Are you scared of yeast? Do you want to make homemade bread but you’re too scared to try? Your fears are understandable but not necessary. Working with yeast isn’t as hard as you think, and the more you work with it, the better you get. In Part 1 we’re going to talk about “softening the yeast”.
There are two main ways yeast is used in recipes. The first is when the yeast is softened in warm water. The water should be hot enough to activate the yeast but not so hot that it kills it – about 110 to 115 degrees. This is really easy if you have an instant read thermometer.
If you don’t have an instant read thermometer (I rarely use mine – I know by now what the water should feel like), the water should be warm to the touch but not hot.
Some recipes suggest you sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and then wait. I usually mix my yeast in with the water – just a gentle spin with the spoon – and then I almost always add a teaspoon of sugar regardless of whether the recipe calls for it or not. It makes the yeast soften a little faster.
You’ll know your yeast has been properly activated if it gets foamy or forms bubbles on the surface. If you leave the yeast mixture long enough, it can foam up and fill the container. But in most recipes the yeast doesn’t sit long enough to do that. The good thing about this method is that if you do mess up, you’ll know before you add the yeast to your other ingredients and you can do it over.
The second method is when you mix the yeast with dry ingredients and then add liquids. In this method the liquids will need to be hotter in order to activate the yeast – around 120 to 130 degrees. You can get water this temperature from your faucet. It will be hot to the touch.
That’s it. That’s how you soften the yeast. No big deal! So face your fears and make friends with yeast. The benefits will be HUGE! There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven! To get you started, here are a few recipes that are good for beginners: