Yeast is a hot commodity thanks to the bread-baking craze sparked by home orders this spring. Home bakers may know they need yeast to make their bread dough rise, but they may not know how yeast works. If you’re squeamish, be warned: you may not want to read the dirty details of your bread recipe as you eat.
Yeast is a unicellular organism and is an integral part of many foods and beverages, including baked goods and beer. Yeast lives in the air around us, which means you can only grow your own yeast at home using just flour and water. (Yeast grown this way is called a starter and is used to make sourdough bread.) If you don̵
However, yeast alone is not enough to make bread dough rise. To work its magic, it needs two additional ingredients: sugar and time. Yeast cells eat sugar, which is found in flour in the form of sucrose, fructose, glucose, and maltose. When the microorganisms consume these sugars, they release carbon dioxide gas and ethyl alcohol through a process called a fermentation. This is also why adding table sugar or honey to a bowl of yeast and warm water can help activate yeast that is slow to wake up. So if you see a bowl of yeast, warm water, and honey begin to foam, you are essentially watching Yeast Fart.
The carbon dioxide forms bubbles in the dough that cause it to rise. So a yeast ball bread with yeast can double in just a few hours. The alcohol from yeast also helps the bread rise in the oven. At extremely hot temperatures, the liquid alcohol evaporates, creating gas bubbles that give the bread extra height.
Yeast is a common ingredient, which makes it a great way to start learning the science of cooking. If you want to boost your yeast education, this genetic engineering kit is a great way to make your own fluorescent yeast at home using jellyfish genes.
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