Yeast. What a phenomenal creation. It is alive. Under the right conditions, it feeds on sugar and multiplies. For bread baking, yeast helps the dough grow, stretch, expand.
Here’s a few facts about yeast:
- It has the ability converts starch in the flour to sugar for food. Without this capability, yeast would not thrive in sugar-free breads.
- Salt can be used to slow down the rise of the dough because it impedes the growth of yeast. Conversely, yeast growth can be sped up by adding sugar t0 dough.
- Bread dough that is too dry will take a long time to rise because the yeast will not multiply as rapidly and because the dry dough is stronger and more difficult to lift.
- In a moist environment, yeast will grow rapidly. Moist dough between 78 degrees and 80 degrees is an ideal environment for yeast growth. Since yeast is very sensitive to temperature, temperature is a major factor in how fast yeast multiples. Yeast is dormant and will not grow at 40 degrees and grows only slowly at 55 degrees. Yeast dies instantly at 140 degrees.
- If dough is refrigerated, the yeast grows more slowly. When yeast grows more slowly, we find the richer, fuller flavor of breads made with retarded dough.
- As the yeast feeds on the sugar, it creates two digestive byproducts—alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is what leavens the bread—carbon dioxide gases filter through the dough creating loft. The alcohol is evaporated in baking.
Now, I share all of this with you because I just LOVE making bread. And yeast is a valuable piece to bread making. Just this week, a friend and I got together to make bread for a meal we will eat this weekend at a young adult retreat. And while I mixed together the dough, I realized how important yeast is…and how it is a lot like the Holy Spirit.
The Lord provides us with the Holy Spirit to guide us, and He is constantly growing, stretching and expanding us in many ways. He is stretching each one of us in a distinct way, challenging us, so that we may come alongside others in His Name, and help them through their own personal situations and growth.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” -1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Things such as the people we allow into our lives, and whether or not we read our Bibles, can influence our rate of growth. This is similar to the effect sugar and salt have on yeast. Also, when we put the things of the Lord on the back-burner in our lives, our growth may slow. In contrast, putting things on the heated burner in our lives, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s Words to us in a timely fashion, may cause our growth to quicken.
You see, yeasts are living organisms that will respond to their environment by producing more or less of certain compounds. They are hungry little organisms…consuming the growth agents around them as quickly as their environment allows.
“Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…” –Isaiah 42:5
We also need to be hungry…devouring the Word of the Lord, listening to His Holy Spirit and allowing Him to work in our lives. Only then can we effectively influence those around us. Peter wrote this, saying that these were Paul’s words to the people:
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” 2 Peter 3:17-18
Just as the yeast created bioproducts that effect the outcome of the bread, we too create an environment that affects people who are near us. So let us be careful of what we allow to influence us, so that we may provide a Godly influence to others.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” –John 14:21