There are advantages and disadvantages to using fresh yeast for pizza dough. However, fresh yeast does produce a pizza dough with a little more flavour when compared to dry yeast.
The flavour difference is subtle, but it’s there. It may be just the extra step needed to take your pizza to the next level.
The problem with fresh yeast is that it perishes quickly, lasting only a week or so. This is why dried yeast is by far the most widely used yeast for pizza.
However, in the best pizzerias in Naples, the home of pizza, only fresh yeast is used. By using fresh yeast, the chefs are able to produce more subtle flavours in the dough.
Cake yeast is simply another name for fresh yeast. It’s called cake yeast because of the way it typically comes, in “cake form”.
You may also see cake yeast abbreviated to CY (Cake Yeast). For future reference, this simply refers to fresh yeast. You will often find it in recipes.
Fresh yeast is not necessarily better than dried yeast, but the flavour that it imparts is something that everyone should try. You may find that you much prefer the taste of your dough.
I remember the first time I used it for a pizza party and one of the guests approached me and asked me if I was using a different type of yeast as the dough tasted better than last time!
I was amazed that anybody noticed, I thought maybe I would be the only one to notice the yeast. I think that if you’re searching for the perfect pizza, you should definitely give fresh yeast a try. You may be surprised how nice your dough turns out.
If you’ve ever tried sourdough, then you’ll have a good idea what fresh yeast tastes like. However, sourdough produces a much stronger taste than fresh yeast.
If you can image sourdough but just a quarter of the flavour, that’s probably close to how it tastes. That may sound like a bad thing to some people, but it’s not to me.
Don’t get me wrong, sourdough is delicious. But I think pizza dough works better with a sweeter, less sour, and more delicate flavour.
This is why I find that fresh yeast is really well suited to pizza. Dried yeast is a little too bland and sourdough is a little too strong. Fresh yeast sits right in the middle.
There is no difference in the way the yeast is used. Fresh yeast is added to the dough in pretty much the same way that dried yeast is.
The only difference really is that fresh yeast should be dissolved into the water first before the flour and salt is added. This ensures that the yeast is evenly distributed throughout the dough and that there are no big chunks of yeast present.
In addition, a little more fresh yeast should be used in your recipe when compared to dried yeast. This is because fresh yeast is not as concentrated as dried yeast as it hasn’t been processed as much.
You can sometimes get fresh yeast in supermarkets, in the fridge near the butter. Although this is very uncommon to be honest. You could ask at the bakery section as they often get it in to use in their bread. They may give you some to try for free!
But really, I find ordering online is the best option. Fresh yeast is readily available on Amazon. You can pick some up really cheap. And if you freeze some of it it will last you for ages.
You can sometimes pick up individual small packets but getting a pack with 12 in offers much better value. And you can always keep one pack out and then freeze the others. They will last a long time in the freezer.
I think the internet is the most reliable place to get fresh yeast. Just be sure to check the expiry date when your yeast arrives.
In general you should use twice as much fresh yeast as you would dry yeast. You can use your regular recipe and simply substitute your dried yeast with double the weight of fresh yeast.
With fresh yeast, you will use larger quantities than dried yeast so you can get away without using accurate digital scales. However, I recommend everyone to get some really accurate digital scales. By this, I mean some that are accurate to 0.1g!
These will only weigh a maximum of 500g so they’re not really suitable for weighing flour and water. However, they are perfect for weighing yeast. I use these ones for yeast and normal digital scales for weighing dough.
Activating fresh yeast is really easy. All you have to do is mix it into water.
Simply take the yeast out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to use it so that it is at room temperature. Then weigh out your water in a bowl and dissolve the yeast into the water with your hands, it’s really easy.
Just drop the correct amount of yeast into the bowl and stir it around with your hand. You will find that the yeast quickly melts and dissolves into the water, turning the water a strange colour.
You may find that the water froths a little as well. This is a good sign. It shows that your yeast is starting to work already.
You can now add your flour and salt and mix it all together to form your pizza dough.
The best way to store your fresh fridge is in the fridge or freezer. In the fridge, your fresh yeast should last up to 2 or 3 weeks, be sure to check the expiry date first.
If you’re not going to use your yeast in that amount of time you can always freeze. The best way is to break the yeast into small chunks, wrap them in cling film, and store them individually in the freezer.
By spring your yeast this way, you can simply take out exactly the amount you need for your pizza each time. Just be sure to leave your fresh yeast out of the freezer overnight so that it defrosts before you make your dough.
Stored in the freezer, your fresh yeast should last at least 6 months.
The easiest way to tell if your fresh yeast is still good to use is when you first mix it. Stir your yeast vigorously into the water to see if it foams. If it doesn’t foam leave it ten minutes and check again. AfteAtr this point your yeast is probably no good if it isn’t foaming.
A sure fire way to test it is to add a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar into a small cup of warm water. Stir well and leave it for 5-10 minutes. At this point, an active yeast should be frothy.
You can also use this method to test your dried yeast if it’s been left in the cupboard for months. But dried yeast lasts a long time.
There is no substitute for yeast in pizza! Pizza dough without yeast will not rise and you will not get the wonderful puffy crusts. You also won’t get any flavour development in the dough. It is the yeast that is the magic ingredient in pizzas!
This is why I recommend everyone to get some dried yeast as it lasts a long time and is readily available. Click here to take a look at instant dried yeast on Amazon.
Even if you plan to use fresh yeast, it’s handy to have some dried yeast in case you run out of fresh yeast. You can click the image above to check out instant yeast on Amazon.
It’s always best to check the expiry date on the packaging but generally, dried yeast will last months in a cool cupboard or the fridge. I’ve used mine after 6 months before and it’s been fine!
There are of course advantages and disadvantages to both. This makes making the comparison of fresh yeast vs dried yeast quite difficult.
I’ve made a table below which shows the main pros and cons of each:
|Fresh Yeast||Dried Yeast|
|Produces a nicer tasting dough||Easy to get hold of|
|Tricky to get hold of but easy to get online||Cheap|
|Relatively cheap but more expensive than dried yeast||Lasts a long time|
|Doesn’t last long unless frozen||Produces a dough with less flavour compared to fresh yeast|
To be honest, it’s impossible to pick a winner of fresh yeast vs dried yeast. They are both great in their own ways.
Fresh yeast offers a little more flavour but it doesn’t last long unless it’s frozen. Dried yeast is easier to work with and lasts a lot longer.
In the end, use whichever your prefer, or whichever you have to hand!
Really, it just comes down to the difference in flavour. The difference is subtle but it’s there. Fresh yeast is best used in long proves of 24 hours or more where the yeast has plenty of time to develop flavours in the dough.
For shorter proves it may not be worth using fresh yeast as the difference in flavour will be negligible.
In the end it’s just personal preference anyway. Some people may not like the flavour from fresh yeast, others may not taste the difference.
I recommend that you try it though. If you’re reading this article you clearly want to make great pizza and half the fun is in the experimentation. So try it and see what you think!
Have fun and let’s get mixing!
I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!
I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a portable pizza oven made by Ooni.
In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.
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