What To Do When You Forget to Add the Yeast

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Yeast. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Realizing that you forgot to add the yeast now that your dough has failed to rise? As long as you haven't put it in the oven, there's an easy fix for that:

Just mix the yeast called for in the recipe with a few Tablespoons of warm (but not hot) water, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Once the yeast has activated, fold it into your dough, and allow it to rise.

If Your Yeast Fails to Activate When You Do This ...

you may not be as forgetful as you thought.

A failed activation, paired with a failed rise, suggests that your yeast might have gone bad. Buy a new package of yeast, or use one of these yeast substitutes as a stand-in until you're able to get to the store for more. Using a substitute will alter your recipe, but if you're just making pizza dough or rolls for a family meal, the results should be more than satisfactory.

An opened package of yeast will usually keep in the fridge for 3-4 months, before it needs to be replaced. If you don't ever seem to use yours up that fast, consider storing it in the freezer instead. Yeast keeps indefinitely there, and it doesn't need to be thawed or brought to room temperature before you use it. As soon as you add it to warm water, it springs back to life.

Short on Time Because of Your Mishap?

If you don't have time to wait for your dough to go through another rise, plus however long it needs to spend in the oven, just add the yeast; shape your dough into a neat ball; wrap it up tightly; and tuck it in the fridge.

This will keep the dough from rising until you're ready to work with it -- even if that's tomorrow or two days from now.

To use your dough, just pull it out of the fridge, and place it on the kitchen counter. It'll start to rise as soon as it comes to room temperature.

Want to back-burner your baking project for more than a few days?

Then, toss your dough in the freezer. Once it thaws, it'll go through its normal rise.

To Avoid This Problem in the Future ...

Get in the habit of proofing your yeast before you use it. This simple step allows you to verify that your yeast is good before you add it to your dough. 

More Fixes for Kitchen Mishaps

Most kitchen mistakes can be undone with a few tricks. Here are some to add to your knowledge bank: