What the recipe didn’t say about Yeast…

Those who have tuned into my rants about the homemade cinnamon rolls may have noticed a trend. Yeast. I’m told I’m lucky to have even seen the dough rise on my first try- but I’m still stuck on what I have done to prevent it from really popping up. At this point I have tried/am in the process of 3 “proofing” methods:

-A warm oven and 20 pitiful minutes… Turned out dense and hardened up upon cooling.

-A slightly warm oven for 2.5 hours … Turned out almost dry on the outside but relatively fluffy inside- still not “perfect cinnamon roll” status though (left to right, beginning to end of 2.5 hour period)

Bun Proofing Bun Proofing Bun Proofing

-Two rolls are currently sitting in a greased cake pan, and with just a tiny smear of Crisco on the top, I covered them with plastic wrap. I placed the cake pan in the far back corner of my wood stove fireplace (with the fire producing a steady but not too powerful heat). I’d say the area it ‘rests’ is warm, not hot. I put it there a little less than an hour ago and it will stay there for at least 2 more. So far it doesn’t look like it’s puffed out as much as the others have.

My question is- what are the immediate factors here?

Did I not have warm enough liquid ingredients when I first made the mixture? Therefore killing some of the yeast before I even began? Could the overnight refrigeration have ruined something in the dough?

By leaving the second batch in the oven for 2 hours (not on but slightly warmed from prior use), uncovered- do more harm than good? How much are these things supposed to puff up anyway?

Something is wrong and I can’t wait to get to the bottom of it. I may not find out with the 6 I have left, but I sure hope I can get this right! At least the cream cheese frosting is 100% amazing!

4 thoughts on “What the recipe didn’t say about Yeast…

  1. Hey Ellie! Yeast is a tricky and fickle beast. I like the systematic way you’re trying different rising methods!
    Just a few thoughts: was your yeast old? I’ve been known to leave yeast laying about in the cupboard for months, only to find it useless when I finally get around to baking something. Leaving it overnight in the fridge wont have harmed it, but it will take longer to rise as it will need to get to get back up to room temperature. Also you don’t want your water to be too hot when adding it to the yeast, that is more likely to kill it than cold water, and when mixing you want to try to keep the yeast and salt separate for as long as possible as contact with salt kills yeast.
    Here’s what I do when working with yeast. I try to let the initial prove go on as long as possible without over-proving the dough. This can take a few hours! I don’t put the dough in the oven to rise, but if it’s a particularly cold day I will turn the oven on and rest the bowl on top or near it. After shaping the dough I leave it to rise again, covered with a damp tea towel – this prevents the dough from drying out, which will again impair the rise. Often it won’t puff up hugely, especially is shaped into things like knots or scrolls, but don’t worry! It will rise when baking.
    Finally though, a really good glaze or icing will cover up a multitude of sins 🙂
    Sorry about the essay length comment, I hope you’ve found something in it to be helpful. Just keep on baking, you can only get better. Let us know how it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very helpful!!!
      The yeast was brand new, so that certainly wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t sure what temp was more ‘lethal’ so your comment on hot vs. cold was great. Also, didn’t know salt killed yeast. I don’t remember how quickly I put that in but next time I’ll pay special attention.
      Since this post I actually had more success leaving them out to rise for several hours. The two I did last night were 10 times better than the ones from yesterday morning. They sat out near the warm hot stove for about 3 hours and there was a significant difference in the dough ( I could see stretching and air bubbles etc).
      Then I left the remaining 4 out covered overnight and by far, the best results. They also cooked up the best. Still not the ‘perfect’ roll but so much closer than I had accomplished beforehand!
      I can’t thank you enough for your input you have given me much to consider for the next time, which I hope is soon! (Though, I’m cinnamon roll’ed out so I’ll have to find something else to make!)

      Thanks again, really excited to have this space to connect with folks like you!


  2. I don’t know if this would only lead you astray or not, but as far as I remember, after mixing the yeast into the dough, my mom used to put wet/ damp towel on top of the dough bowl to let it rise. Afterward, shaping and then baking… my memory is not very trustworthy though ahahahah~ goodluck!

    aah now I’m craving for cinnamon rolls…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not leading me astray- I’ll have to try the damp towel next time. This time I just covered it with plastic wrap and left it out to rise. It didn’t rise as much as I would have anticipated so who knows, maybe that extra moisture would make all the difference.
      Thanks a lot for commenting! I’m excited to hear from folks with thoughts/experience 😉


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