Let’s talk about yeast; yes, yeast. The big question that many new home pizzaiolos ask is which is the best yeast to use for homemade pizza; active yeast vs. instant dry yeast? So let’s dive in and look at the differences and how to use them for your homemade pizza.
What is Yeast?
Yeast is a living organism that needs food, heat, and moisture to convert sugar and starch into carbon dioxide and alcohol through fermentation. It’s the carbon dioxide that makes dough rise. There is brewer’s yeast which is a wet yeast used to make beer, but we are focusing on dry yeast or baker’s yeast.
There are two forms of dry yeast; active and instant. Active is any dry yeast that needs to be activated before use. Activating means mixing it with warm water and either honey or sugar and waiting for it to bubble up, usually around ten or fifteen minutes.
While instant dry yeast describes any dry yeast that’s ready for use the moment or instant you open the package.
Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is the most common type of yeast used in baking. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and sold in either packets or small jars. The packets can be stored in the pantry, but the jars are more susceptible to changes, so they are best stored in the refrigerator.
Important Considerations about Active Dry Yeast
Active dry yeast is only good for a certain amount of time, and if you use old yeast, you will notice that it doesn’t rise, so always check the expiration date before use.
This happened to us before when we found a packet of yeast that was lost in the cupboard for a few years. When we tried to use it, there were not any bubbles, and it was dead yeast.
To activate active dry yeast, it needs warm water between 110-115° F. If it is too warm, it will kill the yeast since it is a living organism. We have made this mistake a couple of times, but now we use a thermometer to ensure the temperature is not too hot.
Active dry yeast is excellent for recipes like pizza dough, where you want it to have multiple rises. We generally let our pizza dough have two or three rises to make it extra stretchy and easy to work with.
Instant Dry Yeast
Instant dry yeast is perfect for when you want to make something right now and do not want to wait. It is ready to use right out of the package. It has been around for the last fifty years.
And it was supposed to make things easier in the kitchen. The truth is you save fifteen minutes by not waiting for the proofing, but other than that, you still must wait for the rising of the dough.
Important Considerations for Instant Dry Yeast
It is a shelf-stable product, and you can even freeze it, and it will be fine. It is consistent and will always work and tolerates higher temperatures than active dry yeast up to 130° F.
Fast Acting Instant Yeast
Instant yeast is an umbrella term, and fast-acting instant yeast falls under that umbrella. Both are stable and easy to use, but rapid or fast-acting instant yeast is formulated to work even quicker and is the best option for long rises like, for example, No-Knead bread that rises over twelve hours.
Active Yeast vs. Instant Dry Yeast – Which Yeast is Best for Homemade Pizza?
Ok, so now we have the basics of dry yeast. The real question is which is better for homemade pizza. And the answer is active dry yeast is the best option. A longer, slower rise gives a more stable dough and crust.
Essentially instant yeast can work, but the dough won’t be as stretchy, and the consistency will be off. Instant yeast and quick-rise yeast are excellent in bread machines, but there are better choices for your homemade pizza.
However that said, if you are in a pinch, you can swap them out, but there are some key differences when doing so, and it comes down to hydration. Hold on to your hats; we are about to get a little into the science of it.
Importance of Hydration
Hydration in dough refers to moisture content and can affect rising time and overall dough consistency. Instant yeast is 98% solids and 2% water, while Active Dry yeast is 93% solids and 7% water. Water evaporates when the dough is introduced to heat and the cooking process.
Basically, there is a 5% difference in solids. And the difference is how wet the dough is, and that affects the type of crust. In a nutshell, instant yeast is more solids and is a faster rise, and active dry yeast is slower to rise but stronger and stretchier.
Replacing One With the Other
So, you’re ready to make bread or pizza and realize you don’t have the right yeast; not to worry, you can swap them for each other. Replacing instant yeast with active dry yeast will take around twenty minutes longer to rise. However, if you replace active dry yeast with instant, then you will gain about twenty minutes.
Of course, if you want to make homemade pizza and find yourself without any yeast or your active dry yeast doesn’t rise because it’s been stuck in the back of a top cabinet behind other various spices that you rarely use, then you can always make no-yeast pizza.
If you are a beer drinker and can sacrifice a tasty bottle of beer for the good of pizza, you can use beer to replace yeast in your homemade pizza dough.
- Active dry yeast is the best for homemade pizza.
- You can use instant if you don’t have any active dry yeast.
- It’s possible to make homemade pizza dough without yeast.
So that is the answer to the big question of active dry yeast vs. instant yeast. We suggest you do your own experiment and try both to test out the difference in texture and taste to see which one you prefer. We would love to know your thoughts.