How much yeast is in a “cake of yeast”?

summary: USA and European weights of a standard small “cake of yeast”; equivalents of active dry and instant yeast

post edited to add nifty javascript yeast measurement converter

For this month’s Taste & Create, I almost made Becke’s (Columbus Foodie) sticky buns originally from a recipe taken from the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook 1970 edition (published in the USA). There was only one sticking point (sorry, no pun intended) in the recipe; it called for “a cake of yeast”. Well, that could be any amount!

So I searched around the internet trying to find out just how much a “cake of yeast” weighs. Most sites I found agree and say that a cake of yeast weighs .6 oz. But one says it weighs .06 oz (!) and another says it weighs 1 oz.

This would mean an equivalent of either 8gm, .8gm, or 13.3gm of active dry yeast. Rather a large difference, I’d say…

I guessed that .6oz was the right one but decided I’d better ask. As well as comment on Becke’s sticky bun post, I asked at The Fresh Loaf. And the answer?

From “The Fresh Loaf”:

  • 0.6oz (17gm) in a cake of yeast (USA)
  • 1 oz (28.5gm) in a cake of yeast (some parts of Europe)

And Becke emailed the following helpful answer:

One (0.6 ounce) cube of Fresh Compressed/Cake Yeast equals 1 envelope (or packet) of Active Dry Yeast, Instant Yeast, Rapid Rise Yeast, Fast Rising or Bread Machine Yeast, which equals 2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams (11 ml).

I haven’t made Becke’s sticky buns yet but they are bookmarked – they look fabulous! Stay tuned for which of her recipes I did make for Taste & Create IX.

I’ve gotten so used to looking on the internet that I COMPLETELY forgot to look on my own cookbook shelf. (What a moron I am.) Of course, the answer was there in not one but two of our books!

In The Italian Baker (published 1985), Carol Field writes:

[…] we Americans can use much smaller cubes of creamy fresh yeast, which come foil wrapped in two sizes – the smaller weighing about 1/2 ounce (18gm) and the larger 2 ounces (70gm)

I also looked at the “know your ingredients” section of Joy Of Cooking (I have the 1975 edition) and it concurs with Field’s gram measurement of the smaller cake, saying that a cake of compressed yeast is 3/5 oz (17.01gms)

And converting between the various yeasts?

In Artisan Baking Across America, Maggie Glezer says:

for every cup of flour in the recipe, use either of

3 grams compressed fresh yeast
2 grams active dry yeast
1 gram instant active dry yeast

Susan (Wild Yeast) wrote a very useful post about various yeasts and their equivalents. Her posts about Baker’s Percentage look to be most worthwhile as well. In fact, just about everything on Susan’s site is worthwhile. Go look! The photos alone are worth the visit. And the recipes. And the advice….

converting recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast . substituting wild yeast starter for yeast

edit 27 May 2008:

  • 1.5 oz (42gm) in a cake of yeast (other parts of Europe)

Which means that if “cake of yeast” appears in the recipe, one needs to look at the provenance of the recipe… (Even though it has been ages since I’ve seen foil packaged fresh yeast at the supermarket, I’m guessing that a standard commercial “cake” of yeast in Canada is the same weight as it is in USA)

edit 30 September 2011: Here is a nifty javascript to calculate the conversion from fresh to active dry yeast.

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  • Bellini Valli

    Thanks for taking the mystery out of the yeast issue E :D

  • Ivonne

    You have no idea how long I’ve been trying to figure out the equivalent of a cake of yeast in active dry yeast terms … thanks so much for this!

  • ejm

    Glad to be of service, Val and Ivonne. Do bear in mind though that the size of cakes of yeast varies drastically from place to place. The cakes of yeast that I can buy at our local deli weigh about 100gms each…

    According to Carol Field in “The Italian Baker”:

    2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast

    And Sydny Carter wrote the following in Yeast: The Basics:

    A .6-oz cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 tsp. instant yeast or 2 to 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast.

  • Susan

    Just another reason why weight measures are the way to go – cakes and cups and packets and handfuls are too ambiguous in this age of instantaneous recipe sharing across continents (IMO, of course) ;)

    I couldn’t agree more about “cakes”, “packets” and “handfuls”, Susan. But, I’m a little reluctant to pass on the weight measures I come up with. My scale is a rather inexpensive (let’s call a spade a spade: it’s cheap!!) spring model – not the most accurate. As a compromise, I try to make sure that I state the volume measurements of the cups I use. However, I might just start to use weights more, now that I’ve read your Baker’s Percentage series and finally understand it. -Elizabeth

  • Baking Soda

    I really don’t want to spoil the fun….cakes of yeast in the Netherlands (and Germany I think) weigh 42 grams…..
    So sorry ! ;-)

    You’re not at all spoiling the fun, Baking Soda! In fact, you’re just confirming that the term “cake” is just too imprecise. (I think, but I’m not certain, that a “cake” of yeast in Sweden may be 50gm) -ejm

  • tina rutkowski

    I cannot thank you enough for this valuable yeast information. I am attempting to make nut/poppy seed bread from a recipe that has been handed down for generations. It calls for 1/2 large cake of yeast. Now I know that a LARGE cake is 2 oz. !! JOY JOY JOY !! I hope this blog is still active and you get this message. ( also helpful was the yeast to flour ratio; this recipe calls for 8 cups flour!)

    Thanks again.. Merry Christmas

    From N.E. Pennsylvania


  • Jill

    Thanks for the help. I was making my grandmother’s recipe and it called for 2 cakes of yeast. I wasn’t sure if it was one package of yeast or if 2 packages equaled one cake. The recipe calls for a starter of 3 cups of flour, mixed with yeast. The recipe calls for 8 cups of flour; wasn’t sure if 2 pkgs would be enough for that much flour.

  • louise tuggle

    I have a recipe that calls for 4 deca grams of yeast. Can anyone tell me what that would be in American. It is in cake form not granulated. Thank you for any help.

    4 decagrams = 1.4 ounces
    That’s seems like quite a lot of dry yeast, Louise. Is it possible that the recipe you have is calling for cake yeast? If so, using the information on the Fleischmann’s Yeast website (One .6 ounce [17 grams] cake is equivalent to 1 envelope [.25 ounce/7 grams] of dry yeast) you would use 5¼ tsp dry yeast. OR you could use the handy javascript yeast measurement converter that my brilliant sister made, to discover that you would use anywhere between 2 and 8¼ teaspoons of dry yeast in place of 1.4 oz fresh yeast. If there is a lot of sugar in the recipe, use a higher amount…. – Elizabeth

  • tanya

    A recipe I have asks for 3/4 oz of fresh yeast. Which i cant find anywhere. How many tsp in active dry yeast is that? Or would that equal?

    Tanya, if you use Carol Field’s formula, 3/4 oz fresh yeast is equivalent to 3 tsp active dry yeast. But if you use Sydny Carter’s formula, you should replace 3/4 oz of fresh yeast with 2.5 to 3 tsp active dry yeast. And if you use the handy javascript yeast measurement converter that my sister put together, you would replace the fresh yeast with anywhere between 1 and 4.5 tsp active dry yeast. I hope that helps! – Elizabeth (if it were me, I’d probably use about 2+1/4tsp (7gm or 1/4 oz) active dry yeast in place of 3/4 oz fresh yeast.)

  • Joy

    This seems redundant, but…. I have a 2oz cake of yeast. My old German recipe calls for 1 cake of yeast. How much do I use of the 2oz cake? Thank you… This is mind niggling info

    Your guess is as good as mine, Joy. This is why it’s so trying when recipes call for “cakes” or “packages” or “boxes” or “sticks” of ingredients. I’m thinking you’ll have to fall back on Maggie Glezer’s advice in “Artisan Baking Across America”: for every cup of flour in the recipe, use 3 grams (0.1oz) of fresh cake yeast. So, if the recipe calls for 5 cups of flour, use a quarter of the 2oz yeast cake you have. -Elizabeth

  • Mark (from NJ, now in Germany)

    A yeast cake in Germany weighs 42 grams, or 1.5 ounce. One of the best references for all kinds of conversions and substitutes is “Joy of Cooking”. Best cook book ever :-)

    Don’t forget to look at the “Wild Yeast Blog”, too.

    cookbooks Thank you for confirming the weight of a yeast cake in Germany. How lucky you are to be able to easily get yeast cakes, Mark! We CAN buy them here as well at one of our local delis but the weight is different from little block to little block (not to mention that it’s rather pricy). And you’re right; Susan’s site “Wild Yeast” is invaluable and “Joy of Cooking” is one of the best cookbooks. I use our horribly tattered copy (1975 edition) all the time to check for substitutions, standard recipes, pan sizes, etc. etc. -Elizabeth