There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of baking your own bread, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You followed the recipe to a tee, but your dough didn’t rise as expected.
You may be wondering, “If my dough didn’t rise, can I still use it?” The answer is not a straightforward yes or no. While a well-risen dough is essential to creating light and fluffy bread, there are still ways to salvage a dough that hasn’t risen.
So, let’s explore the different options you can consider repurposing it and find out why it didn’t rise. If you’ve found yourself with a stubborn, flat dough, read on to discover whether or not you can still use it for your baking needs.
It is not worth baking it as is if the dough hasn’t risen, as it will be too dense to eat. You can also roll it out very thin and make flatbreads or pizzas out of it.
The dough may also rise if more active yeast is dissolved in warm water and mixed into it. Let’s discuss it!
How Dough Rises?
It’s frustrating to come back to your dough and find it hasn’t risen. It can be even more frustrating if you can’t figure out why it didn’t rise!
In order to troubleshoot why your dough did not rise, it is helpful to understand how the dough rises. The unrisen dough should not be baked, as previously mentioned.
This is because the air bubbles that form when yeast rises to ensure that the final product is moist and light. We will be left with a denser dough if this chemical reaction does not take place.
The ingredient “active dry yeast” is often included in bread recipes, and it is essential to raise your dough. What does the “active” part of this name mean? Yeast is a living organism!
Like all living organisms, yeast must thrive and eat to survive. When you make bread, yeast consumes or feeds on sugar from the dough, a process known as fermentation.
Understanding how the dough rises depends on this crucial step. The fermentation process produces pockets or bubbles of air.
When you make bread, gluten is formed when the proteins in your flour combine with water. There is plenty of room for the air bubbles to grow since gluten is quite stretchy.
In order to facilitate this expansion of gluten and the creation of many air bubbles in your dough, it is very important to properly knead your dough.
What To Do With Unrisen Dough?
Even if your dough is completely flat, it’s still usable. Baking it as is will result in a very dense brick of bread, which isn’t very satisfying to eat, so you must be creative.
Consider the options below if you haven’t already thrown it away so that you don’t waste it.
1. Turn Up The Temperature To 80–90 °F (27–32 °C)
A warm, moist environment encourages yeast growth and dough-proofing. You can create a proof box in your oven if you need to raise your dough by cranking up the temperature and setting the ideal humidity (75%).
- Fill a baking pan with boiling water and set it on the lowest rack in your oven. Place the dough container on the middle rack and close the oven door to let it rise.
- If you prefer, you can simmer a cup of water in the microwave, then place the dough container with the water in the microwave and close the door. Please don’t microwave the dough!
- It is also possible to bake the dough on a stovetop, cover it with a damp towel, and turn on the oven afterward. It keeps warm with the oven heating the stovetop and the damp towel moistening it.
2. Add Active Yeast
Usually, when your dough does not rise, it’s because the yeast isn’t good and can’t produce enough gas. You should get new yeast and mix it back into the dough to fix the problem.
This involves getting some warm water, adding some new yeast, and adding sugar or honey if you wish. Add enough water to dissolve the yeast completely.
Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to see if it’s active (it should bubble and rise to the surface. If not, it’s not active) before pouring it over the dough. Keeping this in a bowl will help you avoid a messy situation.
When the water and yeast mixture is mixed, you should squeeze everything together with your hands. The liquid should be fully incorporated after around 5 minutes of work.
You can knead in more flour if it’s still wet after this time until it becomes more manageable. It is time to cover the dough and allow it to rise until it has doubled in size. You can then continue with the recipe.
3. Make Flatbread
Making flatbread from the dough would be a great idea. The recipe shouldn’t be used to recreate thicker flatbreads, such as naan or pita, but can be used for bread like chapati or tortillas. The flatbread will become tough if it is made too thick.
Roll out portions of your dough as thin as possible on a lightly floured surface in order to make flatbread. Getting them thinner will speed up the cooking process.
You have two options for cooking them from here. The bread can either go in your oven on a baking tray/pizza stone or be cooked in a skillet. My personal preference is to cook them in a skillet so the browning will be better.
If you’re cooking with your oven, set it to its highest setting, so it cooks as quickly as possible. Pizza stones are ideal and should be preheated in the oven, but if you do not have one, you can use a thick baking tray.
You can place the thinly rolled dough on the stone or baking tray after heating the oven for 30-60 minutes and then bake it. It could take between 2 and 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough.
Preheat your skillet until it’s lightly smoking over medium-high heat. In the meantime, add a thin layer of oil to the pan, lay the dough in it, and cook for 2 to 6 minutes, flipping once or twice during this period.
4. Make Pizza
You can substitute flatbread with pizza because who doesn’t like pizza? Even though it requires a little more preparation, this method produces some pretty tasty thin-crust pizza. This wouldn’t work with thick-crust pizza because it’s too tough.
Roll out each dough ball until it is very thin after separating it into individual balls. Once it is ready, you can cover it with sauce and cheese and bake it for 30-60 minutes in your preheated oven.
Pizza stones work best, but a baking tray will work as well. Bake for 2-6 minutes until the crust hardens, and the cheese melts. Alternatively, you can cook the base in a skillet for a few minutes before broiling it to melt the cheese.
5. Give It More Time
Although it might seem like your dough hasn’t done anything, you might just need to give it more time. It is possible that your dough won’t rise at the same rate as what is called for in the recipe because each kitchen environment is unique.
The recipe may say to leave it to rise for an hour, but yours may require two or more hours to double in size. The key to getting the rising timing right is experience.
You won’t be able to tell when the bread dough is ready if you’ve never made it before. You should be able to tell when it’s done if you make it often. The dough will rise faster if you put it in a warm place.
The dough should rise faster if you put it in the oven with just the light on, as this heat will make the yeast more active and allow it to produce gas faster.
Reasons Why Your Dough Didn’t Rise
When you make a mistake, you need to learn what went wrong to avoid repeating it. Whenever you make a mistake, it allows you to improve.
So, don’t brush it off as if it wasn’t there, or you might make it again. There are several reasons why your dough didn’t rise. They are as follows.
The yeast won’t be able to do anything if it is dead, so don’t expect any rise. Be sure to test your yeast in a cup of warm water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.
Stir it into the water with a pinch of sugar or honey (optional), then wait for five to ten minutes and watch for activity. Yeast is good to use if it rises and bubbles. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy new yeast or try again.
Yeast can be dead for various reasons, including being old and dying with time or being exposed to too hot water. In order to keep the yeast alive and active, water should not exceed 100°F (37°C).
Testing For Yeast
You can ensure your yeast is still active by adding one extra step before baking if you didn’t date the package. A teaspoon of yeast should be mixed into slightly warm water (not hot). Give it about 15 minutes to set.
Small air bubbles should appear on the surface of your mixture when you examine it. There should be air bubbles if you don’t see any. Inactive yeast is usually evident by the lack of air bubbles.
In that case, you will need fresh yeast before you can resume baking. Adding a teaspoon of sugar should help activate fresh yeast if it fails to react with warm water.
The Dough Was Too Dry
A lack of water will prevent yeast from moving freely in the dough, meaning the dough won’t be able to rise.
When too much flour is added to the dough, it tends to dry out. You’re probably drying your dough out at least a little if you’re kneading it in extra flour.
The best way to ensure a consistent and reliable result is to always use weight measurements, as using too much flour when using volume measurements is easy. To prevent adding too much extra flour when kneading, use weight measurements.
Too Much Salt Or Sugar
The salt and sugar limit the speed at which yeast can work, resulting in a slower rise of the dough. You could make bread slightly faster if you left out salt or sugar (but the bread would taste awful).
It is important to add just enough flour to control how quickly the dough rises. When you add too much yeast, sugar, and salt, the yeast competes for the water in the dough, putting the yeast at a disadvantage.
If you use too much of either of these ingredients, the yeast cells will be dried out, resulting in their death. And, of course, your bread can’t rise if the yeast is dead.
Again, volume measurements can cause this problem. To avoid this mistake, you should weigh your ingredients.
Make Sure Your Dough Is Properly Covered
A damp towel or plastic wrap will help keep your dough moist. By doing so, the dough’s surface will not become too dry, which will affect its rising and texture. In order for the dough to rise properly, it should be covered in an airtight container.
When you bake your bread, the temperature of the environment plays an important role in the rise of the dough. The dough rises best at warmer temperatures. Warm temperatures are ideal for yeast since it is a living organism.
Summer temperatures may cause your dough to rise faster than in the winter, depending on where you live. In order for the dough to rise effectively, the temperature in your home is most certainly important.
You may need to raise the thermostat before you begin preparing the dough to ensure that the dough has enough time to rise in cooler conditions.
Temperatures between 80- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for the dough to rise. It is not always possible to achieve these temperatures since room temperatures generally fall below them.
You should not let your dough rise near a draft or a fan when you let it rise at room temperature on the counter.
As far as temperature is concerned, one other important thing to keep in mind is that active dry yeast should be dissolved in warm water with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar.
Following the yeast package’s exact temperatures if you want your dough to rise properly. You should be able to measure the water’s temperature with a simple kitchen thermometer between 110- and 115-degrees Fahrenheit.
The yeast will die if the liquid is too hot, resulting in a flattened dough. Likewise, liquids that are too cool will not work since yeast requires warm conditions to grow.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, “if my dough didn’t rise, can I still use it?” is a resounding yes. While it may be disappointing to see your dough fail to rise, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to throw it out and start all over again.
Several factors can cause dough not to rise properly, including temperature, yeast activity, and the quality of your ingredients. However, with some adjustments and a little patience, you can salvage your dough and still create a delicious final product.
So, don’t be discouraged next time you encounter a dough that didn’t rise. Instead, troubleshoot the issue, make the necessary adjustments, and enjoy your delicious baked goods.