A friendly fungus, yeast is the microscopic magic that leavens bread and gives it its unique texture and flavor. At the grocery store, you'll see instant (or "rapid-rise") and active dry yeast. We recommend active dry—the activation (Step 2) means the yeast is alive and ready to go to work. Follow our steps and your bread will rise to the occasion.
Stir active dry yeast into warm water (100° to 110°). Too cold and the granules will remain dormant; too hot and the yeast will die. Yeast loves sugar, so add a pinch to speed up activation (aka "proofing"). If bubbles appear, you're golden. That's the gas that makes bread rise.
Mix the bubbly brew with flour to make a shaggy dough. Most recipes call for a pinch of salt, not just for flavor but to slow the activation process, keeping the yeast in check so it doesn't activate too fast.