Unfortunately, there are many reasons for bread machine bread collapses. Below are some of the most common reasons with potential solutions. FYI – If you like to bake homemade bread in your oven, many of these problems can also occur with oven-baked breads. However, if you are looking for bread recipes, please visit Bread Dad’s bread machine recipes or oven baked bread recipes sections.
Bread Collapses & Mishappen Bread Tops
Read the manufacturer’s instruction manual for your bread machine to make sure you are operating your bread machine safely and effectively. Most manuals have tips on how to fix bread collapses associated with your particular machine. In addition, always wear oven mitts when dealing with a hot bread machine, hot oven, etc.
Reasons & Solutions
- Not measuring the ingredients correctly. You should use a proper measuring spoon (do not use a dinner spoon to measure ingredients), you should not over or underfill a measuring cup, etc. For the most accurate results, many people like to use a kitchen scale.
- Too much liquid was added. Measure your liquid ingredients carefully. If the dough looks too wet, you can add a little more flour (gradually) until the dough consistency looks right.
- Using old or stale yeast. Make sure that your yeast has not expired and/or your yeast has not been exposed to moisture/heat/light (which can quickly degrade the yeast). Always use relatively new yeast. I also like to keep my yeast jar (tightly sealed) in the refrigerator (as this extends the yeast’s storage life). Other people like to keep their yeast jar in the freezer. If you want to learn how to test your yeast to see if it is active enough, you should read the Red Star Yeast article Dry Yeast: How to Proof or Test Activity.
- Too much yeast was added. If you add more than the called for amount of yeast (i.e. because you wanted to try & make a fluffier bread), it can cause the bread to rise too much and then collapse.
- Using the wrong yeast. Use the type of yeast called for in your recipe. Bread machine/instant yeast is different than active dry yeast. One needs to be preactivated before use (active dry yeast) and the other does not (bread machine/instant yeast).
- Using all purpose flour when bread flour is called for in a recipe. Bread flour has more gluten than all purpose flour and this adds better structure.
- Mixing up recipe ingredient lists. Do not mix up the 1.5 lb ingredient list with 2 lb list if they are on the same page. Bread Dad has done this a couple of times in the past! 🙂
- Too much humidity. Hot & humid summer days can throw off recipes (because it can add a little extra moisture to the recipe). You can solve this problem by adding a little more flour (if the dough is looking too wet) after the first five minutes of the first mixing/kneading cycle.
- Too little salt. Some people remove the salt called for in a recipe (i.e. for health reasons, etc.) and then the yeast grows faster than planned for. This makes it more likely for bread machine bread collapses.
- Your bread pan is too small. For example, trying to make a 2 lb loaf in a bread machine with only 1.5 lb bread pan capacity. The dough could rise above the rim and collapse back in on itself or spill over the edges.
- The water/milk added to the bread pan was too cold (slows yeast growth) or too hot (can kill the yeast). Yeasts likes warm temps. Not too hot and not too cold.
- Making unexpected changes to a recipe (i.e. adding things not called for in the recipe). Uncalled for ingredients can throw off a recipe (i.e. adding some whole wheat flour or self rising flour when a recipe calls for only bread flour).
- Measuring the ratio of dry ingredients to liquids correctly. If ratios are off then the dough can be too dry or too wet. This is again a reason to measure the ingredients correctly (vs some people who like to “eyeball” things).
- Don’t open the bread machine during the baking cycle (usually after the second/final mixing/kneading cycle). This lets the heat out and can impact the baking.
- Keep the salt separate from the yeast (until the bread machine is turned on & starts to mix things together). Salt impacts yeast growth. Place the salt away from the yeast (i.e. place yeast the yeast in the middle of the bread pan and the salt on the side of the bread pan).
- The yeast activated too early. You should add the yeast last and keep it away from the liquid (as the yeast can prematurely activate). I like to create a little yeast crater on top of the flour in order to keep the yeast away from the liquid & salt.
- The flour was not stored in an airtight container and has picked up moisture from the air. This can add too much liquid to the recipe and may result in a bread collapse.
- Too much sugar can cause yeast to grow faster than expected and can result in bread collapses. Follow the recipe’s directions & ingredient amounts for sugar.
- Using chlorinated tap water vs spring water. Chlorinated water can impact yeast growth.
- The wrong bread machine setting was used. Different settings have different time lengths for mixing, kneading & baking. The wrong setting may give the dough too much time to rise (so the dough rises higher than expected). This may result in the dough collapsing in on itself. Always follow the recipe’s setting instructions.
- High kitchen temperatures can throw off recipes as yeast can grow faster than expected. Most recipes are based on a kitchen temperature being not too hot or too cold.
- High altitude baking. You need to adjust recipes if you live in a high altitude region. Yeast will rise more than expected and thus there is more potential for bread collapses. For more information on high altitude baking & possible adjustments, you might like to read this King Arthur Baking article.
- Older machines can slowly fail and have trouble controlling the baking temperature, properly mixing/kneading ingredients and/or regulating the time needed for mixing/kneading/baking. These problems can results in bread collapses, undercooked bread, etc. If you need a new bread machine, you should check out the page on Bread Dad’s favorite bread machines.