The Fresh Loaf

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DId the fridge kill my yeast?

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Borbus's picture
Borbus

DId the fridge kill my yeast?

I've been baking bread for a while now and I've had some extremely succesful loaves and some not so succesful ones.  I make plain French bread and it has three rises at about 70 F. 

The other day I decided I would make bread in the evening, give it its first rise and then put it in the fridge for the second rise overnight.  The first rise went perfectly, rose to more than 3 times its initial volume.  I deflated it and put it in the fridge and woke up about 7 hours later to find it was only about 2 times the volume, which I expected, then I expected to let it spend about two hours warming back up and rising more to 3 times the volume.  But it didn't.  I put it in a warm place (nearly 80 F) to try to warm it up more quickly, but it just wouldn't rise any more.  So I decided to just deflate it and start the third rise but it still wouldn't rise any more, so I ended up with some very dense bread.  I baked it some 5 hours after it came out of the fridge (I expected it to be only 3 hours).

Is it possible that my fridge killed the yeast (dry active "rapid rise" yeast, by the way)?  Did it need even more time for them to come alive again?  Is some yeast better than others at being retarded in the fridge and then becoming active again?

Thanks!

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

It probably just ran out of gas. After tripling and doubling, the yeast probably ran out of food. It takes a long time to cool a dough in a home fridge, and the yeast is active the whole time -- I wouldn't be surprised if it really did triple (or more) in the fridge, and you just caught it on the way back down. What's your formula?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try not to let the first rise triple, go for just double.

Borbus's picture
Borbus

Formula: 1 lb flour, 1/2 pt water, 2 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 oz dry active yeast  (imperial measurements).  It definitely will triple three times if I leave it at 70 F without putting it in the fridge, it's usually 6-7 hours of rising at 70 F.  I've never seen it go back down again, it's always remained domed.

I just remembered that I did use different flour this time.  Before I have had success with supermarket own-brand "strong plain bread flour".  This time I got "extra strong bread flour".  Looking at the label, it actually contains less protein than the other one.  Could this new flour not be providing enough food?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I suspect the temps were warmer so watch the dough, don't let it triple, double is enough rise and then knock down to chill.  Try colder water if you need to slow down the rising.  Summer temps can catch all of us off guard.  Including water and flour temps.  I think the yeast are more interested in converting the starches/carbohydrates in the flour than the proteins.  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

a fridge that would kill yeast outright overnight but it might maim them to make them limp along at a slow rate.  I think Mini Oven is right.  Doubling and then nearly doubling again is about as much as you can expect yeast to do in a normal recipe.  I have nearly saved an over risen dough by autolysing some additional flour (half as much as the dough flour), water, salt and some sugar and mixed it into the deflated dough by kneading it and allowing it to rise one more time - in a loaf pan or 3 this time.  Could hardly tell the difference but it might have been luck.