Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I use a lot of instant yeast!
Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Fresh yeast, the default yeast for German bakers, is not an ingredient easily found in US stores. Fortunately I always preferred dried yeast - for its convenience and greater reliability - even when I was still living in Germany.

American recipes usually call for dry yeast, and people even have two kinds to choose from: instant yeast and active dry yeast (German stores only offer instant yeast: "Trockenhefe".)

Compared to instant yeast, active dry yeast contains less living cells (but more than fresh yeast), and has to be activated in water before using.

Instant yeast - the equivalent of German Trockenhefe - has the most living yeast cells, and normally can be added to the other ingredients without much ado. Only with some baking methods (like stretch-and-fold) it is better to dissolve it first, since the dough goes into the fridge right after the last fold.

Fresh yeast always has to be mixed into a pre-dough, together with flour, water and sugar, and needs to ferment for about 20 minutes, before it can be added to the dough.

In principle it doesn't matter too much what kind of yeast you use, as long as you follow the instructions on the package. But people usually develop a preference for one or the other.

Some bakers - more prevalent in Germany - consider fresh yeast the holy grail, and look down their noses at everything else. 

Active dry yeast - the usual supermarket 3-pack
American                                                                                           German           
Fresh yeast, yeast cake                                                              Würfel Hefe, frische Hefe
Instant yeast, rapid rise yeast, bread machine yeast                         Trockenhefe
Active dry yeast                                                                                       n/a

Yeast Equivalent Formula
100% fresh yeast = 50% active dry yeast = 33% instant yeast (for lean bread doughs)
                                                                  = 40% instant yeast (for rich doughs)

For example, if a recipe calls for 42 g fresh yeast (frische Hefe), you can use 21 g active dry yeast or 14 g instant yeast (Trockenhefe.)

You can use your calculator - or this neat online yeast conversion tool by Breaducation.

Yeast Type                                            Weight                Volume          Amount of Flour
1 yeast cake (Würfel Hefe)                       42 g                      -                    17.6 oz/500 g
1 sachet instant yeast (Trockenhefe)     0.25 oz/7 g*        2 1/4 tsp              17.6 oz/500 g
                                                                                         2 tsp                       1 lb/454 g   
1 sachet active dry yeast                        0.25 oz/7 g       2 1/4 tsp.              1 tsp per cup

(* Some German supermarkets also offer 11 g instant yeast sachets.)

NOTE: In my experience you often don't have to use that much yeast, you might be perfectly fine with less - especially if you don't deal with a rich dough with eggs, milk, butter and sugar.
Not easy to find - fresh yeast


  1. Be a German, fresh yeast or bust, and that's coming from a Pollack.

    1. "Verily, verily I say unto you - useth fresh yeast! Father Klecko, what can a poor sinner like me do?

  2. My yeast is really fresh! I grow it myself! I use sourdough.. heh!

    1. That's cheating, Eric! Anybody can use sourdough!:)

  3. Very informative post! I like to use fresh yeast too but find it too hard to keep buying them from the market :D

    1. Thanks,Zoe!
      Back in Germany, I used both, fresh and dry yeast.
      I never had problems with either, but I had some friends who always complained that their yeast cakes didn't rise properly - and ended up giving up on it.
      On the whole I find dry yeast more convenient - the claim of some German bakers that breads or pastry made with fresh yeast are superior I can't confirm.

  4. Hi! I am in the opposite situation from you - I grew up in the US and moved to Germany a couple of years ago with my German husband and our children. I used to bake bread once some in the US and thought I would get into doing it again here. I was a little confused about the yeast equivalents, so I started looking around on Google for information, and came across your blog. Thank you so much for the helpful post! Now I know what I know what to shop for :)