The most common reason why bread deflates in the bread machine has to do with yeast and liquid ratio. If you put too much liquid in the dough, it could kill the yeast which results in collapsed bread.
Using water that is too hot or too cold may also result in a deflated loaf of bread. This is why it is necessary to follow the recipe to the letter in order to avoid any unwanted results.
What to Do When Your Bread Deflates?
If your bread came out with a deflated top, there’s nothing you can do at this point really. You can, however, make sure that the next time you make bread, it turns out just fine.
There are several possible reasons why bread deflates in the bread machine so make sure that you learn about them. You might be making a pretty silly mistake that you are not aware of but which could have easily been prevented.
Why Does a Loaf of Bread Sink in the Middle?
Bread can deflate for several reasons but they all have to do with recipe imbalance and handling the dough incorrectly.
Professional artisan baker Patrick Moore explained how using too much water can cause a loaf to sink. Another problem is baking the loaf at low settings which results in a quite pale, unappealing loaf of bread.
Similarly, adding too much yeast in the mixing process and baking the loaf at a too hot setting can also result in a deflated bread in the middle. Except that in this case, the loaf would not be pale but quite the opposite, it would be a bit burned.
To sum up, recipe imbalance, wrong temperature, and the wrong setting are the most common reasons why bread sinks in the middle.
Additionally, there is another factor worth mentioning here and that is the type of flour used to make bread. Certain flours such as rye flour, tend to give your loaf of bread a flatter appearance, Patrick explained.
So be mindful when using different types of dough. Read up on each to find out how much liquid to use in your recipe, etc.
On the other hand, Chef Jacob Burton says that the common reason why bread deflates is related to the temperature in your kitchen and over-proofed dough. If it’s too hot, the dough will rise too quickly and will then collapse.
The hotter the kitchen environment is, the more activated the yeast gets. Hot temperatures cause the yeast to hyperactivate which leads to overfermentation which then results in a deflated loaf, Jacob explains.
How to Prevent it From Happening?
While you can’t fix a sunken loaf once it comes out of the bread machine, there are some tactics you can use the next time you’re baking in order to prevent it from happening again. First of all, just like we keep repeating time and again, follow the recipe. We cannot stress this enough.
If your loaf of bread still turns out deflated despite sticking to the recipe, you might want to reconsider the recipe. Also, take advice from experienced bakers who know how to avoid such problems.
For a perfect loaf of bread, chef Jacob suggests allowing your dough enough time to rise (at least 2 hours for the bulk fermentation and 1 hour for proofing).
So don’t rush your dough. If you are in a hurry, perhaps you should postpone your plan to bake bread for when you have more time.
Baker Patrick Moore believes that recipes that come with a bread machine are a good place to start if you want to make a good loaf of bread. However, one must be aware of the absorption rates that different types of flour have.
He suggests sticking to the flour that you know how to work with and also taking note of the suggestions indicated on the package of the flour.
In order to prevent your loaf from sinking, stick to the recipe when it comes to how much water you should use. But let that not be your only indicator. If your loaf of bread turns out to be too dense and inedible, then you need to add a bit more water the next time.
On the other hand, if the loaf is too airy and pale, you should reduce the amount of water you put in the dough.
Important tip: Make sure that the pan is big enough for the dough. If the dough touches the lid of the pan, this can result in a deflated top.
Add Ingredients in the Correct Order
To get an exquisite loaf of bread with a dome-like top (instead of a deflated top), each step of the process matters. When adding ingredients to the bread machine, it is of utmost importance to follow the correct order (as recommended by the manufacturer or the recipe you’re using).
Typically, liquids go in first followed by dry ingredients and flour. Yeast usually goes in last.
This is the commonly recommended order for loading ingredients:
|1.||Liquids||water, milk, eggs, oil, melted butter, etc.|
|2.||Dry Ingredients||sugar, salt, powdered milk|
|3.||Flour||All-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, etc.|
|4.||Yeast||Instant or active dry yeast|
Tip: Check your dough from time to time. Open the lid and see whether it has formed a smooth, elastic dough. If it’s too sticky and moist, add a bit more flour and vice versa, if it’s too dry, add a bit of water.
Use Fresh Ingredients
Are you using fresh ingredients every time you bake? This can also impact the quality of your bread.
More importantly, do you use fresh yeast? We’re not talking about the rarely used and unpredictable fresh yeast that has about a 2-week shelf life and has to be kept in the refrigerator.
We’re talking about active dry yeast or instant yeast (commonly used for bread machine baking).
Instant yeast has a very long shelf life and can be frozen or kept in cool temperatures for a long time. Active dry yeast, on the other hand, has a shorter shelf life and is rather unstable when compared to instant yeast.
Check the expiry date on the yeast package before you add it to the dough. Active dry yeast can be dead even if it’s not close to expiring. That is why active dry yeast must be activated or mixed with warm water.
This process is used to check whether the yeast you have is still alive and usable. If bubbles start to appear on the surface within 10minutes or less, then it’s fine and you can add it to the dough. If not, you must buy fresh yeast.
We recommend instant yeast as it always works 100%.
Does Kneading the Dough by Hand Help?
Actually, the kneading process is directly related to how light and airy your loaf of bread turns out to be.
Many bakers use the dough setting of the bread machine to knead the dough but then proceed to bake the bread in the oven and not in the bread machine.
In their experience, the bread machine does a much better job kneading the dough when compared to kneading by hand. The result is a delicious, airy loaf of bread.
Similarly, you may also knead the dough by hand and then place it in the bread maker to bake.
If you’re kneading the dough by hand, you should leave your dough to rest covered with plastic wrap for at least 2 hours during the first rise. After that, punch the dough a few times to relax it. Your fingers will leave indentations in the dough and that’s fine.
That’s your clue that the dough is perfect and almost ready for baking.
Gently knead the dough and shape as desired. Leave the dough in a warm spot (on top of the oven) for a second rise. This time, the dough rises more quickly so there’s no need to wait for a long time (1 hour is more than enough).
Tip: Use a bit of oil to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. It’s better than using flour as you can add too much flour to the already risen dough and thus jeopardize the quality of your bread.
As you can see, bread usually deflates because you made a mistake somewhere in the dough-making process. You either used dead yeast, too much yeast or got the temperature wrong.
To ensure your loaf of bread comes out with a perfect, crisp top, stick to the instructions and always use fresh ingredients.