Why Didn't My Bread Rise When Baking?

Sliced fresh bread There is nothing more intoxicating than homemade bread.  The warm crusty loaf begs to be cut and slathered with soft butter.  And this treasure doesn't come easily.  It's a labor of love and a sacrifice of...

Sliced fresh bread
Sliced fresh bread

There is nothing more intoxicating than homemade bread.  The warm crusty loaf begs to be cut and slathered with soft butter.  And this treasure doesn't come easily.  It's a labor of love and a sacrifice of time.  And so when the bread doesn't come out just right, it's a major disappointment.  You ask, "Why didn't my bread rise when it was baking?"

There are a couple of possibilities mainly having to do with either the water or the yeast.

Water Problems

1.  Temperature of the water:  If it is too hot, it can kill the yeast.  If it is too cold, the yeast won't grow sufficiently.  You have to find the happy, warm medium.

Solution? The best rule of thumb is to actually stick your thumb (or finger) into the warm water before adding any yeast.  If it is too hot to touch, then it is too hot for your yeast.  You should aim for the water to be 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Chlorinated Water:  If you use municipal water, then you probably have chlorinated water.  We don't usually think of it this way, but yeast is a "bacteria" and chlorine kills bacteria.  This could be one suspect in your unrisen bread.

Solution?  Use bottled or filtered water next time.

Yeast
Yeast

Yeast Problems

1. Age of Yeast:  If your yeast is too old, it won't rise.  So how long ago did you purchase the yeast?

Solution?  You can keep your yeast in a sealed container in the freezer to extend the life of the yeast.

2. Dead Yeast:  If your yeast is dead, it will not grow. Although it takes a little extra time, it is worth testing or proofing your yeast.

Solution?  Proof your yeast before going to all the trouble and expense of mixing the ingredients.  Simply take a small amount of liquid (1/2 cup of water, not the full amount of liquid called for in the recipe because it will dilute the sugar too much and not rise enough), 1 teaspoon of dried yeast, and a quarter teaspoon of granulated sugar.  Stir well and then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.  If the yeast is alive, it will start to bubble, foam, and grow.

3.  Forgotten yeast:  Did you add the yeast?  Sounds stupid, but we are human and sometimes we forget ingredients.

Solution?  Start the yeast and water mixture before you do anything else.  Leave the container right next to your other ingredients so you will be sure to add it.

If you have other baking concerns, contact us.  Cilantro The Cooks Shop carries bread knives, bread pans (even cast iron!), and bread baskets. We can help your next loaf of bread be truly divine!