Would making homemade bread and yeast cakes just about everyday of my life count???
If you have never worked with yeast before - get a thermometer. I can tell my sticking my finger in warm water if it is the right temperature; with practice you will be able to do the same.
To work with yeast - always check the expiration date on the package or you won't have a dough that rises.
One envelope of dry yeast is equal to 1/3 of 2 oz. cake of compressed fresh yeast and is also equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry bulk yeast. With this in mind you can always substitute any type of yeast for your recipe.
If you are using a rapid-rise yeast, cut the rise time down to about half.
Test the yeast before beginning. If you're concerned that your yeast may not be active, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.). Slowly sprinkle one packet of yeast into the water. Stir the mixture and set a timer for 10 minutes. In 3 to 4 minutes, the yeast should have absorbed enough liquid to activate and will come to the surface.
If at the end of 10 minutes, the yeast has multiplied to the 1-cup mark and has a rounded crown, it's still very active and fresh and can be used in your recipe. Remember to deduct the 1/2 cup of water used for the test from the total liquid used in the recipe. This process is sometimes referred to as "proofing the yeast."
Use a yeast or candy thermometer to accurately determine the temperature of liquids. Yeast is a living organism. If the liquid in which the dry yeast is dissolved is too hot, it will kill the yeast cells. If it's too cold, the yeast will remain dormant and won't raise the dough. Use very warm liquid (120 to 130 degrees F.) if the active dry yeast will be added to dry ingredients. If it's to be added to liquid ingredients, use warm liquid (110 to 115 degrees F.).
Place dough in a warm spot to rise. Yeast doughs rise or "proof" best when the temperature is 80 to 85 degrees F. To make sure the dough is warm enough:
* Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and/or a cloth towel.
* Place the bowl on a wire rack over a pan of hot water in a draft-free spot.
* OR place the bowl on the top rack of an unheated oven. Put a pan of hot water on the rack below it.
* OR turn the oven on at 400 degrees F. for 1 minute, then turn it off. Place the bowl on the center rack of the oven and close the door.
Test the dough to make sure that it has risen sufficiently. When you think the dough has doubled in size, lightly poke two fingers about 1/2 inch into the dough. If the indentations remain, the dough has risen enough.
I hope this helps.
And if you are still afraid to try using yeast - you can always purchase a ball of dough from a local bakery or use a frozen dough.
Any questions - just give a holler!