A lot of people are scared of making things that have yeast in them. They CAN be scary, but they’re also lots of fun and very rewarding. Here are some tips to make perfect yeast doughs:

  • Use bread machine yeast rather than regular yeast, even if you’re not using a bread machine. It’s less tempermental and more forgiving.
  • Make sure the liquid you’re using to dissolve the yeast is warm enough (between 100-115) for the yeast to grow, but not too hot because that will kill the yeast. My rule of thumb is a temperature that you’d be comfortable taking a hot shower in, but not so hot that you couldn’t wash your hair or face in it.
  • Keep your yeast in the freezer; it will last longer.
  • Keep your kitchen warmer than you normally would.
  • Sugar feeds yeast, salt can kill it. This is part of why you let yeast dissolve and rise before adding it to other ingredients–it activates the yeast enough to a point where the salt won’t kill it. If you’re having a hard time getting your yeast to bubble, add a little sugar.
  • Allow dough to rise in a metal or glass bowl. They retain heat better than plastic bowls and you’ll get a better rise. You can also run the bowl you’re using under some hot water (and then dry it, then spray it with non-stick cooking spray for easy cleanup) before adding the dough so it will be nice and warm.
  • Be patient. Yeast breads can take a long time.
  • You’ll use more flour if you’re kneading with your hands than you will with a Bosch or a Kitchenaid.
  • A soft dough will firm up as it rises the first time, so try not to add too much flour. It’s better to err on the side of not adding enough flour than adding too much–you can always add more flour, but you can’t take it away once it’s in the dough.
  • Butter on top of the dough will make it soft; olive oil will make it crispy.
  • Shortening can make lighter, fluffier breads, but butter tastes infinitely better. Nine times out of ten, go for the butter.
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23comments

  1. 1
    Spencer Family says:

    Okay this may be really simple but I don’t know ANYTHING about using yeast so… I put the yeast in a bowl and then pour in the warm water…do I then stir until all the yeast is completely mixed in? TIA!

  2. 2
    Kate says:

    You can really do it however–I usually sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and then stir it a few times. It won’t completely dissolve, you just want to try and get everything wet.

    Hope that helps! :)

  3. 3
    Trimble says:

    Does kneading have any effect on how well the yeast will rise (other than just making sure it's distributed throughout all of the dough)?

  4. 4
    Kate says:

    Trimble–Kneading is actually to activate and strengthen the gluten (protein) in the flour. It's important for the dough rising because when the dough has been properly kneaded, the gluten will be strong enough to give your dough a nice rise, but the kneading and the yeast don't have a whole lot to do with each other.

    Hope that helps! :)

  5. 5
    Rebecca says:

    can you half a recipe using yeast? do you have to follow any special rules, or just half everything listed?

  6. 6
    nothnbutherain says:

    Thank you for this post! Every time I've made something with yeast (except pizza dough) it's just been sort of…"meh" I'll definitely try these tips next time!

  7. 7
    Melee says:

    Should I use self rising flour or all purpose?

  8. 8
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Definitely all-purpose unless a recipe specifies otherwise. :)

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    This is really helpful! Thanks so much for posting all these tips in one place. I will definitely be referring back to this often.

  10. 10
    Judy says:

    I am looking for a good recipe for sprouted wheat bread and some instructions on how to make it. I’ve tried a few from Youtube and I’m not getting a loaf which pleased me.

  11. 11
    Gabi says:

    Sometimes I just decide to make something with yeast without a plan, but the long time of waiting is just not my style. My new trick to accelerate the rising process is: boil a cup of pure water in the microwawe, and add a teabag of your choice. Cover the dough in the bowl with a clean tea-towel, and place it into the mic, with the hot tea on side. Close the door, and wait. Usually it works really well, and way much faster. (And you will end up with a fine cup of calming tea too. :)
    And: if I can, I always use fresh yeast.

  12. 12
    Maria says:

    How do i know if i killed the yeast? Or that it’s no longer good?

    • 12.1

      Coming in WAAAAAY late here (sorry!!), but if the yeast doesn’t bubble when it’s in the water with the sugar and it hasn’t expired yet, it’s probably not good anymore. If it hasn’t expired, then the water may have been too hot or too cold.

  13. 13
    Audrey Cox says:

    I’m new to yeast- Ive been one of those scared of it. There are so many different kinds of yeast. Is Bread machine yeast the same as the packets of active dry yeast or RapidRise yeast? Also, what do you think about using Bread flour in place of all purpose. Is it better? or worse?
    Audrey Cox
    PS: It’s been so fun to stumble onto your blog and then find out you guys are LDS. Me too. Small world!! I LOVE to cook too and put my recipes on my blog also. Your Blog is AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with the world.

    • 13.1

      Hi, Audrey! Active dry/rapid rise yeast are all good and basically the same thing, but bread machine yeast is even EASIER to use–I’ve seriously never had bad results with it.

      As far as bread flour goes, it just depends on the recipe. Bread flour has more gluten/protein than all-purpose flour, so in some things, it will be awesome (bread, doughnuts, etc), but in cakes, it will be far too heavy. If you’re ever in the mood for a science experiment, try getting a whole bunch of types of flours at the grocery store (cake, all-purpose, bread, etc.) and whisk 1/2 cup of each flour with 1/4 cup of water (separately). It’s really amazing to see the different consistencies!

  14. 14
    Za says:

    Hi. I tried making rolls today. I kept it for two hours, but didn’t necessarily try to warm up the bowl it was kept in since we live on the equator and it is quite warm here. The dough raised, and I punched it down(like the recipe I was following said), made it into balls, lined it in the tray(with space inbetween for the second rise) and left it again for around 45 minutes.

    Then I baked. It baked alright, and though the top was crispy instead of soft, the batch of buns looked okay, until I tasted it. It tasted downright horrible. It was dense instead of fluffy, and tasted too much of yeast to be palatable. This has happened almost everytime I baked rolls. The one time this did not happen, the buns did not raise at all and I ended up with flat dough.

    What should I do to get better results? I do not have a bread machine, and I do hand kneading. If I knead too less or if my kneading is wrong, could that result in this? Or could I have used too much yeast? (I used 2 and1/4 teaspoons of yeast for four cups of flour). Or maybe, should I change the yeast I am using? (I have used the same can of yeast for all three baking sessions).

    • 14.1

      Huh, I really don’t know. What kind of yeast are you using? I’m not sure where you’re located, but do you have access to bread machine yeast? You don’t have to use it in a bread machine, but it’s just easier to use than many other yeasts.

      At the very least, I would definitely try a new container of yeast; because it’s a living organism, it can start to die and not work correctly if it gets too old.

  15. 15
    Lynette says:

    I am trying not to spill flour, so I put my measuring cup into the bag and press down into the bag to get the flour, then scrape the top, am I getting too much flour by doing that. I only used 8 cups on the rolls but they were very heavy. Also only have a hand mixer with the small beaters, do you still beat it the same way as listed. Also it didn’t rise as much on the first rise, rose better on the second rise, but were still very heavy. I haven’t worked with yeast before.

    • 15.1

      Definitely sounds like you have too much flour. You should always scoop the flour out with a spoon and spoon it lightly into the measuring cups and then level it with the back of a knife–it’s really amazing to see what a huge difference that makes!

  16. 16
    Becky Howlett says:

    What brand of yeast do you use? Is there a brand that is better then the rest?

    • 16.1

      Really, I’m okay with any bread machine yeast–at our Kroger, they have a store-brand bread machine yeast that works every bit as good as Fleischmann’s, but it’s SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper (I’ve been known to drive 15 minutes to Kroger vs. 5 minutes to Walmart JUST for this yeast, haha!)

  17. 17
    stephanie says:

    when I roll hoagies I cut and measure the dough, kneed it a few times and then roll it into a long roll shape. After baking, the sides split open. how do I prevent this?

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