Not getting enough rise in bread is one of the main issues which bakers encounter when they first start making bread and even something which happens to experienced bakers from time to time.
We’ve all spent hours making that dough, only for it to come out of the oven looking like something that resembles a brick! But don’t worry if this is happening to you, there are some simple steps which you can put into place to get more rise every time.
Getting more rise in bread dough is something that can be achieved by using the following bread-making tips and techniques, these include:
- Using enough water in the dough mix by following the recipe.
- Making sure water added to the dough mix is the right temperature.
- Not adding more flour to the recipe.
- Kneading the dough for long enough to stretch the gluten, either by hand or using a dough hook.
- Using a good bread flour.
- Using the right yeast to create good fermentation.
- Rising the dough in a warm place.
- Letting the dough prove (rise for a second time) for long enough.
It’s important to know that a slow-rising dough is not always a bad thing, a slow fermentation process creates a more flavoursome bread.
This post is really to help you with issues where the dough (using a yeast method) isn’t rising enough despite the amount of rising time or if you don’t have much available time to wait for the dough to rise.
Read on to see more detailed tips and advice on how following the tips and techniques in the above list can help you get more rise in your bread.
1. Using enough water in the dough
When you’re making bread, one of the key things to remember is to use enough water in the dough mix.
Most bread recipes recommend using a ratio of 5:3 flour to water, for example, if the recipe tells you to use 500g flour with 300ml of water.
This ratio of water tends to produce quite a tight dough, which can be heavier and slower to rise than a dough which contains a higher water content.
I like to use a bit more water (around 20ml extra) depending on which flour I’m using. Using a bit more water creates a slightly stickier but lighter dough which allows the gas bubbles (which help the dough) to rise to develop more freely.
Brown flours which contain part or all of the whole grain will absorb more water and will keep on absorbing it throughout the rising process.
White bread flours will also vary on how much water they will absorb as different brands of flour contain varying levels of protein.
It’s a good idea to stick to a brand of flour you like because you’ll get to know how much water you need each time you make bread.
Working with stickier or wetter doughs does take a bit of getting used to, but after a few minutes of kneading it will become smoother and more manageable.
If you really don’t like getting doughy hands you could try kneading with a dough hook if you have one.
2- Make sure the water is the right temperature
Water temperature will affect how bread dough rises, if the water is too cold it will slow down the yeast and the fermentation process.
If it’s too warm it will make the bread rise too quickly and lead to bread with less flavour. Using water which is hot could even kill the yeast and stop it from working altogether.
The perfect temperature is just warm or ‘tepid’ to the touch. To get this temperature I like to put around a third of the water temperature into a jug and top the rest up with cold water.
If you use this method, test the temperature with a finger too because the temperature of cold tap water can vary a lot throughout the year.
Make extra water at the right temperature in case you need a bit extra if the dough is too dry. Then weigh the water into the mix by placing the bowl on some digital scales.
3- Try not to add extra flour to the recipe
Adding extra flour to the dough as you knead can cause the dough to become too dry and tight. If the dough is too tight it won’t rise as much as well hydrated dough because it makes it more difficult for the gas bubbles to form freely
It’s sometimes easy to panic and add more flour when you mix the ingredients and start to knead because the dough can feel sticky on the hands at this stage. It does become more manageable once the gluten starts to stretch and the dough becomes smoother.
Instead of using flour on your work surface for kneading, try oiling it with olive oil, this helps to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface and stops the dough from drying out.
Using a dough scraper to scrape the dough as you work also helps to loosen the dough from the surface without the need of much oil.
4- Knead the dough for long enough to stretch the gluten
Kneading dough by hand takes around 10-15 minutes for the gluten to stretch properly and become strong.
I tend to knead brown dough and pizza dough for a little bit longer than a white bread dough.
If you’re kneading bread using a dough hook, around 8-10 minutes should be enough on a low speed.
You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough when it becomes smooth and the structure becomes stronger.
To test this, try the ‘windowpane’ test by gently stretching a section of dough. If the dough is kneaded enough it will remain intact and strong when stretched, whereas dough which hasn’t been kneaded enough will tear and blister easily.
TIP: Not sure if you have all the necessary bread baking equipment at home? Check out my recommended picks below (Amazon links):
- Scale: Nicewell 22lb Digital Kitchen Scale
- Mixing Bowls: OXO Stainless Mixing Bowls Set
- Pastry Scraper: OXO Stainless Pastry Scraper
- Loaf Pan: OXO Non-stick Loaf Pan
- Kitchen Thermometer: ThermoPro Digital Thermometer
- Stand Mixer (optional): Kenwood Kmix Stand Mixer
5- Use a good bread flour
Believe it or not, using and getting used to a good bread flour is a key part of rising performance. This is because different flours contain different levels of protein.
The extra protein in bread flour aids gluten production and the fermentation process which helps the do to rise.
Bread flour generally contains upwards of 12% protein and is often referred to as ‘strong’, bread flour with a higher protein level usually 14%, may be referred to as ‘very strong’.
Flour with a high protein content helps to produce a good strong dough and to create a chewy texture rather than a crumbly one.
There are lots of good flour producers making high-quality bread flour with no nasty additives such as bleaching agents. They tend to use different milling processes and some flour will be finer than others.
Although good flour can be slightly more expensive, it still normally works out cheaper than buying a good quality shop-bought loaf which won’t taste anywhere near as good as the homemade version.
So if you can get them, I recommend trying some higher quality flour because you will see the difference when compared to supermarket brands.
If you’re in the UK, you may want to click on the link below to find out more about where you can get the best flour:
The best bread flour (available in the UK)
6- Using the right yeast to create fermentation
Yeast performance will greatly affect how the dough rises and how quickly it rises. Once activated the yeast will start to ferment within the dough and the fermentation process produces bubbles of gas which helps the structure of the dough to expand and grow.
While a slower fermentation process is usually a good thing when it comes to flavour, if you don’t have time or your dough isn’t rising after many hours there are a few things you may need to consider:
- For a faster and more consistent rise, the best yeast is dried fast action yeast which is sold in sachets. Allinson is a good brand, but I find that supermarket sachet yeast works just as well.
- Make sure your yeast is in date – yeast which is stale or out of date will either be very slow or it won’t work at all and will waste the dough.
- Fresh yeast produces a good flavour, but it does generally take longer to rise than dried fast-acting yeast.
- Only buy the tinned dried yeast if you make a lot of bread because the longer the tin is kept after opening, the more sluggish the yeast will become.
So as a general rule if you don’t have much time, stick to fast-acting dried yeast which is pre-measured in sachets.
It’s nice to experiment with fresh yeast and it smells amazing, but if you’re going to use fresh yeast, do it on a day where you have more time.
7- Rising the dough in a warm place
Bread dough will rise much faster when it’s risen in a warm place or a warm room. Depending on where in the world you live this isn’t always achievable, for example, I live in Wales and we have about 5 hot days all year!
So, my bread dough generally takes a bit longer to rise unless the heating is on or the wood burner is lit.
I actually like to rise bread in a coolish room, because I get a slower rise and better flavour, so generally, I’ll just leave it on the side and let it do its own thing for as long as it takes.
Typically, the dough needs to rise for at least an hour to double in size and then at least another hour for proving.
If you live in a hot region you may have a battle with dough rising and proving too quickly, in which case you may want to slow it down a little by placing it somewhere cool and dark or consider doing a slow rise in the fridge overnight.
If you don’t have the time to wait for more than an hour and you may want to speed up the process by placing the bowl with the dough in somewhere warm, such as an airing cupboard (if anyone still has one!).
If you’re lucky enough to own a proving oven or proving drawer, these are a great way to rise bread at exactly the right temperature, but they are pricey and generally a piece of kit for the keen baker.
Another good way of creating a warm environment is by warming an oven on a low heat (around 80°C or 176°F) for ten minutes or so and then turn it off.
Place the bowl containing the dough in the oven (making sure it’s turned off). If the oven cools down, remove the dough and repeat the oven warming process.
8- Letting the dough prove for long enough
If there’s one element which needs to be given the time it’s the proving element.
Proving or proofing is the process you follow to raise the dough for the second time once it’s been shaped and or placed in a baking tin.
If the dough is under-proved this will lead to bread which is dense and under risen with a heavy or stodgy inner texture.
Allowing the dough to prove for enough time will produce a good rise which should rise further when baked in an oven.
Generally, it takes around an hour for a yeast dough to prove fully, however, this will depend on factors such as room temperature and yeast performance. In some cases, it could take a few hours.
It’s also important not to over-prove the dough because too many gas bubbles will develop causing the dough to start collapsing in on its self.
When the dough is proved it should have a good strong structure which bounces back part way when you gently stick poke it with a finger.
Once the dough has reached this point it can be baked in the oven.
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