The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough not rising in Spain

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

Dough not rising in Spain

My wife and I have made four attempts to make sweet bread dough (for example, for cinnamon rolls) since moving to Valencia, Spain.  We have used Spanish all-purpose flour (harina de trigo).  We have used American Active dry yeast, and yeast we bought in Spain (levadura).  We have proven that the yeast is active and carefully followed instructions (even measuring the temperature of water and milk we have added per the recipes).  Despite this, we have been unable to get the dough to rise.  We put it in a warm oven to rise (less than 100 degrees F), but get no result.  We have made these recipes in the US without having this problem.  Does anyone have a clue why we would be having this problem?

Abe's picture
Abe

How do you know it's less than 100°F? 

Let's narrow this down by doing away with other variables other than the flour and yeast. The only thing that remains is the oven! Have you tried room temperature? 

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

Thanks for your response.

We use a Thermopen to check fluid temperatures, and an oven thermometer to check oven temps.

We have not tried room temperature because we keeps our rooms pretty cool (about 68-70 degrees F).

harum's picture
harum

Might have something to do with the flour as Spanish flours can be tricky.  Some "harinas de trigo" are for deep frying, some are fortified with baking powder, which also has "levadura" in its name. 

Have you tried elforodelpan.com?

Not specific to Spain, whenever this happened to my dough, the problem was always resolved by redoing the recipe with a fresh batch of yeast from a tried brand.

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

Thanks for your reply.  I will check out elforodelpan.com.  We have found the flour situation to be confusing here but I think we have figured out which is the simplest AP flour.  We also have been confused about yeast here--it seems like "levadura" refers to yeast AND baking powder.  Maybe not, but we are still working on figuring that out.

Thankfully, we were able to get hold of some new packets of Fleischman's active dry yeast from some American friends, but still that did not help.

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Which brand are you using? Are you using supermarket flour? Spanish flours -also european flours- are weaker than american flours. Anyway I don't believe the problem is flour. I have lived in Spain many decades and I didn't have any problem for baking bread.

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

We have used flour from Carrefour and Consum.  The most recent brand was Gallo, just basic harina de trigo.  I am really puzzled by this problem.  Like I said, we had no problem with these recipes in the US.  And our yeast has been new American yeast, and reacted properly when we activated it.  I am wondering if the slightly higher salt content in the water could have an effect (we use a water softener), but it does not seem to impede activation of the yeast.

I have seen your responses before, and appreciate your knowledge and willingness to help.  So could you explain to me about yeast versus baking powder in Spain?  It seems they are both called levadura. Thanks.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

If it is not the yeast, then it has to be either the flour, or water, or salt.

As far as the softened water, yes, that can ruin dough.  Try bottled water, non-carbonated, or use water that bypasses the conditioner.  It is not the salt, per se, but the resultant molecular compounds when the minerals are de-activated.

If your conditioned water feels "slippery" compared to bottled water, that is a strong sign that it might interfere with baking.

--

You do not want to use flour that comes with any type of levadura. That is self-rising flour, and is not for yeasted bread.

Levadura that comes pre-mixed with flour would always be baking powder not yeast, as yeast would spoil, not being sealed, and being in contact with flour.

--

American bread recipes are intended  for the common American grocery store flour. American grocery store white flour (AP and bread) has either malted barley flour or amylase added to create sugar from the starch.   Without those additions, white flour won't have sugar to feed the yeast.

Whole wheat flour has bran, and the bran has natural enzymes --  therefore, whole wheat flour does not need malted flour or amylase added.

When flour is mixed with water, those enzymes (whether added to white flour, or naturally occuring in whole wheat) start to convert starch to sugar.

Many european white flours do not have malted flour nor amylase added, as you generally do not need them for anything without yeast.

So check the ingredient list of your package of AP flour. If there is no malted barley flour or malted wheat flour, or amylase, then it will not raise a yeasted dough unless you add them, or "diastatic malt powder" or even sugar.

Well, one exception, it will raise a yeasted dough if you let it sit long enough for the small amount of residual enzymes to eventually convert enough starch to sugar. It just takes a long time.

Next time at the grocery store, look at the ingredients list on _bread flour_ or "harina de fuerza", and you should see malted barley flour, malted wheat flour, or amylase.

You could also fix your AP flour by adding "dough improver" or "bread improver" or "dough conditioner" which will have amlyase and possibly ascorbic acid.

-- Update: I just re-read your original post above, and saw "sweet bread". If you are adding sugar to the dough, that would feed the yeast -- so if that is the case, I would suspect the conditioned water as the culprit.

Buena suerte, y buen provecho.

 

 

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

Thank you for your thorough explanation of the differences between US and Spanish flours.  I will try again taking these things into consideration, and using bottled water.

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Don't expect consistent results baking with supermarket flours. Supermarket flours are just good for cooking, making some cookies, quick bread or cakes. In the particular case of Spain, supermarket flour have a very thin quality to make a medium-long fermentation process. Supermarket flours have been made usually with grains that are not of sufficient quality to be sold as bakery flour. Maybe there are some excepctions, but in general, I wouldn't trust. Try to use professional flours. I recommend you to check this website. They sell professional flours, some of them are organic, they deliver to your home if you buy more than 65 euros:

https://www.elamasadero.com/18-harinas

In the other hand, you should make a distinction between Baking Powder (also known as Polvo de Hornear or Impulsor or Gasificante -Royal is the most usual brand- and Levadura de Panadero (fresh yeast or powdered yeast -usually Active Instant Yeast-). First one is for cakes cookies, etc. The second one is for bread. Fresh yeast is stored in fridge, and instant active yeast looks like small light brown granules. There's no need to activate, just mix with the flour and that's all.

josephmaio's picture
josephmaio

Thanks again for your help.  I will look at that website.  And now I have a better idea of yeast vs baking powder on the grocery shelves.  Much appreciated!