The big question
So you’ve read many recipes, blogs, and magazines about making bread at home. You’ve figured out that you need some sort of yeast for this process and have located and purchased instant yeast.
Instant yeast can be added directly to your dry ingredients, unlike active yeast which you need to dissolve first to activate. Also, instant yeast is faster-acting than active yeast and can potentially save you some fermentation time.
Bulk Fermentation and Proofing?
In the article on proofing from www.masterclass.com, they explain the baking terminology regarding yeast. You have the bulk fermentation stage which is the first resting period after the yeast has been added to the rest of the ingredients. Proofing is the final resting stage after the dough has been shaped but before the dough has been baked. I personally just refer to both of these as proofing my dough since no one in my house cares about technical terms.
But maybe you still have questions after all your research. You’ve read some recipes that want you to do the bulk fermentation and final proof when using instant yeast and yet some other bread recipes only call for one proofing period. What do you do?
I think it is experiment time. I’ve decided to make a basic white bread recipe using instant yeast. I will split the dough in half and one loaf will only get one proofing stage before it is baked. The second loaf will get a bulk fermentation and a final proofing before it is baked.
Let’s see what happens.
A great quick bread recipe if you don’t have time for yeasted bread is this Cheddar Irish Soda Bread.
The Recipe I use for Sandwich Bread
White Sandwich Loaf
- 2 Cups Water 110° F
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5 Cups Bread Flour may need extra flour – add 1 tbsp at a time
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the warm water, sugar and yeast. Gently stir and allow to bloom for approximately 10 minutes.
Make the bread dough
- Once the yeast has proofed, turn the mixer on low and add the olive oil.
- Add half of the flour and all of the salt.
- Continue to add flour in 1/2 cup increments. You want a dough that forms a ball but is still slightly tacky. You can add more flour or water depending on how the dough is behaving.
- Knead gently for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Lightly oil a bowl and add your dough ball, turning to coat. Cover and allow to rest until double in size. This can take approximately 1 hour depending on the temperature of the room.
- One the dough has doubled in size, place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface. Divide the dough in half. Gently flatten each half into a rectangle and roll up the loaf from the short side.
- Pinch the seam to seal and place the loaves into 9 x 5 loaf pans, seam side down.
- Cover each loaf pan and allow to rest again until double in size again. Again, this can take approximately an hour depending on how warm the room is.
- When there is around 20 minutes left on the final rise, preheat your oven to 375° F.
- Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. You can check if the loaf is done by gently tapping the bottom and it should sound hollow.
- Remove from pans and cool completely on a rack before slicing.
What I did for this test
As you can see above, my regular white sandwich loaf uses active dry yeast and I do both the bulk fermentation and the final proofing. For this test though, I made a few changes.
First, I used instant yeast so there was no proofing the yeast step. I simply added the liquid ingredients to the mixer and then added the dry ingredients, including the instant yeast.
You can see the grains of instant yeast are very fine.
After the dough was made, I weighed out the two loaves to make sure they were equal. The first loaf was shaped and placed into the 9 x 5 loaf pan to allow for the one and only proofing. The second loaf was placed into a lightly oiled bowl and covered to allow for the bulk fermentation.
I placed both doughs in a warm location to allow for proofing.
The loaf on the left is the loaf getting one proofing period. It’s been proofed for an hour and 15 minutes and slowly springs back when gently poked with my finger. It is ready for the oven now.
The second dough on the right has had its bulk fermentation and is now ready for shaping for the final proof.
This is the second loaf shaped and ready for it’s final proofing.
The loaf on the left is the one that received only one proofing period and has now been baked. That is fresh from the oven. Smells amazing!
The loaf on the right is after a second (and final) proofing period and is ready for the oven.
This is the second white sandwich loaf that had two proofing periods fresh from the oven.
Both of the loaves were removed from the tins as soon as they came out of the oven and allowed to cool on a wire rack.
The results of the experiment
The loaf on the left was the one that had just one rise. The loaf on the right had two.
This is the loaf that had one proofing period.
This is the loaf that had two proofing periods.
Again, left loaf is one rise and second loaf is two.
The one on the left that had two rises has slightly more air pockets than the one rise loaf. Since they are white sandwich loaves, they don’t have a huge flavour profile to begin with, but I will say the right (with two proofing periods) tasted slightly better to me.
As for the instant yeast speeding up the proofing, I can’t say that it did much for me. It is winter here and finding a warm location can be a challenge. I usually wrap the bowl with a wool blanket to help keep it warm but I still had to proof both doughs for an hour and 15 minutes. It wasn’t any faster than what I usually need to do with active yeast.
All of this said though, if I was in a rush and didn’t have the time for two rises, I think one is just fine.
My personal preference is to use active yeast. I like to activate my yeast first to make sure it is alive and well before I continue with my recipe. It can be disappointing to go through all the effort of baking something only to find out that your yeast wasn’t alive.
What do you think? Would you complete one rise or two? Let me know in the comments down below.