The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

newbie ? - bread not rising

gringogigante's picture
gringogigante

newbie ? - bread not rising

I am very new to baking, and I'm running into a problem. My dough seems to not be rising after i mix the ingredients. I can't tell if the yeast is bad (i've been keeping it in the fridge in a ziplock baggie) or if my kitchen is too cold (I'm in north Texas with highs in 50's and the heater running keeping the house between 65-73 throughout the day).


I can't figure out if it's to cold or the yest has gone bad......


any help would be appreciated.

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

How old is the yeast?


What type of yeast is it? If it's active dry yeast you will need to proof it for 5 to ten minutes in about 1/2 cup warm water before starting your dough. Use the part of the liquid from the recipe. You also need to know if the recipe is calling for rapid or quick rise yeast vs active dry yeast.  Really old recipes will usually be referring to cake yeast which further complicates things.


If you are concerned about temp of dough and you have an oven with a light, simply turn the light on in the oven and put your bowl of dough inside.  It will help maintain a warmer temp, but it sounds like your temps are fine.  My temps run lower than that and it simply takes a little bit longer to rise, sometimes an hour longer even.  When I make a poolish (small amount of yeast, large amount of flour mixed with water to make a wet dough that sits 8 to 24 hours to develop flavor) I need to let it sit for the full 24 hours to get a good bubbly dough.

gringogigante's picture
gringogigante

It's instant yeast, and it's a few months old at most.....maybe 3 months?


I just proofed a packet of active yeast and trying another loaf with the active yeast.


I think i need to take a class.


Does anyone know of any good online baking classes that exist?

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Saw your reply after posting my response.  I am glad to hear you are trying again, with proven yeast this time.  I'm sure you will see better results.  You should still proof the instant yeast in the same way so you will know if it is good or if you should toss it.


I bake in a 65F kitchen a lot.  Most of the winter actually.  We heat with a wood stove and it just does not get heat into the kitchen.  My rise times in winter are usually about 10-15% longer than they are in the summer when the kitchen is in the 70's most of the time.  The bread still rises, but I have to be more patient.  I find it is worth the wait. :)


Good Luck again
OldWoodenSpoon

Carol Stevens's picture
Carol Stevens

You might find our 'How to bake' videos helpful, as well as the 'Baking Steps Guide' in our Lessons in Yeast & Baking section of our website.  I've posted links below.


http://www.redstaryeast.com/lessons/how_to_bake_videos.php


http://www.redstaryeast.com/lessons/baking_steps_guide/


I'm also posting a link to our simple 'Yeast Freshness test' below.


http://www.redstaryeast.com/lessons/yeast_storage/yeast_freshness_test.php


I hope you will find this information helpful!  Let me know if I can help you with any specific questions.


Happy baking!


Carol

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Prove your yeast like many recipes direct.  Mix a small amount of yeast (any kind, be it active or instant or fresh) into some warm water along with a bit of sugar.  Within 10 minutes or so you will have bubbles, foam and obvious activity.  Or, you will have nothing, and you will know you need new yeast.


If the yeast proves good then tell us more about your bread formula and methods, and someone will try to help you with that.


Good luck
OldWoodenSpoon

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Get a cup and half fill it with "baby bottle" temperature water (i.e. a drop of the water on the inside of your wrist  feels neither hot nor cold). Add in a little something to feed yeast (a drop of honey? a quarter teaspoon of sugar?) Then put in something like a teaspoon of yeast (try to spread it evenly over the surface - if you wind up with a pile you may need to stir it, but it's very sticky and will make a mess of whatever you stir with) and wait fifteen minutes.


When you look again, is the water somewhat foamy, thoroughly cloudy, and has at least a few bubbles about the size of a pencil eraser on top? If so, your yeast is good and you can use the rest with confidence in bread making. If not, the yeast is bad, throw it all away and buy new. Either way, you'll probably want to just pour your test cup down the drain.


The idea is you've got a process for finding out whether or not your yeast works, but what you have to put down the drain at the end is just a nearly worthless half cup of gunk rather than a whole batch of bread dough you invested a lot of time and effort in. Older recipe books may refer to this process as "proofing" the yeast. (BTW, that exact same term "proofing" -spelled the exact same way- is also used in a completely unrelated sense to name the very last rise after shaping loaves and before putting them in the oven. Confusing, huh?-)


You can if you wish incorporate this process right into your breadmaking and do it every time and actually use the resulting gunk rather than pouring it down the drain. Separate out part of the water the recipe calls for, heat it a little bit as necessary, then put the amount of yeast the recipe calls for in it. After about ten minutes, pour the gunk into the rest of your wet ingredients (the rest of the water and anything like oil) and stir the whole thing up before combining the wet and dry ingredients to make your dough.


(The part of this process of dissolving the yeast in water to "wake it up" is probably still a good idea with "active dry" [as opposed to "instant"] yeast. The testing part of this process however isn't necessary these days, as the chances of getting dead yeast from the supermarket are virtually zero. But rather than try to explain such fine points, many sources just continue to say "proof the yeast".)


What matters a whole lot more than the temperature of the house is the temperature of your dough. You can (and should:-) control it by how hot you make the water you use. Get an "instant read" thermometer. First let it tell you the air temperature (just set it on your work surface for a while and see what it says). Subtract that from 240, and write down what you've got left. Mix up all the dry ingredients for your bread. Stick the thermometer deeply into that (but not so far the end of the probe touches the bottom of the bowl), wait for it to stop changing, and see what it says. Subtract that number from what you had left before. This final number tells you what temperature you need the water to be before you put it in the dough (it should be between 50F and 150F; likely it's in the narrower range 60F through 120F). You may need to use a microwave to heat up the water a little. The desired temperature may be very different next time you make bread, so you'll need to do this whole process over every time. (All the above numbers are Fahrenheit; if your thermometer reads Celcius all the numbers will of course be different.)


(There are lots of caveats and complexities and special cases, but you don't need [in fact probably don't even want] those when first starting out.)




Beware that some tap water has so much chlorine in it it kills yeast. Even if it doesn't outright kill the yeast, tap water causes so many problems it's better to not even mess with it. Either let your water sit out overnight in a pan before you use it to make bread (the bad trace chemicals should all evaporate), or get your water out of one of those filter pitchers, or buy whatever your supermarket sells in gallon jugs for use in irons ("distilled" water?).




As an aside, many sources will tell you if you have "active dry" (as opposed to "instant") yeast, you have to go through this proofing/dissolving process every time. My experience is this is not really quite true. Does proofing/dissolving active dry yeast speed up the breadmaking process? Yes. Is proofing/dissolving active dry yeast a good idea? Probably. Do you have to proof/dissolve active dry yeast? No.


Likewise if you have "instant" yeast you can go ahead and proof/dissolve it. The usual procedure is to just mix it into the dry ingredients without first "waking it up"  ...but you don't have to do it that way.

gringogigante's picture
gringogigante

Wow! That is a really cool formula. What is it called?


"What matters a whole lot more than the temperature of the house is the temperature of your dough. You can (and should:-) control it by how hot you make the water you use. Get an "instant read" thermometer. First let it tell you the air temperature (just set it on your work surface for a while and see what it says). Subtract that from 240, and write down what you've got left. Mix up all the dry ingredients for your bread. Stick the thermometer deeply into that (but not so far the end of the probe touches the bottom of the bowl), wait for it to stop changing, and see what it says. Subtract that number from what you had left before. This final number tells you what temperature you need the water to be before you put it in the dough (it should be between 50F and 150F; likely it's in the narrower range 60F through 120F). You may need to use a microwave to heat up the water a little. The desired temperature may be very different next time you make bread, so you'll need to do this whole process over every time. (All the above numbers are Fahrenheit; if your thermometer reads Celcius all the numbers will of course be different.)"

Chuck's picture
Chuck

That is a really cool formula. What is it called?


It's called "the rule of 240". Great name, right?-)


 


(It probably needs an "adjustment" called a "friction factor" if you use a mixer rather than mix by hand.)

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

My first suspect when the dough isn't rising is the temperature of the liquids in your recipe. One hundred degrees will not feel very warm (body temp 98.6) to you. So if you're not using a thermometer, use liquids that feel luke warm to cool. I use a thermometer and make sure the water is below one hundred degrees I don't care what the yeast package says.


 


Larry