The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello I am new here, and need help with yeast breads

Becin's picture

Hello I am new here, and need help with yeast breads

Hello, I am new to this site, found it while looking for help with making yeast bread.  I confess, I can not make yeast bread, I have been trying for years and have never gotten it to rise.  Yesterday was my latest attempt, and of course it didn't work.  I have purchased all new ingredients, so everything is fresh.  I use a thermometer, so my liquids temps are correct. I have tried no knead recipes and knead recipes with no luck and this time I even tried my new kitchenaid stand mixer with the bread hook, to knead it, so I think I got it right, but still nothing.  Hard as a rock.  I would love any other suggestions that you might be able to give.

I can make Quick breads and love to make them, but I would really like to make homemade yeast rolls.  My sister in law used to make these wonderful sweet rolls, they were so tender and light, unfortunately she is no longer my sister in law, so I can't get the recipe for them, but I have to master yeast before I can make them anyways.  Thanks for you help in advance.

Jo_Jo_'s picture

First, Have you read the lessons and handbook sections of the website?  They are extremely good, and you might figure out exactly what you are doing wrong simply by doing that.  The other things it will teach you is many of the things people will be asking you and what they are looking for in responses.  Baking yeast breads almost has it's own language, which can be very confusing to someone who is new to it. Those sections don't take long to read, but can be a great help.  If you have questions as you read go ahead and post them, or if you have already read those sections try posting a really detailed description of your recipe and methods to help us help you. 


Deka's picture


When I started baking recently, I thought I could 'tune' into my Grandmothers knowledge. I had watched her make the most wonderful breads. Needless to say with her no longer available, I have had to re-educate myself in the world of baking bread.

What Grandma knew with a touch of her hand, I have to learn by trial and error.

There are so many variables in bread baking that Grandma just knew how to adjust for. Temperature, humidity, dough hydration, lean dough, fatted dough, over kneading, under kneading, bulk fermentation, window pane, shaping, proofing, baking stone, free form or in a pan, oven steam, oven temp and baking time are all factors to good/great bread. Not to mention all the new methods being posted/published about --- no-knead bread and stretch and fold. It can be very disturbing to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Bakers have a special language that I still have trouble with, but I'm learning -- I think! LOL

There are several members here that will help you, but you need to help them help you. Learn the language and you will be rewarded with valuable assistance.


Chuck's picture

I second the suggestion of reading the handbook and lessons sections and learning some bread lingo.

In the meantime here's some first guesses at your most immediate problem: There's a bread lingo word for "hard as a rock": it's "brick" (how's that for highfalutin language?-). Making a whole bunch of bricks suggests nothing ever rose properly, which likely suggests a problem with the yeast. And with new everything (including yeast I presume), the most likely culprit is tap water that's so highly chlorinated that it's killing the yeast. The diagnosis and immediate resolution are easy: for now use exclusively bottled water for all parts of your breadmaking.

Do you "dissolve" (or "prove") your yeast? (Not all types of yeast require it, so you very well may not, but it won't hurt to ask...) If you do, how hot do you get the water, and what happens?

Also, it's common for newbies to interpret the times in bread recipes quite literally, to watch the clock and move on to the next step when the time is right. Don't. The times in bread recipes are just "estimates"  ...and depending on a whole lot of factors can easily be two or three times too short or too long. Use the look and feel of the dough -not the clock- to decide when to move on.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The yeast has to get moist, eat the surrounding food (flour) and create gas to raise the dough.  This takes time, unlike baking powder, it is not an instant reaction.  If the dough is not rising, there are no gas bubbles to stretch the dough and it will bake as a brick.  Give the dough enough time (hours) to make gas bubbles in the dough.  Touch it often, poke it and feel the air pockets growing inside the dough as time goes by.  Think about the dough, what you find as a warm place to curl up and take a nap, the dough will also find as a nice place to rest. 

clazar123's picture

I found I had to UN-learn a lot I thought I knew about baking bread before I learned to make bread. The knowledge and help from this site was invaluable. But one thing I learned is that you have to bake often,keep track of what you did and evaluate the results. Next time change one thing and see how it goes. Eventually, you have more successes than bricks. My birds are no longer on a bread crumb diet here!

Look at it as if it is a research project. Get a notebook to track your recipe changes and take notes. USe that info to talk  here so we can help!

Start simple! Find a recipe that has only 2-3 cups AP (all-purpose) flour to start (for a  single loaf or 6 rolls). That way you don't have an investment in a large amount of ingredients. Soft rolls will use milk,sugar,butter or oil and possibly eggs.

Watch the videos and search for more videos on making bread. I found the visuals helped a lot.Read the tutorials here over and over!

Have delicious fun!

alabubba's picture

One of the things that helped me greatly was to ignore your clock, When the recipe says to "let it rise until doubled, 1 hour" what it should say is "Let it rise until double, regardless of how long that takes".

Get a tall narrow bucked with straight sides. something you can see the dough in.

Janknitz's picture

I think the hardest part of learning to make bread is getting to know what the dough should FEEL like.  All the descriptions in a book and on video can't really do justice to this part of bread baking. 

If you know anybody who bakes bread, ask that person if you can join them to learn about how dough feels and behaves.  That's probably the best way to learn. 

Unfortunately, bread bakers are sometimes hard to find.  My Kitchenaid mixer was my teacher--because the recipe in the book that accompanied the mixer had very good detailed descriptions of how the dough should look and act (e.g. "dough should clean the sides of the bowl").  I got my first inklings into how bread dough should be from that booklet.  But it is a limited teacher--not all doughs should feel and act that way.  Took me a long time to learn not to keep adding flour until all doughs pull away from the sides of the bowl--a dry, heavy dough is not desireable for all types of bread.   But it was a good starting place.

Knowing how the dough should feel at various stages is the key that opens the door to successful bread baking.  I hope you find some way to learn about that.  You might even ask a local bakery if they will let you have a hunk of well-proofed dough, or try thawing out some frozen bread dough from the supermarket to play with.  When you know what you're aiming for, then you can figure out what you need to do to get there.

Good luck!  I'm sure you will do just fine and come to really love bread baking, when you master the most basic element. 

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi There,

I just found this old blog from five years ago on may be of benefit for you.

Good luck and practice practice practice....................Pete


jowilchek's picture

Becin, all the replies I "ditto", such great advice. Ten years a go I made my first loaf of yeast bread a brick; didn't even attempt to try again until a year and 8 months ago. But now a little over a year later and I am a decent bread maker and trying even more complex formulas all the time. Tomorrow Ciabatta, bigga is made and sitting at room temp. Christmas I made a very decent focaccia, the family loved! So don't give up after all it's just a little flour, water and pinch of yeast. I buy yeast in bulk now and usually have 20 lbs of various flours on hand. Love maybe even addicted to bread baking! Read, blog and learn there are great teachers here and other sites as well...I love SteveB at

Also lots of videos on u-tube for learning techniques such as stretch and fold, and shaping baguettes, boules etc....
Welcome to the wonderful world of bread.
I read a great quote today: The food industry is coming up with a new tearless onion--and I bet they can, they've already given us tasteless bread.

pjaj's picture

For many years all I could make were bricks, but for the past 5 years I think I've cracked it. There have been three major changes.

I use filtered water from a Brita jug, this has had much of the "nasties" taken out of it. I suppose good bottled water would do just as well.

I use instant dried yeast, so I'm adding plain water to the dry ingredients in my mixer. I measure 900 ml of the filtered water into a jug and microwave it for about 3 minutes on full power. This water is quite a bit warmer than most recipes would specify, almost too hot to put your hand in. But it's hitting cold ingredients, so by the time they are all incorporated into the dough, it's pleasantly warm.

I am lucky to have an oven with a proving setting, about 35 C. This is the final, and probably most critical change. I get good consistent first (and second) rises. It was this step that always defeated me before, I couldn't find a consistently warm enough place to keep the dough. You may well be able to use your oven for this, even if it doesn't have a proving setting. Can you turn it down to 30-40 C? If not You may be able to warm it up to, say, 40C, turn it off and use the residual heat.

Ruralidle's picture

Hi Becin

There are lots of recipes on the TFL site that would suit you, but I have also come across one elsewhere that seems to work for everyone who has tried it.

I hope it works for you, if you decide to try it.



Cooking202's picture

Alabubba tweaked and greatly improved on a recipe that I posted some time ago.  It is now my go to for Cafeteria Lady Rolls. Don't know if I thanked you, but you did good.  Also if you do a search for Buttermilk Cluster, these are incredible rolls.


hanseata's picture

Becin, I started out with bricks, too. My husband even suggested keeping one on the nightstand to fight off burglars, just in case!

I would also recommend using instant yeast - it's the easiest to handle. Also, check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer, some ovens are way off.

And get a bread baking book from a really good teacher, like Peter Reinhart, with very detailed descriptions on how the dough should feel like, behave and look like.





Becin's picture

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I did read the Lesson book, and took the advice on here about not being so literal with exact times.  I made the recipe on Lesson 2 and it was so wonderful, my bread actually did rise.  We had homemade bread for the first time in our 25 years of marriage.  Thanks for the suggestions, I am now inspired to keep trying.

Jo_Jo_'s picture

I highly recommend those southern style rolls by the cafeteria lady.  They were amazing when I tried them!  I make a four roll batch for my husband and myself, otherwise we would eat till we exploded I think!


JoeV's picture

It's always exciting to read about the first successful loaf of bread. Hopefully this couple will enjoy many years of superior quality bread, and share their success with family and friends. Just think, a loaf of bread made with ingredients that you can pronounce, and can count them on one hand. LOL There's nothing like walking into a home with the smell of bread baking in the oven. It's so nice to see how helpful everyone is on this website.

lazybaker's picture

When I first made yeast breads, they came out hard, too, because I didn't mix the ingredients well and didn't knead the dough well. They were underproofed, too. The results were bad. They ended up as crumbs or croutons.

I found the addition of eggs, butter, milk, or even a combination of the ingredients can make the bread very soft. You just have to make sure to add a bit more yeast than usual because I think those ingredients tend to impede yeast growth.