The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Weird "Crack" Inside Loaf

CoveredInFlour's picture

Weird "Crack" Inside Loaf

Hello. :)


I've made the Tassaraja Egg White Bread recipe twice now, and both times I've gotten this kind of weird "crack" (for lack of a better term) inside the loaf. It's not a tunnel as I know it, I took some pictures tonight after cutting into the fresh loaf I made today:



The first time I made it, the side of the top ripped and  had a huge backward "J" shaped crack that started in the centre of the bread and went up to the side on the top of the loaf. So this time I used less flour to shape it, the dough was slightly sticky when I put it into the pan for the final rise and let it rise 10 minutes longer than I usually let the dough rise. This time I also skipped the second rising after punching down, just went on to shape it and let it rise in the pan (I don't know all the technical terms for these various steps, I'm a newbie. :)).

Both times I slashed the top and used an egg wash. I roll my dough before I put it in the pan as I would for Cinnamon Rolls, pressing down on the dough in the pan to flatten it and making sure that it's all smooshy. After the first loaf of this bread where the cracking was severe, this time I *definitely* made sure I sealed the seam. Both sides of the crack are smooth, so they haven't ripped when coming out of the pan.

I haven't had this problem with any of the other recipes I've made, only with this particular recipe. I'm very frustrated, I don't know what I'm doing wrong so I can't learn from this and not happen again. It's a big problem when I slice it and it breaks apart at that point.

I'm sorry if this post is scattered, I'm fending off my kids trying to involve me in their lives while I gather my thoughts. I hate that. :)

Thanks so much for reading!



dmsnyder's picture

I'm guessing you shape your pan rolls by rolling up a flattented piece of dough and that, because it's kind of sticky, you dust it with flour before rolling it up.

Your "crack" looks like where the uncooked flour between the layers of dough is.

I hope this makes sense. Might even be the source of your problem. Who knows?


PaddyL's picture

But it usually only shows up when I cut the bread.  I thought at first the dough was a bit crumbly because I used oat bran, but it's happened with other breads too.  I don't roll out my dough at all; I just sort of bash it around and pull it together until it's the size and shape of the pan.

CoveredInFlour's picture

Thank you for your replies. :)

David, I would say you'd be correct as it could have been that way with the first loaf, but this time I made sure I didn't add any extra flour when I handled my dough, to the point of it being sticky as I shaped it.

I have a tendency normally to add too much flour when working the dough as I don't have the expertise yet to judge when it's good.

I'm wondering now if it could be butter that didn't get fully incorporated as I mixed the dough by hand, but I'm not sure if that would explain the length and placement of the cracks. As I cut the bread this morning for sandwiches, the first piece fell apart around the outside leaving me with the top and centre intact.

On my first loaf, which I wish I had photographed, the bread was falling apart as I took it out of the pan. This time the cracks are inside the crust for the most part.

It's quite frustrating!

Maybe my dough is just not the right measurements, I reduced the amounts in half as I only need 1 loaf of bread at a time. This is what I'm using:

1 1/4 C lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp rapid yeast
2 Tbs honey
1/2 C dry milk
1 egg
2 C unbleached white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbs + 2 tsp butter
1 1/2 C unbleached white flour for forming dough
1/2 C unbleached flour fpr kneading dough

The dough comes out very moist , and stays soft until baked. I proof my dough in a cermaic mixing bowl, on top of my stove exhaust with the oven on at 200 degrees. I try to knead the dough by folding over and compressing liek the show in the Tassaraja Bread book.

Again, very frustrating!!

ehanner's picture


Adding to the above replies, one thing is certain. The "crack" is the result of the dough not combining at a point where it is being folded or rolled. From your description and ingredient list I would say the butter is the culprit or rather the dough isn't mixed well enough to incorporate the butter. Also the large amount of extra flour identified as flour for forming dough (1-1/2C) is interesting. If it were me, I would mix all the ingredients and making sure the butter was fully incorporated, do some stretch and folds during fermentation. You shouldn't need to roll out the dough.

One other thing. The dough would probably handle better and taste better if you cut back on the yeast some. It will take slightly longer to ferment and rise but the end result will be better I think.


CoveredInFlour's picture

First, my apologies for the typos in my last post, I have a 4 year old who likes to snuggle when I'm on the computer. It's sometimes hard to see around his gigantic coconut head to the screen.

Eric, thank you so much for your advice.

When I next make this bread, probably today as my family has pretty much finished the loaf I made yesterday and seem to think that I'm some sort of bread making machine, I will melt and cool the butter. That should probably help to incorporate it more efficiently into the dough. I found I had clumps of butter in the dough on both occasions when I previously made it- I thought it would be okay as the room temperature butter had previously worked in the bread machine even on rapid bake. Also, I will cut back the yeast to 2 tsp? Or do you recommend a smaller amount?

The steps in the Tassaraja Bread Book start with the making of the sponge (making a thick mud beaten 100 times), which would be

1 1/4 C lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp rapid yeast
2 Tbs honey
1/2 C dry milk
1 egg
2 C unbleached white flour

then once that has foamed up after about 45 to 55 minutes (depending on the weather and the room's temperature) adding the remaining ingredients and forming into a loose dough to then knead. Rise, punch down, rise again (optional), form, and re rise.

If you advising that the flour should be added all together, would that be in the forming of the sponge and holding off on the addition of the other ingredients until the second step? The "mud" will be much thicker, but I'm willing to use my Germanic peasant plow pulling muscles to do it. :)

Just to clarify as I think I worded my original post oddly, I don't roll my dough with a rolling pin, I flatten it with my hand and roll it like I would a shape jelly roll cake and place it in the pan.

I must admit that it's very tempting to put this recipe aside as a failure as I have done with others over the years (pie crust!!! >:( ) and move on, but it bugs me that I'm doing something wrong that's preventing it from coming out like it's supposed to do.

I've been afraid to over work it, but maybe in doing that I'm actually under working it. I usually knead the dough between 5 to 8 minutes, but maybe it needs more than that?

I apologize if I'm coming off like an idiot, but it's hard to start doing this by hand when everyone who used to do it by hand in my family is gone. My friends think I'm nuts (hopefully just about this ;)), my husband feels that it's a bit of a waste of time although he eats it quickly enough, so I really have no one around to ask "is this what it should look and feel like?". I very very much appreciate all the replies and advice you are giving me!



ehanner's picture

First I should say I'm not familiar with the Tassaraja Bread Book or the recipes in it. I have heard it mentioned in the past and recall there are some interesting differences in the procedures.

My comment about the yeast is my thought that it seems like a lot of yeast for a small one loaf of bread. Yeast is one of those things you need and if you use less of it, the results are better. Less yeast means slower activity and longer time which is more acids and flavor.The recipe calls for a sponge that is warm, has added honey for feeding the yeast. I'll bet it is foaming like crazy when it gets cooking. If it were me, I would cut the yeast to 1 teaspoon and let the activity be the guide.

You can knead it until it feels right and will window pane and/or you can knead it for a while and let it rest for 20 minutes and do a stretch and fold. Then you will understand how the gluten has developed. Maybe it is strong, maybe it needs another 20 minute rest and S&F. I am assuming you add the butter when you add the additional flour. You wouldn't want to wait to incorporate the butter. The stretch and fold technique is very good for delivering a smooth well developed dough.

Please let us know how this works for you.



CoveredInFlour's picture

Again, thank you for the advice, it's truly a help.

I chose the Tassajara Bread Book as the recipes and procedures seemed a little easier, more forgiving and relaxed than the others I have read. Little did I know. :) I've had success with the basic recipe and the Honey Oatmeal bread, but this one is not the same, or I'm doing something wrong. The latter seems the most likely, darn it. 

I will try the recipe with the lower amount of yeast, and as for windowpaning I will look that up in the Bread Baker's Apprentice- I remember seeing it there. The sponge isn't that foamy, I'm using fresh dried yeast I keep in the fridge and freezer so it's not a yeast problem, it could be that I don't let it ferment as long as it should. Maybe 45 minutes isn't long enough in my kitchen so it's not trying to climb out of the bowl at that point.

I do add the butter right before I add the extra flour, folding it all in while trying not to rip the dough.

Sitting here mulling over your reply, maybe I'm just being too gentle and precious with the dough and not giving it the stretching and the folding it needs. I *thought* I read somewhere the dough high in fat and sugar needs more kneading time to elasticize and I haven't been doing that....

When push comes to shove it's just bread, we're going to eat it regardless unless it's completely horrific to taste, but not being able to get it the way is *should* be is irksome and I hate not succeeding with something so basic. 

I will try the lower amount of yeast, I will let the sponge rise for a longer period of time (particularly today where it's cold and rainy), melt and cool the butter and beat the heck out of the dough using little flour to knead and shape. I'll let it rest between kneading, and let it rise for a longer period of time before baking it. I should tell you that it goes in for 60 minutes @ 325. And if I *still* get the same problem I will throw my hands up in despair and eat it anyway. 

Thank you so much for helping!


nancy58's picture

Eric is correct, it is a place where, in shaping the loaf there is too much flour that is on the dough and when shaping it as well as during the rise, it is unable to be incorporated. Also known as a shaping error.

I also agree that 2 1/4 tsp of yeast is to much for 1 loaf, especially given that you are starting with a sponge. Also the "rapid Rise" yeast is, as I have been taught, NEVER to be used, ever, ever. Substitute Instant Dry yeast (can add directly with other ingredients as well as water & flour) or Active Dry yeast (the kind that you need to rehydrate with water). Your yeast is all out of energy by the time it has gone through all the steps stated the recipe requires. By changing the yeast, you will give the yeast enough time to do what it is meant to do...rise the dough and still have a bit left for oven spring. Also 325degrees for an hour is also a problem IMHO. Try 350 for 35-40 minutes/190+ internal degree temp of the bread.

Hope this helps, try some of the suggestions given in all of the responses and see how it works out.(keep notes of your changes and results to help in your quest for that elusive will appear eventually. Happy baking!

CoveredInFlour's picture

Well, someting worked!

  • I used 1 tsp yeast,had the sponge rise for an hour
  • melted the butter and folded the batter until it appeared to be incorporated
  • I worked and kneaded the dough much longer than I normally would have
  • let the dough have a second rising after punching down
  • let the dough rest on the board during kneading
  • skipped the egg wash

due to the weather, cold and rainy, I had to add more flour the recipe called for. I added about one more cup to the dough- I don't know if that help or hurt the bread, but as far as I can see this morning ther was no cracking inside the loaf.

I'm including pictures of all 4 sides, top and bottom as well as inside the loaf.

The yeat I use is Fleishmann's Quick Rise yeast sold in the bulk brick packages. I could find the other yeast at the grocery, I've just always used this for any yeast dough and never had a porblem with it. Maybe I'll get some of the slower yeast and see what difference it makes in bread production.

I think I'll move on to a different recipe the next time, I find this dough a little wet and soft to really work.

Thank you again for all your advice!! It certaianly helped!

CoveredInFlour's picture

I forgot to mention in my previous post- *this* loaf was firmer, denser and higher then my previous two attempts. It's easier to cut and smells a little better. I haven't tasted it yet, I'm not a morning eater, but overall it's a better loaf than the other two.

So Eric, I'll be kidnapping you and keeping you in my kitchen to help. :D Thank you so much for your advice, whether what you said help or not you gave me hope and that goes a long way.

sjburnt's picture

I am not sure this fits, but I am going to throw it out there and you can decide if it is a possibility.

When I bulk ferment a lot of my breads, I spray the bowl with that cooking spray oil that rhymes with DAM...   ...anyway, I notice that that stuff never seems to incorporate with the dough.  Is it possible that when you fold your dough there is a layer of Pa---   er, I mean DAM in between the dough?

Just a thought.  Happy Baking!




CoveredInFlour's picture

I use butter to grease my bowl, I found it better than oil or shortening. BUT, I use Baking DAM to coat my pans.

I'll take any ideas on how it happend! :D

hanseata's picture

I nearly always use coating spray, first Pam, Baker's Joy, or Canola spray, now a commercial one from my wholesaler. I never noticed any effect on my breads. In rolled-up sandwich loaves I sometimes found similar cracks and the reason was always too much flour on the work surface preventing the dough layers to stick together.

ehanner's picture

I'm happy to see you have a perfect loaf. It looks wonderful.

I use a little bit of vegetable oil and rub it around with my fingers in the bowl and also the bread pans. It really doesn't take much at all. You just want to be able to get the dough out of the bowl without having it stick much. If you have a plastic bowl scraper, the job is far easier. Just remember to maintain the top side of the dough. IE, the top surface of the dough in the bowl should be the bottom surface on the counter. Then when you shape and put it into the pan, the bottom surface becomes the top. I hope that makes sense:>)


CoveredInFlour's picture

Makes perfect sense! I usually turn the dough out so what was the bottom of the dough in the bowl is facing upward on the pastry board, then fold the underside (what was the top of the dough in the bowl) over the top side and smoosh it all together. Is smoosh a technical term? :D

I made notes in my book as to what I did differently as I'm not sure what exactly helped it be a better loaf. I had some slices for lunch and it was REALLY a better tasting loaf and sliced like a dream. 

I'll be making the Rye-Oatmeal bread from the same book next, and I'll start with 1 tsp yeast instead of 2 1/4 tsp<-- the original 2 loaf recipe calls for 1 1/2 TBS of yeast. And as it calls for oil instead of butter I'll have a better chance of getting it incorporated.

I really do appreciate all of the feedback and comments that you have all taken the time to share and the help you've given. All of it just helps me learn and be a better baker.