Yeast is your friend

Yeast is the biological component that makes the pizza dough rise. Yeasts are unicellular fungi that consume sugar and starch available in flour. As a product, yeast gives off carbon dioxide in the form of gas which when trapped in the dough properly makes it rise. Always remember that in baking pizza dough, yeast is your friend. You must do everything to keep the yeast from dying before baking. Or else, bid goodbye to a great crust!

It is important to learn to use the right amount of yeast in your dough. Too much yeast will make your dough balls rise too quickly and then collapse before you are ready to use them. Excess yeast will also give your dough an unpleasant musty yeast flavor. As a rule of thumb, the longer you plan to ferment your dough, the less yeast you need to use. On the other hand, if you happen to be in a hurry, adding a little extra yeast will help your dough rise faster.

There are 3 main types of yeast you can use in your dough:

The main yeast to use when making pizzas is Active Dry Yeast (ADY). This kind of yeast is made up of larger particles than instant yeast and is ideal for longer fermenting times that will give you the best kind of pizza dough. You will have to proof the yeast first before you use it, to make sure it’s still alive. Do so by putting it in lukewarm water first. Active dry yeast will probably still be active until up to a year after the expiration date if you store it unopened at room temperature, and it will keep even longer when frozen. An open packet of active dry yeast will keep for 3 months in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer.

Instant Yeast or Instant Dry Yeast (IDY) is finer in granule size than active dry yeast. It does have greater % of live cells than active dry yeast so use less if you’re using it when a recipe calls for active dry. Also, instant yeast can be added directly with other ingredients and no proofing is necessary.

Fresh Yeast is very uncommon in supermarkets due to its short shelf life. However, a lot of professional bakers would testify that fresh yeast produces high quality dough. Fresh yeasts are compressed into blocks, cakes, or chunks. Similar to active dry yeast, it needs to be proofed as well. Red Star is probably the most famous fresh compressed yeast in the market.

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