Bread not rising - what am I doing wrong?

sumnerfanJuly 1, 2011

I have tried twice to make honey oat bread. It didn't rise either time. My yeast does not go out of date until 2012. My water that I added to the yeast was right at 115 degrees. I added a small amount of honey to the yeast water (it never fizzed is it supposed to?) I added ingredients and kneaded in my KA mixer then placed the dough in a stainless bowl on the stove top (not on) with the overhead light on for a little extra warmth. My house is 75 degrees.

I don't know what I am doing wrong? Is my yeast bad? Water too hot? Please help. I really want to make my own bread and this is frustrating and a bit discouraging.


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I always test the Yeast in a cup before I add it to the mixer.

I use the water luke warm, add a spoon of Sugar and the Yeast.

It should start to rise in 5 minutes.

I don't go by the " use by " date.

Hope this helps


    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Perhaps your water is hotter than 115? I would let the water be no higher than 105. Add a pinch of sugar to the warm water, stir well to dissolve it, then add the yeast and stir well. Let it sit about 10 minutes to become frothy. If it doesn't, your yeast may be out of date, no matter what the container says.

How do you store your yeast? Is it a brand new package you just recently purchased? If yes, you might want to return the package from the store where you bought it and ask them how it was stored. I'd get a refund and buy some yeast somewhere else. You are not adding in the salt when you add in the yeast are you? You shouldn't, salt can retard the growing action of the yeast.

Don't give up! You'll get some bread you can be proud of eventually and we will help you!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:02PM
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I suspect your water is too hot and you are killing the yeast.
The water should be about the same temp as your body....perhaps a tad warmer...but not in any way hot.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:21PM
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-When proofing, add the yeast to the water, not water to yeast. The yeast can actually be killed or damaged by the buffeting it takes when the water hits the yeast. Who knew? I paid good money to take a bread making class for this tidbit of information (LOL).

-Have you calibrated your thermometer lately to see if it's accurate?

-The water/sweetener/yeast mixture doesn't "fizz", it "blooms". If you are using from a bulk amount of yeast you can test it, as the others have suggested, to see if it's active. If it's not doubling in volume in the measuring cup, then it won't double your dough.

How to test yeast:
In a 1-cup glass measuring cup, fill it to the 1/4-cup line with warm water. Add 1 t. sugar and 1-1/2 t. yeast. Wait 10-minutes. The mixture should be up to the 1/2-cup line.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:41PM
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I suspect the water is a bit too warm, 105 is about right. Also, yeast will stay fresh longer if stored in the freezer. Sugar and honey will enhance yeast, while salt will act as a reducer.

I use a Delonghi mixer for bread. I heat the water, milk, potato water, etc., perhaps to 115, add to mixer bowel to provide warm environment, then cool to 105, add yeast, sugar/honey, sourdough starter if used, milk or potato water, then flour, salt, etc.

The flour is added 1-2 tbs at a time, until the dough hook picks up the sponge from the bottom of the bowl. I leave the sponge in the bowl, and put the bowl into a microwave oven over my stove - not heated. When dough rises - about 1 hr., punch down.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board, let rest while preparing pans - corn meal, etc. Shape loaves, allow to rise until ready to bake - may take time in cool weather.

Brush loaves with butter, egg, onion, seeds, etc. Bake about 45-50 min. at 350 degrees, until thermometer reads 195, 200 in center of loaf.

Cool on rack. Do not cut until cool.


Just my 2 c's.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:43PM
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I agree, I think the water is too hot, I don't take the temperature of water when I'm baking bread, but I always dropped a bit on the inside of my wrist, like testing a baby's bottle temperature, so I can't give you a temperature, but warmer than body temperature.

I also store my yeast in the freezer and I've never had yeast go bad there, so the next time you buy yeast you might want to stash it in the freezer, just to be safe.

Good luck and keep trying, it'll work!


    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Thanks everybody. I am currently using the yeast that comes in three packs joined together. That's all my grocery store carries. I can pick something different up when I go somewhere else. What should I look for?

Thanks to your advice, I ditched the thermometer and went on touch. This time I yeast did double in volume! So I decided to try another batch. It's in the cold oven hopefully rising now.

Thanks so much for your help. DH and I were racking our brains trying to figure it out. I will report back and let you know how it went.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 8:55PM
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I swear by SAF yeast by LaSaffre Corp. in the red bag. I've used only this yeast for years and it has never failed on me. There is a link to show you what the package looks like.

This is also called an "instant" yeast. The yeast granules are very fine and can be mixed in with the flour, then you add the warm water to the yeast/flour mix and the yeast dissolves instantly.

I buy the one pound package, open it, pour half in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. The other half I keep in the original package, roll down the top tightly, fasten with a rubber band and put the package in a heavy freezer zip bag to store in the freezer.


Here is a link that might be useful: SAF yeast

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 10:22PM
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Thanks Teresa. I may have to get some of that.

So I baked my bread, it did indeed rise. I was happy that I make something besides a brick, but I was a little disappointed in the texture. My bread wasn't light and fluffy like I'd hoped. It was denser and heavier than what I buy. After watching some you tube videos I think my dough was still too wet and that I should have added more flour. It did not pull away from the sides like it should have. I also don't think I let it rise enough in the second round.

Oh well. Rome wasn't build in a day.

Thanks so much for your help.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 12:19AM
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Potato water - instead of plain water or other liquid - can enhance a rise. Also - I noted it sometimes takes a little longer for the 2nd rise - be patient - especially if the weather is cooler or working with sourdough starters.

You can find some interesting recipes - with step-by-step instruction on the King Arthur Flour website.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 3:31AM
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another thing that helped me solve the same problem was to weigh the flour instead of measuring. Seems my measuring was a bit "heavy handed". Since weighing out the flour, my bread is lighter and fluffier. Also extend the proofing time....even though the directions say one hour, it may need to be 90 minutes or even two hours.
Bejay is correct. The King Arthur website has an amazing amount of info and very good tried and true recipes. Check them out.
But even with that info, sometimes it just doesn't happen for me, I just try again. My motto is "a "bad" homemade loaf will beat out a "good" store bought loaf any day of the week!"

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 5:23AM
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I buy yeast in bulk amounts and keep two kinds of yeast in the freezer - Active Dry Yeast and SAF-Instant. I also tend to use the type of yeast called for in a recipe.

Active Dry Yeast is the type developed during WWII and is slower-acting than the instant and fast-acting types of yeast. Fast-Acting Yeast products include SAF-Instant, Rapid-Rise, Quick-Rise, and Bread Machine yeast. SAF-Instant is actually a yeast hybrid - a super-yeast - while the others have been reformulated into smaller particles to allow them to work faster than the original Active Dry Yeast. The Instant/Fast-Acting types of yeast were developed to speed-up bread making. You could rest the dough for 10-minutes, instead of letting it rise to double-in-bulk, then form and pan the dough and allow to rise before baking. Making bread faster is for convenience. Instant/Fast-Acting yeast is essential for the bread machine for the "quick" cycle that makes bread in about an hour. Long, slow methods for making bread develop more flavor and different textures than the fast method. Neither method is right or wrong, but rather a choice you make.

If you use an instant or fast-rising yeast product in a recipe calling for Active Dry Yeast, use 25% less or you'll get dough that rises too fast. And always remember - dough doesn't rise to a clock. Rising times in a recipe are just a good (or bad) guess. Dough rises according to the strength of the yeast, ambient temperature, moisture level in the dough as well as the relative humidity. It rises faster in a warm, humid kitchen than it does in that cold, dry air of the kitchen on a winter day no matter what the recipe indicates.

I've included a link to Baking 911 (a favorite site of mine and a great little book). There is some good general information to be gleaned there about yeast.

When you proof yeast in water/sweetener, the temperature should be between 110-115-degrees F. When yeast is added to a portion of flour the water temperature needs to be hotter because the large amount of ingredients quickly cools the temperature of the water by the time it starts to activate the yeast in the flour mixture. That temperature is 120-130-degrees F.

When you take the temperature of your proofing water, tip the measuring cup to the side so a large section of your thermometer is exposed to the water for an accurate test. When you only place the tip of the thermometer in the small amount of water, you will get an inaccurate read.

Proofing yeast in water that is 100-degrees F or cooler presents a whole new problem. Glutathione will leak out of the yeast cells rapidly in cool water which can cause the dough strength to weaken. I use an instant-read thermometer - not only for the water temperature, but also to judge the loaf for doneness. Internal temperature of a loaf is the only accurate measure for when a loaf is done. Loaf color or "thumping" is an inaccurate standard for judging whether a loaf is done. For instance, honey in a recipe can cause the loaf to brown quicker and develop a deeper brown color than sugar in a recipe, so the color can be deceiving. Panned loaves of bread are done between 195-210-degrees F. Rolls are done between 190-195-degrees F.


Here is a link that might be useful: Baking 911 - Yeast

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 6:17AM
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grainlady - appreciate the "heads-up" - especially about different yeasts. Getting those temps right can be a bit challenging, but I'm beginning to produce some fairly decent breads - (spent most of our cold winter learning).

I use the SAF yeast also and seems to work well.

Another question - some folks mention letting the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight (cold rise), which increases flavor. Would appreciate your thoughts on this and the best method.

I'm working with my own homemade sourdough starter and sometimes I add 1/2 cup of my yogurt - to increase sourness. Don't know what - if any - effect this may have, but I thought the idea might work - especially if I have some leftover yogurt that is especially tart.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 10:25AM
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"Best method" is subjective. It's more important to understand what characteristics each method brings to your bread and let you decide "best". As Shirley Corriher says in her excellent book "CookWise", "Give ten bakers the same flour, yeast, salt, and water and have them make bread with just these ingredients and they will make ten different loaves of bread."

There are three basic methods of breadmaking:
-Straight or direct-mix method (relatively fast method most often used today)
-Sponge Method (all of the liquid, yeast, and part of the flour are beaten together and allowed to ferment - anywhere from 30-minutes to 12-24 hours)
-Naturally-leavened (sourdough or starter)

As a bonus not normally lumped into these standard bread methods, I'll add the No-Knead Bread Method - a modern version of the sponge method made by retarding the mixture in the refrigerator.

Each of these methods impart their own "stamp" on breads. If I want to make light, high-rising loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Flour Bread, and avoid those whole wheat "bricks", I'll use a sponge method which is better suited for this type of bread than using the straight-dough method. Even as little as a 30-minute sponge will improve your bread. "Experts" say the optimum amount is 2-1/2 hours for a sponge. For whole wheat bread I prefer an overnight sponge, but 2-1/2-hours works well enough.

When dough is chilled (retarding the dough), it influences the dough in three ways:
-Enhances the flavor (the yeast goes into dormancy so it no longer consumes all the available sugar and the bacteria present can feed and produce flavorful acids.
-Reduces ovenspring and loaf volume
-Opens texture slightly

There are those wonderful recipes for Cool Rise Bread that helped the busy homemaker in the 1950's. The recipe from Kitchen Aid for "Quick Mix Cool Rise Bread" was very popular.

When it comes to the sourness of your starter, that can determined by the amount of hydration in your mixture. It gets more acidic the less water is in the mix. Once the yeast has consumed the sugar, the yeasts die off. The bacteria have a chance to develop that "sour" taste and will consume the dead yeast and produce lactic acid - the same souring acid found in yogurt and kefir. Adding yogurt is a modern adaptation, but when it comes to starter, they are about as varied as the people making them ;-).

In my grandmother's day, they used starter all the time and never called the bread "sourdough". When the bread took on an acidic flavor we think of as "sourdough" bread, they did what was called "sweetening the pot". They took a tablespoon of the starter, and with consecutive feedings, developed that small into their usual amount of starter for the typical mild-flavored breads they made back then.

Before the advent of fresh and dried yeast products, there were any number of methods for making naturally-leavened bread. "Old dough" (a lump of dough packed into flour and kept cool until the next baking day when it was used to make a starter), homemade yeast products made with hops and cornmeal, dry homemade yeast as well as liquid homemade yeast and starter.... I can make a naturally-leavened bread by using my homemade kefir + flour for the starter. There are lots of friendly bacteria in the kefir and lots of yeast in the whole wheat flour - more than enough to make bread rise.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Thanks for the tips Grainlady! You are a regular bread baking encyclopedia. Very impressive.

I looked up the sponge method and I will try it next time I make bread.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 11:57PM
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I recall my aunt making bread - almost daily on their Dakota farm - sometime around "30's" - and I'm sure she didn't have packages of yeast available. They did raise a lot of potatoes in that part of the country, and her potato bread was superb. I can still remember coming home from school during snowy winter months, to be welcomed by the smell of that heavenly aroma.

Thank you so much for the explanation of the mysteries of bread making. I'm learning, and am quite excited that I am able to make a fairly decent sourdough, multi-grained bread. My curiosity is still there, however, and as I just ordered a lot of multi-grains, rye mixes, yeasts, and unbleached flour - will probably have a chance to increase my "expertise." LOL.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Glad I test the yeast the same as you but that's about where it ends.
You are too much. Glad you do all the researching for me.

I didn't think I'd ever go on a Yeast Thread again,
because on the last one,
I was made to look like the Bad Guy.

Don't even own a Black Cowboy Hat.


Another thing I do; after the Dough is mixed, is to heat the oven for a minute,
( warm, not hot )
Turn it off, place a pan of hot water, on the bottom rack,
Turn the oven light on.

Put a light coat of oil on the dough ball and place it in the oven to Proof, ( rise ).

In the Pizzeria I built a large Proof Box, to hold 100 Pizza Pans.
That incorporated warmth and moisture also.

Good Luck with your Breadmaking !!!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 8:32PM
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Thanks everyone. You have been so very helpful. I did make bread again today. I used two packets of premeasured yeast which I think helped with the rise since I'm making two loaves, and I used a recipe with a sponge from

I didn't use wheat bread flour because I didn't have any. I subbed molasses for honey because I had more and I like to eat honey. It said to let the bread rise 4 times, but I messed up and only let it rise 3. It took at the better part of the day to get it done and I almost overheated my Kitchen Aid trying to get the bread kneaded enough to pass the window pane test. (Thanks for that tip.)

It's in the oven now, so I'm hoping it turns out light, fluffy, wheaty, and nutty. Yum I love bread.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 10:36PM
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