Bread! Grrrr!

I’m having huge issues making bread and it’s not getting better and I’m starting to get rather peeved by the experience. My sourdough starter failed to meet my expectations it simply didn’t rise nearly enough and didn’t cook sufficiently through, remaining sticky on the inside.


The bread’s I’ve made with active dried yeast have also failed to rise sufficiently. I’ve tried everything I can think of and nothing. It seems that all bread making supplies these days are catering for bread makers, those stupid machines that take all the real joy out of home made bread and taste nothing like real home baked bread. All the research I’ve been doing on line is for nothing. I have found no sources of fresh yeast (bakers yeast) in New Zealand, and no-one seems to know what I’m talking about. The problem with bread rising is always in the yeast, at least that’s what I keep being told, grrr!

10 responses

  1. I am sorry you’re having problems, but once you finally succeed it’s gonna be well worth the trouble.

    With your bread not baking all the way through, try lowering the rack in the oven a little. It won’t brown as fast so you can leave it in the oven longer.

    As for rising, make sure your water/milk is not too hot. My recipe calls for about 100 degress but 70-75 always seems to yield better results. Wherever you leave it should also be warm (prop the oven open if your kitchen is drafty) and cover the top with a clean towel and turn off the lights.

    Let me know if any of that stuff helps and contact me if you have questions any. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Oh my. I’m one of the guilty; I love my bread machine 🙂 However, I use the same yeast for both my machine and for things like pizza dough or rolls, and the yeast doesn’t seem to care one bit. However, I did try my hand at sourdough a long time ago and never could get a sufficient rise. I was interested in lcsa99’s comments however, so I hope you hang in there and experiment a bit more!

  3. I don’t use a bread machine, and I make my bread with only whole wheat flour, so rising and being too dense used to be a problem. My partner’s mom suggested “this stuff the Amish use” … turns out it’s just vital wheat gluten added to the flour and it helps with rising and texture (fluffier bread, not so dense). Of course if you’re off gluten its not a good solution. You aren’t off gluten, are you?

  4. I have made successful sourdough in the past. I always started a sourdough with a pinch of yeast, and kneaded and added flour every couple of days, baking when the sourdough is about a week old. If it grows too fast, you can slow it down by keeping it in the fridge.

    Re. kneading bread, forgive me if you know this already, but you have to get the starch molecules stretched so that the yeast can act on them. Some people don’t realise this and thump the dough for ages without having any useful effect. If you keep back half the sourdough you can feed it up with more flour and bake again next week – the only thing is it seems to get more sour as it gets older, not necessarily an improvement!

  5. I’m not get messages that there are actually comments here! Thank you all for your encouragement and tidbits of information. I *blush* checked the yeast and discovered that it was a little over a month out of date, oops. I haven’t purchased any more just yet but will do so soon and start to trying again.

    Dorothy, I don’t suppose you’d like to give a run down on your sourdough process from start to finish? I had no idea about the kneading of the sourdough mix.

    As to kneading the bread in general, I do know about the fiber but I have a lot of trouble with my wrists when I knead (it’s why I gave up massage therapy), so I’m probably not kneading the bread nearly enough.

  6. My sourdough starter is somewhere between 10 and 12 years old. Whenever I take some out for baking, I feed it with more flour and a little water. It is very sour, but works well.

    An alternative to using yeast is to opt for soda bread. I make this a lot, especially when we’ve been working hard on the croft and want some really fresh bread to go with soup or stew for dinner. Five to 10 minutes work, 40 minutes baking and you have a nice loaf.

    I thought I’d put the recipe on my blog, but can’t find it. I did find my recipe for griddle bread, though, and this is similar but cooked in a hot frying pan or on a griddle.

  7. I think it must be something in your technique. I have made bread for about 20 years, by hand and by bread machine, and now back to by hand. I use the breadmachine yeast, if that’s all I have on hand and it turns out the same. The vital gluten will definately help if you are using whole grains/wheat or any flour that has a lower gluten percentage.

    The kneeding is really important. One trick I do (got it from a French bakery) is to take the palm of your hand and mash the dough out on the board. You do this really aggressively and it looks like a mess, but what you are doing it helping develop the gluten. You just work your way through the whole dough ball squishing it out till it almost smears and then gather it all up at the end and kneed it the usual way.

  8. We attempted 3 other loaves of bread last week. The first batch we left to slowly rise overnight and they ended up in the bin, we thought we had done something wrong. The next one we did we stuck to the recipe exactly, but it simply didn’t rise enough, when we cooked it it was dense and yuck. Both times we checked the yeast was alive and kicking, and it was, the problem is with the bread. After speaking with one of our neighbours, we’ve been told that it’s well known that New Zealand flour is low in gluten and doesn’t work nearly as well as Australian flour, *sigh* I’m going to try and track down gluten to add to the flour and see how that works.

  9. Hi Tracey, I have been making handmade bread for a few weeks so no expert but I do lots of other cooking all from books. I am using bread recipes from James Beard (famous US cook) and have have no probs at all turning out a delicious french style bread. I am using supermarket sourced flour and dry yeast. I knead for a full 10 min stretching the dough lots. I rise the dough in a cloth covered stainless bowl in a slightly warm oven to avoid draughts – for about 2-3 hrs. I sometimes knead and rise the dough twice for extra texture. I cook on a couple of quarry (clay) tiles in a normal oven. Lovely result. Happy to send you the recipe if you want. I am in central Auckland and if you are visiting would be happy to give you a demo also if that would help. Bring a friend to feel safe 🙂 and give me a few days notice. I plan to shift kneading to a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook once I get really clued in on the result I want from hand kneading. This would certainly save your hands/wrists and frees up time. I found your site searching for sources of flour and grains. If anyone knows where I can get speciality, especially hard wheat, flours and grains other than the supermarket please let me know. email is “jrphodgson at” Replace “at” with “@” of course (spam protection)

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