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.

This entry was posted in baking, equipment and techniques, food & drink, whine on by .

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