Yeast is a tiny one-celled plant that requires moisture, warmth and food to grow. In most recipes, active dry yeast is dissolved in warm water with a little sugar. The water should be between 105° and 115° F. to provide the perfect growing conditions. The sugar provides the food. Cooler water will cause sluggish growth, or none at all, and the bread will not rise. Hot water, 140° F. or higher, will kill the yeast cells. For best results, use a candy thermometer to test the water temperature until you get the feel of it. Make sure it registers a low enough temperature for this purpose. If substituting compressed cake yeast, use water at 95° F.
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