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?
- 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.
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….
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 12 May 2020: Because of Susan’s question about crumbly cake yeast in the comments below, I did a little more wandering through the internet to learn that cake yeast may be quite fragile. (Although… I wonder if it couldn’t be activated sort of along the same lines as activating a sourdough starter. Then again, judging from the following, maybe not. )
[Fresh yeast] should be a creamy putty color, cool to the touch and easy to break, with a nice yeasty smell. Don’t buy any that is crumbly or has dark patches. It will keep for a week to 10 days in a screwtop jar in the refrigerator.
– John Seymour, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-to-Basics Guide, p.302
[S]ooner or later [yeast] becomes “tired” and stops doing its job in baked goods. The latter happens most often to fresh yeast, which doesn’t have that long of shelf life. […] When it comes to signs of spoiled yeast, it depends on the variety. Active dry and instant yeast come in powdered form, so if any water got into the package and there are any wet clumps or organic growth, discard it. Do the same thing if the powder (usually light beige) turns grey or dark brown.
As usual, give it a good sniff too to make sure everything is alright. If everything seems to be okay, but the yeast is quite old, proof it before using.
For fresh yeast, check for any discolorations on the surface and if it hasn’t dried up completely. In my experience, cake yeast loses its potency much sooner than any of the mentioned signs become apparent. In other words, chances are it might be “tired” already, even though it looks just fine.
Because of that, you should always proof yeast that’s nearing its date. […]
- Pour half a cup of warm (90° and 100°F, or 32° to 38°C, is ideal) liquid into a bowl. It can be water, but if the recipe calls for milk, use it instead.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- Crumble cake yeast with a fork, then add into the solution and give it a good stir.
- Let the bowl sit for 10 minutes.
- If the yeast foams vigorously, that’s a sure sign it’s ready to be used. If there are no bubbles, throw it away.
[…] Fresh yeast […] usually lasts around 2 to 3 weeks from the packaging date, so you pretty much buy it right before you need it. […] [I]t doesn’t last much past the date on the label. If it’s a couple of days old, sure, give it a go with the proofing method. But don’t be surprised that it’s already not potent enough to bubble.
– Marcin, Can It Go Bad? | Can Yeast Go Bad?