The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

what did i do wrong

vince hav's picture
vince hav

what did i do wrong

i cookd a recipe for some cinnamon rolls. it called for flour yellow cake mix and two packs of quick dry yeast. but my dough didnt rise to double its size as the recipe called for after 45 minutes. im thinkn that water was hot not warm when i mixed the 2 cups in and 2. the stainless steel bowl it was riseing in in my cool kitchen may have stuntd the riseing..the coolness not the bowl. the cinnamon rolls turned out good as far as flavor an for the first time to ever make dough and roll it out with a rollin pin i thought i was ok. but fresh out of oven the bread felt more like the density of cold biscuits than fresh cinnamon rolls. they were suppose to rise once in the bowl (double in size) and then again after i made the roll and cut it an put it in the pan (double in size again) before cooking. i took some to a couple friends today and they thought they were good but i stll think that to eat them you need to back themwith some milk cause the dough was just tooo stiff. any advice?

Crider's picture

Let cake mix be for cakes, and try another recipe. There are some here on this site.

pmccool's picture

Hi Vince,

Crider's advice is as valid as it is direct, but let's see if we can figure out what happened with your rolls. 

First off, do you have prior experience with baking yeasted doughs?  Depending on your experience some of what I say may be stuff you already know.  If so, please be assured that I'm not talking down to you, just wanting to be sure that I cover all of the bases.

The strains of yeast used for most bread baking, whether active dry yeast (ADY) or instant dry yeast (IDY), are happiest in doughs with low amounts of sugar.  There are also strains of yeast, referred to as osmotolerant, that function better in doughs with high sugar and/or high fat contents.  While those can be found, they aren't typically hanging out in the baking aisle down at the local Kroger or Safeway store.  A cake mix usually contains a high percentage of sugar, hence the recipe's instruction to use two packets of yeast.  That is a lot for such a small amount of dough, but I suspect that it was an attempt by the recipe writer to ensure that the dough would rise successfully and quickly, even though the yeast called for wasn't osmotolerant.

You mention that your kitchen was cool and that you used a metal bowl.  I'm guessing by "cool" you may mean something below 70F.  If that is a valid guess, your suspicion that the coolness affected the dough's rise is well founded.  And, yes, the metal bowl's excellent heat-conducting characteristics would help to radiate away whatever heat was generated by the yeast's fermentation activity.  Yeast's ability to grow is very much affected by temperature.  The cooler the temperature, the slower the growth.  The warmer the temperature (up to a point), the faster the growth.  IDY, which is what I'm assuming your "quick yeast" was, actually likes warmer temperatures than ADY.  So, unless your water temperature was somewhere north of 120F, you probably didn't hurt the yeast any.  One last thought about yeast: cinnamon and other tree-bark spices inhibit yeast growth.  Probably not a big factor in your case, since the cinnamon would be concentrated in the filling, rather than mixed in with the dough.

The other thing to remember about yeast is that it can't tell time.  If it hasn't doubled within the recipe's suggested time, you just wait longer until it has truly doubled.  Most recipe writers don't bother to tell you what the temperature was in their kitchen when they were testing the recipe, so you are left to guess what they were working with.  If your dough is rising faster or slower than the recipe's suggested time, you can guesstimate that your kitchen is either warmer or cooler than theirs.  

As far as the texture goes, a cake mix will produce something closer to a cake texture (due to the sugar and fat) than it will something like a bread texture.  It's the nature of the beast.  Remember that the cake mix also contains baking powder or soda, or both.  That also affects the texture in ways that are different than a yeast-only dough.  I'm not surprised by the "biscuit" texture that you mention.

I'm sorry that the rolls didn't live up to your expectations.  If you are willing to try your hand at yeasted breads, there are some very good recipes available on this site.  Just type "cinnamon rolls" (minus the quotation marks) in the Search box at the top left corner of this page.  You'll get lots of possibilities to choose from.  

Better luck with your next attempt.  The good thing about bread is that most of our failures are still edible and will frequently taste better than the picture perfect things you see in the store.


vince hav's picture
vince hav

thanks for your advice. to answer your question no i have no prior experience with baking dough in this manner. iv baked cakes from a box and am a fairly good cook as far as a meal goes but this was my first ever attempt to even make dough from flour so the fact that i even made a dough that i was able to roll out with a pin is in itself an accomplishment. your teachings make alot of sense an i will try the recipes on here. i love cinamon rolls and wanted to try an make some from scratch to share with the love of my life since she loves them too. but i wouldnt have shared those door stops i made with her..haha.

i ate a cinamon roll at work one day an the dough was soft but the center part was really soft which is the way i like it. how do i get the whole roll soft like that center?

thanks for all your help. i love this site and am glad to have found it.