The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to Homemade Bread ... Crumbly Bread?

Gilliss10's picture

New to Homemade Bread ... Crumbly Bread?


I just started making homemade bread last weekend. Our preist came over and taught us how to make a basic loaf. I grew up with my mother always making bread in a bread machine. The aroma that would fill our home was almost captivating! Anyway ... I'm having fun with it. I've made 4 loaves so far and each has turned out wonderful. I even braided a few. In the last 2 loaves I made I put a little honey in it ... talk about yum!

I've got a question though ... How can I keep my bread from becoming to crumbly? I do not want to buy store bought bread anymore. But, in order to do that I cannot have my loaves be crumbly. Primarily because my husband cannot get crumbs all over his suit at work. Plus, it leaves a bit of a mess.

I use 4 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp yeast, and 2 tsp salt. (I'm writting this from memory...but I'm sure this is pretty close to the actual recipe I've been using). :-)


sdorunga1's picture

I'm fairly new to baking(bread), but what I would recommend baking for around 40 mins at 180C if it's white bread, which for me fully bakes the bread while leaving the crust perfectly soft, which would leave a lot less crumbs. About the actual crumb of the bread, that depends on how your dough develops, i think it helps if you add no fat to the dough, and the airirer the bread(coupled with fully developed dough), the more i think the bread won't crumble into a thousand pieces. Hope that helps:D

richkaimd's picture

I wish I knew what "crumbly bread" means.  I'm going to guess that what's happening is that you're not kneading the dough enough.  The earliest days for a newbie are filled with lots of mistakes.  Make them, learn from them, and move on, I say!  I've been baking bread for over thirty years.  At the beginning, I followed recipes in popular cookbooks.  If I were to start now, and knowing my own learning style, I'd combine a lot of reading (The Fresh Loaf and DiMuzio's little text he named Breadbaking) with watching all the on-line videos I could find on Youtube (there are tons of them; start by searching for "bread baking" or "bread making" or "bread kneading" or "loaf forming") and with trying to improve on the last loaves I've made. 

Getting back to insufficient kneading of your dough, which I'm guessing may be your problem:  read about making a "gluten window" on this site (use the search function on the left hand column of the home page) and find the same thing on Youtube.

Hang in there!  Pay attention to your mistakes and learn from them.  Keep asking us questions.

Finally, see if you can find a local person who will mentor you.  You might be able to do that through this website by mentioning where you bake.



SouthSam7's picture

Crumbly definition:

crum·ble [kruhm-buhl] Show IPA verb (used with object), crum·bled, crum·bling. 1. to break into small fragments or crumbs. verb (used without object), crum·bled, crum·bling. 2. to fall into small pieces; break or part into small fragments. 3. to decay or disintegrate gradually: The ancient walls had crumbled. noun 4. a crumbly or crumbled substance. 5. crumbles, bits of crisp bacon, bread, etc., added to other foods, especially as a topping. 6. British Dialect . crumb; particle; fragment.   
Chuck's picture

Is the bread "crumbly" as soon as you take it out of the oven? Or is it okay for the first day or two and only later starts to fall apart?

How many crumbs are there on your breadboard when you slice the bread? And how many crumbs are there on your knife after you slice the bread? Also, what kind of knife do you use for slicing?

Is crumb production closely associated with trying to bite through a too-thick-and-hard crust? Or is it not really related to the crust?

What temperature do you set your oven to? And how long do you bake your bread?

Is there something about the raw dough that already suggests it will make crumbly bread? Or does the dough seem to hold together just fine and the bread being crumbly is a surprise?

I suspect this problem has something to do with technique (in other words I'm doubtful it will be fixed by changing the recipe). Nevertheless, as an experiment I'd try finding a recipe that includes an egg, as once it's baked the whipped egg might help hold the bread together.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That would do it.  The cooler temperatures there will make the bread crumbly also known as staling.  

HeidiH's picture

Gluten can either be made by kneading or time.  If you think you are unlikely to knead enough to develop gluten fully and don't have a strong stand mixer, try one of the long-rise no-knead bread recipes abounding on the web.  No-knead is great for beginners.

JoeV's picture

I don't think she's doing anything incorrectly, except maybe for calling crumbs "crumbly." If you eat bread, there will be bread crumbs, it's just the way it is. The older a loaf of bread gets, the drier it will become and the more bread crumbs you will encounter. Your recipe is basically an artisan bread with no fat in it, so it will dry/stale faster because of this.  Find a recipe with butter or oil in it, and you'll notice a longer shelf life with fewer crumbs, but even with fat it will eventually stale.  Based on your recipe, I would add either 3T (1 oz.) of olive oil or 3T (1.5 oz.) of melted butter without changing anything else. Mix either of these with your water then proceed as usual. You might have to add a tad more flour if the dough sticks to the bottom of the mixer bowl, but I would be surprised if that happened at all. As for your hubby, maybe send a bib with his lunch or tell him to take his jacket off when eating a sandwich.

thomaschacon75's picture

If you eat bread, there will be crumbs.

We need to immortalize that as the FTL bumper sticker.

Agree with JoeV, you need added fat for a less crumbly crust.

If your crumb is crumbly, however, that is only to be expected, unless and until you can modify the laws of the universe.

FiveFtNone's picture

I know this is an old thread, so I don't expect my comment to help the original poster.  However, since I found this thread because I was having the same problem, I'm sure others are finding it as well.  I didn't find many of the above comments very helpful.  While I am new to bread baking, I am not new to bread.  As the original poster would probably agree; yes there were crumbs with my store-bought bread, however my homemade bread is significantly more crumbly.  We are just trying to reduce the amount of crumbs.  I did a little digging around the internet and found a page with a list of actual suggestions for reducing the amount of crumbs.  I hope this helps someone else trying to troubleshoot their bread.

Alibuc's picture

Brilliant! Thankyou - may not have helped the original poster but certainly helped me :)

Patti96's picture

FiveFt that link helped me too.  Yes bread is crumbly but this was crumbly in the sense that it didn't hold together right.  I suspected that in my case it was either too much flour or insufficient kneading or both.  Your link is just what I was looking for and you save me search time.  I registered here just so I could tell you that! The comment about the window was helpful also. 

SouthSam7's picture

Store bought bread is not crumbly; I was frustrated no one seemed to know that. 

Juliemws1's picture

Hi - I am also fairly new to bread making and I have been having a similar problem with my loaves. The first few slices of the loaves hold together well and are great. As I get closer to the center of the loaves, though, the slices start to become more crumbly and do not hold together well in the center of the slices making them unsuitable for sandwiches. I tried switching recipes, but am having the same problem with each recipe I try. We are primarily using the homemade bread for sandwiches, so this is really frustrating. I am mixing my bread dough in the dough cycle of my bread machine. I then punch it down, shape into loaves, and put in loaf pans to rise for about 40 minutes before baking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Is there a trick to shaping the loaves that makes them hold together better? I have read that some people flatten the dough and roll it up. Please help! I love the taste of the homemade bread, and would love to stop buying store bought loaves. 

CatiePH's picture

Hello, another person here who made an account for the express purpose of THANKING YOU, dear baker, for this response. I've baked over a dozen loaves in the last couple months and each has been an exercise in frustration (exacerbated by wading through endless forums full of responses like "Bread is supposed to be crumbly" and "What does crumbly mean" *face palm*). The last loaf I made was literally a pile of crumbs by day 2. I knew something was up but I couldn't seem to fix it. Armed with these real strategies, I'm going to try again. My goal is to end up with something that can actually function as part of a sandwich. :)

phariepoe's picture

I felt bad for the original poster because the replies were more poking fun of her than helping. Your link helps a lot, my breads taste good but have been falling apart. I flatten my dough then fold it like a piece of paper for a letter. I end up with the right shape and minimal air pockets after baking but the middle seems to fall apart. Next goal is to make bagels!  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Some doughs can really stretch but they get weaker as they do so.  What you end up with is a crust that holds itself together like a frame with an inside crumb that can't.   Try to shorten the final proof or rise and see if that helps.  

In another bake, try adding more envelope folds during the bulk rise and see if that helps too.   

AlexSmith's picture

Hi all! Just like a lot of people who got to this place, I'm also new to this world of baking, although I've been baking for some years. I just wanted to say thanks for that link FiveFtNone shared here. That's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much!

mkdooms's picture

Hi there, I'm new here, and i know this question might sound stupid and pedantic but

On average how many crumbs fall off a baguett?

Really need to settle a debate with a mate, i said the answer is around a thousand max, and my mate said nearer a million!!


Cheers for all your help!

pmccool's picture

it is now!  While I suspect that you are closer an accurate answer than your debate partner is , this is one of those questions that doesn't have a deterministic answer.  The only real way to find out is to count the crumbs -- from many, many baguettes.  And not only a lot of baguettes, but baguettes of all descriptions: fresh, stale, homemade, bakery made, torn, sliced, and so on.  Then you'll have a range of possibilities, such as "between 300 and 450, typically". 

Or you could just tell your debate partner that a million is more than he'd get if he ran a baguette through a food processor; then let him do the counting for himself.


gray's picture

Some good ideas here I'm going to try. My sliced bread seems too stiff for sandwiches, not pliable enough. My last batch followed a no knead recipe with King Arthur high gluten flour, sour dough yeast starter, water, salt and I added a few teaspoons of vital wheat gluten. The dough seemed sticky enough before baking. After a few days when I slice to the center of the loaf, the bread is dry. Makes for good toast however.

When I buy bread, I like to get Whole Foods 12 seed & grain sourdough. My local WF says it's one of the few loaves they bake at the store. The dough probably comes pre-mixed. It makes for gread sandwich bread. I've attached the ingredients label from a loaf purchased in Feb 16 and again in Dec 16. All the seeds are on the outside of the loaf. Maybe the tahini is coated on the outside to make them stick?