I am sure that most of us have attempted to make bread at least once in our lives. The aroma of freshly baked bread makes it almost irresistible to eat! However, have you ever wondered what makes that beautiful bread rise? It’s yeast, of course.
However, what if you want to bake bread someday and realize you are all out of yeast? Now instead of quickly running to the store to get some, how about you try a substitute for yeast? This article will help you find the best yeast substitutes!
So what are the best substitutes for yeast? The best yeast substitutes are baking powder, baking soda, egg whites and sourdough starter.
Although, before we start exploring the best yeast substitutes, let me tell you a little bit more about yeast. This will help you understand its properties and what exactly it does to your bread.
What’s In The Post
Quick Peek: Yeast
This section will help you understand all about yeast. You will get to know its properties, flavor, texture, uses, and nutritional information. Read on to explore yeast!
What Is Yeast?
Yeast is a single-celled microorganism from the fungus family. These single-celled microorganisms have evolved from multicellular ancestors. Currently, there are 1500 species of yeasts recognized in the world.
Yeast cells generally grow very quickly as compared to animal cells. They grow through a process called budding. Here, a small yeast cell grows outside of a mature one until it is fully grown and ready to separate.
For yeast to grow in this way, it needs sufficient food, which is sugar and optimum temperature. The pH level and amount of oxygen must also be proper for yeast to grow.
What Are The Varieties Of Yeast?
In the culinary world, there are generally two varieties of yeast that are commonly used. These are brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast. Baker’s yeast is called ‘Saccharomyces cerevisiae.’
Brewer’s yeast is generally used to make beer. Whereas baker’s yeast is used as a leavening agent in various baked products. There are two types of baker’s yeast available- fresh yeast and active dry yeast.
How Does Yeast Work?
When I talk about the function of yeast in baking, it is mainly a leavening agent. It feeds on sugar and converts the sugar into alcohol through a process called fermentation.
It also produces carbon dioxide, which makes the bread rise while proofing. However, it works slower than other leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda. Yeast needs a proper temperature and some humidity for it to work best.
Usually, all bread recipes call for a little bit of salt. This enhances the flavor, and the salt also stops the yeast from leavening the bread too much and reduces the yeast activity to an extent.
Describing Yeast: Flavor And Texture
Here, I will be talking specifically about baker’s yeast. Baker’s yeast is available in fresh and dry forms. Fresh yeast is generally available in blocks that can be broken down by hand as per recipe requirements. It has a soft texture.
Active dry yeast is generally available in a powdered form in packets. You can use the amount of yeast you need per what the recipe calls for.
Both these yeasts cannot be eaten just like that as they have a very sharp flavor that does not suit our palate. However, yeast does help enhance the flavor of the bread a little bit.
Uses Of Yeast
As mentioned earlier, yeast is a leavening agent. Hence, it helps various baked products rise and become airy, especially bread. Yeast can be used in baking every type of bread.
Professional bakers generally use fresh yeast. This is because it contains high moisture and is extremely perishable. Hence, it needs to be used quickly.
Home bakers prefer active dry yeast more. It needs to be soaked in lukewarm water or milk to get activated before adding it to the dough. Instant yeast, however, does not need to be activated.
It can be added directly with the rest of the ingredients while making bread.
Brewers’ yeast is generally used to make alcohol, especially beer. The yeast consumes the sugar in beer and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. It helps with the fermentation of beer.
Yeast On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Being a leavening agent, yeast is generally used in very small quantities in most bread recipes. Hence, it does not really provide any nutritional benefits. However, it does have certain health benefits of its own.
Yeast is naturally gluten-free and can be easily used by people with gluten intolerance. Moreover, it contains protein, carbohydrates, and fiber with a very small amount of fat and almost no sugar.
It is a good vitamin B1, B2, B6, potassium, and zinc source. Moreover, nutritional yeast is supposed to help with heart health, immune system support, and digestive issues.
I think I have given you plenty of information on yeast! Now, let us quickly look at the main attraction of this article, the best yeast substitutes.
4 Best Yeast Substitutes
This section lists the best substitutes you could use in place of yeast in your bread. Moreover, this section will also help you understand how to use each substitute. So, let us dive into the best yeast substitutes!
1. Baking Powder
Baking powder is a common leavening agent used in most baked products. It helps produce carbon dioxide and makes the baked product rise, just like yeast. Hence, it can be used as a substitute for yeast.
Baking powder is made with baking soda and an acid, generally cream of tartar. When used as a yeast substitute, double-acting baking powder will generally give the best result.
This is because the double-acting baking powder helps the dough rise twice, once while mixing and the second time while baking. You can swap yeast with baking powder in a 1:1 ratio.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another leavening agent, just like yeast. It helps your bread rise and gives it a light and airy texture. It makes a good substitute for yeast.
However, one thing to remember while using baking soda is that it cannot be used on its own as a leavening agent. Baking soda generally needs to be paired with acid for it to react and produce carbon dioxide.
You can use baking soda as a substitute for yeast by pairing it with an acid like lemon juice. However, if this pairing does not work for you, you can also use it with a combination of milk and vinegar.
While using baking soda as a substitute for yeast, you can follow a 1:1 ratio. So, if a recipe calls for a tablespoon of yeast, you can use ½ tablespoon of baking soda and ½ tablespoon of your preferred acid.
3. Sourdough Starter
Sourdough starter is made with water and flour and goes through a process of natural fermentation without the addition of yeast. It contains naturally growing yeast and hence can be used as a substitute for yeast in various bread recipes.
Sourdough starter generally takes some days to make. You have to ‘feed’ the starter every day with some amount of flour. It gives the bread a tangy taste and works as a great leavening agent.
So, if you do have the time and patience to make it and let it ferment for days, it can work as the best substitute for yeast! You can let the starter ferment and grow for weeks by feeding it daily. The more you let it grow, the better it will work and taste!
While using it as a substitute for yeast, you can use 1 cup of the starter for one packet of active dry yeast. Although, since sourdough starter is just flour and water, you will have to adjust the quantities of water and flour in your original recipe.
If your starter is too thick, try reducing the amount of flour in your recipe. If it is too thin, you can either increase the quantity of flour or reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe.
4. Egg Whites
Beating egg whites till it forms peaks is called a meringue. It is filled with air and works as a natural leavening agent. This makes it a good substitute for yeast.
Meringue works as a leavening agent in various cakes, cookies, macarons, and sometimes even bread. To make a meringue, you will have to separate the egg whites from the yolk.
Add the yolks to the rest of the ingredients and beat the egg whites separately with some sugar. Whip the egg whites until they form peaks and hold their shape.
One other trick to check if meringue is done is by lifting the bowl upside down over your head. If the meringue has been beaten to form stiff peaks, it won’t fall over your head!
Meringue works as a natural leavening agent as it is filled with air. However, while using it as a substitute for yeast, you might have to make quite a few changes to your recipe. So you might have to be prepared for that.
I am sure that by now, you must have read through the entire article. But are you still confused about which substitute would work best in your recipe? Just to simplify this confusion, I have broken it down further for you into three categories.
Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for yeast is baking powder.
Easily Available: Eggs are the most easily available substitute for yeast.
Best Flavor Profile: Sourdough starter will give the best flavor profile when used in place of yeast.
Now that we have reached the end of this article, I hope you were able to find the best substitute for yeast, as per your recipe. All the substitutes given are extremely worthy and can work well in place of yeast.
These substitutes will work well without making too many changes to the texture of your product. However, if you ask me, I would personally recommend using the sourdough starter as a substitute for yeast in bread.
The sourdough starter is a natural leavening agent that gives bread a very good texture. Moreover, sourdough starter also gives bread a distinct taste that makes all the difference! So, if you do have some time on hand, consider making a sourdough starter.
I am sure that the bread you end up making with this starter will turn out to be scrumptious!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is yeast made of ?
Yeast is a microorganism from the fungus family, made up of just a single cell.
What is yeast used for?
Yeast is generally used to make alcohol and for baking.
Is yeast a plant or an animal?
Yeast is a type of fungus.
What types of yeast are used in cooking?
In cooking, fresh, active dry and instant yeast are used.
Can you eat raw yeast?
No, raw yeast should not be consumed.