What’s the difference between Types Of Yeast?

There’s quite a few types of yeast available to home and professional bakers, it can become quite overwhelming. You might be familiar with are instant dried, fast acting, commercial bakers yeast, commercial artisan bakers yeast and SAF.

Here’s how they work:

What does yeast do?

Yeast falls into the category of levains and is the most recognised one in bread making. A levain is a product that’s added to a bread recipe to make the dough rise.

Yeast makes bread rise by reacting with the starch (sugars) in the flour to create carbon dioxide and ethanol. The gas created raises the dough as it gets trapped in the gluten structure formed from the flour.

The ethanol gets burnt away in the baking process. There is the question of should I add less yeast in bread to consider too.

Bakers yeast v dried/supermarket yeast

Bakers yeast is yeast in a moistened form, it comes in blocks, about the size of a standard house brick.

Dried yeast is the stuff you typically buy in the supermarkets, it comes in sealed bags and is found (often out of date) in many kitchen cupboards.

These are the two main types of yeast available to bakers and both do pretty much the same job.

types of yeast

Bakers yeast works straight away therefore is the culture for commercial baking.

Dried yeast requires five/ten minutes to re-hydrate and become active which is why it is often not used in commercial settings.

Bakers yeast goes out of date within 2 weeks of purchase whereas dried yeast keeps for a lot longer provided it’s kept sealed.

Either one of these can create amazing breads, in fact some of the artisan elite do prefer to use dried over bakers yeast as they like rest it gives the doughs development before it becomes active.

Instant dried yeast

This is the standard type of dried yeast. It’s not as instant as fresh yeast but it’s pretty quick to get underway. Using warm water to test if it works is generally unnecessary, as is making a liquid yeast and adding it to the recipe.

Just add the dried pellets to the dough and they will naturally hydrate as they mix with the water.

Fast acting yeast

These yeasts depend on the manufacturer and include bread improvers such as ascorbic acid and emulsifiers. For artisan bread you want to avoid these.

Commercial bakers yeast

Block size are either 800g or 1kg. You can buy wraps containing around 12-20 blocks from mail order sites or you can go to a local bakery that uses fresh yeast and ask to buy a smaller amount.

I often pop into my local supermarket and buy 200g at a time and it costs about £1.

Commercial artisan bakers yeast

This is the same format as traditional bakers yeast yet it is formulated to work at cooler temperatures and harsher ph factors. 


This yeast is designed for use when using doughs that have high quantities of fat or sugar in them. Their make up is strong enough to withstand these issues and raises the bread when other types of yeast may struggle.

They are pretty expensive so only use them where necessary. If you are interested in SAF yeast, you can find it here.

Liquid yeast

This is used in big commercial warehouses and is poured into the mix, replacing some of the water content.

If you think you need liquid yeast, you probably know more about it than I do so I won’t comment any further!

how to bake bread

How to choose the right yeast

Your yeast choice is going to impact your bread quality. I would choose either a reputable instant yeast brand or find a location where bakers yeast is readily available and use the same one in all your breads.

When learning to bake bread you'll find that each type of yeast will do the job. They just work at different rates in different ways to get the job done.

If you find a problem when you use one in a recipe then try another one. Being great at bread baking has a lot to do with maintaining consistency, having too many variables makes it harder!

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