Do You Need To Double Yeast?

Do You Need To Double Yeast When Doubling A Bread Recipe?

Do You Need To Double Yeast?
Updated on
August 20, 2023
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

When it comes to the world of baking, one ingredient stands out for its magical ability to transform simple dough into delectable, risen bread – yeast.

As you delve into the world of bread making, you might come across the question of whether you should double the amount of yeast when doubling a bread recipe.

In this article, we’ll dive into the intricacies of yeast, its function in bread making, and whether increasing the yeast proportion is a wise decision.

When bread dough rises, the rate at which gas is produced is relative to the quantity of yeast used. When doubling a bread recipe, the amount of yeast should also be doubled. Many factors contribute to how quickly bread rises, including the sugars available, temperature, salt and pH value, whilst the amount of yeast available is the most important.

How Does Yeast Work?

Yeast and sourdough

Yeast is a type of fungus with the remarkable ability to convert sugars into carbon dioxide through respiration and fermentation.

The carbon dioxide gas gets trapped in the gluten structure of the dough, causing it to expand and rise.

Other products of yeast respiration and fermentation include water and alcohol. 

Aerobic respiration vs fermentation

Yeast doughs left to rise for longer periods will support the multiplication of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB), which also ferments sugars in the flour. Products of LAB fermentation include ethanol, acetic acid, lactic acid, vinegar and carbon dioxide.

Types of Yeast

Fresh Yeast: Also known as cake yeast, fresh yeast is moist and comes in blocks. It has a short shelf life and requires refrigeration to maintain its potency. Many professional bakers favour fresh yeast as it doesn’t require activation and (marginally) develops more flavour.

Fresh yeast - what is it?

Active Dried Yeast: In the 1860s, manufacturers discovered a way of drying out yeast cells to extend their shelf life. Before use, active dried yeast requires “blooming” in warm water to activate the cells.

Instant Yeast: Instant yeast is finer than active dried yeast. It contains fewer dead yeast cells and can be directly mixed with dry ingredients. It’s great for convenience and quick activation.

LeSaffre Saf-Instant Yeast

Does Yeast always Need to Be Doubled?

When doubling the batch of a bread recipe, all of the ingredients are doubled. This, of course, includes the amount of yeast. There is a slight caveat with doubling yeast:

A large amount of dough contains a greater variety of micro bacteria than a smaller batch. In the correct circumstances, cells multiply, which means a larger batch of dough, naturally containing a larger diversity of micro bacteria, is more active.

This observation is called The Mass Effect and means a larger batch of dough will rise faster than a smaller one made with the same ratio of ingredients.

Whilst the impact of The Mass Effect is noticeable when comparing dough batches made for one loaf and 100 loaves. Yet, it’s negligible when working with more minor changes, so it is ignored in most scenarios.

The Mass Effect can be masked by other things, including extra warmth created by mixing a larger batch for longer, inconsistencies in the flour and room temperature fluctuation.

Will Adding More Yeast Cause Bread to Rise More?

A yeast dough proofing

Contrary to the belief that adding more yeast will result in a higher rise, it’s not the yeast quantity alone that determines the rise of the bread. The fermentation process involves a delicate balance of time, temperature, and yeast activity.

Doubling the yeast quantity. The result could be an overly strong yeast flavour, a lack of complexity in taste, and uneven rising.

Adding more yeast can lead to overly rapid fermentation, negatively impacting the final bread product:

  1. Excessive quantities of water are released, making the dough sticky and lose shape.
  2. The sudden burst of gas released in an underdeveloped gluten matrix means the gas won’t be retained in the dough network.
  3. The dough will likely run out of sugars to feed the yeast later in the proofing process, causing the dough to rise less.

What Happens if I Double the Yeast in Bread?

If you double the yeast in a bread recipe without increasing any other ingredients, expect to observe a rapid rise in your dough.

While this might sound desirable, it can lead to uneven rising, a noticeably yeasty flavour, and a lack of depth in taste.

The bread might also have a coarser texture due to the accelerated fermentation process.

Does My Bread Need to Rise Twice?

Bread dough during bulk fementation

Many bread recipes call for a two-step rising process: the first rise (bulk fermentation) and the second rise (proofing).

Each rise has a distinct purpose in developing flavour, structure, and texture.

The first rise allows the dough to strengthen and develop flavour, while the second rise ensures proper aeration and final volume.

Ending thoughts

In conclusion, doubling the amount of yeast when doubling a bread recipe is always recommended. Yeast is a vital player in the bread-making process, and its interaction with other factors is what leads to a well-risen, flavorful loaf.

Understanding the nuances of yeast and fermentation will empower you to create bread that’s visually appealing and a delight to the palate.

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