The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how to avoid collapsing loaves?

sallam's picture

how to avoid collapsing loaves?


I've just bought my first bread machine 3 days ago. My first whole wheat loaf turned out sunk and too dense. During its third rise it went very high almost to the top of the pan, but 20min before baking cycle it began to sink. At the end of the baking it lost more than half its height, and turned out too dense. The resulting loaf was 1/2 the height of the pan.

In my second attempt, I added 30ml more water, 1/2t more salt, and reduced 1T less sugar and 1/2t less dry yeast, and used the basic program (3:00) instead of the WW program (3:40) to avoid over proofing. The result was much better, the dough didn't collapse during proofing, and there was a nice oven spring at the beginning of the baking cycle, but then a few minutes later, it began to sink a little. By the end of baking it lost the height it gained from the oven spring rise. The resulting loaf was 2/3 the height of the pan.

Can someone please tell me why did that happen? and what can I do to keep the oven spring rise from collapsing back to where it was during the baking cycle? Should I use more yeast? more salt? less water? Changing the flour type is not an option, since where I live, there is mainly one type available, and that is AP flour (72% extraction), and I add 10% wheat bran.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

sounded petty good until reading that you decided not to stick with the WW program.  I think more things changed than overall timing; i.e. mixing time.    Too many recipe variables changed at the same time too.  Changing the salt within 1-2% will have little effect so change according to your tastes.

Try it again using the WW setting and just reduce the yeast.  Adding more water should be tried another time.  Changing too many things at once makes it difficult to solve a problem. Good luck!


HogieWan's picture

if the loaf is collapsing, it is proofing for too long.  Is there a way to adjust the proff time?

sallam's picture

No way to reduce proofing time, but we can select a different program that has a less proofing time, such as 'Basic" instead of WW. Next time I'll take minioven's advice and use less yeast. I'll post the results here.

sallam's picture

I've used just 1/2t dry yeast with 3c flour (weighted 450g), 150ml wheat bran and 320ml water instead of 350ml. There was a big over spring rise (the top was dome shaped!), and no collapse at all, but the total rise was only 2/3 the height of the pan. The bread was not dense as before, and more fluffy, but I wish to reach a higher rise and lighter crumb.

So now, if I put more yeast, it collapses during baking, and if I reduce the yeast, there is no collapse but the total height is little. Its a difficult thing to calculate.

What if I tried more yeast (1½t instead of ½t) and added some semolina flour to boost the gluten content and so make the flour stronger?

sallam's picture

I've just tried my first loaf made with added semolina. I used 2c Ap flour, 1c semolina flour and 150ml wheat bran. The dough grew into a giant inside the machine, reaching above the pan's rim. It was amazing. But since I selected the WW cycle, it started to collapse 20min before the baking cycle. Plus, it went down dramatically further during baking.

Next time I'll use the same ingredients, but select the basic cycle instead. I guess when the baking starts 40min earlier, the dough will be caught before it reaches its dreadful break point.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

In general, when the dough collapses, either it was too wet, there was too much yeast, or both.


In "Bread Machine Magic" the excellent advice was to watch the dough forming.  When most bread machines start mixing they pulse the paddles for a while, then they settle in to kneading.  When they start kneading, open the top and look at the dough.


You want to see a ball of dough being worked by the paddle.  If you see a hard lump of dough with bits of unincoporated flour (not likely, considering your symptoms), the dough is too dry.  Add water a teaspoon at a time until the machine pulls in all the loose birs and dough ball softens up.


If you see that the machine is essentially stirring a puddle of batter, the dough is too wet.  Add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough comes together into a ball.


Remember to count how much more flour or water you added and use that as a starting point next time.  Also, give the machine a little time to incorporate the additins of flour or water before adding more.


A few more suggestions - don't use cups, weigh your ingredients.  This is especially important when using a bread machine.  Bread machines are unforgiving.  Scales are cheap.  Yes, you CAN make good bread without scales.  It's just harder to be consistent.


Next, if your bread is like what you want but not tall enough, make more of it.  If your loaf is 3/4 the size you want, add 1/3 more of each ingredient.


Good luck,




sallam's picture

Thanks for your suggestions. The dough in my last attempt was soft ball shaped without residues in the bottom, so I guess the water/flour ratio was fine. I do have a scale but I used it once to weight the volume of the measuring cup (exactly 150g of flour, using shaking then leveling with a flat object, and a semolina cup weights 195g).

I prefer to produce a loaf as high as possible made from ingredients as small as possible, as I'm concerned about our diet, and airy bread means eating the same sandwiches but less dense and consequently less calories.