Why does my bread sink in the middle after baking?

Why does my bread sink in the middle after baking?

So, you have followed the recipe, gently cared for your dough but open the oven to find your expectations have sunk. This is a common problem that can be rectified easily once you have identified the problem.

Dry ingredients

One of the most important items in your breadmaking toolkit is yeast and it could simply be too old. Yeast is a living thing and if it is left too long it could expire. So, before you mix any ingredients together it is best to test your yeast.

To do this just add the amount of yeast specified in the recipe to some warm water along with a little sugar. Set aside for a few minutes and live yeast will start eating the sugar and foamy bubbles will form at the surface. In nothing happens after 10 minutes buy a new pack.

The proof is in the pudding

Dough needs time for the gluten to develop to let the yeast eat the starch in the flour converting it to carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Gluten is developed through kneading and proofing and too little of both will affect the structure of the dough resulting in sinking.

When proofing your dough, the two crucial elements are time and temperature. The lower the temperature in your kitchen the longer the dough takes to proof. Conversely, the warmer the environment, the less time it takes to proof.

If the dough sits too long the yeast would have eaten up all the starch and will stop rising and collapse in on itself.

The ideal temperature for proofing dough is between 24 and 36C or 70 to 115F and generally, the first proofing time is no more than two hours and the second no more than one. But remember, if the dough has doubled in size before these times it is ready to use.

Baking temperature

All ovens have their own foibles, and you need to get to know yours. Some ovens run hotter than its settings, some cooler.

If the oven is too hot the loaf will be brown and crispy on the outside but doughy in the middle and may collapse as it cools.

When bread is baked at too low a temperature it will not rise enough in the oven resulting in a dense and sunken loaf.

If you suspect your oven is not baking at the right temperature a little experimentation is required.

The easiest way is to use an oven thermometer to work out the accuracy of your thermostat or through trial and error by setting the knob a few degrees higher or lower for your loaf and checking the results.

Any master baker will tell you that you can have the best equipment and perfect technique but if the quality of your ingredients is substandard your loaf will be of poor quality.

If you're looking to get excellent results with every bake, then take a look at our full range of top-quality <a href="https://britainlovesbaking.com/collections/baking-boxes-and-kits">baking kits</a> available at Britain Loves Baking
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