The Search for Yeast

One of the things that I like about living in Vancouver is the variety of stores and shopping available. Perhaps one of the most picturesque places to buy food is Granville Island.

For the past few weeks since returning back from Ottawa on my Cordon Bleu bread making class, I have been looking for fresh yeast to make my bread dough. Fresh yeast (or baker’s yeast) differs from the small granular yeasts found in most stores. Fresh yeast comes in a block like butter and is soft and crumbles to the touch. While I cannot prove this from actual hands on, I believe that fresh yeast will result in a superior tasting bread compared to the dry or instant yeasts. I had exhausted looking through about 10 different stores in the Vancouver area from supermarkets to specialty gourmet-type stores looking for fresh yeast but it was not to be found. My final option, I thought, was to head to the Granville Island Public Market and try my luck there. Going to Granville Island on a Saturday is takes a sense of adventure as it happens to be one of the top tourist destinations in the city and is always packed on weekends (especially as good weather approaches – which it was yesterday). Finding parking is always a challenge but we were able to do so and spent the next hour or so buying things in the public market.

It’s certainly different shopping in a public market when you’re used to pushing a cart through a supermarket. Your hands quickly become laden down and you learn that you only buy what you need as you have to carry whatever you purchase in your tired hands from that point forward. We ended up buying some supplies for our spaghetti dinner that night but after going through almost every stall in the market, were unable to find anyone that sold fresh yeast.

Almost ready to give up, we saw a bakery on the way back to our car called La Baguette et l’Echalote. A good sign, the bakery was packed all the way to the door with customers and they were selling all kinds of fresh baked products.

I was in heaven!

Filling their shelves and wicker baskets in the small store were all kinds of things that looked and smelled fabulous. My eyes were drawn to many breads that I made on my course: Challah (braided bread), Épis (scissor rolls), brioches à tête and of course, several varieties of baguettes. While I wanted to linger and check out every kind of bread and pastry in the store, I had to keep focus on the main purpose that was to try and find fresh yeast. I anticipated disappointment in that I didn’t see any such product being displayed in their cooler. As we wanted to buy a desert for after dinner that night anyway, we ended up buying a Swedish Apple Cake (sorry, it was eaten before a picture was taken). We asked the clerk if they knew of a place that sold fresh yeast on the Island and was surprised to hear that they sold it. So along with the Swedish Apple Cake, we bought a block of fresh yeast.

Picture: fresh yeast on the right with dry yeast packages on the left:

I can hardly wait to try it out. Once I get off the computer, you can find me in the kitchen.