Written by Khilee Gupta
As someone who loves to bake bread, I always wondered how yeast makes the bread rise. Just adding a little amount causes the dough to double in size, but what even is yeast?!
Yeast is nothing more than a single-celled fungus. They are shaped like an egg and are not visible to the naked eye. Essentially it takes 20 billion yeast cells to weigh 1 gram! The scientific name is saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is a fairly long name for such a tiny organism. Another name for yeast is the “sugar-eating fungus”.
The Magical Process
Yeast is an essential ingredient to make bread. It is a leavening agent that produces gas in order to make it rise. Yeast is a sugar-eating fungus, so it feeds on the sugar such as maltose that is present in the flour. As it continues feeding on sugar, carbon dioxide is released in the process. With no place for the gas to escape, it starts filling bubbles in the dough which results in the dough rising. Once the bread is out of the oven, this is what gives it the airy texture.
Types of Yeast
There are two types of dry yeast. One is active yeast and the second one is instant yeast. Both are interchangeable and do the same job. The only difference is the time they take to make the dough rise. Instant yeast is the faster alternative and can be used instantly. Whereas active yeast needs to be activated prior to using it. The instant yeast is more finely ground up resulting in a faster reaction.
Is yeast good for you?
Yeast-rich foods such as most baked goods keep your digestive system balanced and healthy. It has many benefits and contains plenty of proteins and B vitamins. The right amount helps the immune system, however, an excess amount can cause infections and other health problems. If you are not comfortable with yeast, there are alternate options available as well.