Yeast bread makes use of yeast as a leavening agent. The kind of yeast used has an impact on the texture and flavor of the bread. Even the stage at which fermentation takes place and the way the yeast is added into the recipe has an impact on the kind of yeast bread baked.

What Is Yeast?

Yeast is a microorganism that is present everywhere -- in the soil, on plants and in air. In fact, it is a single-celled fungus. Yeast serves as a catalyst in fermentation, a process that is necessary when baking bread.

The Role of Yeast in Bread Making

The yeast produces carbon dioxide by feeding on the sugars present in the flour and this helps the bread to rise slowly. It is this carbon dioxide that gives the airy texture to the bread. In addition, the yeast helps the dough to mature via a chemical reaction that produces alcohol and acid in the flour protein facilitated by the production of carbon dioxide.

The typical flavor of bread develops on account of yeast. During the fermentation process, the yeast produces several metabolites. Some of them escape during the baking process, while others stay back in the dough and form new compounds. This results in the flavor developing in the crust and from there it permeates into the crumb of the bread.

Types of Yeast

There are two types of yeast that are commonly used for baking yeast bread. One is regular active dry yeast and the other is instant yeast, which is also referred to as fast-rising yeast or bread machine yeast. There is a benefit of using the latter as the rising time is half of the former.

Types of Yeast Bread

You can make yeast bread from packaged yeast. This kind of yeast is dehydrated and allows fermentation to take place when the ingredients are mixed together. The kind of bread appears smooth with fine and even air holes inside. Good examples of this type of yeast bread are pizza dough, dinner rolls, coffee cakes, bagels, waffles and pancakes.

Yeast bread made from sourdough is another type. In this bread, the dough is fermented first and then this dough is combined with another dough to build up the fermentation still further. This bread is characterized by irregular large air holes, a distinctive sour flavor and crunchy crust. This method of baking is utilized for making whole wheat bread, baguette, Pugliese bread and ciabatta bread.

Yeasted batter bread, also called "no knead bread," does not require kneading. All the ingredients are mixed together in a bowl and the resultant dough is fermented for a longer time to facilitate the development of gluten and flavor within the dough.