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The background: I baked bread a couple of days ago, and I was out of yeast, so I borrowed a couple of packets of Fleischmann's Instant Yeast from a neighbor. I'm used to dry active yeast, which requires two risings. My neighbor told me that with the instant yeast, she kneads for only five minutes instead of ten, skips the second rise and shapes her bread right after the first. I tried it her way, and I have to admit, it was the weirdest bread I've ever encountered. Even though the dough ended up smooth and elastic, the resulting bread was noticeably sweeter than my recipe, and it had a texture closer to cake than to bread.

The question: When using instant yeast, how many rises are needed to make a non-sweet bread? Do I have to stick with just one, or is it permissible to use two rises with this yeast? Definitely it needs more kneading, as my neighbor's recipe didn't form proper gluten chains, but should it have the second rise as well? Will something bizarre happen if I use two rises instead of one with instant yeast (asked as if this wasn't bizarre bread in itself)? Or should I just refrain from baking bread until I can get some proper -- read: dry active -- yeast?

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    I suspect that the cake-like consistency came partially from kneading for less time, as you need to develop gluten for the bread to trap the air bubbles properly. I personally use it just like active dry yeast ... you don't have to proof it, but I often still do, and it comes out fine. – Joe Mar 31 '16 at 17:37
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    Similar question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/66296/… – Catija Mar 31 '16 at 20:04
  • @Catija -- Why could I not find this yesterday when I ran a search? I kept using few and fewer search terms, and I wasn't getting anything of use back. Even when I was reduced to just a basic, "yeast, bread, rise" search, I only got one search return, and it didn't answer my question. I have to be doing something wrong, but I can't figure out what. – Shalryn Apr 1 '16 at 19:18
  • @Shalryn No idea what you did, but searching for "yeast bread rise" returns a ton of results. – Cascabel Apr 4 '16 at 3:44
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You should still use two rises if that's what the recipe calls for. The main differences are that instant yeast does not require proofing, and you can use a bit less of it because more of the yeast is viable.

The full article is behind a paywall here (https://www.cookscountry.com/how_tos/6140-yeast-101), but here's a short excerpt summarizing the substitution (instant and rapid-rise yeast are the same thing):

Active dry yeast must be activated (or proofed) in warm liquid before using; rapid-rise yeast can be added directly to the dough and does not require proofing, but the test kitchen has found that doing so does help to speed up its rise. Rapid-rise and active dry yeast may be substituted for each other if you follow this formula: 1 teaspoon active dry yeast equals ¾ teaspoon rapid-rise yeast.

And, though you refer to active dry yeast as "proper," I find I get better and more consistent results with rapid-rise yeast. And a pound of it is really inexpensive at my local grocery store, too. It keeps for months in the freezer.

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    That doesn't surprise me. Cooking is one of those things that seems especially prone to this kind of mistake, kind of like the joke about the lady who's teaching her daughter how to make a roast, and tells her to cut both ends off. The daughter asks why, but the mother isn't sure. A series of phone calls begins, ending with them asking great grandmother. She says, "well, I don't know why you do it, but I did it because my pan was too small." – Chris Bergin Apr 4 '16 at 14:37
  • Wow. Learning a lot here. Thank you, Chris Bergen and Spiff (Spaceman, perhaps?) Instant yeast may become my go-to for doughs I don't plan to freeze, if I master it correctly . – Shalryn Apr 5 '16 at 22:23
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You can get many rises with instant yeast -- I routinely use four, but have gone as far as nine (which proved to be too many). I've tried using only two and three rises many times, but I kept going back to four because it gives the best-shaped loaf and crumb texture I'm looking for.

I've also used active dry yeast in the exact same way, treating it just like instant. And I never proof either of them. In fact, the few times I tried proofing the yeast, it ended up making the worst loaves.

Oh, and I mix/knead in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer at second speed for six minutes. No additional kneading is done, other than a brief stretch and fold after each rise.

I should note that a stand mixer doesn't make much of a difference*. I used to use a hand-held one and that works just as well. The nice thing about the stand mixer is you can basically just turn it on and walk away until it's done. * If I had the spiral attachment instead of the regular dough hook then maybe that would actually make a big improvement, since that's supposed to knead better.

  • Regrettably, I have to save my stand mixer ambitions until I win the lottery or some such happenstance. Freeing up $500 for a stand mixer when there are other needs on the list can't really be done. A stand mixer will happen one day, just not one day soon :) – Shalryn Apr 5 '16 at 22:20
  • Shalryn, the KitchenAid Classic Plus is only $230. Not to throw around "only" casually like that, but it does a great job at about half the price you're thinking. It's only 4.5 quarts, so that means you won't be making double batches, but it's certainly large enough for a loaf of bread. – Chris Bergin Apr 6 '16 at 13:44

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