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Troubleshooting your dough baby.

"Hi Caitlin. I recently took your bread class in Devil's Canyon San Carlos. I tried making the bread again yesterday and today. Yesterday the bread collapsed as I was putting in the oven. Thought it might rise again while baking, but it did not. I tried it again today and it looked fine when I put it in, but collapsed while baking. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong? Any and all help greatly appreciated. Theresa"

Thanks, Theresa

Baking bread can be both rewarding and therapeutic, but it's not uncommon for home bakers to face occasional setbacks. Many encounter frustration when their bread fails to rise as expected, even when using a trusted yeast like Red Star Active Dry Yeast. Let's explore some common reasons why this might happen.

Firstly, the water temperature used to activate active dry yeast is crucial. Unlike instant yeast, which can be mixed directly with dry ingredients, active dry yeast requires proofing in warm water. Water that's too hot can kill the yeast, while water that's too cold won't activate it effectively. To ensure success, aim for water that's between 105°F to 115°F (40°C to 46°C). This temperature range provides the yeast with the right environment to bloom and do its job, helping your bread dough rise adequately. We use a kettle for the Grainbakers Breadmaking class that dials in our water to 114 degrees, knowing the temperature will drop a bit while our students prepare to mix.

Another potential culprit is expired yeast. Even with proper storage, active dry yeast can lose its potency over time. Always check the expiration date on the yeast packet and store it in a cool, dry place. If your yeast is past its prime, it may not have the strength to leaven your bread properly, resulting in a flat loaf.

Lastly, consider the quality of your kneading and rising process. Properly kneading the dough helps develop gluten, which is crucial for structure and rise. Ensure you knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. Additionally, give your dough enough time to rise, typically until it doubles in size. Factors like room temperature and humidity can affect rising times, so be patient and allow the dough the necessary time to ferment and develop flavor. Rushing this stage can lead to underwhelming results.

In conclusion, even with a trusted brand like Red Star Active Dry Yeast, there are still crucial factors to consider to ensure your bread rises successfully. Pay attention to water temperature, yeast expiration dates, and the quality of your kneading and rising processes. By addressing these elements, you'll increase your chances of creating a beautifully risen loaf of homemade bread. Remember, baking is both a science and an art, and learning from setbacks is an essential part of becoming a skilled baker.

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