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What is Bread Machine Yeast?

When looking for recipes for your bread machine, you may sometimes come across the expression "bread machine yeast," but what is bread machine yeast?

How does it differ from the yeast you would use for baking bread in the more traditional way?

How Does Yeast Work?

To answer this question, you have to first understand what yeast is and what its role is in the process of baking bread. Yeast is one of the world's oldest living organisms. It exists in many places – in soil, the air, and on plants.

It is added to flour, water, and sugar to facilitate the leavening, or fermentation process. The yeast feeds on the sugar in the flour and the rest of the dough, creating carbon dioxide.

This forms bubbles, which are what cause the dough to rise, giving the bread its soft and airy texture.

What are the Different Kinds of Yeast?

  • 1
    Fresh Yeast: This is not so easy to find on your supermarket shelf these days and is usually used by professional bakers, rather than people simply looking to bake a loaf of bread at home.   
  • 2
    Active yeast: The most commonly used yeast for baking bread is dry yeast, and this falls into two categories – active yeast and instant yeast. Active yeast is sold in dry form, and it has to be dissolved in water in order to be active. It takes quite a while for dough to rise with active yeast.
  • 3
    Instant, or rapid rise yeast: This is similar to active yeast, but its granules are much smaller and it does not have to be dissolved in water first. It also rises much faster than active yeast.

Some baking enthusiasts hold that fresh yeast is better than dry yeast and that it produces better quality bread, but that is not entirely true.

The main problem with fresh yeast is that it is more perishable than dry yeast, which is another reason why dry yeast is often preferred for domestic yeast.

Which Type of Yeast is Bread Machine Yeast?

"Bread machine yeast" is usually instant, or rapid rise yeast. The main reason for this is speed.

The main purpose of a bread machine is to make baking faster and easier. Rapid rise yeast hastens the bread making process. In fact, if you use the "rapid' cycle on the machine, you can bake a loaf of bread in under an hour.

On the other hand, critics of instant yeast believe that the fast baking process does not give the bread a chance to develop a strong flavor. If the dough rises more gradually with active yeast, it seals in the flavor much more.

They would argue, therefore, that active yeast should be used in the bread machine rather than instant yeast.

In that case, you would have to be very careful to place it inside the flour, as the final ingredient, so that it would not get wet before the bread machine is switched on

Who Is Right?

In many debates regarding the taste of food, the right answer really depends on your own personal preference. Perhaps the speed and convenience of using rapid rise yeast in your bread machine outweighs the slightly blander flavor of the final product.

Then again, maybe the extra time that it takes to bake the bread using active yeast might be worth it if it means that the bread will ultimately taste better.

How can you decide which kind of yeast is true bread machine yeast? By trying out lots of different recipes using both.

As they say, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," and that's probably the most pleasant way to find out.

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