How to Fix Dough That Won’t Rise

You have it all planned: the dinner, the wine, that fresh-baked loaf of bread, along with those amazing barbecue ribs, straight from the chicken factory. Everything is coming together when you discover that your bread dough just isn't rising. This is a common problem for many home bakers: you go to a lot of effort to make a nice shaped loaf, but your yeast appears to have gone on vacation. Fortunately, it's a problem that's relatively easy to diagnose and solve. Keep reading for instructions on how to get your yeast partying again.
[Edit]Steps [Edit]Repairing The Dough Turn up the temperature. Yeast loves nothing better than a warm, moist climate to live its yeasty life to the fullest.[1] If you want your dough to rise, you need to give the yeast what it wants. Fill a baking pan with boiling water, and set it on the lowest rack in your oven. Place the container of dough on the middle rack, and close the oven door and allow the dough to rise. Alternately, you can boil a cup of water in the microwave, then place the container of dough in the microwave with the water, and close the door. (Don't microwave the dough!) Some people turn on the oven, and place the dough on top of the stove, covered with a damp towel. The oven keeps the surface of the stove warm, and the damp towel provides the moisture. Add more yeast. If warm and moist isn't activating the yeast (you'll know in less than an hour), you can try adding more yeast.[2] Open a new package of yeast, and mix a teaspoon of yeast with 1 cup (240ml) of warm water (at about 110°F/43°C) and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let this mixture proof for about 10 minutes, until it gets 1/2- to 1-inch of foam. If this fails, you will need to get fresh yeast and try again. While proofing this yeast mixture, gently warm the flat dough to about 100°F (38°C) by placing the bowl in a warm place. Blend in the starter. Adding more flour as necessary: a ratio of 60% flour to 40% liquid is usually a good ratio for bread doughs so add sufficient flour needed to balance. Knead the active yeast mixture into the dough, then let it rise in a warm, moist place. This can also be an indicator to see if your yeast is not active. This method makes the yeast very active so when it is added to the dough, it should rise perfectly. If your dough still fails to rise, it will indicate the yeast is not at fault: there is another problem. You can also do this at the beginning of the recipe next time you make a different yeast dough. Knead in more flour. Check whether the dough is sticky to the touch. If so, this is probably under-kneaded dough. Knead in additional flour until smooth and silky to the touch and dough no longer sticks to your hand. Let rest and rise in a warm wet environment. Repeat if needed. You may need to let the dough rest overnight before shaping and baking.

Knead the dough properly. There's an art to kneading. Too little, and you may not distribute the yeast through the dough. The dough will then be too weak to be able to rise. Too much kneading may make the dough so tough that it cannot expand. The dough should feel smooth and elastic, not tight like a rubber ball, or soft like biscuit dough.

[Edit]Troubleshooting Dough Problems Find the problem. Consider several of the following points to do some preliminary diagnosis. It may be that a simple correction to the environment can fix the problem with no further effort. Check the dough and yeast type. Some sourdough cultures are very slow rising and may need several hours to rise. A Make sure the yeast is still within its expiration date. Powdered yeast in packets last a long time, as does storing jars of dry yeast in the freezer. However, both fresh and dried yeast has a lifespan after which they will function weakly, or not at all.[3] Check the environment. The ideal temperature is approx 100°F (38°C) and high humidity. Move too far out of that range, and your yeast will not be happy. Check the flour types. Breads made with cake or all-purpose flour, have low gluten[4] and protein contents, so your dough may rise—and then collapse. This can also happen if you have a dough that has too high a ratio of water to flour. Some flours contain antifungal ingredients to prolong shelf life. As yeast is a proud member of the Fungi kingdom, this will most definitely inhibit growth. Organic, additive-free unbleached white bread flour works best for a good loaf of white bread. Heavier flours such as whole wheat, rye and other types of whole-grain flour will result in a heavy loaf that does not rise as much as fine white bread flour.[5] Let the dough rest. Do not disturb the dough while it is rising, especially if it is a particularly wet dough.

Use the proper container. The pan, banneton, or tray you use will make a difference. Too large, and the dough has nothing to push against when rising, so won't rise upwards. Instead, it will spread and possibly collapse.[6] Small buns do well placed fairly close together. Check your ingredients. Some spices, such as cinnamon, are naturally anti-fungal. For sweet fruit buns or cinnamon rolls, you usually want a fast rise, as the cinnamon will eventually kill the yeast off. Some dried fruits also are coated with antifungals as a preservative. Organic dried fruits are expensive but much better for baking. What many bakers do is use standard dried fruit but don't add it till the final proofing. Ease up on the salt. Salt is a required ingredient for developing the gluten proteins that make for a smooth elastic dough, but too much will kill the yeast. Add only the required amount, and add it to the flour, not the water, at the beginning.

[Edit]Tips Check the ratio of flour to water. 60:40 flour -to-water is best. Too wet might work fine but it is more likely to spread flat, or rinse well and then collapse. Failed bread dough can be recycled into batters, pastries and other baked products without entirely wasting it. In that case, you would rely on a non-yeast aeration product such as baking powder, bicarb and citric acid, beer, lemonade, soda water, or layering butter as per puff pastry. Test your water and flour periodically. The pH can be an issue: if it's too high, or too low, it will kill the yeast. Test a sample of water alone, and a sample with neutral water mixed with flour in one sample and some of the flour mixed with neutral water and then test with baking soda (for acidity), or vinegar (for alkalinity). If the liquid foams slightly, it means that the pH is unbalanced. If there's no foam, your pH is fine. Note: you can also purchase a pH testing kit at your local pool supply store. Ensure the oven is preheated at least 5 minutes before you need it. Using a pizza stone can also aid heat transfer to the tray or in the loaf is sitting on, or you can put the loaf directly on the hot stone. A lot of bread fails in a cold start oven. The big problem with slow rises for bread is the dough is kneaded to activate gluten and proteins to form a smooth elastic dough. Over time, this relaxes so the dough becomes weak and the bubbles inside it collapse. It's a timing trick to develop and look into to see if your dough weakens before the yeast is ready. You can improve the dough by adding extra gluten or bread improvers, but for gluten-free bread, it is not easily fixed and is simply part of the bread you will have to expect. When you want a fine dough, such as sweet buns or yeast pastries, a slow prove is ideal so it does not have very large bubbles - this is sometimes even done in the fridge overnight. [Edit]Warnings Fixing yeast pastries can be very difficult in some cases, especially if layered with butter like puff pastries for yeast croissants. If you were to re-knead them, you will create a brioche-style dough which can be fine—but if you want that flaky characteristic, you will need to start again. Should all repair attempts fail, you may need to change ingredients entirely and start again. [Edit]Related wikiHows Make Bread from Scratch Knead Dough Make Cinnamon Swirl Bread Make Artisan Bread [Edit]References [Edit]Quick Summary ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

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