The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No rising

carlaR's picture

No rising


I have the following rusk recipe:


10ml dry active yeast or 1 compressed yeast cake

750ml warm water

2.5kg flour

500g sugar

12.5ml salt

250g margarine, melted

The recipe calls for the yeast to be proofed and then mixed with the flour, sugar and salt mix as well as the margarine and just enough water to be able to knead the dough.

Then it has to rise overnight, be lightly kneaded and put into the baking tin and rise to double volume.


I know my dad used to make this recipe a lot and the rusks are awesome, but no matter what I do I can not get my dough to rise.

My dad used to use the compressed yeast cake, which you don't get anymore and since that is the only difference, I think that the problem is the yeast.


I only seem to be able to find instant yeast and not active dry yeast.

I have tried proofing 10ml of instant yeast as per the recipe and this didn't work (this was before I actually realised the difference between yeasts)

I have tried converting the amounts between active dry yeast and instant yeast and mixing the instant yeast directly into the dry ingredients and this also didn't work.


Can anyone please give me some advice?

I have used this brand of instant yeast in bread and such and those do rise.

Any help would be much appreciated!

(Apologies if there is a similar topic alreaydy - I haven't been able to find it by searching)

pmccool's picture

And that might be part of the issue: 10g of yeast to 2,500g of flour will eventually work but it will take time.  The 500g of sugar isn't helping the yeast any, either.  However, since the recipe worked for your father (using fresh yeast) and since the dry yeast works for you (in other breads), we might want to look further for answers.

First off, what is the temperature of the "warm" water that you are using?  If it is above 120F, the yeast may be killed. 

Second, is the 750ml quantity of water correct?  Or is that just what is used for proofing the yeast?  I seriously doubt that you could get a dough to hold together with that small an amount of water.  That's only 750g of water to 2,500g of flour, which equates to a 30% hydration level.  Granted, the melted margarine will lubricate things and the sugar will change the dough characteristics but I still don't see that this formula will work as written.  By way of comparison, bagels have a very stiff dough and their hydration level is around the 50% mark. 

Here's my issue with the water and the sugar: sugar is hygroscopic, which means it has such a strong attraction to water that it can actually draw water from other materials.  It's a lot "thirstier" than flour, even.  So, the high sugar content and the low water content mean that a lot of the water will be absorbed by the sugar and unavailable to the flour.  The water content is already too low to make a manageable dough, even without the sugar.  The yeast, meanwhile, either have too little water available to support their growth or are being killed by the sugar drawing water out of their cells.  It isn't surprising that things aren't working, unless there is a lot more water being added in the mixing phase.

What is the temperature of your kitchen?  More importantly, what is the temperature of the place where you ferment the dough?  If it is cool, lower than 70F, the yeast will grow much more slowly than they will at warmer temperatures.  That isn't a bad thing; it gives flavors time to develop.  However, the dough probably won't show any noticeable signs of inflation in the first couple of hours.

I'm sorry to give you more questions than answers.  With what you have mentioned, my best response would be to simply wait for it.  If the yeast is viable, which you seem to have demonstrated with other breads, then it may just need more time to work in this rusk formula.


carlaR's picture

As I understand, you don't actually have to proof the instant yeast.


I can't answer for the amount of water my dad used, but I know that I did use extra water when I tried the recipe last night.

I'm not sure about the temperature of the water - something to take a look at when I try again.

The same goes for the temperature of my kitchen, but I've recently discovered that switching on the light of my oven creates the perfect temperature for having stuff rise - which was what I used.


I've found a recipe that is very similar to this one, but with 30grams of instant yeast and 1-1.2litres of water.

I'll probably try this "new" recipe tonight - it requires quite significantly less rising time(2hrs vs overnight), but from what I understand that is because instant yeast causes quicker rising.


Once again, thanks for the answer :)

Elza B's picture
Elza B

I always bake rusks too and the liquid you are using are too little for that amount of flour. I don't know were you live, but I am South African and the only yeast readily available here, is the instant stuff.  If you want fresh yeast though go to a super market that bakes its own bread. Normally they will sell you fresh yeast. That is what I do. I include my recipe for my rusks so you can compare the two.Mosbolletjies ( Aniseed Rusks )

  Ingredients:  Part one125gr butter ( not margarine)500ml sugar500ml boiled milk500ml boiled water.2 XL eggs slightly beaten30ml active dry  yeast ( NOT instant)  or 50gr fresh yeast125 ml lukewarm water extra 5 ml sugar extra30ml honey500 ml flourIngredients: Part two1.5 kg ( 11x250ml ) flour10ml salt 30 ml aniseed   Method: Oven temp: 160C Baking time +- 1hour      Put butter, sugar, and honey in mixing bowl and pour hot milk and water over. Stir until dissolved  and allow to cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast and extra sugar in extra  water allow to stand till bubbly 5 to 10 min. Add to milk mixture together with eggs. Add flour and beat with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cover and allow to rise till bubbly in a warm place +- an hour.  Sift the rest of the flour with the salt. Check aniseed for impurities and add to flour. Mix in the yeast mixture and knead the dough for at least15 to 20 min until dough is soft, pliable and no longer stick to your hands.If the dough is too stiff, add a little extra water and too soft, a bit more flour. Cover and allow to rise to double the volume.   Punch down and divide dough in 3. Make balls with buttered hands and put tightly in pans. Elevate the pans on the one side to achieved this. Cover and allow to rise till double the size. Bake for 50 to 60 min until skewer come out clean. Turn out and allow to cool a bit. Break in pieces and dry in the oven @ 80-100 C for a few (4-5) hours  This is a time consuming recipe, but worth it :)    I have baked this recipe for 22 years and never had a flop. I had also made the dough up to the second rising at times and put it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I deflated the dough made balls and allow to rise double the volume again. This last process will be a bit slow because the dough is rather cold when it comes out of the fridge. so put it in a warm place.I hope this helps.  
msbreadbaker's picture

What is a rusk? Thanks!

Elza B's picture
Elza B

Rusks are very popular in South Africa. There are two types. The one is called Buttermilk Rusks in which you use baking powder, bicarbonate of soda andcreme of tarter as rising agents or selfraising flour and buttermilk. You can make it into balls pack them closely together and once they are baked, pull them apart and place them on an oven rack in the oven and dry out @ a temp of 80- 1oo C.  If you don't want to make balls you can cut the ruks in fingers after baking. The rusks in the recipe above is the second type. There you use yeast as a rising agent. It is also dried out after baking. The way to eat it is to dunk it in you coffee or tea. You can keep them for a few months. Just store the rusks in an airtight container. Rusks came from the time in the 19th centuary when, as we call them Voortekkers, migrated to the North and bread could not be baked everyday. I hope Msbaker that you now know a bit more about Rusks now. 

msbreadbaker's picture

Yes Elza B.! Thank you so much.