My no-knead focaccia didn't rise properly in the fridge!

Hi there! I'm a novice bread maker who has only made Mark Bittman's No-Knead Bread before. I'm attempting Alexandra's Kitchen's Focaccia Bread recipe:

The recipe asks for the bread to rise in the fridge overnight. When I took it out today, the rise was less than I expected (less, for example, than when I made Mark Bittman's no-knead bread last week.) I'm trying to figure out why, and my thoughts are:
1) I am using half wheat flour, half all purpose (only because my grocery store was out of all-purpose flour).
2) I used yeast from an already-opened packet of active dry yeast. (I folded the packet closed and stored it in a cupboard for about a week.)
3) I used lukewarm water from the tap and did not follow her directions for mixing boiling water with cool water.

I'm letting my bread rise for another two hours (maybe more) before baking. I'm not sure what to do, though. Should I just toss the dough and start over again? Should I try giving it more time to rise before baking? Would appreciate any insight more experienced bakers have to offer...

Thank you! I appreciate the help.

  • Posted by: sophs
  • March 31, 2020


BakerBren April 1, 2020
You may have already baked this batch, but... As this is focaccia, there's really no need for a long final proof. Much of the volume can be expected from the oven spring in a hot oven. The long fermentation will give good flavor, but the focaccia probably won't rise as much as the loaf you're used to and it doesn't need to. If you're getting any yeast activity at all you should be fine and it won't hurt to let it warm up or proof longer.
sophs April 1, 2020
Awesome--good to know! Thanks for sharing.
Stephanie B. March 31, 2020
I'd go with Erin's recommendation and check if your yeast is still active.

Did your dough rise at all? If so, your yeast is probably still at least a little active. In which case I'd take the dough out and let it keep on doing its thing at room temperature. I've had a couple cold fermentation recipes never take off in the fridge, and giving them more time in a warmer place always fixed it.
sophs March 31, 2020
I'm not sure--it's hard to tell. I'm leaving it on the counter for a while to see. Fingers crossed! It gives me hope that some of your doughs did better in a warmer spot. Thank you! :)
sophs March 31, 2020
Any advice for how long to let it rise for? The original recipe said 18 to 24 hours in the fridge. It's definitely rising on the counter now. It's been out for two hours so far. I'm debating whether to leave it overnight again (but on the counter this time) or just a few more hours.

Thank you for all your help so far! I really appreciate it.
Stephanie B. March 31, 2020
Since it came out fridge cold, it could take 1-2h just to warm up, not to mention then getting a good rise. I'm not sure how long that will take, though from what I know of Alexandra Stafford's bread she calls for a lot of yeast so it might pick up once the dough warms (again, assuming your yeast was good). Your dough should be totally fine back in the fridge though. If you have the time to leave it at room temp longer, do that and see if it starts to rise. If it starts rising but you don't want to bake today, then put it back in the fridge and it will probably be ready to go tomorrow. Once the yeast gets going, I bet you'll still get a good rise in the fridge. My experience with these cold rise recipes is if the yeast wasn't active enough in the first place, it wouldn't rise if the dough was put in the fridge right after mixing the dough. But if I give the yeast some time to work room temp before putting in the fridge, or if I've been very nice to my sourdough starter, it rises in the fridge (usually even just an hour is enough time).
Stephanie B. March 31, 2020
If it doesn't rise at all, then your yeast was bad. You can sort of re-mix your dough and add in fresh yeast, if you can find any. If this seems like too much of a hassle, try making roti or look for a cracker recipe!
sophs March 31, 2020
Awesome! It's rising now, and I do have the time to bake today. I think I'll just leave it at room temperature for a few more hours and then bake later. Do you think that's something that would work? I guess it would be following her recipe to throw it back into the fridge...
Stephanie B. March 31, 2020
Yeah if it's rising and you want some focaccia, bake away! At this point either way would work.
sophs April 1, 2020
I wound up baking it last night, and it turned out wonderfully! Thank you for being a part of this journey, haha. :)
Erin A. March 31, 2020
Hi there! I'll admit I'm no expert bread baker, but I wonder if the yeast may be the culprit here. From what I've read, the best way to store opened yeast is in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer. Perhaps try this test to see if the yeast is still active: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of sugar with 1/2 cup warm water, then stir in 2 1/4 tablespoons yeast. If after 10 minutes, the mixture is bubbling then it's still good; if not, then I'm afraid it may not be fresh. I hope that helps! I bet our community might have some more answers for you, too.
sophs March 31, 2020
I used all the yeast from that packet for this dough, so unfortunately, I can't test it. That's a helpful tip for the future, though--thank you!
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