Bread suddenly not working

I have been making bread for 3 to 4 years now after attending a bread making course my wife bought me for Christmas. All has been well until about two weeks ago, when the second rise was just about zero. Two turned out as door stops and i just binned them. Everything has been fine till about three weeks ago, i thought it was due to cold weather affecting the rise but i have made the room warm, about 22c and still the second rise is no where near what i was getting. I have washed all utensils thoroughly, as i always do.
I have a uuni cast iron crock pot which i bake my bread in.
My mix is 500g bread flour, 12g instant yeast, 300ml of tepid water and a tea spoon of salt put in after the first three ingredients.
Oven temps are 220c for 20mins in the crock pot and ten mins out of the crock pot.
These ingredients and time i have use for many loaves of bread.

Maybe i can’t see the wood for trees.

I was going to have a go at a no knead bread as i have made quite a few of these also see how that goes.

Most rise issues are yeast issues: bad yeast, something in the mix is killing or inhibiting the yeast (chem in water for example).

You can test your yeast by adding it to 1/2 cup of water (bottled, no chem added water if you suspect your water) with a pinch of sugar. Stir. It should bubble up with a bit of a dome in 10 minutes or less if it is good. If the yeast tests ok, try again with your normal water and see if water is your issue.

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@kenledger, I’m having almost exactly the same problem since last week! The ONLY difference is that I bake no-knead bread strictly with sourdough.

Last week I prepped a loaf and left it out on the kitchen counter to rise, as usual. When I checked it in the morning I was shocked to see almost NO activity! I waited a couple more hours and there was just a little more rise. I was stymied. Now the weather here in the desert southwest is cooling so my house temperature in the kitchen has reduced but I didn’t think it was a significant enough reduction to seemingly impact my dough as to what I was seeing. Could it be that I have to adjust my dough prep to accommodate the seasonal change in weather? Possibly. I ended up preheating my oven for about a minute or two and then opening the oven door for the temperature to reduce to around 90 degrees or so. I placed my bowl of dough into the oven for a couple hours. That seemed to do the trick (at least for that particular batch of dough) and I was able to successfully bake a tasty viable loaf.

A few days later I attempted to bake another loaf. I prepped it like normal but left it on the counter a few hours longer to account for the cooler kitchen temperature. In the morning that batch of dough was having quite the same issue as the previous loaf! I did the oven trick with that batch of dough and was able to successfully bake a good loaf. But I admit being really stymied as to why this is happening!

Since what I had been feeding my faithful sourdough, named Cyril, hadn’t changed since he was started in February 2018 I’ve had no idea why he wasn’t acting like my happy starter any more.

To add to the frustration I now find myself in total experimentation mode because I can no longer purchase the flour I have been feeding Cyril locally. My local grocery store chains (about 4-5 different chains) are no longer stocking that flour and I had used the last of mine to feed Cyril before my recent bread attempts. Perhaps Cyril is no longer satisfied with what he’s been eating? Maybe he needs a dietary change? He’s kind of forced into one anyway, LOL. So the other day I purchased a new bag of another organic AP flour to feed Cyril with. I’ll have to let you know how he likes it.

Let the experiments begin!

A few quick thoughts (some unrelated to your problem):

  1. Are you using or have you tried using mineral water? Maybe a spike in the chlorine level of your local water. Doubt it would be dramatic enough to impact instant yeast, but worth a try.
  2. Replace your yeast and see if that changes things.
  3. 60% hydration (500g flour and 300g water) seems very low. Maybe give a higher hydration a try.
  4. Why use grams for all weights except salt? While the weight of a teaspoon of salt will depend on the type of salt used, it is about 6g and that is pretty low. For 500g of flour, I would use 10g (2%).

I will try the yeast test though i did open a new tin of yeast for my last attempt with no great results.

I to also preheated the oven but with no results. What i find strange is i have put some of my dough (about a year ago) in the fridge over night, fridge at 3c and it doubles in size???.
It has just spiralled way out of control

I prefer to have salt measurements in volume vs weight as to me it is a bit of a pain to weigh salt.

To each their own and salt particularly is “to taste” and possibly health issues. The amount of salt will not affect rise unless there is too much so as to inhibit yeast/leaven.

On a different note altogether I have made a starter with the addition of 2% salt from scratch.

I had the same experience. I gave away six baguettes, knew the second batch just wasn’t going to work right, even the first rise was pitiful, and threw the dough away. It wasn’t the yeast - it was the flour, I’m sure. I went to the grocery store and bought organic KA, made another six loaves (same batch of yeast), and they were just fine. I have been using Arrowhead Mills organic AP for years. My guess is that I got a bag of white whole wheat by accident. I was getting 25# bags, putting each in a bin when I brought it home, had put the bag the flour came in in the recycle and it was long gone, so I have no way of knowing whether the bag was mislabeled, or my vendor handed me the wrong thing. I am now totally leery of Arrowhead Mills, and the store that sold it to me, but once burned twice cautious. Don’t be too quick to blame the yeast. It was not my problem!

I once went through a bad patch where my breads were failing. Apparently due to adverse weather conditions this affected the flour. Basically a poor year for the crop. After getting in touch with the flour suppliers they recommended adding a little lemon juice to the dough and it really worked well. Started to produce some lovely loaves again.

That is very interesting, Susan on the previous post appears to have had some bad flour.
Can i ask how much lemon you used and the amount of flour

Susan reminded me. Happened quite some time ago and if I remember correctly it wasn’t much. 1-2 tsp of lemon juice per loaf I think it was.

EDIT: As I said it was sometime ago and i’ve just done a search about using lemon juice as a bread improver and i’ve found a source for 1 tablepsoon per 4-5 cups of flour. So 1 tablepsoon for one good sized loaf.