Help! I Forgot To Add the Yeast. Can This Bread Dough Be Saved?

Rescuing bread dough when you forgot to add the yeast

Help! I forgot to add the yeast. Can this dough be saved?

On Christmas Eve afternoon, a family member texted me in desperation.

Her: “Help! I just realized I forgot to add the yeast to my cinnamon roll dough now that the dough cycle on my bread machine has completed.The dough hasn’t risen at all. I’ve obviously got too many things going on around here.”

Me: “YIKES! When were you planning to serve them?”

Her: “Tomorrow morning.”

Me: “Whew! We’ve got time. I’ve done the same thing several times myself, so call me, and I’ll walk you through it. We can probably save it.”

Yes, I’ve made this mistake a few times. I’ve also left out the salt (tastes boring), the sugar (not good for cinnamon roll dough), and miscounted the cups of flour I put into the bread machine. (That mess-up is easy to remedy when you open the lid to check the dough–just add more flour until it looks right, which means the dough sticks to the side, then pulls away.)

So here’s what you can try:

1. Measure out into a small bowl the amount of yeast called for in the recipe.

Rescuing Bread Dough-10.jpg 2. Add about 1-2 tablespoons lukewarm water to the yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved. If yeast is too dry and won’t dissolve, add a few more drops of lukewarm water until it does. It should be a smooth paste with no undissolved granules of yeast.

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3. Add dissolved yeast to kneaded-but-unproofed bread dough. Whether you are using a bread machine or a large stand mixer, the directions are the same.

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4.  Now restart your bread machine on the dough cycle and allow to mix/knead.  If the dough is now too sticky because you added the yeast/liquid, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time while the dough mixes until the dough sticks to the side, then pulls away. Keep mixing/kneading until the yeast mixture disappears and is completely incorporated into the bread dough. It is not necessary to redo the entire kneading process.

5.  At this point, you can unplug the machine and remove the dough from the bread machine pan into a large mixing bowl. Cover loosely with a tea towel or shower cap and set in a cozy warm place to rise until double. Proceed with the original recipe.

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Bread dough after yeast was added and allowed to rise.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie May 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Just for anyone’s information: I forgot the yeast in a rye and wholewheat recipe using the breadmachine. Luckily I realised before the bake cycle. I just added the yeast, dry, straight from the packet, set it on the dough setting for 20 minutes, then popped it into a baking tin, left it to rise for an hour and in the oven for 50 minutes. It turned out perfectly. I’m sure it would have worked in the machine too.


Karen January 6, 2016 at 11:58 pm

It’s good to know that this is a mistake that can be remedied, even though I haven’t made it . . . yet. I made three batches of cinnamon rolls over Christmas and they all turned out a bit different. Dough is funny that way.


Susie January 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Yep, this was me! Thanks for documenting on the blog because I’m sure it won’t be the last time I forget the yeast!


Becky January 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm

This is one of the few mistakes I have not made (yet). I probably would have just started over, but this is a great fix. Thanks!


robin January 5, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for posting this tip. I would have had a mini tantrum and threw it out. Now I know.


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