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TIPS & TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE

Every kitchen and every baker is different. Use this helpful Tips & Troubleshooting guide to help you navigate your way through baking with yeast. This guide includes tips on traditional bread baking, bread machine baking and gluten-free baking.

A Few Words About Your Ingredients…

  • To ensure successful bread making, it is important to use ingredients that are fresh and of good quality.
  • Check the ‘Best if Used by’ dates on your yeast packages, and expiration dates on other ingredient packages. Once containers are opened follow storage instructions for the contents. Remember that you are dealing with perishables.
  • Yeast is a living organism and will lose activity over time. If your yeast has been around awhile, or if you are unsure of its activity, it is advisable to test it before using. See our Yeast Activity Test for directions.
  • Bring all other ingredients to room temperature before starting unless specified otherwise in recipe.
  • Pre-measure all ingredients before starting to help ensure proper amounts are used, and all ingredients are ready to go.
  • Every kitchen and every baker is different. Always take notes, as every time you bake there might be different variables that may affect your outcome. It is common to have some trial and error before getting perfection – especially if this is the first time using a recipe.

Traditional Bread Baking Tips & Troubleshooting

1. Insufficient yeast or expired best before date

  • Double-check recipe for amount needed.
  • One (0.25oz) packet of dry yeast is equal to 2 and 1/4 teaspoons
  • See Yeast Conversion Table for help in determining amount needed.
  • Use the Yeast Freshness Test to determine if your yeast is active before using

2. Liquid was too hot – destroyed the yeast enzymes.

  • Use a thermometer when measuring liquid temperatures.
  • See Yeast Baking Steps Guide for more information on activating (preparing) yeast.

3. Liquid and/or other ingredients were too cold – slowed down yeast activity.

  • Use a thermometer when measuring liquid temperatures.
  • See Yeast Baking Step Guide for more information on activating (preparing) yeast.

4. Too much salt was used which will inhibit or slow down yeast activity.

  • Check recipe for amount of salt needed.
  • More information on salt.
  • Do not let yeast come in direct contact with the salt for an extended period of time.

5. Too much sugar or not enough will inhibit or slow down yeast activity.

  • Check recipe for amount of sugar needed
  • More information on sugar.

6. Rise temperature was too low or too high

  • Ideal rise temperatures are 85°F – 95°F
  • Visit our Rising section for more helpful tips and information

1. Not enough flour was used.

  • Check your recipe for the amount of flour needed.
  • The amount of flour can vary by up to 1/2 cup, sometimes more. The dough should be not be sticky after kneading is complete. Add a small amount of flour after every few turns to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and to the kneading board

2. Flour was too old or too low in gluten.

  • Always make sure your flour is fresh (along with all of your other ingredients)
  • Use bread flour if recipe calls for it.
  • More information on flour.

3. Too much kneading

  • Over-kneaded dough is soft and sticky and no longer able to be stretched, much like worn-out elastic.
  • See our Kneading section for tips on how to know when your dough is kneaded enough.

1. Flour used was too weak

  • Use bread flour when baking with yeast if recipe calls for it.
  • Bread flour contains a higher amount of protein that results in better dough/gluten forming properties. With bread flour, your doughs will rise well and hold their structure well. It is particularly important to use bread flour anytime you make a dough containing rye or another whole grain flour.
  • Adding gluten to the recipe is another way to strengthen the dough when using all-purpose flour – add 1 teaspoon of gluten for each cup of flour.
  • More information on flour.

2. Dough was over-proofed / over-risen

  • Perform the ripe test to determine if your dough has risen long enough: bulk rise and final rise.

3. Oven temperature was too low

  • Always fully preheat your oven before baking. Use an oven thermometer to check temperature.
  • See our baking section for helpful tips.

1. Oven temperature was too low

  • Always fully preheat your oven before baking. Use an oven thermometer to check temperature.
  • See our baking section for helpful tips.

2. Too much flour was used

  • Double check amount needed in recipe
  • Know your dough – see our Yeast Baking Steps Guide for more information and helpful tips.

3. Dough was too dry

  • Make sure dough is covered during rising to prevent forming a crust.

1. Oven temperature is too hot

  • The crust bakes (browns) too soon, not allowing the dough to reach its full volume.

2. Bread taken out of the oven too soon, and is not fully baked.

1. Rising period was too long

  • Perform the ripe test to determine if your dough has risen long enough: bulk rise and final rise.

2. Too much yeast was used

  • Double-check recipe for amount needed
  • One packet of yeast is equal to 2 and  1/4 teaspoon
  • See Yeast Conversion Table for help in determining amount needed.

3. Oven temperature was too low

  • Always preheat your oven before baking
  • See our baking section for helpful tips.

1. Bread not cooled properly

  • For most breads, remove from pan immediately after baking and cool on a rack to prevent the bottom crust from becoming moist and soggy. Cool completely before storing. For some richer coffee cakes baked in tube or Bundt pans, cool in pan for 10 minutes to prevent coffeecakes from breaking apart.

1. Dough rising period too long

  • Perform the ripe test to determine if your dough has risen long enough: bulk rise and final rise.

2. Too much flour was used

  • Double check amount needed in recipe
  • Know your dough – see our Yeast Baking Steps Guide for more information and helpful tips.

3. Oven temperature is too low

  • Always preheat your oven before baking
  • See our baking section for helpful tips.

4. Dough not kneaded long enough

  • See our kneading section for helpful tips and how to tell when your dough is kneaded enough.

1. Dough rising period was too short

  • Perform the ripe test to determine if your dough has risen long enough: bulk rise and final rise.

2. Flour used was too weak

  • Use bread flour when baking with yeast if recipe calls for it.
  • Bread flour contains a higher amount of protein that results in better dough/gluten forming properties. With bread flour, your doughs will rise well and hold their structure well. It is particularly important to use bread flour anytime you make a dough containing rye or another whole grain flour.
  • Adding gluten to the recipe is another way to strengthen the dough when using all-purpose flour – add 1 teaspoon of gluten for each cup of flour.
  • More information on flour.

1. Dough was poorly moulded/shaped

2. Dough allowed to rise too long

  • Perform the ripe test to determine if your dough has risen long enough: bulk rise and final rise.

Bread Machine Tips & Troubleshooting

Why buy a bread machine?
A bread machine combines convenience with flexibility. If you enjoy a fresh loaf of bread, but don’t have the time or space to bake from scratch, a bread machine is for you. For those with special dietary needs, it is easy to create special recipes without a lot of time and effort.

What is the difference between bread type cycles?
The bread machine cycles offer you flexibility to optimize your bread characteristics. Each cycle has a specific time and temperature to maximize dough performance. Typically a whole wheat cycle has a longer rise and bake time. For your specific machine cycles, refer to your owner’s manual.

How do I know which crust color to select?
Bread machine cycles can be picked to control crust color and crispiness. If you prefer a soft and light crust, choose a light cycle. For the darker, crisper crust, choose a darker cycle. If your bread recipe has a lot of grains or sweeteners that can cause it to brown quickly, choose a light crust cycle.

How do I use yeast in my bread machine?
Use Yeast in any bread machine on any cycle. For Active Dry Yeast – use 3/4 teaspoon of yeast for each cup of flour. Active dry yeast is not recommended for one-hour or less bread machine cycles. For Instant Yeast – use 1/2 teaspoon of yeast for each cup of flour. For one-hour bread machine cycles, yeast amounts must be doubled or tripled; suggested liquid temperatures vary with machines.

Always use liquid temperatures at 80°F and other ingredients at room temperature.

Crust is too thick:

  • Remove bread from machine immediately after bake cycle is completed.

Bread collapses during baking:

  • Use a thermometer to accurately measure the liquid temperature.
  • Use less liquid
  • Increase the amount of salt
  • Too much yeast was added
  • During periods of warm weather with high humidity, use less water and cooler water.

Bread does not rise

  • Measuring errors – check recipe
  • Using flour with low gluten content (Substitute only part of the bread flour for rye flour, whole wheat flour, or other whole grain flour; use bread flour instead of All-purpose flour.)
  • Have liquids at 80°F, all other ingredients at room temperature
  • Check activity of yeast

Loaf is short and dense:

  • Check consistency of dough after 5 minutes into the kneading time. If dough is too dry, add liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Use high protein bread flour
  • Certain flours, such as whole wheat and rye, create heavier products than white flour

Bread has coarse texture:

  • Decrease the amount of liquid
  • Increase the amount of salt

Bread has doughy center

  • Decrease the amount of liquid
  • Check yeast activity
  • Bread machine may be malfunctioning; check user’s manual

Unbrowned top:

  • Increase the amount of sugar
  • Select a smaller size recipe
  • If the machine has an all-glass top, tent outside of dome with foil

Large mushroom top:

  • Decrease the amount of water
  • Decrease the amount of yeast

Flour on side of loaf

  • During kneading cycle open machine and use a rubber spatula to push flour off sides of pan.

Crust too dark

  • Try a lighter crust-colour setting. If your machine does not have this feature, remove the loaf a few minutes before baking is normally completed.It is possible that you used too much sugar.

Rancid taste

  • Check the whole grain ingredients. Whole grain flours, wheat germ and similar ingredients should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. They spoil rapidly when left at room temperature and can give your bread a rancid taste. Flours are not subject to the same type of spoilage and can be kept at room temperature.

While bread machines offer freshly baked bread at the push of a button, some people have baked more “hockey pucks” or “mushroom loaves” than they’d care to admit. Below are some tips you might find helpful when baking with the bread machine.

  • Carefully read your manufacturer’s directions and follow instructions for adding and layering ingredients.
  • Use 80°F water or liquids
  • Always use fresh ingredients, and dry ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Use bread flour – it is stronger that the other wheat flours and will tolerate the actions of the bread machine better, giving better volume and texture to your bread.
  • Active Dry yeast – use 3/4 tsp for each cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; Active dry yeast is not recommended for one-hour or express bread machine cycles.
  • Instant Yeast – use 1/2 tsp for each cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; if using a one-hour or express bread machine cycles – yeast amounts must be doubled or tripled; suggested liquid temperatures vary with machines – follow your manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you are unsure of the freshness of your yeast, you can test it to check its activity before using.  See our Yeast Freshness Test section for directions.
  • Never place the yeast in direct contact with salt or sugar, as this will decrease the activity of the yeast. Use the back of a spoon to create a shallow pocket in the top of the flour and place the yeast there.
  • Humidity, the way flour is measured and the moisture content of the flour affects dough consistency. Open the bread machine’s lid after 5-10 minutes into the KNEAD cycle. By this time, the dough should be in a soft, tacky ball. If it is dry and stiff, add liquid (80°F), 1/2 to 1 tablespoon at a time; if too wet and sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Flour is sifted many times before being packaged. During shipping, it settles and becomes compact. First, aerate the flour in the bag or container by using a whisk. It is important not to dip the measuring cup into the flour; instead, scoop the flour lightly into a dry measuring cup. Do not tap or shake the cup to put more flour into it. Using a flat edge, scrape off the excess to make the flour even with the rim of the measuring cup. This method will assure an accurate measurement.
  • When using margarine or butter, cut it into small pieces to ensure that it is properly blended with the other ingredients.
  • Use a plastic spatula to help a loaf out of the pan.
  • Use the handle of a wooden spoon to remove the kneading paddle from the hot loaf of bread.

Gluten-Free Tips

  1. Combine wet ingredients; pour carefully into baking pan.
  2. Measure dry ingredients; mix well to blend. Add to baking pan. Carefully seat pan in breadmaker.
  3. Select NORMAL/WHITE cycle; start machine.
  4. After mixing action begins, help any unmixed ingredients into the dough with a rubber spatula, keeping to edges and top of batter to prevent interference with the paddle.
  5. Remove pan from the machine when bake cycle is complete. Invert pan and shake gently to remove bread. Cool upright on a rack before slicing.

  1. Follow Tips for Success #1-3 (see below).
  2. Using a mixer, beat ingredients about 10 minutes.
  3. Check appearance of dough (Tip #4, see below)
  4. Pour batter into greased bread pan.
  5. Allow batter to rise approximately 1 hour.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 45 to 60 minutes; use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  1. Yeast may be used cold. All other ingredients should be at room temperature (70° to 80°F).
  2. Combine the liquid ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together before adding to bread pan.
  3. All dry ingredients, including the yeast, should be thoroughly blended together before adding on top of the wet ingredients. Mixing them together in a bowl with a wire whisk or shaking them together in a gallon size, self-locking bag is suggested. Gluten-free flours are very fine and need to be well blended.
  4. Dough for gluten-free breads is similar to that of quick breads, stiffer than a cake batter, but not as stiff as a cookie dough. If the dough appears too dry, add liquid, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the consistency that allows the bread machine to mix.
  5. Humidity, the type of flour, and the brand of flour influence the amount of liquid necessary for the proper consistency.
  6. Xanthan gum and guar gum may be interchanged, although some people have a laxative effect from guar gum. Methylcellulose is not a practical substitute.
  7. For bread machines with a BAKE ONLY cycle, select DOUGH cycle for mixing and rising. Press STOP when cycle is complete; then select the BAKE ONLY cycle to complete the bread.
  8. To correct grainy or crumbly bread, increase egg replacer or xanthan gum. Unflavored gelatin is another choice, however, a more moist bread results.
  9. One teaspoon cider vinegar in the bread recipes acts as a preservative.
  10. Potato starch is a very fine white flour that is excellent for baking when combined with other flours. Potato flour CANNOT be substituted for potato starch. Potato starch is sometimes labeled potato starch flour.
  11. Omitting dry milk completely changes the texture and taste of the breads, but they are still delicious.
  12. To keep breads fresh and ready for use, slice cooled bread. Place slices together and wrap with aluminum foil, then place in a plastic bag and freeze. Slices will easily break apart and thaw rapidly.

  • Fructose, molasses, and honey can replace sugar.
  • Any vegetable oil or butter can replace canola oil.
  • Rice flour can replace potato starch.
  • Tofu can replace ricotta cheese.
  • Lacto-free can replace dry milk; use equal proportions.
  • Pulverized Nut-quik and dry baby formulas, such as Isomil, Prosobee, and Pregestimil, may be used in place of dry milk for soy and lactose intolerance. Use 1/3 cup to replace 1/2 cup dry milk.
  • Egg Replacer can replace eggs. To substitute for 3 eggs, use 4 tablespoons dry egg replacer, mixing with the dry ingredients. Use a total of 2 cups water with the wet ingredients. Check dough consistency, adding more water if necessary.
  • Potato starch, sometimes labeled potato starch flour, is very fine white flour that is excellent for baking when combined with other flours. Potato flour cannot be substituted for potato starch.

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