Have you ever tried to bake bread dough that hasn’t risen? If you haven’t, then you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that it is possible.
I was making pizza dough recently and wanted to use up some leftover flour. I had only used half of the amount of flour called for in the recipe. The dough was supposed to rise for an hour before being rolled out.
When I put the dough into the oven, it didn’t rise at all. It looked like a flat piece of dough instead of a ball. I thought maybe the temperature wasn’t high enough. So I turned the oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
After 15 minutes, I checked the dough again. It hadn’t risen at all. I decided to try another method. Instead of baking the dough, I would let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This time, the dough rose beautifully!
The next day, I baked the dough as usual. When I took it out of the oven, there were no holes or cracks on top. My husband said he could even taste the difference between this new-style dough and regular yeast bread. He also liked how much lighter the crust tasted than other types of bread.
So if your dough isn’t rising after one hour, don’t give up hope just yet.
If your dough hasn’t risen, don’t bake it as is since it will be too dense to eat. You may instead stretch it out extremely thinly and bake it like a flatbread or pizza. You may also dissolve extra active yeast in warm water and mix it into the dough to check whether it rises.
You can also add more liquid to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out while waiting for it to rise.
The unripened dough should not be thrown away because it has been sitting around for hours. In fact, the unrisen dough is perfect for using in recipes such as:
Active yeast helps raise dough by producing carbon dioxide gas which causes bubbles to form inside the dough. However, if the dough sits without any additional ingredients added, the yeast dies off over time. Therefore, adding fresh yeast to the dough every few days keeps the yeast alive so that the dough continues to rise.
To revive dead yeast cells, simply place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup lukewarm water mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 teaspoons of instant dried milk powder and stir well. Cover tightly; refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Use within 24 hours.
To test whether the yeast mixture has revived, take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and sprinkle onto a small portion of plain white flour sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Wait 10 seconds, then gently push down the surface of the batter with your finger. If you see tiny air pockets forming under the surface, the yeast mixture is still viable. If not, discard and start over.
Flatbread made from unripe dough is delicious when served hot right out of the oven. But once cooled, the texture becomes chewy rather than soft and tender. For best results, wait until the dough has fully ripened before rolling it out.
Then cut the finished product into slices and serve immediately. For example, spread some olive oil on both sides of each slice of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sliced bread on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the bread for 12 to 14 minutes per side, turning halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter. Serve immediately.
To make flatbread, follow these steps:
1. Mix together all the ingredients except the baking soda. The amount of water needed depends on the type of flour used. Start with less water and gradually increase the quantity until the dough comes together easily. Knead briefly to develop gluten strands. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape each piece into a round loaf shape. Roll one-half of the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to create a thin circle. Transfer the rolled dough to a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the dough into eight wedges. Cut along the scored lines, leaving the center intact. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
3. Brush the bottom crusts with egg wash. Top each crust with cheese, herbs, olives, etc., according to taste Fold the edges up around the filling. Press firmly to seal. Lightly dust the top of the loaves with flour.
4. Invert the loaves onto a floured peel placed directly on the countertop. Slide the loaves onto the middle rack of the preheated oven. Reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes.
Pizza can be baked as soon as the dough balls are formed. However, if they have been sitting too long, they will become tough.
To prevent that problem, form the pizza dough just prior to using it. Then cover the shaped pizzas loosely with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for several days. This allows the flavors to blend more thoroughly. When ready to use, remove the wrapped pizzas from the fridge and allow them to come back to room temperature while preparing toppings.
When making pizza, follow these steps: Form the dough into balls or rounds. Cover the shaped pizzas loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours before topping. Toppings should be applied within 1 hour of shaping. If you want your pizza cooked longer, place it under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes.
If you need to give the dough time to rise further, do so by placing it in a warm spot away from drafts. Or put the covered bowl containing the risen dough inside another container filled with hot tap water. Do not leave the rising dough unattended; check frequently to see whether it has doubled in size.
Even if it appears that your dough hasn’t done anything, it’s possible that you only need to give it a little more time. Because everyone’s kitchen is different, your dough may not rise at the same rate as the recipe suggests. If the recipe calls for an hour of rising time, it may take 2 or more hours for yours to double in size and be ready.
It’s all about practice when it comes to getting the rising time just perfect. You won’t know when the dough is done rising if you’ve never made bread before. If you make it frequently, you should be able to tell when it’s done.
The first thing to try is checking the ingredients list. Did you add enough yeast? Is there something missing? Are you sure you followed the directions exactly? The second step would be to look over the instructions again. Maybe you missed some important detail.
Finally, ask yourself what went wrong. Was it because you didn’t knead well enough? Were you working quickly? Perhaps you were distracted by something else going on in the house. Whatever happened, don’t beat yourself up!
Yeast doesn’t live forever. Once dead, it cannot revive itself. So if you notice any signs of mold growing on your starter, throw out the whole batch.
Moldy starters contain toxins that could harm you. You might also find that your starter isn’t bubbling anymore. Dead yeast cells no longer produce carbon dioxide gas, which causes bubbles to appear during fermentation. Instead, they release alcohol vapors. These fumes cause the surface of the dough to turn brownish-gray.
This color change indicates that the yeast is dying off. Don’t worry though—it’s still alive underneath. Just discard the entire batch and start fresh.
Dryness can happen even after mixing together all the dry ingredients. In this case, the flour was too fine. Try adding extra liquid until the mixture reaches the right consistency.
You’ll get better results if you pay attention to every single aspect of baking. Practice makes perfect, but sometimes we forget how much work goes into each part of our recipes. When you’re following a recipe closely, you have less chance of messing things up.
So keep practicing, and soon you’ll become one of those people who know their way around the oven like nobody else.