Yeast comes in different forms and you can benefit from each when making pizza at home.
Regular pizza yeast, that many may be familiar with is also called “active dry yeast” which is just inactivated through the process of dehydration.
To activate the yeast, you just need to add warm water and a food source for the yeast, i.e., sugar. But there are other types that you can use for either convenience, dietary or flavor purposes.
Did you know that there are 1,500 species and thousands of varieties of yeast in the environment? But not all of them are used in making food and when it comes to making pizza dough, we tend to use mostly three.
What is the best yeast for pizza? The answer to this question depends on your need. Some people wouldn’t mind using active dry yeast for making regular pizza dough while others would prefer either instant yeast to save time or sourdough yeast to overcome dietary restrictions and add flavor.
Read on below to learn more about yeast, its proper use, and the best type of yeast for making pizza at home.
All About Yeast
Yeast belongs to the fungus kingdom and is present almost everywhere. On grass, in the air, on food, and even on animals.
Yeast is a single-cell organism and the yeast that we use to make pizza dough works by “eating” carbohydrates and converting it into carbon dioxide.
In fact, yeast works the same way to ferment food where it can be used to make alcohol, which is why it is also used to produce wine and beer along with other foods as well.
Yeast thrives in a warm environment (60-80°F) which is why we add it to lukewarm water along with sugar.
The sugar acts as a food for the yeast which consumes the carbohydrate in the sugar and converts it to carbon gas.
This is why you see foam on top of the glass when you add yeast and sugar. They work remarkably quickly and add a lot of characteristics to the dough in terms of flavor and texture.
However, manufacturers also use various additives and enzymes to change the way yeast behaves.
Yeast For Pizza
There are three main types of yeasts that we use to make pizza dough:
- Active Dry Yeast
- Sourdough Yeast
- Instant Yeast
Active Dry Yeast
This type of yeast is most commonly used in the world of baking. It is perhaps one of the most well-known varieties around the world too. Active dry yeast is basically inactivated through the process of dehydration.
In simple terms, the yeast can be said to be “sleeping”. It remains dormant and static until it is revived via warmth and a food source (sugar) – this process is called blooming. Manufacturers will also add certain enzymes and amino acids to make the yeast more efficient.
These additives or bread improvers will make the dough rise better and will also help improve its texture.
Active dry yeast is bloomed by pouring it in a cup of lukewarm water along with sugar. The temperature of the water plays a huge role in the activation of the yeast.
If the yeast is activated using the right temperature, it will give it a massive boost when it comes to carbonating the dough vs if you were to insufficiently activate it.
The ideal temperature range should be between 60-80°F. You may also follow the instructions on the back for more information.
Once the yeast hits the water it will start to “wake up” and become active. The yeast will then look for a food source to convert to carbon dioxide.
This is when you add sugar to the cup and give it a good mix. Leave the cup for 5-10 minutes and you will start to notice a thick foam form on the top.
This indicates that the yeast is now ready to be poured into the dough. Simply add the yeast mixture with the dry ingredients and knead as necessary.
The yeast will keep on processing the carbs within the dough for about 12-16 hours depending on ambient conditions.
This is when the dough will continuously rise multiple times throughout the dough-making process.
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This yeast is designed by professionals and is specifically formulated to make pizza dough and bread.
It is known to perfectly carbonate any dough and will last longer if you store it properly as well.
It’s made in Italy so you can be sure of its quality when it comes to making authentic pizza dough at home.
Sourdough yeast is a combination of two things: bacteria and yeast.
More specifically, it uses “good bacteria” that produce lactic acid. This is the same type of bacteria found in yogurt starters as well and just as they can provide that distinct sourness in yogurt over time, they do the same when it comes to making dough too.
Sourdough yeast doesn’t need to be activated using sugar. Instead, you can mix it in with warm water and flour to create the culture.
This culture can be used multiple times to make all sorts of pizza doughs and bread. You can store it away and use it later too.
Always follow the instructions given in the pack for the best results. Sourdough culture needs some attention and significantly more time as you may need to feed the culture with flour over time but once the yeast is ready, you can divide the culture and use it multiple times, unlike active dry yeast.
When mixed in dough, it will cause it to rise over time and is ideally left for about 12 hours. Sourdough yeast provides an incredible flavor. Not only does it impart just the right level of sourness, but it also adds a delicious subtly sweet, and yeasty flavor too.
You can make different types of dough with it and it works amazingly well for pizza dough too. The resulting bread is better in nutrition and will suit the dietary needs of most health-conscious people too.
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This brand offers a high-quality sourdough starter with incredibly detailed information both inside the packaging and on its website.
This starter can be used to make pizza dough, bread, pancakes, and more.
It’s the perfect way for you to get started on making sourdough goods at home without any hassle.
Instant yeast is one of the most convenient options when it comes to making dough.
This yeast is also inactivated, except that it also has added chemicals and enzymes that help it hydrate much faster. There is a common misconception where people believe that instant yeast makes dough rise quicker.
This is false, as instant yeast only cuts down the time the yeast takes to hydrate and become active and saves you the trouble of preparing it separately.
To use instant yeast, simply pour the contents directly with your dry ingredients and continue as indicated in the pizza dough recipe.
This yeast works the best for people who don’t want to take the traditional or artisanal route of making dough at home and want to prepare the dough as soon as possible.
Instant yeast provides more or less the same flavor and texture as active dry yeast which makes it a great and convenient substitute.
There are a lot of varieties of instant yeast in the market, some work well with cold doughs, some provide superior carbonation and some may even help you in making commercial-grade pizza dough.
However, the role and usage of all these types of yeast is the same.
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Saf instant yeast is known worldwide and is widely used by many home and professional bakers.
You can use this yeast to make pizza dough and a whole lot of other bread products as well.
This particular yeast comes in a 1-pound package which you can store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
You can also opt for smaller packets provided by the same brand if you don’t need that much.
Which Is The Best For Pizza Dough?
We discussed 3 types of yeasts popularly used to make pizza dough. Here’s a quick rundown on each:
|Yeast Type||Key Feature||Description|
|Active Dry Yeast||Most Popular||The traditional way to make pizza dough; by hydrating the yeast in warm water and sugar. Provides an airy crust that is light and delicious.|
|Sourdough Yeast||Best Tasting||Made using bacteria and yeast culture. Takes time but provides the best flavor when it comes to making traditional pizza dough.|
|Instant Yeast||Time-Saving||Quick hydrating yeast, popularly used to make all kinds of doughs without the need to prepare the yeast separately. Makes fluffy and airy pizza crusts.|
Our favorite pick would be Active Dry Yeast because it is the traditional way to prepare the dough.
It also imparts a distinct flavor and carbonates the dough properly because it takes time to “bloom” and raises the dough over time. But you can use any of the three depending on your need.
For example, if you have the time, then sourdough yeast would make for a great option since it adds incredible flavor and offers the same characteristics as the other yeasts.
Finally, if you are in a hurry, then we suggest that you go with instant yeast so that you skip the blooming process and go directly to kneading the dough within hours.
Are all yeasts the same?
All types of yeasts used in baking have the same purpose but provide different flavors and textures when it comes to making the dough.
There are numerous options to choose from so you can take some time and read through the packaging to find the best yeast for your use.
Can yeast be stored?
Yes, dry yeast can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 6 months. Activated yeast and sourdough yeast culture may be stored in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
For the best results, please follow the storage instructions mentioned by the manufacturer.
How do you tell if yeast has gone bad?
Yeast should be powdery and not clumped up unless specified by the packaging. A great telltale sign of bad yeast would be when you try to bloom it and it doesn’t react to the warm water and sugar mixture.
Dough that fails to rise can also indicate that the yeast has gone bad.