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Mar 3, 2010 08:09 AM

Will expired dry yeast make dough rise?


While ago, I found three small packages of dry yeast in my pantry which was purchased about 3 years ago! I mixed them with water but can’t remember wether it bubbled or not.

Then made my dough by adding the flour all at once and I watched the dough rising and got twice as big as before.

I then baked the bread and when it came out it was not really chewable, top and buttom of it were so rough and the middle was soft!

I want to learn from my failed experience and make that brear again without it turns out too hard, so here are my questions:

1- What caused the bread to be so hard to chew? Was it the expired dry yeast or adding all the flour at once?

2- If dry yeast which I used (bought 3 years ago) was expired, why did the dough rise?

3- Does expired dry yeast make the dough rise but at the same time make it really hard to chew?

Thanks in advance

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  1. Lately I've been playing with making Kouign Amann, the Breton butter cake, and I believe that on try #1, the yeast (though unopened and in the frig) was expired and too far gone, so the resulting cake was flat and chewy. On the other hand, try#2, the yeast was fresh and the cake rose very well until the last turn, then it turned out flat and chewy. In any case, I'd rather start with good yeast, and have deep-sixed all the old packet of yeast.

    1. If the dough doubled in size, the yeast was not the culprit. I wonder, especially since you added all the flour at once, if you didn't knead enough to develop the gluten properly. How did you knead and what was the dough like when you finished? How long did you rest the dough and how did you test that it was ready to bake? It could be other factors, too, eg, not enough water, overbaked.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        ...OR the second rise was too long.

      2. I buy my yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer. I am currently using yeast that supposedly "expired" over a year ago.

        Here's what I'd do for your next loaf. 1) Proof the yeast: dissolve it in water with a 1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces of the flour the recipe calls for and let it sit for a5 minutes or so. Do you see bubbles? If there are some your yeast is viable. Let it sit another 15. Now you should have a bubbly brew. 2) If you didn't see bubbling in the first 15, pitch it. Your yeast wasn't viable. 3) But if you did you can still let the initially weak brew have the time to develop into an active colony. It will take more time but it will get there. Then use your bubbly sponge as an ingredient added to the rest of your ingredients and carry on. Those few living yeasts have, by now, produced several more generations of just-getting-started-and-can't-wait-to-go yeast organisms.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rainey

          <I buy my yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer. I am currently using yeast that supposedly "expired" over a year ago.>

          I do the same thing, and I have had great results with yeast that was three years past its expy date. The cold temp of the freezer suspends all action of the yeast.

        2. With older yeast, you can either use a tiny bit more, or let it rise a tiny bit longer than normal.

          If the dough rose, the yeast is not your problem.

          1. Thank you everyone for your great replies. So now we know it wasn't the yeast problem!

            This is how I made the barbari bread which is a very well-known Persian bread:

            - I put 0.5 liter of warm water into a bowl and then added 3 packages of dry yeast (each contained 7g) and mixed it and let it sit for 15 minutes.

            - I then added 2 tbsp of salt to the mixture and stirred more.

            - I put the above mixture to a very large bowl and then added 2.5 kg all-purpose flour all at once.

            - Added 1 liter of water to that large bowl.

            - I then started kneading it for about 10 minutes (with my hand).

            - Covered the dough with a wet wash cloth and waited about 3 hours for the dough to rise and it doubled in size.

            - Divided the dough to 8 section and round them and let them rest for 15 minutes and covered them with a wet wash cloth.

            - In the manwhile mixed 1 liter of water with2 tbsp of flour and transfer it to a pot and cook the mixture until thicken a bit. (this is for the color of the breads, the mixture should be spooned over the bread before placing in the oven).

            - Spread flour on a surface and open the little dough so that the thickness is about 1 cm.

            - Using a fork put some holes into the bread so it doesn't get puffed up inside the oven.

            - Preheat the oven at 500 F and then put the bread inside the oven for about 10 minutes (on the bake setting).

            - Then turn off bake setting and turn on the broil and let the bread get a nice color for about 1-2 minutes.

            That's, please help me figure out my mistakes :-)

            Thanks in advance

            19 Replies
            1. re: sparkling_girl


              Can you please help me out? I translated the recipe and put it here...I'm planning to make the same bread this weekend so was just wondering if you all could help me find what I did wrong the first time :-)

              Thank you so much

              1. re: sparkling_girl

                I haven't got Maggie Glezer's recipe for barbari handy, but I will check it later. But from the looks of things, I would guess that your dough was on the dry side. Your hydration rate was 60%, that is six parts of water to ten parts of flour by weight. That ratio makes a stiff dough, especially with American flours that are often higher in protein than some old-world flours. In fact, it is the hydration rate usually used for bagels, which are typically a dense, chewy bread. When I get down to the kitchen later, I'll check Glezer's hydration rate.
                As for the yeast, if dry yeast is kept in the freezer, it will be good for years. I think it was Peter Reinhart who mentioned that one baker kept it for 13 years before using up all of a bulk package, and it was good to the end. On the other hand, I have sometimes found that brand new envelopes of Fleischman's yeast bought at the supermarket can turn out to be duds. I would guess that in shipping and storing them, they were exposed to excessive heat.

                1. re: Father Kitchen

                  I found two sources for barbari recipes, and they give contradictory information. Maggie Glezer's book "A Blessing of Bread" calls for 750 grams of bread flour, 505 grams of water, and 15 grams of salt. That works out to a hydration rate of 67% and a salt rate of 2% of the weight of the flour. She says the dough should be sticky and soft. And she uses an egg glaze finish. This is the hydration rate I would have expected for a yeasted flatbread. However, Qarooni's "Flat Bread Technology" (written for the trade) quotes a "typical formula" that uses the same ratio of flour to water as you did, sparkling girl. And the flour called for is 77% extraction, which is like atta flour used for chapatis. Of course, this flour would not be as strong as an American flour. But it would still make a rather dense bread.
                  So depending on whether the barbari is supposed to be dense or not, you can go with either formulation.
                  My guess is that if you are using all-purpose flour, you should increase the amount of water, though not quite to the 67% that Glezer uses with bread flour. Try 1.6 liters of water. After you mix the water with the flour, let it sit for about 20 minutes so the flour can absorb the water. This will not only get the enzyme action started, it will also help you gauge the feel of it better. Knead the dough. If your dough is not fairly soft, wet your hands and knead a little more water into it. Note that we talking about only a very slightly greater amount of water. But sometimes just a little bit more makes a big difference. Don't add so much water that the dough is really slack. If you do, you'll get something like ciabatta. If you mound the dough, it should feel soft but still hold its shape. If it slumps, work in another few tablespoons of flour. Please let us know how it turns out.

                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                    I don't know anything about baking barbari but do you think spooning a liter of water/flour slurry over the dough would contribute to it having a heavy texture? I've looked at a few recipes online and in bread books I have and none have called for that. I've also found different types of barbari from the more naan like ones to taller rolls.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I've never used a cooked flour slurry to glaze bread, but it is standard practice. And since cooking it gels the starch and creates a colloid, I don't think absorbption would be a major factor.
                      I found myself questioning covering the dough with a wet washcloth. Normally a damp towel or even simply lightly oiled plastic wrap might be used. But since it rose well, I don't think that is a major problem.
                      My guess is that the dough was too firm.
                      However, as I go back to the original post that says the dough "got twice as big as before" makes me wonder if it rose so far that the yeast exhausted the sugars.
                      And three hours seems like a long time for a bulk fermentation for a dough made by the direct method; and that, too, would suggest that it rose too much.
                      So we might add another suggestion. Do the bulk fermentation in a container that give you an accurate measure of how much it has risen. I use a lightly Pammed acrylic tub. Or, for smaller batches, a gallon juice container. When it doubles in size, go on to the next step, no matter how short the time may seem.
                      Temperature can make a huge difference in the rate of fermentation, and she never specffies that. So I would also suggest that she let the dough rise at room temperature, but keep it out of drafts. A damp cloth with a draft on it will actually cool down the dough.

                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                        Thank you so much for your replies.

                        father kitchen,

                        Many thanks for your very helpful replies. I will aim for 65% hydration ratio as you suggested.

                        1) The recipes I've seen all recommend the oven temperature to be at 500 F (10 minutes on the bake setting and
                        1-2 minutes for broil setting). Isn't this too hot or it's OK?

                        2) These recipes call for 100g fresh cake yeast. That means how many grams of active dry yeast?
                        (I got those 3 packages which are attached together which I bought from Walmart). Maybe 21g of active dry yeast wasn't enough...

                        3) Some recipes call for three to six tbsp of oil. If I add the oil, will the bread be softer?

                        4) If I use oil in my recipe, will i need to add less water so that the hydration ratio stays at 65%?

                        5) The first batch of bread rose too much inside the oven so I started making holes on the next batches
                        using a fork. Was this a mistake?

                        6) Regarding the mixture (water+flour), some recipes use milk instead of water, do you think it might result
                        into a slightly softer bread?

                        By the way,the fabric I covered the dough with wasn't really a washcloth totally my mistake, it was a
                        damp kitchen towel.

                        Thank you so much

                        1. re: sparkling_girl

                          For some of your questions, you will be your own teacher, since barbari is not a commonly made flatbread, though it may be after people read your thread. (I wanted to make some today but ran out of time.)
                          As for your questions:
                          (1) Persian flatbreads are typically baked in a very hot tanoor (tandoor) oven, so your oven is not too hot.
                          (2) My computer isn't near my cookbooks, so I can't consult for a conversion of fresh to dry yeast. Many bread books have it. You can probably get the information by doing a web search on "yeast conversion." I can't even find fresh yeast. Lucky you. In any case, you had enough yeast. If I calculated correctly, it was .8% of the weight of the flour. Normally it is 1%, but the growing yeast quickly makes up for the difference. Don't buy yeast in small quantities if you can help it. You can get a vacuum-packed "brick" of it at places like Costco for what you spend on a small jar in the supermarket. And the envelopes are highway robbery.
                          (3) Oil will make the bread softer and prolong its shelf life.
                          (4) Yes.
                          (5) I don't think so. Qarooni's book indicates that barbari is similar to Turkish pida bread. The various kinds of pita breads open out inside because of the rapid expansion n the oven. (Chapati does the same). Docking the bread helps to prevent the separation. You may try simply dimpling it firmly with your fingers before putting it in the oven.
                          (6) Milk will make a slightly softer bread. But your bread will also taste less of wheat. I use milk solids and oil or butter when I want to bake a loaf that has a fine soft crumb for our guys. Not my personal favorite, but they love it for toast.
                          One final bit of advice I always pass on. Remember it is only flour and water (and yeast and salt). Whatever you make will be edible. Even the hockey pucks I turned out in my early baking found their use. You can always grind them up for bread crumbs. Think of it as if you were experimenting with scrambled eggs. What happens if I add milk or water or nothing at all? Or cheese? Or cook it fast or slow? Or beat the egg a lot or not at all.
                          In any case, I am willing to bet you will turn out a winner this weekend.
                          I'll be away and off line for most of the next few days--though I will check in the morning before leaving. But there are better bakers than I who will be reading your thread, and maybe they can help you with further questions.
                          I'll be anxious to read about your results when I get back.

                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                            Hi Father Kitchen,

                            Guess what I'm doing now?? Making barbari bread! I couldn't wait until the weekend and picked up some fresh yeast from Wegman on my way home.

                            I also picked some bread flour and am using it now with the ratio of 65% as you advised for all-purpose flour, just thought I'll give bread flour a try! 1.6 liter of water + 2.5 kg (actually a little more than this) + 6 tbso oil

                            The dough turn out too sticky and stringy but as soon as I added more flour it would be less sticky but dense. So, I had to add more flour and then wet my fingers and then it would get too sticky...

                            I let it rest for 1.5 hours as it wasn't really doubled in size and didn't really care for its sticky/weird texture...

                            After 1.5 hours, you know what I did? I added the oil and the dough is now looking fresh and already beautiful! I just wanted to thank you for your great and helpful replies and I'm sure your barbari breads willl turn out just perfect.

                            I'll report back and let you know how it goes :-)


                            1. re: sparkling_girl

                              Oh by the way, here's a great video tutorial on how to make barbari:

                              1. re: sparkling_girl

                                Interesting kneading technique in the bucket. I'd probably oil or wet my hands first--I first read of the taffy-pull like kneading idea from Father Kitchen a few years ago and it saved a lot of frustration of trying to knead wet dough. That brushing with the flour slurry is much less than I was picturing in my head. I've made naan on a grill and it works perfectly with the high heat. I wonder if it would work with this, too. I can't wait to hear how it turns out for you. I might give this a try--that video was helpful.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  THE BREADS TURNED OUT PERFECT!!!!!! I'm so excited :-)

                                  Last night, when I posted here, I was so worried about the dough as it was really stringy and elastic... I thought it would get better so I let it rest for about 1.5 hours.

                                  After 1.5 hours passed, the dough had doubled in size BUT as soon as I touched it, I felt the stickiness and it wasn't looking good...

                                  So I added more flour, it turn out stiff, I wet my fingers and knead it, it'd turn out sticky and runny.

                                  Long story short, I decided to add the magic ingredient: Oil! And as soon as I did it (I must have added about 4-5 tbsp and that's in addition to the 2 tbsp I had added to the sugar, salt mixture at the beginning of my work) and the dough started to look nice! This time for real!

                                  Then I let it rest for about 1 hour and then when I put my finger into the dough, the hole I made didn't disapear which is a good sign showing the dough is well rested and ready to go.

                                  I also didn't use fork to make holes in breads and used my finger this time as Father Kitchen had suggested and they turned out just perfect. I also didn't leave the breads long in the oven, just 8 minutes (Bake setting at 500 F) and 5 minutes (Broil setting on Low).

                                  I then put them on a metal rack and let them cool down before I put them into large ziplocks and transfer them into the freezer. They taste great when fresh, hope the taste last when I take them out of the freezer, too!

                                  I found fresh yeast in dairy section of Wegman, got two 1oz packages and used 100g of it (each package weighs around 54g I think) and left the rest into the freezer, how long will it last there?

                                  Thanks again for your helpful guidelines. Special thanks to Father Kitchen and Chower. I really appreciate it.

                                  Hope you all make this tasty bread and keep me posted on how it turns out.


                                  1. re: sparkling_girl

                                    So glad to hear! Do you have a link to the recipe? You caught my eye with that video and I love the bread.

                                    1. re: sparkling_girl

                                      I am delighted your bread turned out well. Now I will have to try it. But I don't know if I will get a chance this week. I have so many church events to attend.
                                      I was amazed that you tackled such a large batch of bread when you are in the experimental stage. The beauty of baker's percentages is that you can reduce or expand any recipe provided you keep the ratio of ingredients the same.
                                      So I doubt that I will use 2.5 kg of flour. More likely, for my first go at it, I will bake a small batch with about 500 g of flour.
                                      An alternative way of kneading the dough, if you have a food processor, is to use the steel cutting blade and process chunks of dough for about 45 seconds each. Much depends on the power of the processor. But about 300 grams per chunk should do it nicely.
                                      I am glad to know that you found bread flour makes a difference. Thanks so much for providing detailed information.
                                      Wegman's has fresh yeast? Hooray! Next time I am over in Virginia, I'll get some. I've never been able to bake with it. Next September a Wegman's will open on the Maryland side of DC. I can hardly wait.

                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                        Father Kitchen, chower Thank YOU so much for your great tips, I hope you bake them and enjoy them as much as I did :-)

                                        Yesterday I put a frozen one in my toaster oven and taste was just perfect! Not rubbery or anything

                                        Father kitchen, Wegman sells them right in the dairy refrig. section, it comes in small packages. I got two 1 oz packages. Thanks for the food processor tip :-)

                                        1. re: sparkling_girl

                                          I never would have thought to look in the dairy section for yeast. Thanks so much for the information. And when my life slows down a little bit, I'll make some barbari myself.

                                    2. re: chowser

                                      I don't know the specific bread that you guys are discussing but Peter Reinhart's advise for kneading wet dough is do it with wet hands. Dry hands for dry dough; wet hands for wet dough.

                                      1. re: rainey

                                        Yes, I use wet hands and often have to rewet. I don't know if you watched the video but the guy making them had very hairy arms and I was thinking it would hurt to clean the dough off of them if he let it dry at all!

                                        1. re: chowser


                                          The recipe I used was the same exact recipe as the youtube video! I just made the breads with half of the ingredients: his recipe calls for 5 kg flour, I used 2.5 kg and so on and so forth...

                                          I made the following changes:

                                          1) The only ingredient which I didn't cut in half was the amount of fresh yeast, I used 100g (same amount his recipe calls for).

                                          2) Instead of adding two tbsp of salt to the fresh yeast mixture, I added 1 tbsp of sugar and added the 2 tbsp of salt when the yeast mixture was ready to be added to the big container.

                                          3) I also added 2 tbsp of oil to the big container before kneading and 4-5 tbsp to the kneaded dough.

                                          4) I filled an oven-safe container with water and put it at the bottom of my oven so that it becomes moist inside the oven. (my oven is an electric one so my husband was going back and forth saying it's not a safe thing to do, isn't it safe?!)

                                          Couple of things I found helpful is: The quality of the breads is much better now that I used Bread Flour and not all-purpose flour.
                                          And that spreading wheat bran under the dough makes it hard to stay flat so I didn't used it much...

                                          Also, make sure the two ends of the dough is not too thick before you put it into the oven otherwise it will turn out to be crunchy and bubbly.

                                          At the end I got 11 barbari breads not bad! (went to bed at 2 AM...was so tired it was a really long process)

                                          Can't wait to see how your bread will turn out :-)

                                          1. re: sparkling_girl

                                            Thanks--I usually use bread flour so that'll work. Thanks for the hint about the wheat bran, too. It is safe to put an oven safe container in the oven and fill w/ hot water for the steam. I do it all the time. I wonder about the container but I haven't had problems yet. I'll have to wait until I have a good amount of free time but I can't wait to try this!