You have this crazy idea: you want to use brewer’s yeast, also known as beer yeast, in your bread. The possibilities are endless. Okay, maybe it’s not so crazy, especially when you look at the similarities between brewer’s yeast vs baker’s yeast. But how will brewer’s yeast affect the flavor of your baked goods? Are there any types of brewing yeast that won’t work well? Let’s find out.
What is Brewer’s Yeast?
Brewer’s yeast, sometimes known as beer yeast, is a strain of one-celled fungi known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) and comes in a couple of forms. You might see ale yeast (top fermenting), lager yeast (bottom fermenting), Belgian yeast, or wheat beer yeast all on the same shelf. Yet, all types of beer yeast are slow-rising, meaning they produce small bubbles and jump start the fermentation process. Just don’t confuse brewer’s yeast with distiller’s yeast.
What is Baker’s Yeast?
Another strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker’s yeast is used most often in breads, cakes, pastries, and other baked goods. In dough, baker’s yeast will feed on the starches in the flour or on sugar to make CO2 that causes the bread to rise. You can find baker’s yeast in multiple forms, including compressed cakes or dry powder. Additionally, you will find baker’s yeast used as a raising agent in coffee cake, brioche, and croissants.
Different Types of Baker’s Yeast
Baker’s yeast is a general term that refers to various forms of yeast. The most common ones you will find useful in baking include:
- Active Dry – Often sold in powder form. You need to dissolve active dry yeast into warm water not exceeding 43 C (110 F). This is an all-purpose baking yeast.
- Cake or Fresh – Sold in a compressed form, fresh yeast has to be refrigerated and used within a few weeks of purchase. It needs to be dissolved into liquids before using and has to be proofed. Cake yeast is most often used with, you guessed it, cakes.
- Liquid – Although popular in the 19th century, you don’t see much liquid yeast these days. It is a slurry of flour, water, and live yeast and works similarly to a bread starter or sourdough.
- Instant (Rapid Rise) – The most commercially available form of baking yeast, instant yeast, also known as rapid rise or bread machine yeast, is shelf-stable, does not require proofing, and is meant to release CO2 rapidly.
How to Use Brewer’s Yeast vs Baker’s Yeast
As mentioned earlier, yeast has a wide range of applications. Depending on the form you are using and what your goal is, there is a yeast for it. Brewer’s yeast is primarily used in making beer, as we already mentioned. Because of that, the various strains—ale yeast vs lager yeast—alter the end result. That is also why ales and lagers end up tasting differently.
You use brewer’s yeast in freshly boiled wort to breakdown the sugars and make both CO2 and ethanol. Conversely, baker’s yeast is either proofed in warm water or added directly to your dough or batter as a leavening agent. The CO2 produced causes the dough to rise.
Should you want to substitute baker’s yeast for brewer’s yeast or vice versa, do not use bottom-fermenting yeast (lager yeast). This form of yeast works only at cooler temperatures 7-15 C (44-59 F) and grows much more slowly than top-fermenting yeast (ale yeast). That is why lagers take so long to develop. Ale yeasts, on the other hand, will work more quickly, creating a decent enough rise for breads.
Brewer’s Yeast vs Baking Yeast: Which is Better for Bread?
It’s very easy to say that baker’s yeast is the best for baking, but that’s not always true. It really depends on the recipe and the kind of flavors you want in your bread or baked goods. While you can use baker’s yeast for beer, it doesn’t always come out as you’d like. Using brewer’s yeast in dough, however, often creates a splendid result that makes baker’s kiss their fingertips.
But baker’s yeast is intended for baked goods, particularly bread. Because baker’s yeast has been formulated a special way, it is ideal for breads that need a quick rise and lighter consistency on the inside, such as sandwich rolls. Baker’s yeast compliments the other ingredients in sweeter breads, too, whereas brewer’s yeast could upset the careful balance of flavors.
Can You Use Brewer’s Yeast for Baking?
Yes, you can most definitely use brewer’s yeast for baking. Brewer’s yeast can already be used as a nutritional supplement, as it is high in many essential nutrients, like chromium, and B vitamins. Plus, brewer’s yeast will make your breads a bit more heartier, chewier, and flavorful. The heartiness is a result of the slower rise. Even if you use all purpose flour, you’ll get a thick, savory bread that is perfect for soaking up sauces and soups.
It is not recommended, however, that you use brewer’s yeast for sweeter confections, since the natural bitterness will detract from the intended flavor. That said, you could always experiment on a Saturday night and see what happens!
If you ever wondered how the difference between baker’s and brewer’s yeast was, the answer can be found in the purpose. Brewer’s beer has been cultivated to be most effective at creating alcohol, which transforms wort into beer. Baker’s yeast, on the other hand, has enough CO2 to make breads and sweets rise for maximum fluffiness.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them interchangeably. If you’re feeling experimental, try some baker’s yeast in your home brewed beer or opt to use brewer’s yeast for heartier, tastier breads.
FAQ on Brewer’s Yeast vs Baker’s Yeast For Bread
Yes and no. They are indeed the same type of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), but they have slightly different purposes. Brewer’s yeast has been cultivated to produce more ethanol alcohol than CO2 so that wort transforms into beer. Meanwhile, baker’s yeast produces lower amounts of ethanol and higher amounts of CO2 to be used as a leavening agent.
Baker’s yeast can be a substitute for brewer’s yeast and vice versa. There is one caveat: Baker’s yeast can only be used as a substitute for brewing yeast when you are making ale. Lagers use a separate strain of yeast that has different characteristics from baker’s yeast.
Yes, it’s possible. Brewer’s yeast, particularly ale yeast, is the same strain of yeast (S. cerevisiae) and produces an adequate amount of CO2 to get bread to rise. You don’t even have to alter the amount of yeast you use all that much. Simply proof the brewer’s yeast like you would active dry yeast then proceed to add it to your dough.