The Dough Doctor discusses when and how to add yeast to your mix
What is the best way to add yeast to the dough?
A: This will depend upon the type of yeast you’re using. If you’re using active dry yeast (ADY) you will need to activate it prior to addition to the dough. This is done by placing the yeast in a bowl with warm (100 to 105 F) water. The amount of water used to activate the yeast should be at least five times the weight of ADY being activated. Place the water in the bowl first, then sprinkle the ADY over the water and whisk well to achieve a yeast suspension. Allow the yeast suspension to set for 10 minutes, then quickly whisk once again and pour into the dough water. After the ADY has been activated it doesn’t hurt the yeast if it’s mixed into the cold water. From this point on you can add the remainder of ingredients to the bowl in your usual manner.
If you are adding instant dry yeast (IDY) you can just add it in the dry form out of the bag. In this case the preferred way to add IDY is to add it directly to the flour. As you begin mixing, the agitator will effectively disperse the yeast throughout the flour and allow for proper hydration/activation as it contacts the water during the mixing stage. If you are using a mixer with very short mixing times, such as a vertical cutter mixer, you will need to hydrate/activate the IDY in the same manner as when using ADY. But in this case the ideal water temperature to use will be 95 F. Keep in mind that IDY, due to its rapid hydrating properties, is rather sensitive to water temperature when it’s being hydrated outside of the dough. So be sure to use a thermometer to make sure the water temperature the IDY is being hydrated in is right at 95 F. Just like ADY, the amount of water used to hydrate the IDY should be about five times the weight of the IDY. The rest of the hydration/activation procedure is the same as for ADY.
Compressed yeast (CY) is ready to use right from the package. There is no need to activate or put it into a suspension prior to use. Compressed yeast can either be added directly into the dough water or it can be crumbled on top of the flour just before you begin mixing the dough. One misconception regarding CY is that many believe that it has to be suspended in the dough water. This is not true. You can just add the crumbled yeast right into the water. If you absolutely must whisk the CY into the water no harm will be done, but like many of you I have more important things to do than to whisk my yeast into the water when it’s unnecessary.
Regardless of the type of yeast being used, I always recommend that it not be brought into direct contact with salt and/or sugar after it has been hydrated. While it is a common practice with many operators to add the water to the mixing bowl and then add the yeast, salt and sugar to the bowl followed by the flour, I don’t recommend the practice as a delay in beginning. The mixing process could result in potential damage to the yeast (resulting in dough inconsistencies later). By adding the yeast to the flour just as we’re ready to begin mixing, the potential for harming the yeast is reduced. Remember, we’re always striving for consistency and failure is not an option, so I like to do everything possible to follow that mantra.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.