What is the Best Temperature for Yeast?

As part of the yeast fermentation process, carbon dioxide is produced. This is the gas that makes bread dough rise. But for this to happen, the yeast needs food in the form of sugars, and warmth. The yeast produces gas during the first and second rise. Before use, active dried yeast needs to be bloomed in warm water and a little sugar to become active. Knowing the best temperature for yeast will produce an efficient rise.

The industry standard temperature range for blooming a dry active yeast is 100-115 degrees F. Fresh yeast and instant dry yeast, don’t need to be bloomed. When the dough is proofing, the best temperature for the yeast is between 77-100F. Yet, cooler proofing temperatures are often used by bakers.

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What temperature is best for proofing a yeast dough

Once the yeast is activated, it’s added to the flour with more water and the other ingredients to be kneaded. Now, it’s important to use cooler water when the flour is added as proofing bread dough that’s too warm causes issues.

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The ideal dough proofing temperature is between 77-100F. For slow-proofed artisan-style bread, the temperature will be at the lower region of this range. Whereas commercial production will be at higher temperatures, most likely 100F.

Cooler temperatures and refrigerators are often used to slow down yeast fermentation. This produces sweeter flavours from the breaking down of starch, an enhanced gluten matrix whilst making the duty of baking bread easier to fit in around a busy schedule.

Yeast will continue to operate at warmer temperatures. In fact, until it reaches 140F and dies its rate of activity increases. Each increase of 1 degree increases yeast activity by around 4%.

What happens if the proofing temperature is too hot or cold?

Gassy dough

If the dough is too warm, yeast operates too quickly. This makes carbon dioxide gas that’s produced leach out. The dough fermentation process also produces water which, when combined with the excess gas, produces a sticky, gassy dough.

Weak gluten

Gluten needs time to strengthen after kneading before it can be filled with gas. If the yeast attempts to fill pockets of gluten before they are defined, the gas will not be retained.

Running out of food

If the yeast consumes all the available sugars in the dough too soon, it can’t rise further. It often happens when the proofing stage is separated into two stages. If the dough rises too much during the first rise (bulk fermentation) there won’t be enough food to supply the yeast and complete the second rise (final proof).

Too cold for the enzymes

There is also an issue where the enzyme Maltase, responsible for breaking down sugars, doesn’t operate below 25C. This will cause a reduction in the available sugars to supply the yeast cells. To counteract this, additional sugar can be added to the dough when proofing at cooler temperatures.

When yeast is active it generates heat which it uses to regulate itself and continue activity. The only way to slow the activity of yeast down is to cool the dough.

Takes too long to rise

A long rise produces stronger flavours in the dough. It also creates a more defined gluten structure. This is often preferred in bread such as sourdough where light mixing and maximum flavour are desired. Yet for light and fluffy bread, a long rise can be detrimental in its flavour and texture.

If bread takes too long to rise it can lead to over proofing – where the proteins in the gluten structure are consumed by the fermentation process, or over-oxygenation – when oxygen removes the carotenoid pigments from the flour which are responsible for much of the bread-like flavour and creamy colour.

What temperature is too cold for blooming yeast?

If dry yeast is bloomed in water that’s below 100F it may cause some problems. Due to water not being hot enough the yeast cells become lysed and produce glutathione which leaks from the cell walls. This is an amino acid that makes the dough sticky and hard to handle.

Once activated (only in the case of active dried yeast), yeast proofing dough at cooler temperatures will take a longer time to rise. Yet yeast will continue to operate at lower temperatures. 

In the worst case, cold water that’s near a temperature of -4F will not be able to ferment the yeast. This will leave the yeast inactive.

Should you proof instant yeast?

Instant yeast is made up of finer granules and it doesn’t require proofing with warm water before using it. Instead of blooming in water, just mix it with flour and the other dry ingredients. Instant yeast is more powerful than active dry yeast, as it contains less water and often contains ascorbic acid which is a popular flour improver.

However, if you have an assumption that your instant yeast might have gone off, feel free to proof it in warm water to test it. You can bloom it in the same way as proofing active dry yeast. This will “prove” that the yeast is active and it the dough will rise up.

What is “yeast kill”?

Yeast kill is the term used for when the yeast is completely killed off. It’s a phrase used alongside “crust set” in thermal profiling where commercial bakeries measure when the oven spring ends in the oven. Regardless of the type of yeast, it will start to die at a temperature of 130F – 132F. And when the temperature reaches 140F, the yeast will be completely killed off.


What water temperature should I use for a bread maker?

In using most home bread machines, it’s best to use water or any liquid at a temperature of 80 F with instant yeast. As breadmakers prove at high temperatures, the yeast will have plenty of time to ferment.

Can I add active dried yeast to dough without blooming it?

Yes, but you will get a better rise if you bloom the yeast separately. The dough is likely to be too warm and rise too quickly. Blooming is being done to ensure that the yeast is active. Also, this process only takes a few minutes, so it’s best that you should wait for it. 

What happens if you let yeast proof too long?

As long as the yeast has food, it will continue to prove and multiply. But if you leave it for too long, you might end up tired, or worse, dead once it runs out of food. This will then end up with a dough that won’t rise, especially if using two rises. The bread will likely be hard and dense.

How can I proof yeast without a thermometer?  

While having a thermometer is the best way to proof your yeast, you can still do it without one. The wrist test method will help you out.  Drizzle a few drops of water onto the inside of your wrist. If it’s warm and comfy, it would be great for your yeast. But if it’s too hot or too cold, it won’t be a good temperature for the yeast.

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