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Live Simply in the Kitchen: What Does Yeast Do To Bread?

Did you know that yeast in packets or jars is a relatively new product? Not too long ago, I had never given a thought about yeast and the transformation it has undergone in the past century. Now, I am fascinated by its history and plan never to bake with it again.


Why? What does yeast do to bread?What Does Yeast Do To Bread?    l   l    #sourdough #homemade

The History Of Yeast

During the late 1800s, the demand for bread was not supplied by the kitchen anymore, but by the Baker’s kitchen. As the demand grew, so did the need to turn out more loaves in less time.

Machines were invented. Temperatures were experimented with. Short-cuts were found.

And then the leavening process was addressed.

Typically, leavening (aka fermentation or getting the bread to rise) was a process that took several days. Well, in our newly modern world, this just would not do! Bakers didn’t have days to wait for bread to rise. They didn’t have time to mess with loaves that were slightly (or largely) different from the previous batch.

So, quick-rising yeast was born. Or, more accurately, created.

With the invention of “compressed yeast cakes,” and later the dry yeast many of us use today, the fermentation time for bread was reduced from a couple of days to sometimes as little as an hour!

Awesome, right?! Not so much.

I mean, yes, it’s great to be able to whip up a loaf of bread in my breadmaker within a couple of hours. Until last year, I thought that was a huge step away from store-bought loaves.

And actually, it is! If you’re making your own bread in a bread machine, let me just stop and say “well done!” There are all kinds of nasties in any bread bought in the grocery stores. You’re saving your family from tons of exposure to these with every loaf you bake. So, great job!!

But what if making bread-traditionally prepared-wasn’t as hard as you thought?

(Pssst! It’s reeeeally not hard! I promise! Stay with me…)

What Does Yeast Do To Bread? Problems With Yeast

For most of time, man (er, woman!) has been baking bread with naturally caught yeast. With the invention of dry yeast came uniformity, yes. But store-bought yeast also creates a much less flavorful bread.

Now wait a minute, I love the bread that I get from the store! It tastes amazing! Less flavorful? Has your kombucha killed off your tastebuds??

Easy there! I hate to break it to ya, but that store-bought bread is “flavorful” because of enhancers the factory used. Among these are enhancers used to improve flavor, color, crust, volume, and more!

And since store-bought yeast shortens the rise time, the good bacteria (more on this soon) doesn’t have a chance to work its magic and “protect” the bread. This is why store-bought bread molds rather quickly. So chemical enhancers are used to extend shelf life a tad bit longer.

Another problem with a quick-rising yeast is that, due to the rapid rise, the bacteria is not given the opportunity to break down the gluten properties (gliadin peptides). This has resulted in the massive increase of gluten sensitivities over the past few decades.

A big problem, right? Is there a solution? I think so!

Replacing Yeast

We’ve covered the history of yeast’s transformation and answered the question “what does yeast do to bread.” We know yeast’s transformation has become detrimental to our health, denatured our bread and required all kinds of ickies to be added to cover these problems. But there is an easy way to bake healthy, delicious bread – with less than 30 minutes of hands-on time, from start to finish! So that you never miss a post, subscribe to my newsletter.

(Seriously? I just sped through about 150 years of fascinating bread-history. Is it kind of weird that talking about this gets me excited? …it is? Oh. Ok, well, if you’re even the least bit curious about the tons of history I couldn’t go into, this book is for you: Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread.)

This post linked up at Wellness Wednesday on Intoxicated on Life.


  1. Love this! I’ve just recently began reading about catching yeast….can’t wait to start!


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