When I started baking I used only fresh yeast. It was how I learned to bake bread and sweet loafs. As it is not easy to find fresh yeast in UK, I’ve switched to dried yeast and I usually use easy bake yeast. As more and more ethnic shops appear on the high street, I’ve decided it’s time to make a guide on How to Bake with Fresh Yeast, if you’d like to experiment with a different kind of ingredient.
Fresh bread freezes well. Cover it in cling film and put it in the freezer on the day you’ve baked it, but make sure is cold before wrapping it in film.
The yeast I’ve bought was Polish, thus the name on the packaging. A package has 100g of fresh yeast and that is enough to make 4 loafs of bread. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve made 2 loafs of bread and 2 sweet loafs of cozonac. If you don’t want to use all the yeast at a time, you can keep it in the fridge, but it might oxidase.
To make the bread, start by weighting in the flour. I’ve put salt in the bowl before I’ve added the flour, so it doesn’t touch the yeast. Fresh yeast, as with dried yeast, must be kept away from salt or it will kill it. Make a well in the flour and crumble the yeast in the middle. Add a spoon of sugar to feed it, and the water, and leave the yeast to ferment for 20 to 25 minutes. As you can see in the last imagine in the collage, the fresh yeast started to bubble.
After the bubbles appeared in the yeast, you can make the dough. Incorporate all the flour and a bit of oil and knead. I’ve used the stand mixer for this, as I mentioned earlier. If you knead by hand, make sure you knead for about 10 minutes or a bit more. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rise for about an hour.
When the dough has risen, make the bread by dividing the dough in half, shape it, and put it in baking trays that are oiled. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 190C or 170C for convection ovens.
Cut the bread using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife and brush it with salty water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Take it off when is baked and transfer it on a cooling rack.
The bread is now ready to be enjoyed. Using fresh yeast means you need to wait for it to ferment and it also needs to prove twice. But it’s lovely to use it and bake “like in the old days”.
Have you ever used fresh yeast before?