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The yeast

The yeast is a microscopic unicellular organism of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genus and species, widely distributed in nature; it is the baking most important ingredient because it is responsible of bread volume, structure, aroma and taste.

The yeast is a microscopic unicellular organism belonging to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genus, widely distributed in nature.
It has an elliptical shape and one gram of compressed baker's yeast contains more than seven billions yeast cells. Yeast reproduces by budding: a new bud grows from the mother cell, then breaks away to form a new cell.
During the industrial production, yeast reproduces very rapidly and in big quantities on a sugar substrate composed of sugar beet molasses. The fermentation is aerobic: big air amounts are bubbled into the culture medium, under conditions carefully controlled by the newest computer technology. In the bread dough, yeast grows very slowly and it uses most of the nutritive sugar to produce carbon dioxide.
This is the leaving action which the baker looks for.

Yeast for breadmaking 1

Yeast for breadmaking

Yeast is the baking most important ingredient because it is responsible of bread volume, structure, aroma and taste

Yeast for breadmaking 2

It produces carbon dioxide

metabolizing the sugar of the dough. The gas evolution causes the dough expansion because it remains trapped in its protein matrix

Yeast for breadmaking 3

It causes the dough maturation

producing that light structure associated with leavened products

Yeast for breadmaking 4

It gives the bread his characteristic aroma

producing secondary metabolites during the leavening.

The yeast quality is expressed in these terms:

Gassing Power: The good yeast must produce the adequate amount of carbon dioxide for each kind of leavened dough

Preservation: The good yeast must keep its properties during all the shelf life, at a temperature of 0 +10° degrees

Reliability: The good yeast must preserve his characteristics unchanged during time

Physical Features: The good yeast must be white and crumbly

Microbiological purity: The good yeast must be produced by pure strains in controlled hygiene and safety conditions to avoid other microorganisms contamination

The History

In Egypt, during the time of the first Pharaohs, it was discovered by chance that a flour dough left standing for some time, expanded his volume becoming softer and more airy. After cooking the bread taste and aroma were much better. This phenomenon, mysterious at this time, the leavening, was used in the bread production: for centuries men have used a small portion of the dough to start each new bread dough.
It is only in the XIX century that the microscope discovery gave to Pasteur the chance to demonstrate that this strange phenomenon was caused by yeast, a living organism able to ferment sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Pasteur discovered that yeast was responsible also for wine and beer fermentation, explaining why bakers used the by-products of brewing and wine making to leaven their bread . At the beginning of the XX century the biologists discovered that yeast reproduce rapidly in the presence of air, without producing alcohol.
By this knowledge scientists and yeast manufacturers have created the modern yeast industry, selecting pure strains for the specialized needs of the baking industry.