The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread collapses while baking

pageta's picture

Bread collapses while baking

I am making whole wheat bread using my mother's recipe. She has used this recipe since the mid-1980s, and I am using similar equipment. She has been at my house - as recent as two weeks ago - and we have made bread using my ingredients with her recipe and it has come out perfectly. But when I make it, everything seems fine until I take the bread out of the oven after baking and I see that it collapsed.

Here is how it goes (I weighed all ingredients before putting them in and converted to grams below when I used ounces):

  • 1600 g whole wheat freshly ground into flour (ground by me immediately before making the bread)
  • 4.5 oz lard, softened (127 g)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar (133 g)
  • 40 oz water, room temperature - drinking water from grocery store that I use for my artisan bread since our water has chlorine (1134 g)
  • 1.25 oz (3T) Fleishman's active dry yeast (35 g)
  • 80 g Morton's kosher salt (2% of weight of whole wheat flour)
  • 200 g King Arthur's bread flour

I combined the water sugar and yeast in the Bosch and let the yeast soften while I prepared other ingredients. I added ~8 cups of the whole wheat flour and the remaining ingredients except the bread flour. I turned on the machine and added the additional flour until the dough started to form like it is supposed to. I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes on setting #3 (of 4 settings - my Bosch was bought new about a year ago and they say to knead dough on setting 2 or 3).

I put the bread directly into 5 loaf pans (this is what my mother does and swears she has done for years - no first rising - and she has done this at my house and it works). I let it rise in an oven with hot water in a pan on the bottom shelf and the light on for about 2 hours (oven temp showed 105 degrees when I took the bread out and began to heat the oven). The bread had risen nicely to about 1" above the top of the bread pans and was rounded and had good shape. I heated the oven to 450F and then put the bread in and reduced the temperature to 350F and set the time for 40 minutes. I literally sat on the floor in front of the oven to see if it would rise or collapse becuase I've had this collapsing thing happen before. After five minutes, the bread was 1 1/2" to 2" above the pans, so nice oven spring.

I went for a walk and my husband took the bread out when the timer rang. When I got home, I saw that every loaf had collapsed in the center so the edges are less than 1" above the edge of the pan and the center is lower than the sides. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Last week I made the same recipe using olive oil (instead of lard) and 2T yeast instead of 3T. I thought perhaps I hadn't used enough yeast, but obviously using more yeast wasn't the problem as I got the same result.

The dough feels nice - has good texture and gluten development and shapes well. If the yeast wasn't working, I would think that would be obvious because the dough would not feel right.

I mention the yeast, though, because I am using Fleishman's Active Dry yeast vs Saf Instant yeast. The expiration on the lid of the yeast (in a jar) is June 2013, and it has been refrigerated since it was opened. I've won big prizes at the state fair using other recipes with this same yeast, and generally I use 2 1/4 tsp (equiv. 1 pkg) for the first loaf and about 1 tsp for every additional loaf. I always proofed the dough, though. When my mother came to visit in March, we made bread with my ingredients and that is when I learned that she didn't ever proof her dough.

I am so TIRED of making this recipe and not having it work for one reason or another. I make beautiful Tartine bread by hand (so I know what dough should feel like), but my family goes through a lot of sandwich bread and it's nice to use the Bosch and make five loaves at once.

Two pictures: One of the loaf I made today still in the pan, and one of a slice of bread from last week's batch.

pmccool's picture

As in too much time for the fermentation.  At 105F, 30-40 minutes might have been plenty.  Next time, keep an eye on the dough instead of relying on the clock to tell you when to bake. There are a lot of posts here about gauging when a dough is ready.  Use the Search tool for poke test, for instance.

Better luck with your next bake.


pageta's picture

For rising, I initially set the timer for 40 minutes, then checked it every 10 or 20 minutes until the bread was an inch above the edge of the pans. The water was at room temperature (low 70s) when I started, so the dough was not that warm the entire time. Had the water been hot, it might have only taken 40 minutes to rise. But I watched the bread, not the time.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... certainly seems the most likely cause.

It might well be a close-run thing. The dough may look all fine and dandy in the tins, but by the time it hits the oven and rapidly increasing heat, the yeast is close to running out of starch. Net result: sunken bread.

Just a thought - did you use the "finger poke" test, to determine the dough's readiness for baking, prior to loading in the oven? If not, that would be a useful thing to do, next time.

For myself, I'd be looking to reduce the quantity of yeast somewhat. The alternative is to do as Paul suggests, and reduce the bulk-ferment/final proof time. Either way, better that the dough goes in to the oven slightly under-proofed than over.

If it helps at all (I'll wager it won't!) - the only time I had the same problem as you was when using a bread machine some years back. It didn't happen that often, but when it did, it was thoroughly vexing, so I sympathise. Never did find out why sometimes the same recipe it loved and other times it ruined - but there ya go - just one the sweet mysteries of life (and bread).

All at Sea

Yerffej's picture

Your bread is overproofed.  Search this site for information on proper proofing or more specifically, how to tell when dough is fully proofed.  Also, I would reduce the yeast from 3T. down to 2T.  and let the dough rise at room temperature instead of the 105° environment.   This will make a better bread that is less likely to overproof quickly.


williampp's picture

I make your salt at 4.4 bakers %. 80g salt to 1800g flour

2% is about average. Not sure what double salt would do

I agree with the other comments about overproofed.


Jaydot's picture

My sympathies - making bread can be quite frustrating at times :). Even though I bake a in a different way (sourdoughs with long fermentation and overnight proofing), I had slices that looked exactly the same as yours for a while. Shorter and cooler proofing solved the problem completely!

joem6112's picture

I found that too long rise time causes collapse. Best to keep an eye on second rise. I once had a second rise that was quite high and looked great. As I brought the dough, which was in a loaf pan, over to the oven to bake, I accidently bumped it as I was putting it in the oven and watched it collapse like an old ballon. It recovered somewhat during the bake but it sure tasted good and that made up for my clumsiness.