Active Dry Yeast vs. Instant Dry Yeast – Which is Better for Homemade Pizza?

Let’s talk about yeast; yes, yeast. The big question that many new home pizzaiolos ask is which is the best yeast to use for homemade pizza; active yeast vs. instant dry yeast? So let’s dive in and look at the differences and how to use them for your homemade pizza.

Yeast is a primary ingredient in many breads. This white paper is a comprehensive discussion of the types of yeasts, it’s uses, lean and rich doughs, preferments, temperatures, proofing and making a proofer, the structure of doughs, finishes, storage, how much to use, and more.

Can You Use Sourdough Starter and Yeast?

Absolutely! You can use sourdough starter and yeast together in a recipe. In fact, most sourdough discard recipes utilise commercial yeast as their leavening agent and use sourdough starter for the flavor component.

Some examples of recipes that utilise baker’s yeast alongside sourdough starter are:

Why Bother Using Sourdough Starter?

So after reading about the inconvenience of sourdough starter, why would you even bother using it?

You really can’t beat the depth of flavor or the crackling, blistered crust of freshly baked sourdough bread. And have I mentioned the sense of pride you get when you lift the lid on that Dutch Oven?

There are also several health benefits to eating sourdough bread. Sourdough that has had a longer cold ferment has a reduced amount of gluten which may be better for people that have gluten intolerances.

And just look at the gorgeous open crumb that can be achieved with a healthy starter!

Sure, buying a sliced loaf at the store will always be easier, but making bread at home feels special. It’s primordial and fun, plus it smells fantastic. It all starts with a tiny living thing: a yeast cell that grows and billows, yawning open with time and heat to create lofty loaves or crackly sheets or squishy rolls. There are so many types of yeast available, like active dry, fresh, rapid-rise, and more. Today, a discussion on which yeast to buy for your next bread project.

How Do You Make A Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is pretty easy to make and is a combination of simple ingredients. You basically need to combine equal amounts of flour and water over a period of several weeks until you establish a strong colony of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. You can find my easy instructions for making a sourdough starter here and sourdough bread recipe here.

Sounds simple, right? Well it is in theory, but there are many things that can go wrong. You’re dealing with wild yeast after all! You can find a comprehensive sourdough troubleshooting guide here.

You could choose to feed your sourdough starter with rye flour, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour or even bread flour.

Many at-home bakers are familiar with the ingredient yeast. And while yeast is a commonly used ingredient, not many people realize that there are different types. Determining the type of yeast you’ll need for your recipe depends on the recipe’s ingredients and cooking method. For example, while some recipes may call for active dry yeast, others require bread machine yeast or fresh yeast to produce the best results. If you’re wondering about the difference between bread machine yeast vs. active dry yeast and would like to learn how to use each, keep scrolling properly. In this article, we’ll teach you how to use yeast to create delicious bread and baked goods with little effort required.

How Much Sourdough Starter To Use In A Yeasted Recipe?

If you do want to use sourdough starter in a yeasted bread recipe, you will generally need to use a formula to convert it.

Here are the steps to convert a yeasted recipe to using sourdough starter for leavening:

  • Decide how much sourdough starter you want to use based on the amount of flour in the recipe. For example if you want to use 20% starter, you would use the total amount of flour as 100%. So if you had 500g of flour, 20% of starter would be 100g.
  • Once you know how much starter you’re going to use, you then deduct half of this amount of flour and half of water – so in this case you’d deduct 50g of flour and 50g of water.
  • Once you mix the dough, you can decide whether the dough is too wet or too stiff and adjust accordingly.
  • Remember that the amount of starter will make a difference to the bulk fermentation and proofing time, as well as to the leavening power.

Further Reading

If you have enjoyed learning about the differences between commercial yeast and sourdough starter, you might also enjoy these articles:

  • Difference between a levain and a sourdough starter
  • Difference between a levain and poolish
  • Bulk fermentation vs cold fermentation
  • Where does the yeast in a sourdough starter come from?

Storing Baked Breads

Most baked breads freeze well.  If frozen, they benefit from a few minutes in a 350 degree oven to return them to their original goodness.

Thaw the bread at room temperature. Place it in the oven. It is impossible to give times because there are so many types and sizes of bread. Larger loafs may take 20 minutes or so, smaller rolls 10 minutes. You only want to warm them not bake them so just feel them to see if they are warm or not.

Baking the Finished Product

Knowing a few things about the final process, will help give you the loaf you are looking for.

Make sure the oven is completely preheated before putting the bread in.  If it is a lean bread, the temperature is usually fairly high.  For sweet breads, the temperature is lower as the dough usually contains butter, sugar or honey and possibly milk or cream, making it ripe for burning at high temperatures.  I double pan any sweet bread, or bread with a lot of butter, chocolate, honey, cornsyrup, etc.  This slows the heat to the bottom of the bread so that, when finished, the bottom is about the same color as the top of the bread.

Creating Steam in your Oven – I don’t usually create steam in the oven when I bake sweet breads.  But often do  for lean breads where I want a crusty finish.  The steam should only last about 8 minutes.  Professional ovens have steam injectors so it is easy to give it several bursts of steam to obtain a crusty finish.  There are several ways to create steam.

Water – A pan, such as a 9×13 inch pan, can be put in the bottom of the oven and filled with several cups of hot water.Ice Cubes can be added to the pan instead of water.  This has the advantage of not having to pull out a pan of really hot water from the oven after about 8 minutes.Misting – Another method is to use a mister and spray the oven every 2 minutes for the first 8 minutes of baking.  Some people spray the interior of the oven before putting the product in to bake.  I don’t favor this one, as I once blew out the oven light which was a mess to clean up.

Bread Machine Recipes

Using bread machine yeast is simple. To start, search for a recipe that uses a bread machine and gather the ingredients needed to make it. We’ve listed a couple of our favorite bread machine recipes below.

Basic French Bread From the Bread Machine

If you’re a bread machine beginner, we recommend starting with a simple recipe like this Basic French Bread. Easy to make, this bread can be used for everything from sandwiches to toast and produces a flavor that’s hard to beat. Just a handful of ingredients are needed to make this delicious bread. What’s more, all of the ingredients can be added to the bread machine at once, making preparation and cleanup so much easier.

Fruit Pecan Bread for the Bread Machine

Bread machine recipes don’t have to be bland. For a loaf of bread that’s as easy to make as it is to eat, try out this Fruit Pecan Bread. This recipe uses ingredients like Oat Bran Cereal, pecans and orange zest to create a loaf that you’ll love snacking on.

Use this guide for bread machine yeast to ensure that all of your bread machine recipes turn out great. From creating a good rise to enhancing flavor, yeast plays a vital role in a properly baked loaf of bread. From everyone at Bob’s Red Mill, we wish you all the baking success!

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most common type of yeast. Used since WWII, it was developed as a way for people to make bread and dough-based recipes without having to carry and maintain fresh yeast. As the name suggests, active dry yeast must be rehydrated before use. This activation process must be done before the yeast is mixed with any of the recipe’s dry ingredients. Done by dissolving the yeast granules in warm water, it will begin to foam and grow if the yeast is still alive. This proofing process is vital to ensure that the recipe works properly with active dry yeast. In general, yeast is a fairly unstable product. While some packets may be healthy, others may be dead or damaged. Therefore, proofing active dry yeast before adding it to a recipe will ensure that it properly reacts with the other ingredients and produces desired results.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a living organism that needs food, heat, and moisture to convert sugar and starch into carbon dioxide and alcohol through fermentation. It’s the carbon dioxide that makes dough rise. There is brewer’s yeast which is a wet yeast used to make beer, but we are focusing on dry yeast or baker’s yeast.

There are two forms of dry yeast; active and instant. Active is any dry yeast that needs to be activated before use. Activating means mixing it with warm water and either honey or sugar and waiting for it to bubble up, usually around ten or fifteen minutes.

While instant dry yeast describes any dry yeast that’s ready for use the moment or instant you open the package.

Active dry yeast is the most common type of yeast used in baking. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and sold in either packets or small jars. The packets can be stored in the pantry, but the jars are more susceptible to changes, so they are best stored in the refrigerator.

Important Considerations about Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is only good for a certain amount of time, and if you use old yeast, you will notice that it doesn’t rise, so always check the expiration date before use.

This happened to us before when we found a packet of yeast that was lost in the cupboard for a few years. When we tried to use it, there were not any bubbles, and it was dead yeast.

To activate active dry yeast, it needs warm water between 110-115° F. If it is too warm, it will kill the yeast since it is a living organism. We have made this mistake a couple of times, but now we use a thermometer to ensure the temperature is not too hot.

Active dry yeast is excellent for recipes like pizza dough, where you want it to have multiple rises. We generally let our pizza dough have two or three rises to make it extra stretchy and easy to work with.

Yeast is a microorganism that’s used in several different ways. To grow, yeast requires food and optimal conditions, including adequate temperature, pH and oxygen levels. When manufactured, all of these levels must be monitored to ensure that yeast grows properly. Baker’s yeast is made of a single cell that, when mixed with other baking ingredients, causes several chemical reactions to occur. Yeast cells grow quickly and continue to grow until they’re fully mature and ready to separate to create more yeast cells. Used in several recipes, foods like beer, wine and many types of bread wouldn’t exist without yeast.

Saf Instant Yeast, 1 Pound Pouch (2-Pack)

Above 50 degrees to activate the yeast90 to 100 degree water to proof yeast80 to 90 degrees to proof the dough139 degrees the yeast is killed

Cold water should be used if making dough in a processor as the speed of the blade is about 30 miles an hour.  This heats the dough.  If warm water is used, the dough can become overheated.

Lukewarm water or liquid can be used in breads made in a mixer to give them a start on rising.

So-Called Specialty Yeasts

Sometimes companies like to mess with our feelings and give us a bunch of choices we don’t need. You can find pizza dough yeast, instant sourdough yeast, and bread machine yeast. They’re often filled with additives (like soybean oil or flour) and dough improvers (such as L-Cysteine which makes the dough more flexible and increases the final volume of the bread), or are simply proprietary names for instant yeast. None do anything better than instant or active dry yeast, so just walk past when you see any of these on the shelf.

This discourse only deals with commercial yeast. Wild yeast like sourdough, which is captured from the air, is its own story for another time.

Last but Not Yeast:

This East African snack is fluffy, crispy, and mildly sweet—like the best parts of French beignets and American old-fashioned doughnuts combined into one bite.

Which yeast is best for pizza?

There are four commonly used types of yeast. All of them make great pizza dough, but the best one for you will depend on your exact needs. We’ve done the research to help you choose the best yeast for you.

Instant Active Yeast – Most Convenient

Instant yeast is not much different from active dry yeast. The main difference is that instant yeast has certain additives that make it more reactive. This means that it doesn’t have to be mixed with water to be activated. You can usually sprinkle instant yeast straight onto your dough mixture!

Because it doesn’t need to be activated first, instant yeast is also less susceptible to being affected by extra salt and sugar in the dough.

Active Dried Yeast – Most Common

Active dry yeast is the most commonly used type of yeast for making baked goods. It is yeast that has been dried out so that it has a longer shelf-life. As with all dehydrated food, you just need to add some warm water to bring it back to life, or activate it.

Active dry yeast is cheaply available in most supermarkets, and that is what makes it so convenient. Dough made with active dry yeast still requires time to prove. That being said, active dry yeast is usually the most accessible, making it a great everyday choice.

Fresh Yeast – Great Flavor

Fresh yeast should be dissolved into the water first before the flour and salt is added. This ensures that the yeast is evenly distributed throughout the dough and that there are no big chunks of yeast present. In addition, a little more fresh yeast should be used in your recipe when compared to dried yeast (see conversion guide below). This is because fresh yeast is not as concentrated as dried yeast as it hasn’t been processed as much.

Fresh yeast doesn’t last long unfortunately, its best to keep in an air tight container at the back of the fridge or freeze it – however it will only usually last a few months and will slowly degrade.

Yeast Conversions

When converting between yeast types, it is important to adjust the quantity you are going to use. Here is a helpful conversion guide:

Sourdough Starter – Great Flavor

Sourdough is made from natural yeast that forms when creating a sourdough starter using just flour & water. Sourdough isn’t classed as commercial yeast, typically you make this yourself over the course of a week or two.

Once you feel ready to prepare your own sourdough pizza, here is a must-try sourdough pizza recipe!


As we mentioned before, all four types of yeast make great pizza dough, but the best one for you will depend on your experience and how much time you have!

If you are a total beginner, we would recommend you to use either the instant dry yeast or the active dried yeast. They are both fairly easy to find and use, guaranteeing a great pizza dough.

Now, if you want that extra flavour, fresh yeast does produce a pizza dough with a little more flavour when compared to dry yeast. The flavour difference is subtle, but it’s there. Definitely worth giving it a try!

If you are willing to take on the challenge and have time to do so, you must give sourdough a try! The crust on a sourdough pizza is generally crispier than regular pizza. But, the texture inside the crust is typically very light and airy. It’s this contrast between the crispy outside and the soft interior which helps to create an amazing texture experience. Must try!

Want to become a pizza dough master and make the most out of your Gozney Pizza Oven? Checkout our academy blogs!

General Guide to Purchasing Yeast

Thanks to for this.“Granted, purchasing yeast can be a confusing process due to different manufacturers not using the same names for their products or using the same names for different types of yeast.  That being said, here’s a general guide to purchasing yeast using popular labeling and product instructions:

  • Cake (Moist) – traditional live yeast; needs to be dissolved in water
  • Active Dry – traditional dry yeast; needs to be dissolved usually with sugar
  • Instant – contains small amount of yeast enhancer; does not need to be dissolved
  • Bread Machine – exactly the same as Instant but in a different package
  • Rapid-Rise – larger amount of yeast enhancers and other packaging changes to the granules; does not have to be dissolved”

Fast Acting Instant Yeast

Instant yeast is an umbrella term, and fast-acting instant yeast falls under that umbrella. Both are stable and easy to use, but rapid or fast-acting instant yeast is formulated to work even quicker and is the best option for long rises like, for example, No-Knead bread that rises over twelve hours.

Nice but Rare

Fresh yeast, with its smooth, waxy complexion, is lovely and nostalgic, but bricks of it are rather uncommon at a local grocery store. Its high moisture content makes it delicate, demanding refrigeration and allowing it to live only a week or so before it becomes a smelly, unusable mess. Some bakers swear the flavor of bread made with fresh yeast is more complex, but the jury’s out on that one.

As the name suggests, active dry yeast must be “activated” by dissolving the granules in warm water, according to the package directions. (The specifics can vary from brand to brand; some may call for sugar to be added as a fuel for the yeast.)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

If the yeast is still alive, it will begin to foam and grow within a few minutes.

Active dry yeast is so unstable that any given packet may well be dead, so it’s important to verify whether or not it’s alive before proceeding with the recipe—even if the yeast hasn’t yet reached the expiration date printed on the package. Active dry yeast also has a comparatively large grain size, further necessitating direct contact with warm water to dissolve. Due to this time-consuming step, as well as the high risk and cost of failure, active dry yeast is rarely used in a professional setting.

Active dry yeast is the most commonly available type of yeast in stores, and the yeast you’re probably most familiar with. Invented during World War II as a more practical and shelf-stable alternative to perishable fresh yeast, active dry yeast needs to be revived in warm liquid before adding it to your dough. During the manufacturing process, a dusty layer of dead yeast surrounds each cell and unless this layer is first dissolved in liquid, the yeast is weak and ineffective. The liquid needs to be perfectly warm (around 105 degrees Fahrenheit)––too hot and the yeast will die, too cold and it will lay dormant. Most recipes ask you to wait 10–15 minutes until the yeast foams so you can be sure it’s actually alive. In this stage, called blooming, it’ll bubble and fizz gently, forming a frothy cap like that cappuccino you definitely overpaid for. Active dry yeast is also much slower to ferment than instant or fresh yeast, increasing the dough’s proof time. All told, this yeast is a demanding diva and I, for one, don’t quite have the patience to deal with it.


Depending upon how often you use yeast, it can be stored in the refrigerator or in the freezer for longer storage. Packages of active dry yeast contain 2 ¼ teaspoons per pack.

Instant yeast comes in a jar or, in larger amounts, in vacuum packages.  I usually buy the larger package and transfer the yeast to an airtight container and store it in the freezer.

A smaller container is kept in the refrigerator for everyday use and refilled from the freezer as necessary.

What Is Yeast’s Role in Baked Goods?

From helping bread rise to enhancing flavor, yeast is essential for making a great-tasting baked good.

Yeast Helps Dough Rise

When making homemade bread, there are three essential ingredients: flour, water and yeast. A chemical reaction occurs when these ingredients are combined, causing the yeast and flour enzymes to break down into simple sugars. As the yeast metabolizes these sugars, it releases carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, creating air bubbles in the dough.

Most gluten-containing doughs build a strong elastic gluten network. As the carbon dioxide is introduced, it becomes trapped within the air bubbles and inflates the dough. Over time more of the tiny air cells fill with carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise and create leavened bread.

Yeast Makes Bread Dough Stronger

Traditional all-purpose flours contain two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. When combined with water, these proteins stick to the water and each other to form a tacky and elastic molecule known as gluten. As gluten forms, it strengthens the dough and holds in gasses that allow the bread to rise.

Once the flour and water are mixed, most recipes will require you to work the dough further, encouraging more gluten to form. Kneading the dough allows more proteins and water to find each other and form a bond. This process is the same when making pasta. With every fold, turn and roll, the dough becomes more elastic.

Yeast plays a crucial role in developing a healthy gluten network. As it produces carbon dioxide, the yeast releases into an air bubble, causing protein and water molecules to move around. This movement further increases their chances of connecting. Think of dough rising as a form of self-kneading, and notice that when you punch dough down after its first rise, the gluten is much smoother and firmer than before.

Yeast Generates Flavor

During the fermentation process, enzymes in the yeast begin to break starch down into sugar. The yeast then uses these sugars and the sugars already present to produce carbon dioxide, alcohol and a handful of flavorful byproducts like amino acids. This pool of enzymes encourages new reactions to form and continues the process of breaking large molecules into smaller ones.

At the end of the fermentation process, the dough is much more acidic than before and contains flavorful organic acids like vinegar and lactic acid. Eventually, the amount of alcohol produced begins to slow the activity of the yeast, leaving you with a great-tasting, leavened bread.

What Is Dry Yeast?

A Quick Primer

Dry yeast comes in two forms: active and instant. “Active” describes any dry yeast that needs to be activated prior to use, while “instant dry yeast” describes any dry yeast that’s ready for use the instant you open the package. Instant yeast is an ingredient of its own, as well as a category that can include specialized products, like RapidRise or bread machine yeast. It sounds confusing at first, but just think of a product like yogurt—a distinct ingredient that also includes specialties like Greek yogurt, flavored yogurt, or even frozen yogurt.

Because the language used to describe yeast is not regulated, brands are free to employ these terms however they like, leading to a great deal of confusion for consumers and professionals alike. After five years of active recipe development for my cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, and two years of daily feedback from readers on Serious Eats, I’ve seen crystal-clear patterns of success and failure, which I’ve used to develop my own “best practices” for each type of dry yeast.

This information may contradict what you’ve read elsewhere (again, the terms are wholly subjective), but it’s a road-tested guide that will help bakers avoid trouble in yeast-raised doughs.

Instant Yeasts referred to as Instant, Rapid Rise, Bread or Pizza yeast are processed to 95% dry matter but are dried more gently resulting in every dried particle is living and active.  The yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients without first proofing it in water. However, if both salt and yeast are added to the same bowl as the flour, they should be put on opposite sides of the bowl until mixed as salt in direct contact will kill the yeast.

Although today’s active dry yeast and instant yeast can be used interchangeably, it is a common practice to use about ¼ less instant yeast than active dry yeast by artisan bread bakers. It is also not recommended to use the same amount of instant yeast as active dry in a bread machine as the machines use a higher temperature to raise the dough.  If using instant yeast in a bread machine reduce it by about 25% to avoid the dough over-rising and then collapsing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sourdough starter better than yeast?

Sourdough starter isn’t necessarily better than yeast, although many would argue that it produces a healthier, tastier loaf. It really depends on how much time you have, how much knowledge you have and what you are making. Sourdough starter may be better than yeast for some recipes due to timing and ingredients, but this often comes down to personal preference.

Can you use sourdough starter instead of fresh yeast?

Yes you can use sourdough starter instead of fresh yeast, however you would then need to reduce the amount of flour and water used in the bread recipe to account for the flour and water contained in the sourdough starter.

Can you make sourdough without a starter?

No – if you make bread without a starter, you’d be using some kind of commercial yeast for the leavening. This means that is would be regular bread or yeasted bread, as opposed to sourdough bread. Even if you use Greek yoghurt or sour cream in the recipe to give it a “sour” flavor or tang, it still won’t be sourdough. Sourdough refers to the making of bread with a sourdough starter.

What happens if you add yeast to a sourdough starter?

If you add commercial yeast to your sourdough starter, you have then added a specific strain of yeast to your starter. This specific strain of baker’s yeast will more than likely colonise faster than the wild yeast you are trying establish. Over time, wild yeast will take up residence, but due to the presence of the commercial yeast strain, it will not be a true sourdough starter.

How can I strengthen a weak sourdough starter?

There are many ways to strengthen a weak sourdough starter. Essentially you need to boost the yeast colonies inside your jar and make them produce carbon dioxide more quickly – this is what rises your bread. You’ll find 5 tips for strengthening a weak sourdough starter here.

Types of Yeast

Baker’s yeast, like baking powder and baking soda, is used to leaven baked goods.  Baking powder and baking soda react chemically to produce the carbon dioxide that makes the baked goods rise.  Yeast, however, does not cause a chemical reaction.  Instead, the carbon dioxide it produces in the form of bubbles is the result of the yeast literally feeding on the dough causing the dough to rise until killed by heat.

Today, there are a variety of yeasts offered but the two most important used by home bakers are instant or active dry yeast.  All the others are variations of these two.  While it was necessary in the past to dissolve active dry yeast in water, it can now be added directly to the dry ingredients as instant yeast is.  If you are unsure your active dry yeast is still active, dissolve it in a ¼ cup warm water with ½ teaspoon sugar.  In about 10 minutes or so it should bubble up to the ½ cup measure.

Slashing the Tops

Some breads require the tops to be slashed just before they go into the oven.  It is important not to slash too deeply.  About ½” is about as deep as the cut should go. This can be done with a single edge razor blade or a curved razor called a lame.  Whatever you use, it has to be very sharp, so it doesn’t pull the bread but makes a clean cut.

Dough Structure

The structure of the dough can be affected by many things.  If it is a lean dough, the amount of water in the dough will give it a tight structure or an open, holey one.  Baguettes have a tighter finished structure using less water than does ciabatta, which can be so wet as to be difficult to manage for the best open structure when baked.  It’s sort of like trying to manage a wiggly blob when shaping.

Sweet dough will always have a tighter structure due to the ingredients, including the liquid.

Also the liquid used in the dough will make a difference.  Yeast loves potato water and literally gobbles it up.

In the past, the instructions for loaf breads at the time were to keep adding flour while kneading the dough until it no longer stuck to the board.  It invariably ended up with too much flour in it.  The lack of hydration is what made the dough stale so quickly.  Later I discovered that the dough, lean or sweet, should be soft which does not necessarily equate to sticky although it sometimes does.

While some people take great pride in hand kneading their bread to perfection, I am not one of them.  I simply don’t have the time nor the desire.  So I use my heavy duty mixer and a dough hook to knead my dough.  I do knead it by hand for a minute or so to smooth it out before putting them to rise.

In any case, the kneaded dough should pass the windowpane test.  A small piece of dough is stretched thinly with your fingers until you can see through it.  If it breaks or will not stretch thinly enough, knead it some more until it does.


Breads, lean or rich, often have some kind of wash applied just before going into the oven so the finished product will have a better finish or add to the crispness.

Water – Brushing the crust with water will add to the crispness of the baked crust.  A mister is perfect here to give an even coat of water.Whole Egg  gives a shiny bronze finish.  Make sure the egg is completely beaten.Egg White Wash – Here again it is very important to beat the white well.  This will give a transparent, very shiny finish.Egg Yolk Wash – This gives a very deep brown finish with a soft crust.  I like to use this on sweet breads.Milk Wash – This gives a soft, not so shiny finish to the crust.Cream  added to egg yolk – Add about 1 tablespoon cream per egg yolk.  This gives the deepest of mahogany brown finishes with a beautiful sheen.  I use this on sweet breads.Butter – Melted butter can be brushed on a loaf before going into or after removing from the oven.  It will soften the crust with a dull finish.

Go here to see the different finishes.


Proofing can refer to activating the yeast in warm water or allowing the dough to rise as we use it in home baking.  Professional bakers use the term fermentation when it comes to allowing the dough to rise either shaped or unshaped.  It’s a little less confusing that way.

Yeast dough requires time, temperature and humidity to rise.  Between the initial rise of the dough to the final rise of the shaped dough, there can be 3, 4 or more.  Professionals use proofers to manage these requirements.  At the bakery, I had a proofing box, which held sheet pans of products.  At the bottom of the proofer was a container to hold water.  The temperature could be set as desired.   This can be easily duplicated at home with an oven.

In the summer, I have no problem with yeast dough rising, even the rich ones.  However, in the winter, my kitchen is cold and it can take an eternity to get the dough to rise.  So, I make a proofer in my oven.  Just place a 9×13 inch pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven about 10 minutes before you are ready for the dough to rise.

This can be the first time or after shaping and setting it to rise before baking.  Put your bread in the oven and close the door.  I generally remove the water after about 30 minutes.  Just make sure the temperature stays between 80 and 90 degrees.  You don’t want the dough to rise too rapidly or to over ferment.  Remove the product before preheating the oven for baking.

A second way is to use the light in the oven. Simply turn the light on slightly before, or even when you put the product in the oven. No water is necessary. Close the door and monitor the temperature. If the oven gets too hot, prop the door open slightly to maintain the temperature.

How Much Yeast to Use

This chart from Red Star Yeast.

It includes cake yeast which is rarely found but I left it in as a comparison.

To use instant yeast in place of active dry yeast, 1 ¾ teaspoon of instant yeast is used in place of 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast.

However, the amount of yeast to use can be altered by whether the recipe is a a lean or rich dough.  Rich doughs that include sugar, eggs and butter require more yeast than lean doughs consisting of water, flour, salt, and yeast.

According to Red Star, if the ratio of sugar to flour is more than ½ cup sugar to 4 cups flour, an additional 2 ¼ teaspoons of  yeast per recipe is needed.

If too much yeast is used, the bread can rise too quickly, resulting in not much flavor and it can become misshapen when baked.

The Flavor in Bread

The flavor of bread can be controlled by three things.  The flour used, the amount of browning during baking and the flavor built up during fermentation.

Working with Yeast Dough

Because so many different factors go into yeast dough rising, it is difficult to give definite times.  If the room is cold, it will take longer, if it is too warm, it will go faster.

Also making a big difference the amount of yeast used.  Artisan breads generally use smaller amounts of yeast for longer rising dough so it develop more flavor.  American types of loaf breads are prone to using more yeast for a quicker rise, especially if ingredients other than flour, water, salt and yeast are used.

Sweet doughs invariably use more yeast per cup of flour.

There is a temptation by some bread bakers to use more yeast for a quicker rise.  The problem with that is it produces CO2, alcohol and organic acids at a much faster rate.  Acid, such as the alcohol produced, weakens the gluten in the dough causing it not to rise well.  In other words, too much yeast will cause the opposite of a quick rising dough.

You can always cut back on the yeast, which will cause the dough to rise slower creating a very strong gluten structure to support a good rise in the oven.  Allowing dough to rise overnight with a small amount of yeast will product a superior loaf.

One of the things that can greatly alter the rising time is how frequently you make bread.  If you bake a lot of yeast products, there will be wild yeast in your kitchen which will aid in the rising of your products.  If you bake infrequently with yeast, very little will be in your kitchen so it may take longer for your dough to rise.

Any product that uses dairy should be refrigerated for a slow rise.  I usually make my sweet dough the day before I want to shape and bake it as it is easier to handle that way.  The dough won’t be as springy when rolling and will shape much easier.   I allow it a first rise at room temperature, punch it down and then transfer it to the refrigerator.

Yeast cells are single cell living organisms that are a part of the fungi group.  Approximately 15 million are in one pound of compressed yeast.   One of the oldest living organisms, dating back to the Egyptians, it continues to help mankind make bread and beer.  Hieroglyphs show Egyptians 5,000 years ago in bread bakeries and making beer –  maybe not the beer we know, but beer nevertheless.  Both of these were dependant upon yeast, just as they are today.  But it was Louis Pasteur who proved that living yeast is necessary for fermentation.

The yeast most often used today is Saccharomyces cerevisiae which translates in Latin to “sweet fungi of beer.” There are 1,500 strains of yeast that have been identified but that is just 1% of the strains believed to exist but are not yet named.

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The yeast we use for baking is a domesticated wild yeast that manufacturing has stabilized and made 200 times stronger than it was in the wild.  Plant scientists decide which characteristics of wild yeast are desirable and put them on a diet of cornsyrup to make them reproduce.  When they reproduce to the desired degree, they are filtered, dried, packaged and shipped off to market.

The ability of yeast to rise is affected by food, moisture, the right acid balance (pH) and a temperature between 70 and 100 degrees.  However, for the best taste the dough should rise at the lowest temperature so it can develop flavor.

While the correct amount of sugar will enhance yeast development, too much of it will either slow it down or kill it off.  Salt should never be mixed directly with yeast.  Salt is necessary to slow down the development of the yeast.

Dough heavy in sugar or fat (think eggs, butter) is a very slow riser.  To compensate for this a sponge is often used.  These will be discussed later in the article.  The optimum amount of sugar, without using a sponge, is no more than ¼ cup per 3 cups of flour.  There are basically two types of yeast dough:  Rich and lean.  A rich dough is a sweet dough and is, as you can guess, one that is heavy in sugar and fat.  A lean dough is low in sugar and fat.  Each of these is treated differently when it comes to yeast.

According to King Arthur Flour,  Active Dry Yeast is considered slower to get going but eventually catches up to the instant yeast which is a quicker starting yeast.  Fleischmann’s and Red Star are the two most prevalent active dry yeasts in the super markets.  They come in 3 packets and in jars as well as vacuum packed.

Because active dry yeast is subjected to extremely high temperatures to dry out cake yeast and form the granules, many of its cells are destroyed in the process.

Because the outer cells are dead, this yeast must be dissolved in a warm liquid to activate the living cells in the center.

Active Yeast vs. Instant Dry Yeast – Which Yeast is Best for Homemade Pizza?

Ok, so now we have the basics of dry yeast. The real question is which is better for homemade pizza. And the answer is active dry yeast is the best option. A longer, slower rise gives a more stable dough and crust.

Essentially instant yeast can work, but the dough won’t be as stretchy, and the consistency will be off. Instant yeast and quick-rise yeast are excellent in bread machines, but there are better choices for your homemade pizza.

However that said, if you are in a pinch, you can swap them out, but there are some key differences when doing so, and it comes down to hydration. Hold on to your hats; we are about to get a little into the science of it.

Importance of Hydration

Hydration in dough refers to moisture content and can affect rising time and overall dough consistency. Instant yeast is 98% solids and 2% water, while Active Dry yeast is 93% solids and 7% water. Water evaporates when the dough is introduced to heat and the cooking process.

Basically, there is a 5% difference in solids. And the difference is how wet the dough is, and that affects the type of crust. In a nutshell, instant yeast is more solids and is a faster rise, and active dry yeast is slower to rise but stronger and stretchier.

Replacing One With the Other

So, you’re ready to make bread or pizza and realize you don’t have the right yeast; not to worry, you can swap them for each other. Replacing instant yeast with active dry yeast will take around twenty minutes longer to rise. However, if you replace active dry yeast with instant, then you will gain about twenty minutes.

Of course, if you want to make homemade pizza and find yourself without any yeast or your active dry yeast doesn’t rise because it’s been stuck in the back of a top cabinet behind other various spices that you rarely use, then you can always make no-yeast pizza.

If you are a beer drinker and can sacrifice a tasty bottle of beer for the good of pizza, you can use beer to replace yeast in your homemade pizza dough. If not, you could always try soda and pizza.

Key Takeaways

  • Active dry yeast is the best for homemade pizza.
  • You can use instant if you don’t have any active dry yeast.
  • It’s possible to make homemade pizza dough without yeast.

So that is the answer to the big question of active dry yeast vs. instant yeast. We suggest you do your own experiment and try both to test out the difference in texture and taste to see which one you prefer. We would love to know your thoughts.

Bread Machine Yeast

Bread machine yeast, a form of instant yeast, is made through a different manufacturing process than active dry yeast. This process ensures that the yeast is 100% functional and can be mixed directly with the dry ingredients. This is because bread machine yeast features much smaller granules than other yeast types allowing it to dissolve easier when combined with moisture-filled dough—a process that eliminates the proofing step. Bread machine yeast also has a slightly longer shelf-life than active dry yeast making it easy to purchase in bulk. In addition, certain types of bread machine yeast have been coated with a layer of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which works as a flour buffer. However, not all bread machine yeast contains this coating, and the term is usually synonymous with instant yeast and rapid rise yeast.

When determining the difference between bread machine yeast vs. active dry yeast, the main distinction is that active dry yeast must be proofed using a warm liquid before use, whereas bread machine yeast can be mixed directly into the bread dough. Therefore, while many bread machine recipes call for instant yeast or bread machine yeast, active dry yeast can typically be used as a 1-to-1 replacement.

Photo courtesy WikiCommons

Instant dry yeast is perfect for when you want to make something right now and do not want to wait. It is ready to use right out of the package. It has been around for the last fifty years.

And it was supposed to make things easier in the kitchen. The truth is you save fifteen minutes by not waiting for the proofing, but other than that, you still must wait for the rising of the dough.

Important Considerations for Instant Dry Yeast

It is a shelf-stable product, and you can even freeze it, and it will be fine. It is consistent and will always work and tolerates higher temperatures than active dry yeast up to 130° F.

Bread Machine Yeast vs. Active Dry Yeast

Two popular yeast forms are most often used when baking bread recipes: active dry yeast and bread machine yeast. Though they are made from the same ingredient, they react differently. Therefore, knowing when to use each type of yeast is essential for bread making. Continue scrolling to understand the differences between these two yeast types and when to use them.


There are several reasons for wanting to increase the amount of organisms in your dough without adding additional yeast.  Among them are rich doughs.  A lot of sugar, eggs, milk or cream will slow the ability of the dough to rise.  However, loading up these doughs with lots of yeast can lead to a “ yeasty taste” and can actually be counterproductive.  So a sponge is often used to introduce more living yeast cells into the dough without increasing the amount of yeast.

A sponge consists of a small amount of flour, some yeast, water and sometimes a pinch of sugar are mixed together. They are then covered and allowed to rise until doubled.  Since yeast is a living organism, you can see how when the sponge has risen, you have just increased enormously the number of live organisms ready to help raise a rich dough.

Lean dough often depend upon variations of this theme under the names, bigas (Italian), levains (French) Poolish, a liquid starter or sometimes they are just called starters.  They all do the same thing, which is to allow very little yeast to be used.  These often ferment for several hours or overnight introducing more flavor into the dough.

Another pre-ferment is to save a piece of dough from a batch made the day before and add it to the new batch of dough.

King Arthur Flours has a wonderful discussion on preferments that help clarify the confusing differences among all the different types.  It is so important, I have included the entire discussion here.

“A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough. The subject of preferments is one that can cause immense confusion among bakers. The variety of terminology can bewilder even the most experienced among us. Words from foreign languages add their contribution to the complexity.

A preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough. The preferment can be of a stiff texture, it can be quite loose in texture, or it can simply be a piece of mixed bread dough. Some preferments contain salt, others do not. Some are generated with commercial yeast, some with naturally occurring wild yeasts. After discussing the specific attributes of a number of common preferments, we will list the benefits gained from their use.

  • chef
  • pâte fermentée
  • levain
  • sponge
  • madre bianca
  • mother
  • biga
  • poolish
  • sourdough
  • starter

These terms all pertain to preferments; some are quite specific, some broad and general. The important thing to remember is that, just as daffodils, roses, and tulips all are specific plants that fall beneath the heading of “flowers,” in a similar way the above terms all are in the category of “preferments.” Let’s examine several of the terms listed in more detail.

Pâte fermentée, biga, and poolish, are the most common preferments which use commercial yeast. As such, we can place them loosely in a category of their own. We place sourdough and levain in a separate category.

pâte fermentéePâte fermentée is a French term that means fermented dough, or as it is occasionally called, simply old dough. If one were to mix a batch of French bread, and once mixed a portion were removed, and added in to a new batch of dough being mixed the next day, the portion that was removed would be the pâte fermentée. Over the course of several hours or overnight, the removed piece would ferment and ripen, and would bring certain desired qualities to the next day’s dough. Being that pâte fermentée is a piece of mixed dough, we note that it therefore contains all the ingredients of finished dough, that is, flour, water, salt, and yeast.

bigaBiga is an Italian term that generically means preferment.  It can be quite stiff in texture, or it can be of loose consistency (100% hydration). It is made with flour, water, and a small amount of yeast (the yeast can be as little as 0.1% of the biga flour weight). Once mixed, it is left to ripen for at least several hours, and for as much as 12 to 16 hours. Note that there is no salt in the biga. Unlike pâte fermentée, which is simply a piece of mixed white dough which is removed from a full batch of dough, the biga, lacking salt, is made as a separate step in production.

poolishPoolish is a preferment with Polish origins. It initially was used in pastry production. As its use spread throughout Europe it became common in bread. Today it is used worldwide, from South America to England, from Japan to the United States. It is by definition made with equal weights of flour and water (that is, it is 100% hydration), and a small portion of yeast. Note again the absence of salt. It is appropriate here to discuss the quantity of yeast used. The intention is not to be vague, but it must be kept in mind that the baker will manipulate the quantity of yeast in his or her preferment to suit required production needs.

For example, in a bakery with two or three shifts, it might be suitable to make a poolish or any other preferment and allow only 8 hours of ripening. In such a case, a slightly higher percentage of yeast would be indicated in the preferment. On the other hand, in a one-shift shop, the preferment might have 14 to 16 hours of maturing before the mixing of the final dough. In this case the baker would decrease the quantity of yeast used. Similarly, ambient temperature must be considered. A preferment that is ripening in a 65°F room would require more yeast than one in a 75°F room.

sourdough and levainThe words sourdough and levain tend to have the same meaning in the United States, and are often used interchangeably. This however is not the case in Europe. In Germany, the word sourdough (sauerteig) always refers to a culture of rye flour and water. In France, on the other hand, the word “levain” refers to a culture that is entirely or almost entirely made of white flour. While outwardly these two methods are different, there are a number of similarities between sourdough and levain. Most important is that each is a culture of naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria that have the capacity to both leaven and flavor bread. A German-style culture is made using all rye flour and water.

A levain culture may begin with a high percentage of rye flour, or with all white flour. In any case, it eventually is maintained with all or almost all white flour. While a rye culture is always of comparatively stiff texture, a levain culture can be of either loose or stiff texture (a range of 50% hydration to 125% hydration). With either method, the principle is the same. The baker mixes a small paste or dough of flour and water, freshens it with new food and water on a consistent schedule, and develops a colony of microörganisms that ferment and multiply. In order to retain the purity of the culture, a small portion of ripe starter is taken off before the mixing of the final dough. This portion is held back, uncontaminated by yeast, salt, or other additions to the final dough, and used to begin the next batch of bread.

During the initial stages in the development of a sourdough or levain culture, it is common to see the addition of grapes, potato water, grated onions, and so on. While these can provide an extra nutritional boost, they are not required for success. The flour should supply the needed nutrients for the growing colony. Keep in mind, however, that when using white flours, unbleached and unbromated flour, such as those produced by King Arthur® Flour, are the appropriate choice. Vital nutrients are lost during the bleaching process, making bleached flour unsuitable.

How does the baker know when his or her preferment has matured sufficiently and is ready to use? There are a number of signs that can guide us. Most important, it should show signs of having risen. If the preferment is dense and seems not to have moved, in all likelihood it has not ripened sufficiently. Poor temperature control, insufficient time allowed for proper maturing, or a starter that has lost its viability can all account for the problem.

When the preferment has ripened sufficiently, it should be fully risen and just beginning to recede in the center. This is the best sign that correct development has been attained. It is somewhat harder to detect this quality in a loose preferment such as a poolish. In this case, ripeness is indicated when the surface of the poolish is covered with small fermentation bubbles. Often CO2 bubbles are seen breaking through the surface.

There should be a pleasing aroma that has a perceptible tang to it. Take a small taste. If the preferment has ripened properly, we should taste a slight tang, sometimes with a subtle sweetness present as well. The baker should keep in mind that a sluggish and undeveloped preferment, or one that has gone beyond ripeness, will yield bread that lacks luster, and suffers a deficiency in volume and flavor.

There are a number of important benefits to the correct use of preferments, and they all result from the gradual, slow fermentation that is occurring during the maturing of the preferment:

  • Dough structure is strengthened. A characteristic of all preferments is the development of acidity as a result of fermentation activity, and this acidity has a strengthening effect on the gluten structure.
  • Superior flavor. Breads made with preferments often possess a subtle wheaty aroma, delicate flavor, a pleasing aromatic tang, and a long finish. Organic acids and esters are a natural product of preferments, and they contribute to superior bread flavor.
  • Keeping quality improves. There is a relationship between acidity in bread and keeping quality. Up to a point, the lower the pH of a bread, that is, the higher the acidity, the better the keeping quality of the bread. Historically, Europeans, particularly those in rural areas, baked once every two, three, or even four weeks. The only breads that could keep that long were breads with high acidity, that is, levain or sourdough breads.
  • Overall production time is reduced. Above all, to attain the best bread we must give sufficient time for its development. Bread that is mixed and two or three hours later is baked will always lack character when compared with bread that contains a well-developed preferment. By taking five or ten minutes today to scale and mix a sourdough or poolish, we significantly reduce the length of the bulk fermentation time required tomorrow. The preferment immediately incorporates acidity and organic acids into the dough, serving to reduce required floor time after mixing. As a result the baker can divide, shape, and bake in substantially less time than if he or she were using a straight dough.
  • Rye flour offers some specific considerations. When baking bread that contains a high proportion of rye flour, it is necessary to acidify the rye (that is, use a portion of it in a sourdough phase) in order to stabilize its baking ability. Rye flour possesses a high level of enzymes compared to wheat flour, and when these are unregulated, they contribute to a gumminess in the crumb. The acidity present in sourdough reduces the activity of the enzymes, thereby promoting good crumb structure and superior flavor. “

Pros vs Cons

Have you ever considered the pros and cons of using sourdough starter or commercial yeast? The pros and cons really depend on your individual circumstances.

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