Q.: Has the size of fresh yeast cakes changed since back in the 1950s? I found an old recipe of my mom’s for Romanian Horns, similar to kifle cookies. The recipe called for two yeast cakes, whisked together with 1 cup warm whole milk (90 to 100 degrees). I let it stand for the 10 minutes, but the yeast never did foam and activate. What did I do wrong?
— Jan Blue, Cuyahoga Falls
A.: If your yeast did not foam, it was not active and should have been discarded. Yeast ages quickly, particularly fresh yeast. So it is possible you just had some inactive yeast on your hands.
Cake yeast typically comes in two sizes, a 0.6-ounce cake and a 2-ounce cake, which is about the size of a half stick of butter.
A 2-ounce cake is enough to raise 9 to 12 cups of flour. One-third of this cake is equal to one packet of dry yeast.
Cake yeast, which is also known as fresh yeast or compressed yeast, actually doesn’t have to be proofed first. It can be crumbled directly into your flour.
However, if you are going to proof it, use this method recommended by Red Star brand yeast:
“Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in ½ cup liquid (90 to 95 degrees). Add crumbled cake yeast to sugar solution. Stir yeast until completely dissolved. Let mixture stand until yeast begins to foam vigorously (5-10 minutes). Add mixture to remaining ingredients.”
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