Yeast is a catalyst behind the fermentation process. It feeds on sugar in the flour and expels carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise. Like most living organisms, there’s a close relationship between yeast and temperature. While there’re different types of species, the one used to make bread comes in paper packets. Yeast remains dormant until it comes into contact with the right temperatures. This is why most homemade bread recipes call for 1-2 hours of rising.
So, at what temperature does yeast die? Regardless of the type of yeast you use, it will become inactive if the water temperature reaches 120F or more. And once the temperature reaches 140F, it will die completely.
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- Dutch oven
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Bread thermometer (fancy or a budget one)
- Scoring lame
Extra (nice to have):
- Kitchen scale
- Dough scraper and bowl scraper (yes, they are different)
- Cooling rack
- Baking stone (you don’t need a dutch oven if you use this)
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If you’re not sure of the water temperature, you can use a thermometer to get an accurate test. When yeast freezes, it will not die from cold. At 104F, the growth rate is significantly reduced.
The enzymes are exhibited at this temperature. Keep in mind that yeast can die due to other factors rather than temperature. Adding too much salt will hydrate and starve the yeast.
When making yeast bread, you should ensure the water temperature is between 80-90 degrees F. To control the temperature, you should bake with an oven. Make sure you set the oven heat at the lowest point for 2-3 minutes.
After that, turn it off. During bread rising, your oven should not exceed 90 degrees F. Yeast will become dormant at temperatures below 95 degrees F.
How long does bread yeast live under the right temperature?
Dry and instant yeast can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. If it’s older than this, you can add one tsp. of sugar to ¼ cup of warm water. If the water is not within this temperature range, you should add more cold or hot water.
Wait for 10 minutes to see if it develops a yeasty aroma. If it fails the test, replace it with a new one. The mixture should show signs of life by foaming bubbles
Generally, the shelf life will depend on temperature and how it’s stored. Just like other baking products, yeast has the best before date.
Be sure to use it before it expires. Unopened packages should be stored in a cool, dry place. And once it’s opened, it should be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated.
The ideal temperature for baking homemade bread
When preparing your bread, the temperature will determine your outcome. First, you should make sure water is within 110-130 degrees F. Any temperature below 104 or above 140 degrees F will affect the final flavor.
Before you mix water with yeast, you should allow it to sit in the bowl for 5 minutes. This allows the yeast to dissolve evenly. If you sport some bubbles coming out of the bowl, then the yeast does not have any effect.
You should avoid adding freezing flour to the water as it can compromise with the activity of yeast. To ensure the water maintains room temperature, you should remove it from the freezer before you start baking.
If you’re not sure of the temperature of the flour, measure with a thermometer. Next, ensure all the ingredients mix well before kneading.
Temperature for proofing active dry yeast
For the active dry test, you should maintain the temperature between 105 and 110 degrees F. Note: 95 degrees is the right temperature for the yeast to multiply but is not the best for proofing. This is because the yeast needs extra heat to become active. At cool temperatures, yeast will release substances that interfere with gluten formation.
If you’re using instant yeast, it should be mixed with flour before adding to the baking water. Most chefs recommend a water temperature of 120 to 130 degrees F. The warm water compensates for the flour temperature.
Whole grain flours should be kept in a refrigerator. If you ignore this advice, they will take longer to rise. But adding the right room temperature eliminates all errors.
While active yeast does not require proofing, you can still do it by maintaining the yeast temperature between 105F and 100F. When the water temperature falls below this mark, you’ll have off-flavors in your bread.
This can be likened to taking a hot shower on a chilly morning when you need a hot one. There’s a simple formula to find the ideal temperature to do start your baking. Just multiply the desired dough temperature by 3 and subtract the room temperature.
If you’re not sure how to measure the temperature, any water that is above 100F mark is comfortably warm to touch. You can do your baking without worrying because your yeast is comfortably happy. To put it succinctly, yeast thrives in warm water, sleeps in cold water and dies in hot water.
Does the amount of yeast used in baking affect temperature?
No. When yeast particles sense a hostile environment, they slow their metabolism by consuming less flour. When you move it to a warm place again, it increases the feeding activity.
For loaves of bread that require multiple rising, you may want to put the dough into the refrigerator to slow yeast activity. You can switch it back and forth to create particular types of pastry. This means that the slightest difference in the yeast test can have a profound effect on the growth of yeast.
Winter to summer yeast baking
Whether you’re using regular of instant yeast, the dough should have an optimal temperature of 85 degrees F. If it’s above that, you’ll get unpleasant flavors in the final bread. So, is your much-loved yeast baking recipe misbehaving? Does your bread fail to rise in what seems like half the time? Well, the problem is the weather.
Yeast is affected by kitchen micro-climate. And because it loves warmth, it will thrive in a hotter environment. This explains why dough made during the hot season rises quicker than the one made during the cold season.
How do you transition from cold to warm summer yeast baking? You should understand how humidity and heat affect yeast dough. During the hot summer months, you should lower the temperature.
To keep the yeast active, maintain the dough temperature between 75 and 78 degrees F. Remember, you can use higher temperatures on instant yeast.
The bottom line
Without live yeast, you’ll end up with a fluffy loaf. If the dough fails to rise, then the yeast is dead. Before you make your bread, you should test it. With the right temperature, the yeast should produce an earthy and yeasty smell.
When baking, be sure to maintain the water temperature within 120. If it goes beyond 138, the yeast will die.