The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Colorado Rocky Mountain Hi

Born-n-Bread's picture

Colorado Rocky Mountain Hi

Hello from the Mile High City. I just found these forums, and I'm just getting into baking again after a hiatus of many, many years.

Back when I was married and domestic(ated?), I used to make yeast bread a lot, using the Tassajara Bread Book for the most part. I can't say I was close to professional, but the bread baked up well and was tasty. Fast forward through a divorce, a great many years, and a move to high altitude, and I'm getting back into baking. What motivated me this time is that I'm trying to eat organic (and non-GMO) as much as I can, and my local supermarket doesn't carry organic bread. There are stores that do, but they're farther away. Besides, if I bake my own bread, I know exactly what goes into it.

I have no worries about gluten, wheat, soy, or anything else. I just want real bread made out of real, whole ingredients. Besides, nothing tastes like home-baked bread.

I bought a house several years ago, and I garden as well. I have a peach tree in my back yard, and the squirrels sometimes let me have some peaches from it, so I want to learn how to make a decent pie crust, too. And of course being at high altitude throws that problem into the mix. Not all of the bread books have high-altitude instructions. So in a way I guess I have to learn to bake all over again.

Right now, I have a conundrum. (No, it's not contagious.) I decided to make my start with a box of bread mix that I happened to have on hand. I followed the instructions and set it to rise. Well, it's an hour and a half later, and it's just sitting there. It hasn't changed size or shape at all. Granted, the box of mix wasn't brand new, and I'm wondering if maybe the yeast wasn't good any more. Problem is, now what? Do I have to throw it away? Can I turn it into focaccia? Add in more yeast? What?

Some extra bits about me: I'm a writer/editor, currently self-employed part time and looking for more gigs, and I live with a household full of cats. I'm in the process of starting an online business designing and selling jewelry.

Sorry that this is so long winded.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

what's the dough doin now?   What's the temperature and is the dough soft enough to pull out the four corners of the globe and do a letter fold?  (flip it upside down, pull out one side "west" and flop it over to "east,"  Then "north" to "south" and "east" to "west" and "south" to "north."   Round out the corners and Flip it back over, cover, wait.)  Do it again in another hour or if it goes flattish to give it more body.  

The other solution would be to flatten out the dough and mist it lightly and sprinkle with some instant yeast.  Roll up and lightly knead in the yeast.  

Is the package bread dough for a sour type dough?   Temp and chlorinated water would be the first thing on my list to check out.  Chlorine will dissappate with time if the dough is spread out (and the yeast wasn't killed) and misted (watch which water) to keep a dry crust from forming.  Temperature, yeasts like it warm upwards of 75°F and not too hot around 85°F.  Which leads me to another Q.  How hot were the liquids you added?

It's late there, if nothing has happened yet, cover tightly and pop into the refrigerator and get a good night's sleep.  Deal with it tomorrow.  :)


Born-n-Bread's picture

I used some fresh yeast, let it sit in a little water for five minutes, then worked it into the bread. The bread rose a little bit, but not very much. All in all a disappointing loaf.

What I wanted to do is work with a mix first and get my hands floury before I started making bread from scratch. I have another box of mix that's not new, and I'll use a packet of fresh yeast for that.

Yes, Tassajara. I go back that far.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Some of those mixes have a tendency to go bad faster than straight milled flour.  I'd say dump it in the compost and let the bugs have it, they might be munching on it already!   Get some fresh flour and let your fresh yeast have fun with you and a fresh recipe.  Fresh starts are better than taking a risk with an old expired flour mix.   :)

proth5's picture

Now there's a blast from the past.  Takes me back to my hippie whole wheat days.

I bake at a Mile High and for yeast breads there are almost no adjustments to be made - so don't worry about "high altitude" formulas.  If anything, they usually rise a little faster than at sea level, but nothing major.  Just keep the dough well covered - none of this "lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the bowl" - it needs to be covered tightly so it doesn't dry out.

Cakes and such - well, there's a big difference.

Old mixes may conbtain dead yeast - always best to keep an eye on freshness when dealing with yeast.

Happy Baking!

hanseata's picture

And the others are right. Store bought bread mixtures might have sat in the shelve for a long time. Moreover, they will most likely contain all kinds of additives to enable long storage.

You are definitely better off trying to mix your own dough - it's not rocket science, and there are a lot of great books to help you getting started. (I looked through the Tassajara, funny and endearing, and very hippie-like, but there are easier, more modern ways of baking.)

I had no idea about bread baking when I came to Maine, started baking my own because I had to (my stomach refused the only available wonderbreads). My guiding star was Peter Reinhart's "Bread Bakers' Apprentice", and then his "Whole Grain Breads", but there others that are good, too (there's a list here in TFL, see "Book Reviews").