Instant Yeast. Instant is a slightly different strain from dry active yeast, so it produces a slightly different flavor. It does not have to be proofed. It is easier to use. You can sprinkle it right into your dry ingredients.
Dry Active Yeast. Dry active yeast can be proofed. It comes in the little packets in the grocery store. It can also be sprinkled directly into your dry ingredients.
To proof dry active yeast, place the amount of yeast needed in a bowl of warm water or milk (a small amount of the liquid called for in the recipe you are following). Let it sit for 1-2 minutes until completely dissolved. Once it’s silky and smooth, the yeast is ready to use.
Fresh Yeast: There are two types of yeast that most beginning home bakers deal with. Instant yeast and dry active yeast. Dry active yeast is more common (it’s the kind that comes in those little packets) but instant yeast is easier to work with. They are essentially the same thing, but instant yeast comes in smaller grains and doesn’t require proofing.
Also called compressed or cake yeast, this yeast comes in a solid, clay-like block. It’s a little harder to track down; look for it in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. Reid calls fresh yeast a “special occasion yeast,” best used for occasions when you’ll be baking a lot, such as the holidays, as it “will only last maybe a week in your refrigerator. Professional bakers tend to say this yeast is the best yeast for bread, because it adds a more robust flavor.
To use it in a recipe that calls for dry yeast, double the amount, crumble it and let it soften and dissolve in whatever liquid the recipe calls for (warm the liquid to just lukewarm) before adding it to your dry ingredients.
Fleischmann’s branded instant yeast is a different strain of instant yeast formulated to give you one strong rise. It’s intended for recipes that require only one, quick rise, like some cinnamon rolls recipe, for example. Home bakers should not use it for long, slow rise recipes like no-knead bread and pizza doughs.
So, what’s the best yeast? For everyday baking, go for either active dry or instant yeast.
Storing. Store it in an airtight container in the coldest part of your freezer. “It will last up to a year.
Proofing. Dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar (optional); if it foams and bubbles, it’s alive, active, and ready to be used. Do not use hot liquid or boiling liquid to proof yeast. Hot liquid will kill the yeast which guarantees that your bread will never rise.
Temperature. Yeast is sensitive to temperature. It goes dormant at 50 degrees and does best between 70-80 degrees. If your house is a little cold, allow the dough to rise on a warm surface such as the top of a heated oven. If it’s too hot, try storing the rising dough in a cooler area like in an unlit oven.
Storage. Store yeast in the freezer for best results. Never use yeast past its expiration date. It’s not unreliable.