Bread not rising, dammit.

I'm in Atlanta, where it is very humid, and I've tried twice now to make the Lahey/Bittman loaf. It only rises about halfway. The dough is much stickier than when I made it in Chicago. Could it be the humidity? What do I do? Increase the 1/4 tsp of yeast to 1/2? Add more flour? I have no idea. It's the only bread I've ever made that turns out perfectly every time. Until now.

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ChefJune
ChefJune July 22, 2011

Bread usually rises like crazy in high humidity, so I'm guessing your yeast is not at full strength. Have you tested it?

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sarabclever
sarabclever July 22, 2011

I would agree--when my dough is slow to rise I put a cup of boiling water in the microwave, put in the dough, and shut the door to create a humid environment and it always does the trick. I always store my yeast in the fridge to help shelf life. If it is so hot and humid, and it is an older batch, maybe it went bad before the use by date?

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Rivka
Rivka July 22, 2011

I would agree with ChefJune here - sounds like your yeast might be dead. If the dough is too sticky, certainly add a bit more flour to compensate for the humidity. I'm in DC, where it's mighty wet, and I tend to add about 1-2 extra oz of flour to the standard Lahey recipe if it's really humid (that's around 1/4 of a cup).

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Frontalgirl
Frontalgirl July 22, 2011

I'm so glad to see this question! I'm having the same problem! I've tried different packs of yeast and it still ends up looking like thick pancake batter. I'll be following this with great interest.

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Helen's All Night Diner

Great answers! If you don't bake often, buy enough fresh yeast when you need it. I usually have a jar in the refrigerator. I learned long ago to write the date I opened it on the lid with a Sharpie. I do that with most of my condiments, spices, baking powder, etc. Great way to keep track of the 8 bottles of mustard you have because your husband thinks we ran out...

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Kitchen Butterfly
Kitchen Butterfly July 22, 2011

Is the proving time long enough? Try overnight in the fridge and then a couple of knead-proof cycles. Last week, I mixed up some dough - it didn't rise, so I binned it. I woke up the next morning to find the bin full of risen dough - I was gutted!

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Frontalgirl
Frontalgirl July 22, 2011

The recipe calls for letting rise for 12 to 18 hours. And i should note that i went out and bought a whole new strip of yeast.
Also, how do you prove instant yeast?

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ChefJune
ChefJune July 22, 2011

@Frontalgirl: sad to say that yeast you just bought might have sat in a truck in 105 degree heat, (like we had today) for a day or two and not have been usable when you bought it. It's happened before. :(

You test out instant yeast the same way you do any other. Water and a little sugar to feed it.

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Frontalgirl
Frontalgirl July 22, 2011

Chefjune, thank you! Always wondered about the proofing. I'm gonna check those little suckers out now.

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Frontalgirl
Frontalgirl July 22, 2011

Well....nothing like watching your yeast doing the dead man's float! I'm pitching all of it. Lesson learned, thanks to my favorite peeps!

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Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser July 22, 2011

Apologies for the spam -- we're working to track it down.

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