5 Reasons Why Your Bread Dough Doesn't Rise

| 3/16/2015 9:49:00 AM

Tags: how to bake bread, Renee Pottle, Washington,

Zucchini Bread

Recently, several people have told me, “I can’t make bread. It won’t rise.” Despite our best efforts, sometimes flour + water + yeast doesn’t equal a tantalizing loaf of bread, but is just a large lump of dough. It’s kind of like Cinderella, only you don’t even get to the ball. You catch a glimpse of what the coach could be, but you are just left with a pumpkin.

Needless to say this can be frustrating. Making a loaf of bread is a commitment. We carve time out of our day to plan and mix in anticipation of something that can’t be recreated at the grocery store, a freshly baked loaf of bread, its aroma wafting through the house. Baking bread isn’t just putting food on the table, it’s an experience, an event. Having that experience crash and burn may dissuade us from ever trying again. And that would be too bad, because chances are one of these reasons deflated your dough:

Old Dead Yeast. Dry, inactive yeast can live for years if kept at the right temperature. But if you used a packet of yeast found hiding in the back of the refrigerator, a remnant of your big baking experiment of 2012, chances are it was dead. You might even buy a brand new package of yeast and find out that it is dead. Yeast that has been stored in a hot warehouse or submitted to fluctuating temperatures may be dead too, no matter how recently it was purchased. Don’t automatically assume you did something wrong, it could be as simple as dead yeast.

Yeast Is Too Hot. Recipes that call for active dry yeast direct you to dissolve that yeast in warm water. Sometimes the recipe calls for the liquid to be heated with fat and then added to the yeast. Either way, if the liquid is too hot it will kill off yeast cells. Yeast is pretty picky. It doesn’t like it too cold and it doesn’t like it too hot. Invest in a kitchen thermometer so you can test the water temperature next time.

The Room Is Too Cold. As mentioned above, yeast prefers a narrow temperature band, usually between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a little wiggle room on either side, but not too much. So if the dough sits too long in a cold room, the yeast will eventually die. Many of us experience this in the winter when it’s nearly impossible to keep the kitchen at 75 degrees. You can set the rising dough in a warm place, like on top of the refrigerator or in a gas oven that has an always-on pilot light. I usually turn my electric oven on preheat for just a minute or two, turn it off and let the bread rise in the oven. Just don’t forget to turn the oven off before adding the dough! And don’t forget to remove the dough before heating the oven for another reason. Sadly, this is the voice of experience. Semi-baked dough, melted plastic wrap – it was a mess.

12/31/2017 1:40:27 PM

my first time trying to make basic bread. The dough didn’t rise but i baked it anyway. It doesn’t taste to bad but has the consistency of muffins. I used old yeast i found in the storage so after reading this article Maybe the yeast is dead. Also I didn’t know about the ambient temp in the room. So, I guess I wrecked the bread but I learned a lot.

8/26/2017 3:33:04 PM

I have been kneading my dough in a bread maker for years without any problems, but for the past 3 or 4 months the dough will not rise like it has before. I have bought new flour, yeast, etc. and it still does it. Today I had a mix ( like I have used before) tried it and it is not rising like before. Could the bread maker be the cause?

2/6/2016 12:50:53 PM

Great tip, I has a problem with whole wheat dough not rising until I Retread the recipe and realized that 4 1/2 cups flour required more yeast than the 3 cup recipe I was used to making. Pat Crow

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