The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! My whole wheat dough won't double!

pitterpatter's picture

Help! My whole wheat dough won't double!

I just attempted my first loaf using a recipe for Whole-Wheat Spiced Bread from the World of Breads (Casella, 1966).   I proofed the yeast successfully, but the dough never rose more than about 25-50%, and the resulting bread was delicious, but not as light as I had hoped.  What went wrong?  Here's what I did:

Poured 2 c scalded milk over:

*1/4 c brown sugar, 1 t salt, 1/4 c honey, 1/3 c butter

Dissolved 2 packets Fleischmanns Rapid Rise Yeast  in 1/4 c of warm water (120 F - I swear I read this was the appropriate temperature somewhere, but now it seems too hot).  It quickly became very foamy.  Added the yeast/water mixture to my now lukewarm milk mixture.  

Added 1 egg, 1/3 c orange juice.

Mixed in 2 1/2 c white + 4 c whole wheat flour + 1 t cinnamon.  

Kneaded for about 10 min.  Placed the dough in buttered bowl covered in a damp towel, on the stove (still warm from using the burners earlier); it was around 70 F in the kitchen.  Could it have been too hot on top of the stove?  After four hours it had barely risen at all, but I went ahead and punched it down though there wasn't much to punch,  kneaded it for another minute, then set it back in the bowl and went to bed.  In the morning, it still had hardly risen at all, but I baked in two buttered 9-inch loaf pans at 425 for ten minutes, then 350 for 25 minutes.  The bread rose some in the oven, developing a nice little dome, but just barely reached the top of the pan.    

I'm trying not to get too discouraged on my first attempt, the bread was completely edible afterall.  Does anyone have any ideas about where I went wrong?  Thank you!



clazar123's picture

You said the yeast "quickly became foamy" after adding 120F water. It may be that the yeast very quickly grew and some/most of it died. I believe 120F is the upper limit and 140F is the absolute kill level so if your thermometer was off a bit, it could have been higher than 120F. Rule of thumb: Yeast likes whatever temp bathwater you like. I don't think you'd like 120F.

Since some of the yeast survived, you had a slow rise. I predict future loaves will work out fine with a cooler "bath". Another possiility, if this happens again, would be to add some more yeast (instant variety) to the dough-just knead it right in- and let it raise again before shaping/proofing/baking.

Even dense, it sounds like it would be delicious!


pitterpatter's picture

Thanks, I'll use cooler water  next time.  I didn't realize instant yeast could be kneaded in so easily, I'll keep that in mind next time my dough won't rise.  

Thank you!

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Instants and Active Dry yeasts will develop at room temp, even below. Using warm water is typically done to get the dough to a temperature that will be consistent with the recipe's rise time. Again this brings back to notion of watching the dough vs watching a clock, but I know the latter makes it easier on new yeast bakers. If I'm not going to intentionally retard a batch of dough, I usually will bring my liquids up to about 90 degrees F. I call this 'infant bath water' - should just feel slightly warm on the upper wrist. If the recipe suggests 110 degrees and 90 mins rise, I can usually expect maybe 95-100 minutes, though in the end I can tell by looking at it, and you will too very soon.

On another note, proofing your yeast is no longer necessary, especially since you did it once already and it was very active. Just add it to your flour and other dry ingredients, and that's all you need to do before mixing. You used 'packets' of yeast, and assuming you bought them recently, there's almost zero chance of them being expired. Those packets are -expensive-!! You can buy a large 2 lb bag of Active Dry for about 4-5 dollars, put it in a ziplock bag (the whole bag of yeast, bag and all), and toss it in the freezer door. Note the expiration date on the bag.. your yeast will stay good for up to a year -beyond- that date. You can add the frozen yeast right from the bag to your dry ingredients - no fuss or extra steps necessary.

Be careful handling scalded milk in a recipe. Even though it might read cool enough, milk has milk fats in it that store tremendous amounts of heat. Your probe might not register it, but any microscopic yeast that hit it will die instantly. I would never use milk that hasn't cooled down to a minimum of 90 degrees, and don't be afraid to toss it in the refrigerator if you're in a hurry.

To recap, there are -some- recipes where temperature is critical to the outcome, but they are very rare, especially for everyday sandwich type breads. Use slightly warm temperatures, watch your dough, and you don't need to proof Instant or Active Dry yeast unless they are close to expiration and you have reason to question their integrity.

- Keith

pitterpatter's picture

What a lot of incredibly helpful information, thank you so much for your response.  You're right about the yeast packets being expensive, home breadmaking is hardly economical using those - I'll be looking for bulk yeast next time I'm at the market.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

after the bulk rise.  Spread out the dough and sprinkle it about, roll up the dough tightly, rest and shape.  Cinnamon slows down yeast and swirling it between layers of dough might be just the trick you need to keep it away from the yeast and get rising.

kristakoets's picture

Hi Mini!

Why does cinnamon slow down yeast? What else besides salt has that effect? Would cinnamon have the same effect on SD loaves?



nicodvb's picture

have a very negative effect on leavening if used in more than minuscule amounts because they are antimicrobiotcs (thus they "work" equally well on SD, too). Among the worst pesticides for yeasts are: mustard, cinnamon, garlick, ginger and so on. The fun thing is that some of those spices (such as ginger) if used up to a very tiny amount can even help significantly the raise, but beyond that threshold they interfere severely. Salt doesn't even compare to spices, it's not even remotely as harmful as spices. I add cinnamon only as very last element, mixed with salt.

kristakoets's picture

That is so interesting! I made a loaf of cinnamon maple SD (no added yeast) 2 days ago and it was very sluggish during 3 hour BF, but after an 18 hour cold retard and 1 hour final room temp proof it baked up so huge it blew out and had ridiculous holes! On the other hand, I made a loaf of garlic SD in which I autolysed the whole wheat flour and water for 8 hours, regular BF and overnight was a literal brick. I don't know if it was the garlic or if it was combining Reinhart's long autolyse with a long cold retard. I suspect it was excess enzyme activity due to the combination as I have made the garlic (whole garlic cloves) loaves before with NO trouble. I have also made pumpkin ginger (again fresh ginger) SD with also no trouble. I wonder if it has something to do with using the fresh ingredients vs. ground dried spices? However, this theory breaks down at the cinnamon as that was ground...BUT, it was roasted, so perhaps that changed the anti-microbial effects of cinnamon? Need to do some research as I love to fill my breads chock full of goodies!



flourgirl51's picture

It could be that your flour is low protein. Try using a high protein flour- 14% is good. You can also try soaking some of your flour with your liquid and yeast for about 15 minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients before kneading. Also, make sure that you aren't adding too much flour. Whole grain flours absorb liquid more slowly. Many people make the mistake of adding too much flour which will make your bread heavy.