The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flat top help

drkomo's picture

Flat top help

NuBie trying to learn bread making but usually end up with something like the attached pic. Tried different recipes from the web & books. Everything seems to go like the instructions but when I pull the loaf out of the oven - things seem to differ. This is sandwich bread. I have tried different recipes, bread flour, gen purpose flour, high in the oven, low in the oven, pre-heated oven, non pre-heated oven, few minutes of machine kneading, several minutes of kneading and 9 times out of 10 I get something like this. Some times only the middle (lengthwise) drops and the ends are normal looking, others like this. I don't believe everything on the internet, but all the vids I tried look like this when the person on the other end who knows what they are doing pulls something to be proud of out of the oven and I get this. It has to be something on my side of the bread pan that is wrong. The inside is fine, no large holes, and it tastes fine it just looks like it was dropped. Any ideas

David R's picture
David R

How are you deciding when it has risen enough?

drkomo's picture

The first rise I do in an old pitcher with ruler markings on the side. All the recipes say double in size, its easy to know. The second rising in the pan I wait till it rises an inch above the pan wall.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

...over proofed to me. Try catching but sooner. You say you fill the loaf pan and wait till it's risen about an inch above the rim but how much do you fill it and what flour are you using? 

Better still, what's the recipe? How big is your loaf pan? 

drkomo's picture

1 cup + 2tbsp water
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbps non salt butter
1/3 cup dry milk
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour

9x5 pan

I just kicked off another batch and will stop first rise about 80%. I think I am on gen purpose flour this time. This time I added a bit more flour so it is not as sticky as before.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

is in the final proofing. The bulk ferment is done when the dough is aerated, billowy and has a good matrix of bubbles.

I'm also thinking, after a quick conversion of your recipe, that perhaps your dough isn't filling the pan enough. I'm thinking you've got a 2lb loaf pan but your dough is closer to 1.5lb.

Here is a rough conversion:

  • 264g water
  • 75g sugar
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 4g salt
  • 28g butter
  • 42g dried milk
  • 300 - 360g flour

Total = 720g - 780g

I was going to comment on the seemingly high amount of yeast but then again I don't do recipes like these and since you have quite a bit of sugar in there perhaps the yeast will need a boost. But if we assume your pan is for a 2lb loaf then it's falling short of about 120g of dough. Then you wait till it crests the top of the pan by then it's over proofed. So try filling it more.

drkomo's picture

Thanks for the info, I will try the next batch. I did a second test yesterday and snapped a few pics if it will help. It turned out better than some. I cut the first rise shorter then the previous.

Will continue to practice & learn

Roger Lambert's picture
Roger Lambert

I agree.  I also believe the dough is "over proofed".


drkomo's picture

Excellent. I will try again in a few days and cut it back even more.

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg

Give the dough a poke with your finger and judge how it "recovers". That is the best way to tell if it risen enough. I agree that over proofing is most likely your problem.

Mike72903's picture

I had the same issue basically and ask about it on this forum first thing after joining.  I was using too little dough for the size of my pans.  The answer I received on how to find the amount of dough is here  It solved my issue and I now get nice oven spring when the loaves are risen about 1 inch above the pan edge.  When I did the measurement of water to fill my pans it was 1900 grams so I needed about 1000 grams of dough.  If you don't have a scale you really need to get one. It will allow you to adjust your recipes accurately for different hydration rates and ingredients. 

drkomo's picture

Thanks all,I tried doing the math for the pan size with as well as cutting the first rise short with not much difference from past tests. I did a test tonight (after I bought a commercial loaf this afternoon) with a pic below. This batch I cut the first rise at about 25% and used a recipe that used more flour than before. Previously the dough was a little sticky to the touch. This recipe wasn't sticky and nothing was left in the mixer bowl unlike previous recipes.

It is a trend of one, but will try again in a few days. Thanks again for the suggestions.

DanAyo's picture

Super nice looking bread!

drkomo's picture

Thanks, just did a second loaf with the same recipe / technique and it turned out the same, so I am feeling better than I did with the last 10 thrown out for squirrels and other critters. Still learning but the homework is getting better.

kmspence's picture

So, is the answer that it's both the pan size and the over proofing?


drkomo's picture

I am not even close to being able to speak intelligently, but in my case I cut the first rise and changed recopies. Watching different vids I was leaving the dough way too wet and sticky. Now I add flour until it doesn't stick while kneading in the mixer. I have made 4 or 5 batches this way and they have all come out like the image above. I am still in learning mode though.