Hints for Success in Working with Yeast

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  • Always use warm liquid, about 105 degrees, to dissolve yeast. A cold liquid may dissolve the cell walls of dry yeast, and a hot one may cook both dry and compressed yeast and kill them.
  • After preparing the sponge, proceed immediately to the remaining part of the recipe. It is better for the dough to wait for the sponge to be sufficiently fermented than to have the sponge wait and over ferment.
  • Always wait until the dough has fermented enough before proceeding to the next step in the recipe. Fermentation not only produces the gas that leavens the dough; it is also largely responsible for the flavor of the finished product and needs to develop fully if the baked pastry is to be both light and flavorful.
  • Proofing, the final fermentation before baking, is the most important part of the process. Forming the pastry expels most of the accumulated gas, so that the formed pastry needs to ferment again to restore its lightness before baking. Rushing the process by baking an underproofed pastry will result in a heavy texture and an excessively yeasty taste.
  • Cooling is important. Cool all yeast-risen pastries on a rack to make sure that their steamy yeastiness dissipates before serving them. Also, wrapping a yeast-risen pastry while it is still warm will result in a soggy texture and increase the likelihood of mold.

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