In my recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Bread, which I am baking as we speak, I give the following instructions about proofing the yeast:
Yes, well. That's if you're using ACTIVE dry yeast (and I was, when I first wrote up this recipe a few years back). However, since then I've moved and my local stores only carry Red Star yeast, which has never worked for me (I have no idea why), and so I bought a package of instant dry yeast online.
I wasn't paying attention to the packaging of my instant dry yeast at all...the only distinction between yeasts that I was familiar with were a) "regular" yeast and b) bread machine yeast. Note to self: if you wait for instant dry yeast to proof (form little foamy bubbles on the surface when dissolved in warm water), you will be disappointed 'cause there won't be any. Or not much, anyway. I waited, and waited, and eventually threw the rest of the package of instant dry yeast out, thinking it had expired. Not so: it's simply a difference in the way the stuff's produced.
I have been baking bread for years now, and somehow the difference between these two types of baking yeast escaped me...you've been warned! The Kitchn elaborates more here. They claim that using instant dry yeast does away with the need for two rise times for bread dough...I will have to experiment with this and update my recipe if it works. In the meantime, you can at least save a step waiting for the yeast to proof by using instant dry yeast in my bread recipe.
P.S. For more of my epic kitchen fails, please click here!