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e_moon60

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Bread Problem [Aug. 19th, 2010|02:47 pm]
e_moon60
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As some of you know, I've been making bread a long time, about forty years now.  I've used those little cakes of yeast (rarer now--very common when I started, to find them in the refrigerated shelves in stores), active dry yeast, "Rapid-Rise" dry yeast, active dry yeast in little brown jars, bulk dry yeast in sealed 1 pound plastic bags, (bought years back from some place in Austin I've now forgotten--it was where I bought flour in bulk.)   I've made bread abroad, using locally available yeast and flour.  With all of those I had no trouble producing good loaves. 

Awhile back, I bought what was supposed to be dry yeast with indefinite shelf storage until opened, a one-pound package.
   It was in a heavy foiled-paper packet.   The first batch of bread--the same brown bread recipe I've used for years, with flour that had worked perfectly in the previous batch (with packeted active dry yeast)  did not do well.  There's always an adjustment period from one kind of yeast to another (especially the shift from cake yeast to dry yeast)  but I didn't expect a problem with this yeast.    And yet...it's acting a bit like "weak" yeast.   Although it  bubbles up in the initial mix,  and feels normal during kneading, the "lift" doesn't keep going.   The first rising of dough goes soft before it's as big as usual.   Second rising can look normal, but does not even hold in the oven, let along give that final "puff" that a good dough gives.   The top of the loaf "crumples"  before the bread is baked. I've made three batches with it now, and all have behaved the same way.   Flavor is fine, texture--though denser than usual--is even, indicating that the yeast is acting evenly throughout the dough, just insufficiently.

My next step will be increasing the amount of yeast in a batch to see if that's the problem--it's just not as "strong".   But too much yeast in a recipe (if it's normal yeast) creates other problems.   However, I'd be interested in others' ideas on what might be wrong, and what might be the best way to handle it.   And, if you know a brand of bulk yeast that holds its oomph for long shelf-storage before opening, I'd love to know it.  
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: elentarien
2010-08-19 08:17 pm (UTC)
You know. . .I'm really glad to hear you're having that trouble. rotflol Ok, not that you're having trouble, exactly. But I've been having the same issues with my breads and I was wondering if it was something *I* was doing wrong. I only started making breads last year, so I'm still quite inexperienced, and when things don't work out as expected. . .its puzzling as well as frustrating.

We also buy the 1 pound packs of yeast in the foil you've described. We keep it in the freezer even before its open so it should - in theory - keep indefinitely. (And supposedly, if its frozen, its supposed to stay good even longer, even after opening.) Yet only about half my attempts work out the way they should.

I have learned that weather can effect how your bread turns out. Mine does far better on a warm sunny day than a cold, overcast day (although, in the summer, on a hot day, who wants to turn the oven on?). And I've learned that putting less flour in helps. For some reason *all* my recipes, even old favourite cookie recipes demand less flour since we moved to this location. Something about the elevation, perhaps.

So, yeah, putting a little more yeast in, and a little less flour does seem to help, along with more kneading. But if you discover what's going on with this type of yeast, I would LOVE to hear more above it. Would be nice if I didn't turn out so many solid bricks of bread.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-19 08:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree about weather affecting bread dough. Warm and dry--bread to the sky. Cold and wet--denser yet. But it's hot and dry here now, and I'm putting the bread to rise in the un-airconditioned utility room, which is my summer spot for bread--temps around 90F and it rises strongly and keeps going.

It just occurred to me, hearing your identical problem, that this yeast probably does not sell through quickly and thus spends a lot of time in warehouses--which may or may not be held at temps where active dry yeast will do well. It may also have been held longer in warehouse storage than yeast packets are. Some of the yeast may have died. That would explain the results we're both getting, and it indicates that the manufacturer has a problem. So, if I find that it takes twice as much yeast for the same size batch, I'll write the manufacturer and see what it says. I think it's significant that you froze yours and I didn't freeze mine and we had the same results.

In terms of yeast-flour ratios, "more yeast" is the same as "less flour". Because I want a batch of a certain size, I'm going to try more yeast. With my test batches tomorrow, I'm going to increase by half the amount I'm used to and see what happens.

What elevation are you? Elevation has a definite influence on baked goods; some books give advice on adapting recipes to higher elevations. I'm down in the "never mind" levels, at 1000 feet.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-19 08:57 pm (UTC)
What do you mean by "large?" I've used Fleischman's in the brown jar (it's got about 16 tablespoons of yeast in it, which for me is 8 batches of bread.) And once open, I keep it in the refrigerator. I've never seen a larger jar of it. ("It comes in pints?") It's not carried in the local store that way (they do carry packets, but often run out at the same time I do) and the nearest store where I can count on getting it is in the next town down the Interstate. So I was hoping to find a bulk yeast that would last me longer between trips.

This pound packet is a lot more than what's in the brown jars I've bought (I was wishing I'd kept some of the old brown jars, to pour this into, as it's not that convenient as is) and it's in the fridge now.

The labeling doesn't mention the need for bread flour--I did read it, though the teeny-tiny print was a pain. I think, after reading the first comment, that since it's acting like overaged or "weak" yeast for both of us, it probably *is* overaged and thus "weak" yeast.

It is a Fleischman's product, too, though it's not labeled in the familiar red and yellow on the front...that's down somewhere in the product-info block.

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[User Picture]From: timill
2010-08-19 09:14 pm (UTC)
In my limited experience, I've found that water temperature was critical to getting the best from the yeast (Kroger's, in jars, in my case).

Maybe different yeasts like different temperatures?

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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2010-08-19 09:31 pm (UTC)
I remember MY first try at making bread.
I killed the yeast by not letting the scalded milk cool long enough before stirring in the yeast.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-19 10:24 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth,

We buy a two lb bag of Red Star active dry yeast from Costco. S. decants a small amount into an old brown yeast jar and keeps that in the fridge. The remainder of the bag goes into the freezer. We make whole grain bread primarily, but also challah (still working out the ratios) and occasionally white bread (which tastes nothing like store-bought white). No one here likes overly dense bread.

Sari
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-19 11:17 pm (UTC)
I found one of my old brown yeast jars...and what a good idea to keep the larger amount in the freezer. I wonder if I can get Red Star anywhere BUT Costco...
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-19 11:16 pm (UTC)
I've used bread flour, but actually prefer most of my recipes made with all-purpose flour. (Bread flour for sourdough, though, definitely. It's just that I kill sourdough starters the same way I kill indoor plants.)

I have no idea what the brand of bulk dry yeast I used...um...about 35-40 years ago was. It worked beautifully. If this stuff I've got now really does need more yeast/batch, I'll try Red Star next time, if I can find it.

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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2010-08-19 11:42 pm (UTC)
This thread is making me long for homemade bread, that I haven't made in a year or more. But I am NOT going to turn on the oven for at least another month! Maybe I'll see if I can find the little mixer paddles in one or another of the kitchen drawers, and fire up the bread machine...

When I made a lot of bread in the machine, I routinely added a tablespoon of gluten per cup of flour; it made the machine results much more reliable.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-20 03:54 am (UTC)
I know people say they buy gluten, but I look at the shelves and don't see it. It should be in the baking aisle, right? But I have no idea what the package should look like and thus probably stare without seeing it.

The thing is, when I've had happy yeasts, I've never had a problem getting the bread to stand up and stay up...I'd use extra gluten in breads that use non-wheat flours, like rye breads (and I'd make them more often if they didn't resemble bricks), but never felt the need for it with wheat flours.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2010-08-20 12:16 am (UTC)
I'm no expert, but it sounds to me like only some of your yeast is alive when you're cooking it, making it seem "weak". There're bound to be other brands that take better care to keep their yeast alive during storage & transit.

But imo putting anything into a cryogenic state is bound to affect its energy output once restored. If I were freshly unfrozen/restored, I'd probably want a day to recover before I started working; not sure if this applies to yeast. ;D
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-20 03:50 am (UTC)
Certainly when I've frozen dough to use later, it takes awhile to "wake up." I've done it two ways--bringing down to the refrigerator for a slow "waking" overnight (it's still a cold lump, like refrigerated dough, but it's not hard anymore) and then onto the baking sheet in a warm place until it's risen enough, and straight from freezer to baking sheet, all the rising done in one session.

I've never frozen yeast; I think I'd put it in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
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From: 6_penny
2010-08-20 01:55 am (UTC)
You might try mail order from King Arthur Flour. I've found their quality to be consistently good.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-20 05:27 am (UTC)
The yeast I use comes in a foil package. It is a commercial yeast and the directions say to put it in the flour for 30seconds or more then add the water into the flour mix.
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[User Picture]From: ziactrice
2010-08-20 12:51 pm (UTC)
I don't use commercial yeast except for loaves that must be done while I'm gone - those get bread machine yeast and bread machine baking.

My sourdough yeast, that is about a decade old now is easy, though. I dry out tablespoons-full spread on wax paper, and crumble the resultant wafer-cracker into a glass jar and freeze it so I do not have to keep a sponge alive all the time. (And as backup for if my sponge goes bad). Regardless of all this, I've always had good luck using my mother's secret: potato water. Instead of proofing in scalded-then-cooled milk, or some such, I always use water from formerly-boiled potatoes. Works like a charm. I've never had a bad batch that was due to yeast.

I did set the bread machine out on the patio once, though, and it over-rose and baked unto the door. What a mess!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-20 01:12 pm (UTC)
Back when I worked on the volunteer ambulance crew, I had to quit making bread...because of one particular ambulance call. I had just put the bread dough down for first rising, when we had a call that ended up taking several hours. I came home to a smell of fermentation and the sight of my dough, vastly over-risen, bulging out of the big dough bowl, over the side, over the counter, down the front of the kitchen cabinets, and onto the floor. All bubbly-yeasty and impossible to recover as actual dough. And a mess and a half.
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