I had been wondering for a while whether or not it was really necessary to use yeast in the non-wheat breads I’ve been making, since, after all, there’s no gluten involved and it’s a totally different flour. I was planning to do an experiment without yeast, but hadn’t gotten around to it.
Until I decided to bake a loaf to bring to my painting class yesterday, and FORGOT to put the yeast in. Result: bread FAIL. It was dense and solid like a brick. Disgusting. I didn’t even break off a piece to taste it. It didn’t even look edible.
So, in case you were all wondering: yeast IS a vital ingredient.
Update from Food Scientist Laura: Yeast use sucrose (sugar or honey) and starch to make carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide makes bubbles in the bread, which is why it rises, but also why it’s airy. No bubbles= very dense bread (or thick crackers)! Gluten or no gluten, you’ve got starch and sugar in there.
I hadn’t been substituting the sugar for honey, but now realize I should. Will try that out and update results. Thanks Laura!