My kugelhupf does not swell (rise up)

I’ve tried your recipe for kouglof several times but the dough never rises, even if I let it sit in the microwave for an hour with a glass of hot water. Am I over-kneading it? The yeast doesn’t seem to be the culprit, since its expiry date is in 2009. What am I doing wrong?

Quite a few people have asked us the same question. There could be a number of factors behind this problem, but I doubt excessive kneading is to blame. One of the keys is to let your dough rise in a warm, humid place. Usually, the microwave trick you mentioned works very well. If the dough doesn’t rise, there might be an issue with the way you’re using the yeast. When using fast-rising or instant yeast, it’s important to dissolve it in a warm liquid like milk or water. With those kinds of yeast, it’s recommended that you use warmer liquids than usual (50°C/120–130°F). If it still isn’t working, you can check whether the yeast is still good by doing a quick test:

Dissolve 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sugar in 60 ml (1/4 cup) warm water (38-43°C/100-110°F). Add one packet or 10 ml (2 teaspoons) yeast, stir, and wait about ten minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume and produces a light froth, that means the yeast is still alive