Baking bread can be a rewarding experience, but things don’t always go according to plan. One of the most aggravating situations is when bread dough does not rise as it should. Several factors may contribute to this issue, but do not be alarmed!
This article will provide the possible causes of uncooperative dough and effective solutions to ensure that your bread turns out light, airy, and delicious.
What Is Bread Dough?
Dough for making bread is a combination of ingredients. It is the initial phase of bread-making in which flour, water, yeast, and other ingredients are mixed and kneaded into a cohesive and elastic mass. The dough functions as the bread’s foundation, providing the structure and texture that will develop during fermentation and baking.
As the yeast in the dough consumes the carbohydrates and generates carbon dioxide gas, the dough ferments and expands. This confined gas contributes to the bread’s airy and light texture. Once the dough has sufficiently raised, it is shaped into the desired shape and then baked, yielding freshly baked bread as the final product.
Why Doesn’t My Bread Raise?
Here are some reasons why bread doesn’t raise:
1. The Yeast Is Too Old
If the yeast you are using has expired, likely, it will not rise well, if at all. Yeast is a microorganism with an established lifespan. Always use yeast before its “best by” date for optimal results.
Always proof yeast prior to incorporating it into bread dough to ensure that it is fully activated.
2. The Water Is Too Hot
Ensure that the water temperature you use to verify your yeast is appropriate. Our Test Kitchen suggests using water between 105 and 115°F. Anything hotter than that would destroy the yeast and its ability to rise.
3. It’s Too Cold
It is a pleasure to bake bread during the summer. The dough rises wonderfully in conditions of high humidity and warmth. But it can be a true challenge to get the energy you need in a cooler home during the winter. Yeast thrives in temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, ideal for rising doughs.
If your kitchen is too cool, the yeast will not be able to help the dough rise properly. If you don’t want to increase the temperature while proofing your bread, several methods induce the dough to rise when it’s cold. The simplest method for proofing bread in a chilly oven is to place the bread dough and a pan of boiling water in the oven while the oven is turned off. The heat and vapor generated by the water transform the oven into a proofing chamber.
In general, however, bread dough requires patience. If you are unfamiliar with bread preparation, you may be surprised by how long bread dough needs to rise.
4. Too Much Salt
Salt is another fungicide. While most bread recipes call for a small amount of salt, an excess of it can inhibit the yeast’s ability to perform its function. To prevent salt from hindering the bread-baking process, measure meticulously and never combine yeast and salt in the same mixing bowl.
5. Too Much Sugar
Most of the time, sweet doughs need more time to rise. This is because sugar soaks up the liquid in the dough, and the same liquid yeast needs to grow. If there is excessive sugar in the dough, it will likely consume nearly all the food the yeast requires, leaving you with dry, ineffectual yeast.
To counteract this, ensure that sweet doughs, such as those used for cinnamon rolls or babka, have ample time to rise. Additionally, you can use a type of yeast intended specifically for sugary doughs. If you intend to make something delectable, look for osmotolerant yeast (yeast that doesn’t require as much liquid) at the supermarket. Discover how to prepare a stunning cinnamon-swirled babka.
6. Too Much Flour
The key takeaway from this is that an excess of any constituent, including flour, can hinder the rise of bread. A dough made with too much flour will be dry and hard. We all know what happens when there is insufficient liquid for the yeast to use: it does not function properly. Observe your measurements and the amount of flour the dough absorbs during kneading. The dough should be slightly elastic and slightly tacky.
The best advice from Our Test Kitchen for ensuring that your measurements are accurate is: Utilize household scales.
7. Using Whole Grains
Adding more grains to your diet is beneficial, but adding more grains to bread can be a hassle. The white flour used in most bread recipes produces the gluten filaments that give bread its airy texture. However, whole wheat and alternative flours do not produce gluten as readily or at all. Without gluten, bread lacks the same volumetric expansion.
That does not mean, however, that you should avoid baking with various types of flour (who doesn’t enjoy rye bread or multigrain toast?). Use a recipe designed specifically for alternative flours to achieve the desired rise.
8. The Exterior Is Too Dry
For bread to rise properly, the dough must be kept damp. If a crust forms on the dough after it has been allowed to rise, it can be challenging for the bread to rise in the oven.
Cover your dough with plastic wrap, a reusable wax wrap, or a damp tea towel to maintain moisture and elasticity. Spritz the dough lightly with cooking spray if you’re concerned about it adhering.
9. Using the Wrong Pan
Even if you measure, confirm, and knead your bread properly, it may not rise to the desired height. Verify that you are using the appropriate pan size in this instance.
Most yeast bread recipes require an 812″ x 4 12″ pan. This enables them to attain the ideal sandwich height and square shape. Ensure you’re not using a 9-by-5-inch pan, typically used for quick loaves. If you bake your yeasted bread in this larger pan, the bread will still rise, but it will be wider and shorter—not an attractive appearance for a BLT!
What To Do If Bread Dough Does Not Rise?
Turn up the temperature to 80–90 °F (27–32 °C). The ideal environment for yeast growth and dough proofing is a mild, humid. If you want your dough to rise, you must increase the oven’s temperature and create a proofing box with the optimal humidity (75%) for it to rise.
- Place a casserole dish filled with boiling water on the lowest oven rack. Place the dough container on the middle oven rack, close the oven door, and allow the dough to rise.
- Alternatively, you can boil a cup of water, place the dough container in the microwave with the scalding water, and close the door. (Avoid microwaving the dough!)
- Some individuals preheat the oven and position the dough on the stove, covered with a wet towel. The oven keeps the stove’s surface warm, while the damp cloth provides moisture.
Add more yeast. You can try introducing more yeast if warm and moist conditions are insufficient to activate the yeast.
- Mix one teaspoon of yeast with 1 cup (240ml) of tepid water (approximately 110°F/43°C) and one tablespoon of sugar in a freshly opened package of yeast. Allow this mixture to ferment for 10 minutes or until there is 1/2 to 1 inch of foam. If this does not succeed, you must obtain new yeast and attempt again.
- Warm the flat dough to approximately 75–90 °F (24–32 °C) by positioning the bowl in a warm location during the proofing of this yeast mixture.
Blend in the starter. Adding more flour as needed: a ratio of 60% flour to 40% liquid is typically a suitable ratio for bread doughs, so add sufficient flour to balance. Knead the yeast mixture into the dough, and then position the dough to rise in a warm, humid environment.
- This can also indicate whether or not your yeast is active. This method makes the yeast extremely active so that it will rise flawlessly when added to the dough. If your dough does not rise despite adding yeast, there is a problem other than the yeast.
- Next time you create a different yeast dough, you can do this at the beginning of the recipe.
Knead in more flour. Determine whether or not the dough is tacky. This dough is likely under-kneaded if this is the case. Add flour and knead until the dough is smooth, velvety, and no longer adheres to your hands. In a warm, moist environment, permit rest and growth. As required, repeat. Before forming and baking the dough, you may need to let it settle overnight.
Knead the dough properly. Kneading requires skill. Too little yeast may not be distributed evenly throughout the batter. The dough will subsequently be too weak to raise. Too much kneading can make the dough so dense that it cannot rise. The dough should be smooth and elastic, not firm like a rubber ball or malleable like biscuit dough.
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