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Homemade Bread Troubleshooting Tips
By Kate Miller
Like many novice bakers, I was intimidated by making my own bread. To expand my baking
repertoire, I attempted countless times for the perfect loaf; I followed the recipe
to the letter yet my end results vary.
Sometimes it turned out very well, but on certain occasions, it just collapsed. Many
people want to know the secret for baking a good loaf but to be honest, you have
to experiment and learn through mistakes.
I hope these homemade bread troubleshooting tips can help if you encounter a little
Dough Does Not Rise Water was too cool to activate or so hot that it killed the yeast
thus the yeast is inactive. When you use fresh yeast,dissolved it in lukewarm water.
Leave the dough to rise in a warm place ideally between 75° and 85°F.
When left in a warm place over a period of time, more carbon dioxide will be produced,
causing the dough to rise to double, or more than, its original volume. Also, ensure
all ingredients that you use for the dough are not too cold but are at room temperature.
Cracked Tops It could be that the bread cooled too rapidly, probably in a draft or
the dough is too stiff, or is not mixed well. When your dough is rising, you need
to cover it with a clean tea towel.
Your bread will probably crack if you allow it to become dry when it is rising. One
good tip is when the bread has baked, turn out of the pans and cool on a wire rack,
away from drafts to prevent it from cracking.
Crumbles and Loses Shape while Cooling Possible causes include dough not mixed well,
too much flour added, rising place is too warm and too long or oven temperature is
too low and not baked long enough.
To test bread, turn out of pan and wrap bottom of loaf with knuckle. A hollow sound
and nicely browned bottom and sides indicate a well baked loaf.
Heavy and Dense You have probably added too much flour. Certain flours such as whole
wheat and rye create a heavier loaf than all-purpose unbleached flour. Bread should
be turn out light and springy in texture.
When making bread, you always need to use bread flour which is also labeled as "strong"
or "extra strong" flour. Normal flour lacks the necessary amount of gluten to make
bread and is best for making cookies or cakes.
Avoid dusting handfuls of flour to stop the dough from sticking, unless you are aiming
for a leaden, heavy loaf. Flour takes time to fully absorb moisture, so leaving the
dough for ten to 15 minutes after combining it will help reduce stickiness.
Another possible cause of doughy bread is that the rising temperature was too high
and killed the yeast, or perhaps the rising period is insufficient.
Heavy bread might just be undercooked. If that is the reason, you can pop it back
in the oven for some more baking. When the bread feels firm to touch, it is well
Dry and Damp with a Coarse Grain Too much flour is added, dough is not kneaded long
enough, rising period could be too long or oven temperature is too low or you have
not added enough shortening.
Allow the dough rise in a warm place but not too near a hot stove. At least 4 tablespoons
shortening is needed for four loaves made from 10 cups of flour.
Yellow Streaks A result of uneven mixing or kneading. When the dough is kneaded, the
gluten develops into a elastic mass and this forms the framework for the bread.
In order to achieve best rising results, cover dough with waxed paper and a damp
tea towel to prevent a crust forming.
Another possible reason is that your bowl was greased too heavily. Grease lightly
and then put dough in and turned over so that the dough picks up only a little grease.
Holes It could be that air not completely pressed out of dough when loaves were shaped
or dough rose too long before baking.
This common problem is often the result of leaving the dough uncovered when it is
rising. A minimum of 10 minutes of kneading is required to make sure all your bread
ingredients are well combined.
Sour Taste Rising place is too warm and therefore the dough rose too long and too
quickly. If it has risen more than double in volume, it is likely that the dough
is left for too long.
Another cause for sourish taste in bread could be that the oven was not hot enough.
Many ovens hardly reach the high temperature needed to bake bread so make doubly
sure oven temperature is right and high before you bake homemade bread.