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I mixed my ciabatta dough 2 hours ago, and it's barely risen at all.

I put it in a greased plastic container in the hot water cupboard, and marked the level to know when it "tripled in volume". The hot water cupboard isn't particularly warm, but it's not cold. The container is a tall storage container (it used to hold flour), and I had put the air-tight lid on lightly which the dough has opened (with air pressure).

I made a biga last night, which had fermented for about 6 hours before I put it in the fridge. I made the ciabatta dough with biga, high-grade flour (although recipe called for AP flour), yeast (1 tsp), salt, cold water. No sugar. I mixed it with a food processor.

Sorry about all the details, I don't want to miss out anything that might be a silly mistake. Is there any obvious reason it's not risen?

(I can provide more details about the recipe if that helps...)

Edit: I just touched the dough and its pretty cold, so no wonder its not rising! I guess it would have been a good idea to "wake up" the biga before mixing the dough? Any suggestions how to proceed from here?

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  • Did the biga look frisky? Did you let it come to room temp before mixing with the dough? I'm not sure about closing dough in an airtight container, I've never done that. Don't apologize about details, the more the better. If you go to chat and just say anything, I'll know you're there. I'll help if I can
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 28, 2014 at 3:21
  • I'd put it in the oven (oven off) over a large bowl of water that has been brought to a boil. No airtight cover over the dough, just loose plastic wrap or a towel.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 28, 2014 at 3:33
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    Thanks for that, @Jolenealaska great tip. I ended up just giving it a warm bain marie in the sink, seemed to wake it up pretty well!
    – aaaidan
    Sep 28, 2014 at 5:17

2 Answers 2

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As it turns out, my dough was very cold. Due dilligence: here's a full answer.

One of the requirements of yeast for fermentation is appropriate temperature. Cold dough straight from the fridge won't rise, or it will only rise very slowly. 25-30°C is a recommended temperature range for rising, although cooler temperatures can work.

Duh.

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    It is indeed recommended to wake up (warm up) preferments before making the dough with them, typically 3-4 hours outside of the fridge (this will vary dependeing on the size of your batch). But if you forgot to do it, there is a good chance that your dough will nevertheless rise once it warms up. Time is not especially important in rising anyway, it only allows you to get better time management, but it will only stay invariable if you are working under controlled conditions (proofing box with constant temperature and humidity). Just rise by volume, which you seem to already be doing.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 28, 2014 at 9:11
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Old old question but I can add some basics about yeast mechanics -

Yeast will die mostly due to - a) Extreme Old Age; b) Extreme Heat (like 50*C+); c) Extreme Cold (freezing CAN puncture the yeast cell walls). Other than that, they are hardy little creatures.

Yeast is happier in warmer temperatures, it works much faster at 35* than at 15*. It slows down a lot at 8* in the refrigerator. Going closer to 0-2*, the yeast can even go to sleep. When you take it out of the fridge, the yeast will be either slow or even asleep. It take time to become fully active after a nap, just like us humans. Take it out, put it in a warmer place and as the dough begins to come closer to the yeast's happy zone (17-18*), it will start to go to work. It works vigorously as the temperature keeps increasing. Obviously, how long your dough will take to reach 15-20* depends on various other factors. But, as it reaches that zone, the yeast happily goes to work.

Knowing this much will make you worry a lot lesser about whether the yeast is working or not.

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