The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Loaf sinking

vbgirl8's picture

Loaf sinking

Hi everybody!

My grandmother gave me her basic white bread recipe for the bread machine. The recipe works perfectly at her house in Canada-I enjoy the fluffy white bread. However, I have tried the same exact recipe at my home in Ohio. Every time, the bread always sinks. The inside isn't too bad, not incredibly dense, but it could certainly be fluffier. I am confused as to what may be the problem and how to fix it. Is it the humidity? Thanks in advance!

tgrayson's picture

Are you using the exact same flour?

vbgirl8's picture

Yes. I am following the recipe exactly. It calls for 2 types of flour: bread flour and all-purpose flour.

tgrayson's picture

All-purpose flour is all over the map; some are more suitable to bread than others. What brand?

DavidEF's picture

I would first check for overproofing. Is the temperature the same at both places or do you use a proofing box, or does the bread maker maintain a certain temperature? If not, there may be a difference in temperature that is making the bread overproof at your house if left for the same amount of time as at her house, before baking.

Also, there are sometimes differences in flour even if it is called the same type. I even saw on one website, someone did a comparison of various flours, and there was a difference within the same brand and type of flour coming from two different regions. The difference was large enough that the flour from one region scored high marks in the author's bake test, while the same flour from a different region was surprisingly bad.

Another thing to consider: Are you able to bake her bread while you're in Canada, or does she always do that? The reason for this is to lead into this question: Are you using weight or volume measurements? Two different people can have very different results with the same measuring cup. Even from one bake to the next, the same person can change the amount of flour in the cup. Measuring by weight practically eliminates the possibility of variance, because a gram is a gram, no matter who measured it.

There are so many variables in such a simple thing as bread, and if lots of tiny changes happen to add up to one big disaster, it can be frustrating trying to figure it out. I hope you get it figured out soon. You need bread, after all, and someone's got to bake it. It may as well be you.

vbgirl8's picture

Thank you so much for taking the time explain of this to me. I really appreciate it! I believe for certain that part of the problem is the overproofing. Also, my grandmother uses a different bread maker. (However, she has had the same success using the same recipe with a different bread maker at her house in the past) maybe this is the problem?

Also, do you know if there is a way to adjust if the flour comes from different regions, or is it just something you have to experiment with?

Finally, I have read a bit on other websites about adding flour, taking away yeast, and decreasing the liquid amounts. Would you recommend doing the same and experimenting with these ideas? Thanks again, Mr. DavidEF!

vbgirl8's picture

Tgrayson, I just use Kroger's All-Purpose Flour and Pilsbury's Best for Bread Flour/King Arthur Better for Bread Flour. Would you recommend a different brand? Thanks!

tgrayson's picture

That's probably fine. I don't know the protein percent of Kroger's,  but I was mostly worried about some of the softer flours that are best suited for biscuits and would probably make poor bread.

Antilope's picture

I had a lot of trouble getting consistent loaves of bread from my bread machines until I started weighing the ingredients. When using cups to measure flour, a cup can weigh 4 to 5 oz depending on how you fill it. That can result in an almost 20% difference in the flour used in a loaf.

After starting to weigh the ingredients, then I could calculate the hydration. I usually use a 66% hydration. If the flour weighs 400 gm then I use 66% of that weight in liquids, or a total of 264 gm of water or milk or eggs (a large egg is about 50 gm of liquid) or a combination.

In the past, when my loaves were too wet because of not weighing the ingredients, the top of the loaves would fall. This hasn't happened to me since I started weighing the ingredients.

I still will watch the first few minutes of kneading and adjust the dough so that it is slightly sticky, but holds its shape.

This website in the link below will convert ingredients from volume to weight and vice versa. I use it to convert my volume recipes to weight.


Antilope's picture

Wheat Flour Protein:

-Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour. 

-Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded. 

-Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels. 

-For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

-Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%. 
Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

-Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10% 
Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten.
Most cake flours are bleached.

CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
-King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
-King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4% 
-Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
-Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
-Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
-King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
-King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
-Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
-White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles. 
-Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
-King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
-Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
-Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
-Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
-White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9% 
ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protien
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
-Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
-Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
-Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
-King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
-Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
-Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
-Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
-Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
-Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
-Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
-White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
-Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
-King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
-Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
BREAD FLOUR - 12 to 13.3% protein
Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
-Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12% 
-King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
-Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
-White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
Best Use: Pasta.
-Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3% 
-King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
-Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
-King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
-King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
-Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
-King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14% 
-King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
-Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0% 
-Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
-Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
-Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
-King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
-Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill 
-C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
-General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
-Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills

-J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
-King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
-Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
-Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour