The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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virgule's picture

General bread machine rising problem - puzzled


I'm new to bread making, new to bread machines, and generally very analytical, measuring accurately and recording everything I do, to improve the next time.

Despite this, after making 20+ different breads, I am facing a general problem where I can't seem to begin to find the root cause :-(

My issue became more clear recently when trying a “brioche obsession” recipe using a tangzhong method (

Perhaps someone can help figure out what I’m doing wrong?
I use a bread machine to make different kinds of bread. All the breads & brioche come out reasonably OK – but not more. In particular, while they do rise as expected (close to 2x), they NEVER“burst” out of the pan during baking, no matter what the recipe. Absolutely no “oven kick/oven spring” during the initial baking period. It NEVER looks like the photos on the blogs where I find the recipes ;-). I just make rectangular, average bricks!

When trying the above "super-fluffy" brioche recipe, I noticed something really odd (once cooked and sliced): the dough inside expands well, the loaf did rises 2x, but not more – instead it “expanded”.

What I mean by this is the bottom and sides of the loaf become highly compressed, thick (1.5 inch of dense product - generally unpleasant as a bread), surrounded by a normal thin crust, while the core and top of the loaf are perfectly fine and fluffy. It’s as if the dough could not lift itself out of the pan, only exercising radial pressure. It’s less visible on regular white bread because the dough is generally more dense, but on the tangzhong brioche with a very fluffy core, it was very visible to the eye, like a fluffy brioche baked inside a brioche brick ;-)

I’m struggling to identify the root cause. I measure the ingredients by weight using a proper scale, I estimate the humidity to make sure there is enough water in all my recipes, all my ingredients are at room temperature (Bangkok – warm), I use bread flour and recently purchased yeast, etc. Water and/or milk are brought at room temperature, or even warmed up a bit if making enriched dough containing butter/eggs. I've tried regular and inverted sugar (from my sorbet recipes; I read somewhere that professionals prefer that to regular castor sugar for bread making?)

I even go to the point of removing the dough after the first rise/punch down, to remove the bread machine hooks, shape the dough softly/quickly into a nice ball, and put it back for final rise (this has a surprisingly major impact on the outcome – it seems dough in a bread machine has difficulty “moving around” to settle into the pan evenly, because the hooks and knobs interfere with the dough expansion. After shaping the dough evenly, it rises much better – but still absolutely no oven kick)

This leaves me with A) the question of bread machine temperature – but the bread comes out with a normal crust thickness, normal crust color, baked inside not more/less, etc. I can’t fault the temperature in any obvious way.

Or B) the question of proofing duration. Perhaps the machine starts baking too early? I don’t believe so – the 2nd rise is holding steady and not rising much anymore by the time the baking starts. It’s the oven kick that is not happening in my opinion (dough doesn’t visibly collapse during 2nd rise or baking phase). I've tried spraying a mist of water on the top of the dough halfway through 2nd rise. It helped a bit to make the upper half rise...inside a bottom brick! I can't imagine adding more water to my recipes - dough tends to collapse during 2nd rise if I do that.

I’m really puzzled and frustrated after seeing many beautiful photos of appetizing bread and trying the associate recipes. No matter what type of recipe I try, all I get is basic home-made bread(s), eatable, but nothing to be proud of. I don't mind doing a series of tests varying one particular ingredient, but I really need some help to figure out which one.

PS: I forgot to mention, this happens both with regular and with bread-machine recipes, not much apparent difference so far.

Any suggestions most welcome!

ghazi's picture

Burger. Hotdog buns

Hello all

Made this batch today, finally came round to doing so after your last comments


250g strong white

250g strong whole wheat

600ml water

mixed this before going to bed, gave it a good beating!

next day I added

400g strong white

100g strong whole wheat

60g butter

50g soft brown sugar

1 tsp dry yeast

proved bulk once, then shaped for final prove

I am pretty happy with it, though I know shaping (presentation) has way to go

Leftover dough left in fridge to incorporate into my next batch:)

Let me know your thoughts



ChefDan's picture

Bread Machine just makes ugly looking loaf

I have always baked in an oven but was given a Zorijushii (sp) machine. It is for junior loaves. The tops always are ugly as they are never smooth. I use the recipes in the book. Also the bread is just not browned enough. Is this typical of bread machines. I sell my breads at a local market and just do not want to sell these that are not presentable.

Cob's picture

Tahnisalata, a quickie hummus

Just thought I'd share for peeps addicted to hummus/houmous and all other variations on the chick-pea dip, but do not have the time to prepare it from a tin of chickpeas, let alone make it from dried peas as I do.

Hummus is actually a chickpea dip without tahini, but in the West we're all accustomed to it made with tahini, the hummus bi tahina (C.Roden).

Cut out the hummus (the fibrous matter and nubby taste), voila, you've tahini 'salad', that is, a creamed dip.

(If one actually makes a chick pea dip without tahini, as I've tried, it's surprisingly bland, and totally NOT unctuous as one needs in a luxurious 'hummus'.)

The bonus' of this tahinisalata is that it's the foundation to the quintessential taste of 'hummus', and lasts indefinitely in the fridge (no gassy chick peas to make things ferment).

The recipe is basically equal parts tahini to lemon juice (or more to taste):

250ml tahini

250ml lemon juice (more or less, to taste)

2-3 cloves of garlic

salt, to taste

Pound in a pestle-mortar/process all together.

The lemon juice will emulsify with the oily tahini, and will become incredibly thick. There is a version that loosens with yoghurt (NOT the non-fat monstrosity, but 2% to 10% Greek would be permissible). I like it loosened with water, sprinkled with some roasted, ground cumin or dukkah.

One caveat: salt counteracts the lemon juice, I started with too much salt, loosened it with water, and though it became less salty, I found it too tart. Hence, start with minimum salt to start.

Happy creaming! So long Marmite!

Hope somebody will appreciate this no-time required speedy spread/dip for all that stale, leftover bread. It's also nice drizzled over hard-boiled eggs, and tomato/Q salads.


yamum360's picture

Am I doing it right?

So I've recently started a sourdough starter, and it's just over a month old now, but I have a few questions for those of you with more experience. I started it with plain wholemeal flour, it was the middle of winter (not ideal for starting a starter, I know) but since I live in a tropical climate, it wasn't really winter, my kitchen sits at around 20C. 100g each of flour and water, left in an open jar on the kitchen counter until it started bubbling, I then added another 100g each of flour and water, leaving it until it was nice and bubbly again. At this point I discarded half and added 50g each of flour and water, which has been my standard for every feeding since, it was a bit slow to take off (I won't bore you with the details) but now it's doing fine, I continued feeding it with wholemeal for about 2 weeks (twice a day, as always) discarding half at each feeding. After the two weeks I simultaneously started, slowly making the transition to white unbleached bakers flour, and keeping half in another jar in the fridge. At this point it did slow a little, but is still quite alive, it never seems to quite double in size after a feeding though.

Now as far as I know, I've done everything right up to this point (please let me know if I haven't) I've never missed more than one feeding at a time, and it's always bounced back very well.

Now for my questions :)

I've begun slowly transitioning my feed to a mix of wholemeal, rye, and white flour, as my breads are often a mix of any of these 3, is this ok?

the one time I've actually used the starter I've been keeping in the fridge, I used it straight from the fridge, which I now know is wrong, as the process of making the dough, letting it rise, knocking back and letting it rise again took almost 24 hours, if not longer! (delicious results, but a much denser bread than I was expecting). How exactly should I be using the starter from the fridge?

It's been suggested by a chef I work with (who has limited knowledge of bread baking, in fact I seem to know more than him about some things) that I mush a few red grapes up and drop them into my starter, because the white stuff on the skin is the kind of yeast I want for a sourdough starter (alternatively, potato skins) and that these are the kinds of yeast that feed well on sugar (I've heard that a pinch of sugar will get your starter working faster). How much of this is true?

kah22's picture

My Love Life: Coffee Cake and Richard Bertinet

Ah got your attention :)

I've been baking the Richard Bertinet way  for the past few months or so and my girlfriend is over the moon about the stuff I'm turning out (thanks Richard) anyway she's put in a request for Coffee Cake and I was wondering if any of you have a Bertinet Coffee Cake Recipe.

Really would help my love life.


Taran's picture

I need a recipe for very dark bread. Can I make it black?

Hi... I am new here :)

I am part of a historical re-enactment group (the SCA) and my household and I are creating a medieval feast this October! As part of our feast, we wanted to do something kind of silly and special and use our kingdom's heraldry in a dish.

The dish itself is a sort of cheese lasagna, and we want to put a thin slice of black bread on top to make the image. In order to work it must be VERY dark. It is supposed to be black, and I want to get as close as possible to black.

The flavor, as long as it goes with cheese (both sweet and savory) doesn't matter. The bread will be baked in tubes to make the shape we need, then sliced and toasted with bits of cheese to decorate it.

I have done a lot of searching for dark bread recipes, but no one seems to have made one available that focuses on the darkness of the color. Understandably, most are more interested in the flavor, but I am not. Very little of my black bread will be eaten, it is mostly an edible decoration so it doesn't have to be the most fabulous recipe ever.

One thing that I prefer in the recipe is that I want it to be medieval compatible (that is not using modern ingredients like coffee) although an actual historic recipe would make my day!

On another note, I am a total novice baker (though other members of our feat team are pretty good!) so if you want to give me tips to make bread darker, please make them simple so I don't get lost in the baking jargon. It's a little overwhelming!

Thank you,

-Taran mac Tarl'a Glyn Dwfn, An Tir

MetMan's picture

6 years in a bakery and

I've been working at the Metropol Bakery in Eugene Or.  Now for 6 years.  I love my job!.  Hope I can stay in the bizz I look forward to reading your stories and telling mine

rafaelbata's picture

New bakery in town

I'm on the final stage of studies to build my small bakery (sell pastries, coffee, "gourmet" sandwiches/ tartines/ bruschetas, wine, beers).

I've been creating the financial and business plan for the past few months. Read a few books, visited as many boulangeries on cities nearby (my city with a population of 1 million doesn't have one single good bakery/boulangerie).

Been training some breads, pastries, etc. Sold then during 4 saturday mornings on a farmers market. Sold around 50 to 80 products each day (a mix of apple pie, banana pies, cookies, ciabatta, walnut/raisins bread, frangipane tart, muffins, etc), the sales were small but created a lof of confidence. It also showed me how much trouble I should expect... but the customers coming back for more and making cumpliments were priceless. Never felt like this on my professional carreer.

Everything was finalized and baked on thursdays (cookies, pie crusts, bread dough) and fridays nights (baking and packaging) with the help of my girlfriend and sometimes a friend, a sister, etc. During the day I work as an engineer and she works as an english and portuguese teacher here in Brazil. So we had to began the planning of each saturday sales on a monday... tuesday we'd buy the ingredients for the work on wed, thur and fri.

Now we stopped the sales at the farmers market so we have time to go back to our business and financial plan.

I've got a few questions in my head. I'll post them on the next posts, maybe someone can help me a little.

Cro-Magnon's picture

New Member With An SMS (Save My Sourdough)

Hi all. I have been a regular visitor here over the last 6 months but have never officially joined and contributed so i figured now was as good a time as any. I have learned many great tips and recipes by using this site and so i think its only fair to start giving some of that back wherever possible over the coming months and years.

First off a little about me. I am a 29 year old male from scotland. I have a wife and 1 beautiful little girl of 2. I make bread every week without fail. I make a variety of other things as well that normally compliment my bakery interest such as soups, burgers, tattie scones (my daughter absolutely loves a fresh baked roll and tattie scone) and various other things to give me the excuse to make bread. On average i bake about 3-4 times a week which always includes a hearty wholemeal loaf (breakfast), a batch of soft white rolls (lunch), pizza, finger rolls or any other bread that i feel like trying. My rolls basically come out the way i want them to all the time. My pizza is as good as i think it can be but i think my brown bread (whilst incredibly tasty esp for toasting or a big thick slice sarnie) still needs a little work as i dont always get it to rise as much as i want it to. Other than that for the meantime, as far as i dare to venture into the world of bread baking that is, im happy with my lot.

I have a sourdough starter that is about 3 months old and it hasnt been getting used as much as i think it should. The problem is my sourdough recipes are not family friendly. The sour taste basically puts both of my girls off it and thus far has prevented me from exploring this fascinating facet of traditional baking. The culture was good and active and could raise the bread well. It was especially good with brown bread and gave a much better spring than my yeast breads. Its been sitting in the fridge now for about 1 month and the wife was tentatively suggesting that we pitch it to free up some fridge space (hence the sms).

What im asking for is some tips and advice for using my sourdough to make it less sour, so that i might integrate it into our baking schedule a little more readily and save it from the bin. It doesnt even have to be loafs as such. Ive heard it can make really good muffins, cakes etc which use a raising agent which cancels out the sour.

Hopefully some of you on here can relate to this situation and will be able to point me in the right direction.