Bread baking in the Caribean

Hey everybody,
I'm a long time baker and can't remember the last time I had a problem making my own loafs of bread, until now. I recently moved to the Caribbean, more specifically Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and run a home pastry business. while quick bread type sweets seem to bake up mostly the same, I have an outstandingly hard time making anything out of yeast based doughs. (I have already tried switching yeast in hopes mine had gone bad,which wasn't the case, and can't get my hands on fresh yeast down here) The dough just doesn't rise even when i give it 4xs or more of the rest time asked, even then it turns out slightly puffed but slack and spread out. The dough also requires so much more flour than a recipe calls ,which I believe might have something to do with the humidity and that my house isn't climate controlled. I've talked to other baking friends who live at the highest altitude on the island and find they have the same problem. should i add more yeast to accommodate the extra flour?What do I have to change so I can continue enjoying tasty fresh bread which is almost impossible to find on this island?

Thanks everyone!

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Susan
Susan August 26, 2014

I'm not sure where you moved from, but with the extra humidity you may have to experiment with the idea of yeast overgrowth. Reducing ants of yeast and/or sugar could help.

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Maedl
Maedl August 26, 2014

There is a discussion on King Arthur Flour's website about bread baking in high humidity:
http://community.kingarthurflour.com/content/adjusting-bread-recipes-hothumid-weather

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CookOnTheFly
CookOnTheFly August 26, 2014

King Arthur flour will definitely lead you in the right direction. I used to live in Hawaii and dealt with the same problem. You can contact them directly via their website.

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skenny89
skenny89 August 28, 2014

Thank you so much for your help!

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ChezHenry
ChezHenry September 6, 2014

I grew up in Bermuda, and have owned a business in the Caribbean for a number of years. More yeast is not the answer! I also doubt that the elevation is an issue, as while there are some heights in the Caribbean, Tortola's elevations shouldn't create altitude baking issues. Make sure the yeast you are getting is alive and viable-there are a few simple tests on the internet to tell you how to do this. As you're well aware, the heat compounded with the potential of a container sitting on the dock awaiting delivery, can be disastrous to imported foods in the islands. Humidity/heat issues will generally cause breads to over-rise, not under rise. I think your issue is the yeast.
There's a wonderful bakery in Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, called Upper Crust Bakery. They actually will deliver baguettes/baked goods to your hotel or the beach! They bake a mean baguette-and are very nice people to boot. I'd advise you contact them directly and ask for some assistance-they are experienced bakers working under the same conditions. [email protected] is their email.

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skenny89
skenny89 September 10, 2014

Thank you ChezHenry for all the extra information. I will definately look up the bakery you listed. I've also gone on the King Aurthur boards as listed above and found reducing the amount of yeast and liquid has work out alright. Once again thanks to everybody for the help and tips.

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