down the action:

Reducing the amount of yeast not only buys you time but can also result in a better-tasting loaf of bread. Remember: The longer it takes your bread to rise, the more the flavor complexities will develop.

If you want to mix up your bread in the morning and know you will be out until later in the afternoon, drastically reduce the yeast in the recipe.

Speeding up the action:

If you are making dough with a lot of sugar and fat, you may want to add a small amount of extra yeast to help it rise in a timely manner. (A large quantity of sugar and fat can cause yeast to be sluggish.) Otherwise, I don’t recommend adding extra yeast or using “quick” cycles unless you are under time pressure (which happens to all of us).

Don’t forget:

Temperature and humidity also play a prominent role in how much and how fast your dough rises. Yeast is not the only player.

For example, you could refrigerate a batch of dough after it finishes the DOUGH cycle, shape it, then refrigerate to drastically slow the rise for several hours or even overnight.


#4

Don’t automatically double the amount of yeast when doubling a bread recipe.

First, determine if your recipe can be doubled when using a bread machine. If the answer is yes, only add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of yeast to start with. Again, you may need to experiment.


Finally, let’s talk about using active dry yeast for those of you who want or need to substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast.

#5

The modern-day formulation of active dry yeast allows it to behave similarly to instant yeast.

comparing active dry yeast and instant yeast on a plate

According to King Arthur Baking, you no longer have to activate or dissolve modern-day active dry yeast in warm water.

Active dry yeast: The classic ADY manufacturing process dried live yeast cells quickly, at a high temperature. The result? Only about 30% of the cells survived. Dead cells “cocooned” around the live ones, making it necessary to “proof” the yeast—dissolve it in warm water—before using.

These days, ADY is manufactured using a much gentler process, resulting in many more live cells. Thus, it’s no longer necessary to dissolve ADY in warm water before using—feel free to mix it with the dry ingredients, just as you do instant yeast.

However, there’s no harm in dissolving active dry yeast if you are unsure if it’s fresh or like doing it out of habit. Do what makes you comfortable and will produce the best bread in your kitchen.

King Arthur Baking

Out of curiosity, I tried both active dry yeast and instant yeast (same brand and the same amount) using the same recipe with identical bread makers, at the exact same time (so the ambient temperature would be the same). I did not dissolve the active dry yeast, but instead, I followed the directions on the package and added it dry.

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Check out the process in the pictures I’ve posted. The same experiment might turn out differently for you so I don’t want to draw any general conclusions.

Below, you see the recipe for Sprouted Wheat Bread with Seeds made in exactly the same way except for the yeast. Each picture shows the active dry yeast version on the left and the instant yeast version on the right.

ingredients for Sprouted Wheat Bread in the bread machine pan before mixing.
All ingredients in the pans are identical except for the type of yeast.
bread dough inside of a bread machine pan at the end of the DOUGH cycle
When the bread machine DOUGH cycle is finished, you can see that the dough on the right leavened with instant yeast rose more than the dough on the left leavened with active dry yeast.
comparing two loaves before they rise in the pan
After shaping the dough, the two loaves seemed fairly equal in size.
comparing two loaves after the second rise.
After the last proof, the instant yeast loaf on the right is larger. I gave the active dry yeast an extra 40 minutes extra to rise while baking the instant yeast loaf. I should have waited even longer because 40 minutes was not enough time to catch the instant yeast loaf.
 Comparing baked loaves of Seeded Wheat Bread using two different types of yeast.
The bread made with instant yeast (on the right) is the clear winner in my kitchen. Note: I specify instant yeast in all of the bread machine recipes published on this website.

I should add that the bread on the left made with active dry yeast was absolutely delicious. The yeast dissolved completely as the dough mixed. However, the texture was denser than the loaf made with instant yeast. We ate the loaf on the left and I shared the loaf on the right.

An interesting observation about active dry yeast:

Different brands of active dry yeast give varying instructions.

The envelope of active dry yeast in the picture on the left below indicates it’s fine to treat their yeast the same way as instant yeast and add it directly to dry ingredients. (Check the alternate directions under the “baking tips.”

The brand on the right does not recommend using their active dry yeast as a substitute for instant yeast. They instruct users to dissolve it first.

Red Star active dry yeast--back of the package
Fleischmen's active dry yeast back of the package.

Three reminders when using active dry yeast:

  1. Follow the directions on the package of active dry yeast for how to add it to the other ingredients as instructions can vary according to the brand.
  2. You may have to experiment with the amount of active dry yeast to see what works best in the specific recipe you are making. Exactly how you should do that is not so clear-cut. Some say to substitute using the same amount. Others recommend using ¼ teaspoon more active dry yeast than the specified amount of instant yeast.
  3. Pay no attention to the clock when it comes to rising times. Judge each batch of dough by its appearance. Active dry yeast can be quite a bit slower but not always. (Incidentally, it’s details like this that make it challenging to make AND bake bread in a bread machine. Excellent bread usually requires a human touch at some point.)

Let me emphasize that number three applies to every single bread recipe you will ever make regardless of the yeast you use.


FAQ about yeast when using a bread machine:

What kind of yeast do I need for a bread machine?

You can make any type of yeast work in a bread machine, especially if you stick to the DOUGH cycle and bake your bread in a conventional oven as I specify in all my recipes. It’s the best way to make a loaf of bread you’ll be excited about sharing.

How much instant yeast do you put into a bread machine?

It depends on whether the recipe is sweet or savory and how fast or slow you want the dough to rise. If you are following a published recipe, follow the directions the first time, then experiment.

How do I substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast?

If active dry yeast is specified in the recipe, reduce the amount by 25% (approximately ¼-½ teaspoon if you’re not into math).

How do I substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast?

Increase the amount of yeast by 25% (approximately ¼-½ teaspoon if you’re not into math).

What is natural yeast and can I use it in a bread machine?

Natural yeast is flying around in the air at all times. When you collect wild yeast in a jar and feed it with water and flour, it’s called a sourdough starter. After several weeks, this starter will become strong enough to cause a lump of dough to rise.

Yes, you can use a sourdough starter in a bread machine. I do it all the time in this recipe for Classic Sourdough with No Yeast. However, it will take many hours to rise unless you also add some commercial yeast to the dough. Consequently, use the DOUGH cycle to mix and knead the dough. Then remove the dough and allow it to rise at its own pace, even if it’s all day. bubbly starter

Can bread machine or instant yeast go bad?

Yes. Check the dates on the package.

If you suspect your yeast might be too old, you can dissolve it in part of the liquid specified in the recipe. If it starts to bubble up in 5-10 minutes, it is still alive. If nothing happens, you need new yeast.

What is the best way to store instant yeast?

Store instant yeast in the refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container. It is not necessary to bring the yeast to room temperature in my experience.

Do I need to proof yeast for a bread machine?

Modern-day formulations of active-dry yeast generally mean you no longer have to proof or dissolve that yeast before adding it to your dough. However, some brands like Fleischman’s still recommend it. So, follow the directions on the package if in doubt.

By definition, instant yeast means it’s ready to use instantly, without dissolving first–a time-saver for bread machine users.

Can you use half the amount of yeast that’s called for in a bread recipe and still get a good result?

Yes. Absolutely yes. The rising process will take more time, but the flavor will be better.

I forgot to add any yeast to my bread and didn’t figure it out until I noticed the bread didn’t rise at all during the dough cycle.

You can rescue this dough. Read how in this post about how to recover dough when you forgot to add the yeast.


Note: Another type of yeast sold in some parts of the world but not readily available where I live is fresh yeast, aka cake yeast, or baker’s yeast. Because I don’t have access to it, I cannot address how it works in a bread machine from personal experience. For more information, check out this website.

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

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2 Comments

  1. Great post. I will try the suggestion of reducing the yeast to get a better flavor in my bread. I would like a more yeasty flavor like my grandma rolls. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Connie,
      Thank you. Another idea for a more yeasty flavor: refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise. You can shape the rolls before you chill the dough or the next morning. Of course, it takes a little longer for the rolls to warm up and rise before baking.