Dissolve one package of dry yeast into 1/4 cup of water that is slightly cool to the touch, about 85 degrees F. Yeast is killed at temperatures of more than 105 degrees F, so while cool water may slow proofing time, it will avoid killing the yeast.
Add one teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast. Yeast is a fungus that feeds on sugars and gluten in flour. It in turn multiplies and produces carbon dioxide as a by-product. Carbon dioxide bubbles cause dough to rise. Stir to dissolve yeast and sugar. It will take about ten minutes until the yeast begins to bubble or foam. If it does not foam, it is not alive and should not be used.
Combine the entire proofed mixture with the liquid ingredients in your dough recipe. Remember that rich ingredients such as butter, oil, honey and even salt slow the rising action of the yeast, so be sure to allow for enough rising time when baking with these ingredients.