Yeast is a living and breathing organism that is often thought of as a live bacteria. But it’s not. Yeast is a single-celled microorganism of the Fungi Kingdom that exists on plants, oil, and the air. This little fungus is anywhere around us, and it thrives on any food.
No one was able to tell when yeast was first used. However, archaeologists suggest that there is evidence that yeast has already existed during ancient Egypt because they were able to dig up grinding stones and baking chambers, and 4,000-year-old drawings of bakeries and breweries. With these thousand years old items, they recognize Egypt as the home of modern bread.
Ancient Egyptian bakers used various grains to bake different bread flavors. Wheat was the most common and best grain used in baking loaves. As they were determined to create good-tasting bread, these bakers began to explore using other ingredients – eggs, honey, seeds, dates, spices. This was also the time they made animal-shaped bread too. The bread was one of the primary foods during ancient times in Egypt. Sometimes, it is baked for rituals and festivals.
These tiny innocent microorganisms play like magic in the world of baking, especially in bread production. It mainly serves as a leavening agent that allows a dense mass of dough to rise, and it also gives flavor and aroma and flavor to the bread.
When you are using yeast, some feed it with sugar for it to be able to produce carbon dioxide alcohol as its byproducts. It serves as a catalyst in fermentation, an essential part of the process of baking bread. The fermentation process produces carbon dioxide gas from the yeasts. The gas gets trapped in the dough’s protein matrix, allowing the dough to grow bigger and develop gluten. As a result, you will have an airy and stretchy dough.
Instant yeasts are a type of dry yeast that was produced in the 1970s. It is made from dry yeast products in which the freshly cultured yeasts were pressed, dried, and dehydrated for it to have a strong fermentation ability. This type of yeast is milled into superfine granules, making it easy to dissolve and activate faster. You’ll just have to mix this together with the dry ingredients without the need to ferment it with sugar and water or milk. Instant yeast is stable, and it can for at least six months when stored properly, especially if it is kept in the freezer.
Many of us love baking as a hobby. Sometimes, we turn to do some baking just to drive our stress away. Some of us often have an urge to procrasti-bake when we are too consumed with all the things that are happening in our lives.
There are times that the market struggles to keep up with our demands for bakery ingredients or supplies. The more people begin to explore bread baking, ingredients such as instant yeast often get out of stock in the grocery stores. It’s a good thing that instant yeast can actually be substituted with other ingredients equivalent to its function. Some baked goods can also be produced without the use of instant yeast.
If you’re lazy to run to the store when you only need a pinch of yeast, you might find a quick solution in your kitchen. However, don’t expect too much from these substitutes to give you the same result as to how yeast performs. There is no perfect substitute for yeast. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt to try, right? So, here are the replacements that you can use:
Best Substitutes for Instant Yeast
1. Rapid-Rise or Quick-Rise Yeast
Before you panic that you can’t find instant yeast at the grocery store, and only see rapid- or quick-rise yeast on the shelves, just take it. Sometimes, instant yeast is marketed and sold as rapid- or quick-rise yeast. Yes, it’s synonymous in terms of activation. However, some of these products have finer granules than instant yeast, and it may contain dough conditioners such as ascorbic acid.
Rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast are milled into smaller granules, and it does not require you to dissolve it in warm water. You can skip the dough’s first rise and shape the dough after kneading if you use this kind of yeast.
As it implies with its name, this yeast is excellent for quick baking recipes and helps save you time should you need to do multiple rises. Use this if you are in a hurry to finish baking your bread. The little downside of these kinds of yeasts is that they are formulated for quick-rise purposes. Hence, it is not suitable to use it for recipes that require a long period of rising. For instance, don’t use it if you’re planning to place the dough to grow in the refrigerator for an extended period.
How much rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast should I use?
To use rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast, just simply follow the recipe’s visual cues.
2. Active Dry Yeast
Active yeast is a type of dry yeast that has bigger granules than the instant yeast. It’s a dehydrated granular yeast with consistency the same as cornmeal.
Both active dry yeast and instant yeast help leaven the bread, giving it an airy, light texture. The difference between these yeasts is their method of activation.
Active dry yeast is a dormant organism until you proof or activates it by dissolving them in a small amount of lukewarm warm water before it is added to the rest of the baking ingredients. Sometimes, bakers add sugar into the mixture to hasten its activation. Instant yeast, on the other hand, can be immediately mixed right into the dry ingredients.
Active dry yeast is often sold in individual packets, small glass jars, or bigger packs. Once you open a big bag of active dry yeast, keep it in the fridge to retain its freshness. To know if your active dry yeast is alive, it should form a foam after a few minutes in warm water. If not, you should dispose of it.
How much active yeast should I use?
- Multiply the amount of yeast required in your recipe by 1.25
- Example: 2 teaspoons instant yeast x 1.25
= 2.5 teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 1 package of instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams)
= 1 1/4 package active dry yeast (2 4/5 teaspoons or
almost 9 grams).
You may also consider extending an extra 10 to 15 minutes for it to prove before adding it to your dry ingredients.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a white crystalline powder that serves as a leavening agent commonly used in quick baked products like cakes, cookies, pancakes, scones, and muffins. It has natural alkaline or basic pH.
It also assists bread is rising and making it light and airy texture. You will need acid to activate baking soda. Use lemon juice or cream of tartar to create a chemical reaction to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide gas will be responsible for filling your dough with air.
How much baking soda should I use?
Substitute instant yeast with equal parts baking soda and acid (usually lemon juice).
So, if your recipe needs 1 teaspoon of yeast, use half a teaspoon of lemon juice and half teaspoon of baking soda.
Note that the bread will not need the usual proofing time as the dough will begin rising right away.
4. Baking powder
Baking powder is a common leavening agent found in a baker’s kitchen. This ingredient contains baking soda and an acid, cream of tartar, as often used.
As a leavening agent, it reacts in two mediums: liquid and heat.
When baking soda is moistened with liquid ingredients, the acid reacts, producing carbon dioxide bubbles.
If baking soda is exposed to heat, the reaction allows the gas bubbles to expand and cause the dough to rise.
Unlike yeast, baking powder does not require time to grow. It is used to leaven quick bread like pancakes, cakes, cornbread, and biscuits
And if you happen to have double-acting baking powder, you can also use that instead of the ordinary baking powder. The difference? Double-acting baking powder will react and create gas carbon dioxide bubbles twice. The leavening process reacts once it is exposed to moisture, and then it responds again when exposed to heat.
Replace instant yeast with an equal amount of either baking powder or double-acting baking powder. Remember that baking powder’s leavening effects will not be as distinct as those you expect from yeast.
5. Sourdough Starter
Like instant yeast, a sourdough starter’s fermentation works the same way by producing carbon dioxide in the dough to make it rise.
Sourdough starter is a fermented mixture made from flour and water, and it lasts up to five days to produce naturally occurring yeast. Using sourdough made from a natural fermentation process gives the bread a slightly tangy flavor and aroma, giving the bread a chewy texture.
Keep your sourdough starter in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator if you want it to last for more than 5 days. Dispose of the sourdough starter if it looks fuzzy and mold colored.
For every 1 teaspoon of yeast, use 150 grams of sourdough starter. It takes at least 5 days to make sourdough. So, it’s best that you already have these prepared days before your baking day.
6. Yeast water: Do-It-Yourself Yeast
As mentioned earlier, yeast almost grows on almost any food. If you have the mood for doing something different – like an experiment. You can try to make your own yeast at home. Here’s what you need:
- ½ liter of filtered water
- A piece of date fruit (You can use raisins. Just weigh it the same amount of a piece of date)
- A teaspoon of honey or sugar
- A clean bottle with a loose lid
To make the yeast water:
- Place the date into the bottle, then add honey and water.
- Close the bottle and give it a good shake. Loosen the bottle’s lid so that some gas can escape.
- Keep the jar in a warm place away from the sunlight. You will have to wait up to a week before you can use it.
- While waiting, you will need to open the bottle once a day to allow air exchange and release pressure then shake the bottle well to get the oxygen into the water. Then loosen the lid again.
In the first 2-3 days, you will notice some bubble formation. Over time, the water will become cloudy as more bubbles will be produced. You will see after a week that the bubbles will decrease. It will be ready for use if your yeast water smells slightly fermented, and it produces lots of bubbles when shaken.
For every 1 pack of yeast, that’s equivalent to 100-135ml of yeast water. You must shake your bottle of yeast water before measuring. Since yeast water is a leavening agent in liquid form, you will need to reduce the amount of liquid of your recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 250 ml of water. You will use 100ml of yeast water, so you only have to pour 150 ml of water in the dough.
7. Yeast from Potatoes: Another D.I.Y.
Yes, yeast can thrive on potatoes. Here’s what you will need to produce yeast from potatoes:
- A medium-sized potato
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Just boil the potatoes until it softens. Remove the potatoes from the water (cool the water down. Do not throw it yet)
- Mash the boiled potato with a fork or potato masher.
- Add the sugar and the salt to it and mix well.
- Create a paste with it by adding some of the potato water then mix well.
- Cover the mixture with fabric and set aside in a shady area of your kitchen.
- Days later, it will start bubbling.
For every tablespoon of dry yeast, use a tablespoon of potato yeast. Store your potato yeast in a refrigerated temperature. If it smells rotten, discard it immediately.
Though you may only need a small amount of yeast in baking, it’s the only ingredient that works best to leaven your bread. Instant yeast does not require proofing before use, and you can immediately dump it to your dry ingredients. Instant yeast provides airiness, lightness, and chewiness to your baked goods. And if you run out of instant yeast, try those alternatives as mentioned earlier. However, some of the instant yeast alternatives may not give a distinct texture as yeast would.