So you’re looking at the title of this post and are thinking “huh? what?” I hear ya. Let me explain…
These past few years I’vemade a lot of breadandyeast-baseddesserts on this blog so I am familiar with the usual signs of good/bad yeast growth, dough quality, etc. While living abroad, however, I have to relearn how to cook in a sense and get familiar with different ingredients and tools. I’m in Lisbon this time around, and I decided to make cinnamon rolls for my two friends who have graciously allowed me to stay with them for two months!
Happy, risen dough! You would never know that this dough had no life in it just a few hours ago. . .
Before embarking on my trip to the grocery store, I asked one of my roommates, the one who cooks the most, if she had any yeast for bread, and she said yes. I was a bit leary of the leavening agent she had because it was for pizza dough, which doesn’t require as much rising time as cinnamon roll/brioche dough, and with the added butter and eggs, I knew I needed something stronger.
Nevertheless, I trusted my dear friend and returned from the store sans fresh yeast. Once I opened the yeast-for-pizza package, I knew it was wrong. It had a powdery, white color and contained cornstarch! Because it was late in the evening, and I was too tired of going to the store (mind you I had to go to more than one store to find international, hard-to-find ingredients for another meal), so I trudged along with this yeast. I kneaded the dough and placed it in the fridge overnight for a slow and steady rise. Hah! The next morning, I was greeted by a DEAD-looking, brownish-looking lump of…something I wouldn’t consider dough. My heart sank because 1) I knew that yeast wasn’t right for cinnamon rolls yet I didn’t follow my first thought; and 2) I realized I had wasted all that time, ingredients, and money for nothing.
I was about to throw away the dough, buy real yeast, and start all over again until I thought about resuscitating my dough. Was it possible? Could it be done? I searched on the all-knowing Google and found out that if you just kneaded in some fresh or activated yeast into your “dead” dough, you can bring it back to life!! As soon as I had read that, I bought more yeast and started taking photos of the process for my own records and for all the other people out there who have or will encounter unrisen dough.
I wish I had taken a photo of the dough as I had discovered it the next morning. However, here it is rolled out a bit on the table. You can see that it is void of life and is a darker color than “living” dough.
I used yeast for all types of bread and submerged it into about 1/2 cup of warm milk before adding it to the dead dough. I didn’t use any type of added sweetener because of the natural sweetness of the milk.
Before and after photos of the yeast activation step. Note the level of liquid and the spoon handle.
I added the activated yeast to the dead dough and once I saw the imminent mess, I carefully transferred the now wet dough to a mixing bowl, kneaded in the yeast mixture, and then transferred the “new” dough to a mat and continued to knead.
Once the dough started to rise, I placed it in the fridge overnight and was greeted by what you see in the bottom right photo!It’s alive!!!!
The next morning, I rolled out half of the dough (froze the rest), and made cinnamon and strawberry rolls with a cream cheese glaze.
So, if you ever end up with unrisen dough due to the usage of the wrong type of yeast (as in my case), too little yeast, or if you “kill” your yeast with hot water or salt, don’t throw out the yeast or use the “dead” dough as is. Activate a new batch of yeast (dry or fresh) with warm liquid (and a little sweetener, if you’d like) then add it to the unrisen dough. Hope this helps! Have a great day!
Rolls without the frosting: I sort of overbaked these rolls by only fewer than 4 minutes!! You want your rolls to be less brown than these. My roommates still loved them, though!
For the cinnamon roll recipe, go to Use Real Butter and see her gorgeous photos! I used the recipes for the strawberry filling, dough, and frosting (sans alcohol). For the cinnamon roll version, I just used softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar (or you can use muscavado or a mixture of granulated/caster and brown/muscavado sugars).