Dead Yeast - Can This Dough Be Saved?

*3/12/2013* Please look here for the update to this post.

The plan was to make a simple loaf of bread this morning. I should be enjoying its luscious fresh baked goodness right now. But I'm not. The yeast was dead.

Or just defiant maybe. I don't know. So what did I do? What any logical blogging baker would do. I started tweeting about it.

"The dough is still not there. Adding 1/2 cup more H20 with honey and hopefully more live yeast, then more flour.
Google not helpful. I'll make the recipe over and split the old dough with the new one and add some baking powder and have two loaves.
Was supposedly making a quick loaf of bread. Yeast is dead and dough won't form. Googling how to save it... "  
So you see what happened. My Google search wasn't helping. I decided to improvise. Unfortunately, I had to stop tweeting, because my hands were too floury to keep going back and forth to the computer and washing them. Although I did start taking pictures when things settled down.

Instead of having enough dough for one loaf of bread, at this point I had two. I tried kneading the dead yeast dough with the live yeast dough, but it didn't work very well. I put all the dough back in the bowl then poured more honey water with live yeast on it. I took a wooden spoon and started mixing the liquid into the dough while thinking "Live! Oh please live!" I started to feel like the mad scientist in Frankenstein.

Anyway, there were no monsters, but the yeast did come alive. All the dough became fairly elastic and I was able to knead it and add more flour. But at this point, I had a ton of dough and didn't have the time nor the inclination to go through two rises and baking. I remembered reading that you can let dough do a slow rise for hours or days in the fridge. So I divided the dough into 4 balls and did a bit more kneading.

It's still not the best texture that I've dealt with. I put the dough balls into a bowl, covered it with plastic and they are now sitting in the back of my fridge. I'll deal with it tonight. I have so much dough now, that I may make two loaves of bread and some rolls.

We'll see what happens. Maybe if anyone else out there is working on Thanksgiving dinner and having dead yeast trouble, this might be some help. Or at least give you a little chuckle in the midst of your bread making angst. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

*Updated* I ended up with a loaf of bread and a pan of rolls. The flavor is good and they did rise, but the texture is on the heavy side, not light and airy. Overall though, I like them. The dough was saved!

In case you missed the update up top, please take a look at the new post which gives more tips!

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So So Simple said…
Happy thanksgiving Anali It is Thursday here already. Sun is shining nice and warm. Re your bread do you use the packets of yeast. I have found them fab. They don't go off and the use by date is years away.

That dough looks to know how it turned out.
Cynthia said…
This had me cracking up: Live! Oh please live! (lol)

Happy Thanksgiving hon!
shilpa said…
Haha thats hilarious Anali!! Hope the bread worked you have enough bread for the whole year now?
It sounds a little bit like my lab experiments...Live..please Live..or maybe if its contamination in my culture ...Die,Die my darling!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Anonymous said…
Yeast is a tricky thing, moody at time. Good save on this one! :-)

Happy Thanksgiving Anali!
You're braver than me... I would have tossed it the first go-round. Hope you had a great turkey day.
Lisa Johnson said…
so simple - You're right. The bread and rolls were a bit heavy, but still good. And Thanksgiving was really nice.

cynthia - Glad to provide some humor to your day! ; )

shilpa - Not enough bread for the year, but there are still rolls and we haven't even started the bread yet. And this really did feel like a lab experiment! This is where baking meets science. ; )

zen chef - Thanks! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!

bipolarlawyercook - I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. I had just bought flour and yeast. Way too expensive to dump it all! Not in this economy. I did have a wonderful day though. : )
Peggy said…
So this is four years later and I've been googling what to do with dead yeast and not finding anything either. I have a whole jar of yeast that is not past the expiration date but seems to be dead. Did you ever find any information about it?
Lisa Johnson said…
peggy - Welcome! Funny you commented now. This post is very well visited and I'm still curious about this issue myself. I've been planning to write a new post with more information, but just haven't had time to do it. Hopefully soon! : )
Anonymous said…
Lisa Johnson said…
anonymous - Interesting suggestion. I have no idea. I have started working on a follow-up post though. Hopefully it will shed some more light on the subject. Hmmm. Crackers....
The Black Jubah said…
This happens to me too, that is why I Google up and found your post, unfortunately, I don't have another live yeast, because it was all in that same container, and it is not even expired yet till about 3 more month. I added baking powder to a 4 cups flour dough (dead), add a about 1 tbsp olive oil and turned it into flat bread instead. It turn out quite well, taste like the indian Naan Bread.....
Lisa Johnson said…
tbj - I love flatbread and Naan! Yum! ; )
Anonymous said…
So, guess what I just did. :/ I found this site after searching for what to do. I didn't have more yeast so that wasn't an option. I found another site that had a couple alternative ideas and thought I would share with you all. One person cut the dough into balls, boiled then baked; he said they puffed up during the boiling process. They didn't puff up for me so I kept reading. Another poster said she made them into twists, deep fried them and topped with cinnamon. So, I rolled my dead dough out thin and now my kids and I are having fun cutting out different shapes, frying them and topping with cinnamon and, just recently, maple syrup. Yum! :)
Lisa Johnson said…
anonymous - Great idea! Sounds delicious and keeps the kids happy. Thanks for sharing! : )

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