Bread Baking Problems and Solutions

Bread Baking Problems and Solutions – Here are pictures of bread baked by me in our 8″ bread pans. It makes excellent sandwiches that hold together. I used Marilyn’s Famous Whole Wheat Bread Recipe.

Q. How do I get my bread to be suitable for making sandwiches?

A. There are three basic principles for making bread good enough for sandwiches.

1. Add 1/3 to ½ cup vital wheat gluten to a 2 loaf batch of bread. Make sure the gluten is fully developed. Vital gluten makes the bread softer, moister and it rises better.

2. Make sure you don’t add too much flour – this leads to dry, crumbly bread when it cools. The dough should be smooth and elastic and a tiny bit tacky, not dry when shaping your loaves.

3.Don’t over rise the bread – coarse texture leads to crumbly bread.

Q. Is it really cheaper to make homemade bread?

A. Cost isn’t the only factor to consider when determining if bread baking is a good thing for your family. Consider the wonderful aroma in your home from home baking, and the superior nutritional value. I am glad that my homemade bread contains ingredients that I recogzine and I know how to pronounce them. Home baked bread has superior taste, and the fact that home made bread is very easy to incorporate into my routine is an added bonus. It is an added benefit to bless friends and neighbors with home baked bread.

Q. What is sponging and is it necessary?

A. Sponging is the process of allowing the yeast, water and a portion of the flour to be mixed together for about 15 minutes to activate the yeast. You could consider sponging a short, first rising. All yeast bread baking is flexible, however, and you can skip sponging and allow the bread to rise once or twice before baking. Be sure to get all the air bubbles out of the dough before shaping the loaves. Bread can rise just once in the pans before baking if you are running out of time. Conversely, bread can rise multiple times before shaping, rising, and the baking. Each rising period will improve flavor and texture. Be flexible and allow baking to fit around your schedule.

Q. I have some yeast bread recipes that do not call for fresh milled flour. How do I adjust the recipe?

A. I substitute cup for cup, whole grain hard wheat flour for all purpose flour in yeast bread recipes that appeal to me. The only adjustment I make is adding some vital gluten so the bread will not be too dense or heavy or dry.

Q. Can I use my fresh ground flour for cookies, pancakes and muffins?

A. Use freshly milled soft wheat flour or pastry wheat for any baked goods that do not contain yeast.
Remember freshly milled pastry flour must be packed like brown sugar for accurate measurements. You can obtain more information about ingredients and how to use them.

Q. My bread doesn’t rise very well.

A. Whole grain bread will not rise as well as white bread, but if you have waited several hours and the bread hasn’t doubled in size, the problem most likely is the use of low protein wheat. Low protein means low gluten content. All wheat is not created equal, and premium wheat will have a higher protein content than less expensive wheat.

Use 1 Tbsp. vital gluten per cup of flour as a starting place.

Q. I have some older yeast and I don’t know if it is still good. What do I do?

A. Proofing the yeast is a way to determine if your yeast is still good. If it isn’t, your bread may not rise well. If you suspect your yeast is out of date or old, here is how to proof (test) the yeast:

Add 1 tsp. yeast, with 1/2 cup warm water (85°F) and 1 tsp. sugar. If the yeast isn’t bubbling up to the top of the cup within 10 minutes, replace the yeast.

Be sure to store yeast cool and dry. Use moisture/vapor proof containers.

The above information has been excerpted from A Beginner’s Guide to Baking Bread ebook by Marilyn Moll.
Click Here to purchase this ebook for $9.95. You may also obtain this book complimentary with any purchase of $75.00 or more by request.

This ebook Includes:

* How to Select Ingredients
* Selecting a Grain Mill
* Selecting A Mixer

* Step-by-Step Mixing Instructions
* How to Develop the Gluten

* Tips for the Best Bread
* Lots of Bread and Roll Recipes
* Troubleshooting Guide
* The Two-Stage Process
Item #6059 $9.95

Step by step cinnamon Roll tutorial

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23 comments to Bread Baking Problems and Solutions

  • Tina Ivester

    Marylin, I n reviewing your recipes there are other ingredients that you use.
    Such as, a dough enhancer. I would like to know why you use this and what is the benefit to using this.
    Thank you, Tina Ivester SC Bread maker!

  • Sheree Slagle

    Hi Marilyn! I was reading some of your bread baking tips and had never been told to pack my freshly ground pastry flour like brown sugar when I measured it. I had noticed how much fluffier & lighter it was and I had read that 1 cup of flour weighs 5 oz so that is how I dealt with the difference, just weighed it out (& it always was more than 1 cup) anyway, thanks for that tip. There is always something new to learn isn’t there?
    Blessings on your day, Sheree Slagle

  • Edward J Winegart

    Thanks Marylin, I have been using 2 tbs to 4 cups by weight volumne and now will try 4 tbs.

  • Hi Marylin,
    could you please tell me why, or how to make loaf bread that doesn’t have a hole in the middle.
    thank you so much.

  • Mrs. S

    I have a Pullman pan that I really would like to utilize but my bread never rises to the top? Have you ever used such a pan?

  • Natalie

    Keeping in mind that trying to get your fresh milled whole wheat bread to hold up like the lifeless white bread in the store is like comparing apples to oranges….. There are a few more things you can do to hold it together better. All of Marilyn’s tips are absolutely correct, but to please my picky, used to eating white bread family, I replace a little of the water with buttermilk & then I add two beaten eggs after I sponge the bread & when I add the rest of the remaining flour. This bread seems to hold together a little better & I don’t have complaints about their sandwiches falling apart. Also, when you are milling your flour, mill some of it in a finer texture – that helps keeps things together also! Happy baking!!

  • Hello,
    Sometimes when I make bread it comes out beautifully. But sometimes it rises like it should and when its time to bake, in the oven it will be fine for about 10 to 15 minutes, then it kind of slumps down. Almost like a popped balloon.
    What can be happening?

  • Tina Ivester

    The Bread that “slumps” Has over risen. I have noticed to put my bread in the oven just after it has risen over the top of the pan then it does nicely.
    If the bread Rises too Far it will surely fall. Also…If I quick rise I almost always have trouble with it falling.

    Make sure that when you shape your loaf as you roll it together be sure to seal all the seems. and then roll it like a log to lock it all togther.


  • Karen

    I am so glad that you all are willing to take the time to write some advice. I am just about ready to give up making bread! It’s coarse, flat and doesn’t even taste very good. I’ve been making bread for years, switching to freshly milled flour in the last 5 years, but have never struggled as much as lately. Do I have a “bad” batch of grain? I bought new yeast, so that’s not the problem. I may be over rising, I’ll work on that. I can’t put milk in it because one of my kids is allergie to dairy. I think I will try the eggs. Any other suggestions?

  • Natalie

    Karen, the first thought that comes to mind is…. is your wheat hard wheat? I had once ordered some hard white wheat & what I actually recieved was a mixture of soft or pastry berries & a few other grains. At first I didn’t notice & milled & baked my bread as usual, then the bread was flat & reminded me of saltine crackers, really heavy too. I have learned that not all ‘wheat’ is created equal, it may very well be your wheat. Are you sponging first? If so, you won’t need to let it rise in the pan for too long. I sponge, mix the rest of the flour in, knead the dough, make it into loaves, put it in the pans, let it rest about 15 – 20 minutes, then bake.

  • I have dealt with the problem of crumbly sandwich bread by a different method. I ad honey, olive oil, molases, and eggs to the recipe to give it more “stick”. It works well if eaten within about 3 days, thereafter it begins to dry out (however Wyoming is very dry to begin with), that is when I make it all up into French Toast that can easily be reheated for a quick breakfast.

  • Andrea

    Hi. I have been adding 1/2 C of ground GOLDEN FLAX seed to my 100% WW bread and YUMMY it is ! It’s been such a hit that I can hardly keep up some weeks in bread baking ! =) It does at times get a bit too sticky though. It’s perfect most all the time.

  • Kristen

    I haven’t made loaves in years, but we still eat homemade sandwiches, and they don’t fall apart at all. I roll all the dough out on the table, about 1/2 an inch thick. Then I use a pizza cutter to cut it into squares about 3″x3″ or 4″x4″. (I’m afraid I’m not very consistent. The littleist people get the smallest ones, Daddy gets the biggest! And some are triangles!) By the time they rise and are cooked, the biggest ones are just the right size, when split, for sandwiches. This also leaves you with the smooth exterior–less crumbly mess. A batch of dough which would make 6 loaves makes 4-5 dozen “buns”. I also add 2.5 T. lecithin, which I heard helps make it chewy. May the Lord bless your bread!




  • ann

    My bread crust gets too dark and I am using a convection oven so I can’t cover it towards the end of baking cycle. I am using a lower oven temperatue already – 375 vs 400.
    Any suggestions?

  • Tammy

    I would like to know how to incorporate kamut flour into your whole grain bread recipe. is it possible to get a good soft sandwich bread when adding kamut?

  • Steve

    A good substitute for egg or milk is a tablespoon or two of ground flax seed meal wisked well into equal amount of water. This will have just the same effect as putting in an egg or some milk, but doesn’t usually cause any allergic reactions. Also, ground flax seed meal is very good for you.

  • Steve

    Ahh, Kamut flour! What a wonderful thing it is! I’ve used home ground Kamut in all breads, waffles, pancakes in straight one-to-one substitution. Allow me to quote from my pasta maker’s instructions:

    “Kamut four makes an outstanding whole grain pasta which is superior to other whole grain patas in texture and is superior to semolina pasta (durum) in flavor.

    “Kamut wheat also possesses a superior nutritional profile: being about 30% higher in protein, higher in 8 of 9 minerals, and 30% higher in vitamin E than common wheat. Another outstanding characteristic is that it is far less allergenic than common wheat for people suffering from allergies (see your doctor).” Quoted from the K-Tec Kitchen Champ instruction book.

  • Matthew Meyer

    I have been having problems with the dough not wanting to rise the second rise. There is all kinds of activity in the sponge and the first rise. I shape it into loaves and put them in the pans and they only raise a little. I have gone ahead and baked the loaves and they are so dense I don’t care to even eat it. Any help?

  • Jon

    Made country French bread twice with bread flour,King Arthur, high active packaged fresh yeast and both times the top collapsed. This was on the four hour setting on the oster bread maker. What seems to be the problem?

  • Richard

    Good morning:
    Using a bread machine,, following instructions but, bread will rise and look great and then collapse,,, bread taste good. Is it the salt, not using sea salt,, or what

  • Kimo

    Hi Marilyn,

    Thank you for your helpful bread baking tips. I have been baking 100% whole wheat bread for about 4 years now with this same recipe and have come across a problem that I do not know how to solve. I use to not have this problem. I have consistently been getting a hole in the center of my bread loaf. The recipe is basic:
    11 cups whole wheat flour
    5C warm water
    3T yeast
    4t salt
    2/3 cup honey

    I use freshly milled flour from white wheat. I do a 3 loaf batch at a time because thats all my Kitchenaid “Professional 5 qt. mixer can handle. I add about 6 cups of flour with my salt, water, honey and yeast. I mix it in the kitchen aid for about 4 minutes. I cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it rise to the top of my kitchen aid bowl (approx. 15 to 20 mins.). I then start the dough hook and slowly add the remainder of the flour until it gets to the point where the dough starts to clean the sides than I stop adding flour. I shape dough into 3 equal portions. Knead each portion for a little and then shape into loaf pan. I let rise in a warm oven (150 degrees) for about 15 mins. until they rise just to the top. I then turn the oven up to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. I take the loaves out of the loaf pans to cool on a cooling rack. They look wonderful form the outside and rise without a problem. But for some reason I am getting this hole in the middle of my loves – I am extremely frustrated over this. The hole is kind of doughy around the bottom of the hole. I hope you can help me. Thank you.

  • Marilyn Moll


    I have had this problem before too, and yes, I had the “doughiness” of the loaf around the hole as well, and can well appreciate your frustrations. The problem with the hole in the middle of the loaf is usually caused by too rapid rising (DON’T use the warm oven method) or improper shaping of the loaf. Try raising the bread on the counter, yes I know it is slower, but I have found the more time taken in raising bread dough etc, usually results in better flavor and texture.

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