Yeast: Can it be decreased in the recipes?

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Short answer:  Yes!

Our method is super-fast because it’s based on stored dough, not because we use a full dose of granulated yeast in the recipes. In the 2007 edition of our first book, we used full-dose yeast (which was 1 1/2 tablespoons for four pounds of dough) because we knew that many of our readers would want to use the dough within a few hours of mixing it. For our 2013 update of that book, we decreased our full dose of yeast to 1 tablespoon, because our testing showed that the extra half-tablespoon made little difference. We’d still consider that a full dose of yeast in a four-pound batch, and you can decrease to 1 tablespoon in any of our recipes, from any of our books. But if you have more time for the initial rise, you can decrease it further–by large margins.  Half-doses, quarter-doses, and even less will work. When using fresh cake yeast, increase by 50% (by volume) to match the rising power of granulated yeast. 

Why use less yeast?  Experienced yeast bakers sometimes prefer the more delicate flavor and aroma of a dough risen with less packaged yeast. Traditionally, it’s felt that rising the dough very slowly, with very little added yeast, builds a better flavor. So this is an option to try when you have more time:

I tried it two ways, first halving the yeast (1/2 tablespoon), and then dropping it way down, to 1/2 teaspoon. Both worked, but they work slowly. For the 1/2 teaspoon version, you need to give the dough 6 to 12 hours to rise. The 1/2 tablespoon version needs something in between (about 4-5 hours). You don’t need to increase the resting time after the loaf is shaped. Active time is still five minutes a loaf, it’s just your passive resting and rising times that really escalate when you go to the low-yeast version. If you use cool or cold water with a low-yeast preparation, you’ll need 18 to 36 hours for the initial rise.

So if you’ve hesitated to try our method because you like your loaves risen long and slow, give this approach a try.

Low yeast/slow rise with egg-enriched breads: Readers have asked us about the food-safety issues in trying low yeast/slow rise at room temperature with egg-enriched doughs.  Raw egg shouldn’t be left out too long at room temp. How long is too long? US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is very conservative on this question; they say 2 hours is the max (click here and scroll down for their detailed recommendations). Understand that this would make it impossible to rise a cold-started egg-enriched dough fully at room temperature (though we’ve found that two hours on the counter is enough even for a 33% yeast reduction; the problems start when you make more significant reductions, which would require 8 to 24 hours on the counter). The risk is salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. Even though eggs in baked breads are fully cooked, the USDA is clear on this– 2 hours max.  They’re a very conservative organization– for example, you basically can’t eat hamburger with any pink in it, according to USDA.

To stay in compliance with USDA guidelines for egg-based doughs, refrigerate at 2 hours regardless of whether the batch has fully risen.  Then, allow the rising to complete at refrigerator temperature (18 to 36 hours).

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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332 thoughts on “Yeast: Can it be decreased in the recipes?

  1. I was able to get fresh cake yeast from an Italian grocery store,
    How do I add this yeast inAb5 or Hb in 5?
    How long will this yeast keep in the frig.?
    Ca I freeze and for how long ?

    1. not sure there’s any advantage to it, but it does work, and some people swear by it. It’s in the books, we called it “cake yeast” in the books; see page 10 in AB5, or page 16 in HB5. When we say “… the quantity,” we mean the volume in tablespoons/teaspoons etc. You can use low-yeast versions of our doughs as well, see FAQ tab and click on “Yeast: can it be decreased in the recipes?”

      1. Hi Karen,

        It is a yeast that has dough enhancers in it, which will make the dough stronger. We use Platinum by RedStar, which is the same concept.

        Thanks, Zoë

  2. I don’t object to the full yeast bread, but wonder if I can lower the salt–the bread seems overly salty to our low-salt household.

  3. Hi!

    I bought granulated yeast in bulk at the a health food store. But this was about 2 years ago. I kept it in the fridge for a few months and then put it in the freezer. It has been about a year since I made any bread so I wonder if the yeast is any good. Same with the vital wheat gluten, but that is in the fridge not the freezer. Should I toss everything and get new ones?

    I am hoping to make some rolls for TG!

    Thanks!

    1. The yeast should be fine; if you’re worried, just proof it 1st, mix with a little water and sugar and make sure it bubbles. The VWG should be OK too, but smell it– if it’s absorbed fridge odors it may be bad. Might not be an issue if it was in a sealed glass container.

  4. I just purchased your New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes.
    Can I use Bread Machine yeast in your recipes?

      1. I just purchased your Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day. When using your recipe for 100% Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Bread page 86 is there any way to successfully alter the recipe and add in some honey and olive oil? I have a similar recipe I use in my bread machine that has the same ingredients with the addition of l/4 cup of honey and 2 Tbsp. olive oil and would love to make it using your methods. Thank you!

      2. Hi Colleen,

        You can try replacing those ingredients for some of the water called for in the recipe. If you try it you may want to start with a half batch to make sure you like the results. Let me know how it turns out!

        Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Tom,

      This will work very well and some folks even prefer it with less yeast. If you have a Costco near you they sell red star yeast in a 1-pound block that is much cheaper than the jars or strips.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. I am confused about the 14 days in the refrigerator. Can the dough be used after 14 days? If so, is there any problem doing that? How long can it sit in the refrigerator after 14 days and still be good?

    1. Most of our testers weren’t crazy about dough older than 14 days. You can use it anytime up to that point, including the day it’s mixed.

      I’ve used dough as old as 30 days, but most people weren’t crazy about it. Discard anything that has mold on it (rarely happens, but see the FAQ titled “Gray color and liquid on my dough: Is there something wrong?”

  6. Hi. I tried to adapt your ww master recipe to create a softer, chewier sandwich loaf. I made one batch of dough (for 3 loaves). The first loaf turned out well baked in a bread machine, but 2nd one, which had to rest in the fridge overnight and doubled in volume (3rd rise) ended up gummy on the bottom. Since the dough for the 3rd loaf has doubled in volume in fridge (4th rise) and is a very sticky, slack dough, is there anything I can do at this point so that it’s not gummy? I’ve read that gummy-ness could be due to too much amylase. Should I fold and add flour/water until i get the dough to “window-pane” stage? Please advise. thanks.

    1. Hi. Since I don’t know what adjustments you made when adapting the recipe, I’m not really sure how to advise you. You can try folding more flour into the dough, but it should still be wetter than traditional dough or it will not store well beyond the first day.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Similar to bakingbread, I’d like to make a more chewy, tender sandwich loaf with a soft crust as my nieces and nephews prefer a softer vs crispy crust, which gets more crunchy the day after it’s baked (ie the traditional ABi5 white loaf). As such, as an experiment, i adjusted the recipe as follows: 4 cups AP flour, 1.5 cups water, 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 cup milk (minus 2 tbsp. to adjust for the liquid in the butter), 1/8 tsp yeast. After 12 hours (it only rose about 1.5x), I decided to fold it gently for a second rise (hoping the second rise will make it lighter as I’ve not had any luck with oven spring in the bread machine) and then bake it in a bread machine (hoping for the softer crust). while I’m waiting for the results, please advise (1) if you have any suggestions to the adjustments I made in the recipe (i prefer to use as little yeast as possible in order to coax more flavor), (2) as milk and butter are tenderizers, is there a minimum amount of these ingredients that I should have used or should use next time?, and (3) although I do like your master ww sandwich bread recipe, my nieces and nephews (who are used to white supermarket bread) still crave more chewy, light loaves. if i substitute 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 cup milk (minus 2 tbsp.) instead of the same amount of water and use half rye (2.25 cups), half wheat (2.25 cups) and leave AP as is (2 cups), will that result in a chewier, tender loaf? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Phoenix,

      Are you starting with the American-style Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from our book? That is the closest to what you’ve described. If so, it will work well to add some milk in place of some of the water. I’ve never baked in a bread machine, so I am not sure how that will work out. Please let me know what you think.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. I just purchased healthy breads in five minutes a day. I do not have a stand mixer nor a large enough food processor. I made my first batch by hand mixing, but I was wondering if I could use dough hooks on a hand mixer? I know your recipes are not to be kneaded, but I wondered if using them just long enough to mix the dough would work? I tried the regular besters on the hand mixer and the dough just gunks up on them.

    1. Well, there’s a chance that would work, though we’ve never tried it. If the manufacturer is marketing them as being intended for bread dough, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. But I’m not surprised that the regular beaters didn’t work.

      1. They are just called dough hooks. I looked them up and they are for mixing and kneading. I am concerned that I would end up kneading the bread with them.

      2. Oh, I get it now, thank you! It’s perfectly fine if you accidentally knead and develop the gluten. It’s not harmful; all we’re saying is that it isn’t neccesary with our method (where the dough’s wet enough for the gluten to develop by itself over time).

      3. Actually, I watched your video on YouTube last night to watch how it is mixed and you did it by hand. I did not think that was an option – the book states either the paddle of a counter mixer or the dough blade of a food processor. So now I know that hand mixing is an option.

      4. Hmm. Can you tell me what book and page number you saw that? We usually say “… mix with a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer etc…” Wooden spoon can only mean “by hand?” Or did we have an editing problem somewhere, in one of the books?

  9. About the slow rise, you said: “If you use cool or cold water with a low-yeast preparation, you’ll need 18 to 36 hours for the initial rise.”
    Are you saying the entire 18-36 hours should be at room temperature or is all or part of that time in the fridge?

    Thanks! Sharon

      1. Thanks so much! I am adding my own sourdough starter based on your instructions, in the book, for how to use a starter with your recipes; that is why I am reducing the yeast. I just wanted make sure I was interpreting the time range for the initial rise correctly (on counter rather than in fridge).
        Sharon

      2. Hi Sharon,

        The only time you wouldn’t want to do a long counter rise, is if the recipe has eggs or other ingredients that will spoil unrefrigerated for that long.

        Enjoy, Zoë

  10. My bread maker only calls for 1 1/2 tsps. of dry yeast for 4 coups of flour. I am always left with a teaspoon of yeast and I don’t bake bread that often–what can I make with this small amount? Thanks for any ideas.

    1. Collect the leftover yeast and use it to make recipes from our books, which call for 1 tablespoon of yeast in 6.5 cups of flour. Click on the images above for our books on Amazon.

    1. Hi Petra,

      You are not the first and even Jeff and I have done it! You can make a slurry of the yeast and a couple tablespoons of water. Your best bet is to use a stand mixer with the paddle if you have it and let it mix on slow while you add the yeast. The slower you add the yeast, the easier it will incorporate, which may take some time.

      Thanks, Zoë

  11. Can the yeast in the Panettone recipe p320 revised NABFMD be replaced in all or part with active sourdough starter? What adjustments need to be made? Thanks!

    1. It could, but we haven’t tried it because that flavor isn’t traditional with panettone. Personally, I think it’d be great. As for adjustments, impossible for me to tell you without going through the testing process. It all depends on how liquidy your start is—but obviously you need to adjust the liquids.

      That complexity–that’s the other reason we didn’t test this. Do you have The New Healthy Bread in 5? There’s a whole chapter on natural sourdough. Book’s on amazon at https://amzn.to/2fQ0LIV , but that said, we don’t directly address this question in the book. What you’re trying is for folks who are experienced with our method and with wet doughs. Pannetone, if too wet, is going to be like lead…

      1. 1.white bread master recipe”page 125”+ Ramadan pita (semolina bread dough”page 139”)+olive oil dough “page253”+100%whole wheat bread “page 188”
        from the holiday & celebration bread book.

        Old recipes from the old books.
        2.100%whole wheat bread with olive oil “page 81”from healthy bread book.

        3.pumpernickel bread “page 170”from the new artisan bread in five book.

      2. Great, all those should tolerate a low-yeast version. If you use fresh yeast, you increase the volume of yeast, doubling it. If you do the low-yeast version, remember that it could take a lot longer to rise.

  12. Hi there,
    I’m trying to make the master recipe from New Healthy Bread using the decreased yeast mentioned on page 56 combined with the “short-cut levain loaves from yeasted batches” on 393. So, a portion of the last low yeast batch (which I like for a jumpstart on fermentation and especially flavor) mixed with a new very low yeast batch. It says a 1/2 teaspoon yeast batch needs 6 to 12 hours for the initial rise. Should this be at room temperature? It says a short-cut levain batch made from a previous yeasted batch (with no additional yeast, I assume) could take up to 48 hours for its initial rise. Should this be at room temperature? (I have no objections to 48 hours at room temperature, by the way.) Was the shortcut method intended to be with a fully yeasted previous batch? Can I get enough yeast/rise from part of an old low yeast batch mixed with a new low yeast batch? And how long should I expect it to take for the initial rise? Is there any advantage to rising at room temperature or to retarding it in the refrigerator? I know that’s like a dozen different questions, but I hope you’ll understand what I’m getting at. Any guidance much, much, much appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Yes, room temperature, and if it’s a non-egg, non-dairy dough, I’m comfortable with a 48-hour proofing at room temperature (I assume you’re asking from a food-safety perspective and I don’t think it’s a concern). The shortcut method was intended for a full-dose yeast batch, since that’s what most of our readers are making, and yes, I think that residual live yeast from the original batch will propogate to the new flour that’s added. I’m hoping you’ll see good rise within 48 hours. When using previously refrigerator-stored dough as a jump-starter for flavor, I don’t think you’ll notice much improvement with a refrigerator-ritard process, but some would say that doing so allows full and slow hydration of the protein/starch matrix, which improves “custardization” of crumb-holes–it’s a texture effect. So you could experiment with that.

      That said, this is definitely trickier than going traditional here, and you may find this overly dense. It’ll still make great flatbread even if it’s not showing great rising power.

      1. Thank you so much! I can’t believe you guys still answer every question here. So kind. Yeah–as usual with everything I cook, I’m sort of creating my own method/recipe here combining favorite/successful techniques from different recipes. But I have to say, I’ve been getting shockingly great results for a newbie making a 70% whole wheat dough. I’ve been holding back maybe 250g of the previous batch to use in a new full batch using 3/4tsp yeast. I mix the new batch flour (and vital wheat gluten) with 800g of water and let that chill for 20-30 minutes. I mix the remaining water with the rest of the old batch to thin it out. Add salt and yeast to that, then combine with the new flour & water using stretch & fold and pincer method. I stretch & fold (just enough to work around the whole bowl and the dough tightens up) 3 or 4 times (waiting for the dough to relax again before another fold) in the first hour after mixing, then let rise at room temperature about four hours before refrigerating. I find this dough so much easier to work with and shape than dough just mixed and tossed in the fridge and am getting beautiful loaves still up to a week later. (I haven’t tried longer than that because we’ve always eaten it and want more within a week.) Thanks for bringing delicious bread in to our home every day!

      2. P.S. As I’m sure you could’ve predicted, I’ve realized keeping the flour & water separate from the yeast is probably unnecessary in a dough that will then be long stored in the fridge anyway. BUT, holding over a small bit of old low yeast dough to start a new low yeast batch has definitely been giving me better flavor every batch, and those few folds in the first hour or less do make the dough easier to handle and shape later.

        However, I never get any noticeable rise on my shaped loaves before baking, even with a two hour rise (or longer one time I forgot to turn on the oven), so for my last loaf it only sat for the 30 minutes needed to heat up my oven/Dutch oven, and I got the same result I always do. So either I’ve been doing something wrong somewhere in the process before baking (I assumed this was just the max rise/oven spring/bubbles I was gonna get with a 60%+ whole wheat dough), or the longer proof (really just dough coming up to room temp because I rarely get any rise) is unnecessary. There are endless factors to tinker with in the quest for the best but easiest bread!

      3. So, if not getting, as you say, a “noticeable” rise during proofing…
        … but are you getting good hole structure? if so, it may just be spreading sideways. If it’s dense and brick-like, that’s a different story.

        If good hole structure, you may just need to improve your “gluten-cloaking” technique. Have you seen the video we have on that? If not, moisture level may be off, or other more serious problem. One easy way to fix the “spreading sideways” problem is to bake in a loaf pan.

  13. I love your book! I made a loaf a week of the master recipe for a few months and gradually started decreasing the amount of yeast because I left 1/4-1/2 cup of the previous dough in my container. I used 1/2 tsp yeast in the last round and the dough rose in the container but just spread in the 40 minutes pre-bake time and didn’t get the nice oven spring when I baked it. it was pretty flat and not tasty 🙁 Did I cut the yeast too much or should I have added more flour to give it more body?

  14. I found this site exactly 2 weeks ago. I now own the NewABin5 book, 6L container, dough scraper, dough whisk and a Pullman pan (thanks Amazon). You guys I thought it was going to be so much trial and user error until I finally the investment worth it but no. All four batches have either been passable or perfection from the start. My question is how to skip washing the container in between batches since my batches have yet to last more than 3 days. I know I saw somewhere you can leave some dough in the bottom of the container and skip the washing step. I don’t even remember if I saw it on the website or in the actual book but I need to know if I just add all ingredients in the bucket and mix as normal or if there were adjustments I need to make. Thanks for any help!

    1. Thanks for the kind word, Laura. In the book you have, all this info is on page 62 (“Lazy sourdough shortcut”).

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