EFGH (sogellag) wrote in failed_recipe,

cheese bread

This is also posted in my own journal...

what a disaster. Usually when I make bread, I use a breadmaker, so it comes out pretty well and beautifully risen, soft and fluffy with a nice hard crust. This time I didn't use a breadmaker since I was using my aunt's recipe and hadn't used it before, so I figured I would test it out by following the recipe as it was written. So of course I was really bad about activating the yeast. Ug. I didn't properly dissolve it in the hot water before adding it to the dough mixture and then I stupidly poured in the cold water before mixing in the hot water and yeast mixture. The resulting dough did not rise whatsoever. I cooked the thing anyway and now it looks fine, but it is hard as a rock. It is mega dense cheese rock. It tastes good, but I'll have to try again next week. Sigh. What a waste of food.

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Hmm. Most modern yeast doesn't need to be activated -- I was taught that proofing yeast was basically, y'know, "proofing" it -- giving it a test, seeing if it was dead. Yeast wakes up on its own most of the time, and goes back into dormancy on its own.

When I find my bread not even remotely rising, and I'm pretty certain that I DID remember to put the yeast in (when you entirely forget to put yeast in, few tricks will work), I usually give it one of two things, or both -- warmth, and more time.

Of the two, "more time" is the more important one. The warmer the temperature is, the faster the yeast works. With the understanding that if it's too warm for you, it might be too warm for the yeast, too. If its much over a hundred degrees Farenheit, 38 centigrade, you're probably cooking the yeast more than activating it. But if the temperature is nice for you, it's nice for the yeast.

Still, the yeast may not be completely dormant even at fridge temps -- some recipes call for rising bread dough in the refrigerator for many hours, even a full day. The if the yeast is given food and moisture, then it may still be willing to work -- slowly -- at 40 F, 5 C.

So I would suspect that whatever went wrong wasn't exactly what you think went wrong. If the yeast wasn't working, it's possible that the yeast was Just Plain Dead When You Got It, in which case nothing you could have done would have resulted in anything different, or it could be that the yeast just wasn't working as fast as you expected (what temperature is your kitchen? That might be the biggest variable -- bread machines maintain a nice, cozy temperature for the rising process, and kitchen tables don't. One thing that used to be recommended was putting it in the oven to rise, with the oven being off, but that only works for stoves with pilot lights, since the pilot light is always giving off just a wee little bit of heat, enough to keep the inside of the oven pretty nice, even in winter. These days, the oven keeps it out of drafts, which is marginally useful, I guess, but it's not really warmer than the rest of the kitchen.)

If I was in that situtation, and I wasn't trying to make the bread by, say, Dinner O'Clock, I would probably have just let it sit there and rise until morning or whenever, just to see if it would make a difference. If I WAS on a schedule, I'd heat the oven to 180 degrees (82 C), then turn the oven off, let it cool for a minute or so, and then put the dough in the turned-off-but-still-warm oven.

That's all assuming that the yeast is the problem. Another posible culprit is the pure weight of the dough, possibly compounded by liquid content. And the specific ingredients. I find that cheese tends to make rising a little more difficult. I suspect that the fats interact with the gluten somehow to make the bread less. . . gluteny, somehow.

Obviously, if your gluten is TOO worked, it forms into dense ropes, and the bread can't rise. But if its not worked enough, the carbon dioxide bubbles just pass right through the surface of the dough without actually making the dough rise. If the dough is too liquid, then after the bubbles form, the dough just flows back into the holes the bubbles left, and the dough fails to rise.

So those are all problems I've had, only some of which have to do with yeast.

Oh -- one time that I screwed up that really genuinely WAS yeast-related.

We found this neat, weird bread recipe which included Manashewitz wine (which is a sickly-sweet kosher wine that my wife and I both love. If you like wine, you have to just tell yourself it's something entirely unrelated to wine before you drink it, because, judging the stuff as wine, it's wretched, but, on its own terms, it's pretty good. It's just that liking grape soda is more relevant than liking wine.)

We'd made it before, and it had turned out pretty well. Se we wanted to make it again. But we didn't have any Manashewitz. So we substituted port.

Now, port is also good stuff, and about as sweet as Manashewitz (akthough with more complex flavors). So it should have worked, and, flavorwise, it did.

The problem is that port is a fortified wine. It has a much, much higher alcohol content.

We poisoned the yeast. We killed it dead. The stuff didn't rise AT ALL, even the smallest amount.

It was about, oh, 80% of the density of a brick.

But it tasted much better than a brick. I mean, yeah, it felt like it was dense enough to be something that an astrophysicist would study, but it was both edible and tasty.
So, thanks for the tips... I tried using lukewarm water this time and letting it rise in a slightly warm oven and viola! it came out perfect! It is all golden and fluffy and mmm...