So you check on your dough, and its risen beautifully. You think this is a clear indicator of a successful loaf. However, your bread collapsed somewhere down the line- before, during, or after baking. What gives?
Bread deflating after rising is a relatively common problem, even for experienced bakers such as myself. Its typically caused by under-kneading or under or over-proofing your dough. Although, too much water, issues with the yeast, and mishandling can also cause deflation.
Hey, hey! My names Shea. If you didnt know already, Im a baking fanatic. One of my (newer) favorite things to bake is bread. I make it all, from sourdough to regular white sandwich bread. Ive dealt with deflated loaves a couple of times, and Ive figured out whats causing it (and, more importantly, how to fix it).
Keep reading to discover why your bread deflated and how to remedy it!
- Why Bread Deflated After Rising (5 Reasons)
- How to Fix Deflated Bread Dough
- 5 Ways to Avoid Deflated Bread After Rising
- Deflated Bread is a Common Problem with Simple Solutions
Why Bread Deflated After Rising (5 Reasons)
Just because your dough rose perfectly doesnt mean youre in the clear. While a good rise is essential for success, things can still go haywire. One of the biggest (and most common) issues is deflation. Heres why it happens.
I know, I know; nobody likes to knead the dough. Its time-consuming and can cause aches and pains in the hands and wrists. However, it shouldnt be skipped, and you should never cut it short.
Thats because kneading by hand or in your bread machine creates the strong gluten network necessary for trapping in the gasses that create the perfect rise. Without enough strength, the gasses will seep through the cracks leaving you with a deflated ball of dough.
2. Under or over-proofing
Another rather nuissancing process of baking bread is proofing. Although this is another vital piece to the bread-baking puzzle, it can get a little annoying having to sit around and wait for your bread to poof.
Regardless, your bread needs to proof. During the proofing stage, yeast feeds on the sugars of your bread to create carbon dioxide otherwise known as those must-have gasses that produce the perfect rise.
Under-proof your dough and your dough wont have enough gasses to stand on its own two feet, leading to deflation. Over-proof, and youll be looking at an overabundance of gas production. So much so that it will collapse within itself like a dying star.
3. Too much water
Water is a common liquid ingredient when baking bread. In fact, you can make bread with just water and flour. Pretty nifty, right?
However, too much water will cause a potentially big problem well, to be fair, its not a big problem since your bread wont stay big like its supposed to.
Dough that is too wet is just too heavy. Thus, the gluten network wont be as strong, allowing gasses to escape.
4. Problems with the yeast
Did you accidentally add expired yeast to your dough? Then, surprise, surprise your bread will deflate. Thats because dead yeast simply doesnt work. It wont create carbon dioxide, leaving you with a flat, disappointing ball of dough.
The other problem is adding too little yeast. Sure, you can get it by adding small yeast amounts. The problem is that the less yeast added, the more proofing time is needed. If you skip the extra proofing period, your dough wont rise or be able to maintain its rise.
Bread dough is delicate. Read that again.
Although it might look ready to take on an entire army, its not. The doughs gluten network, holding all essential gasses, is quite fragile. It will surely break and deflate if youre too rough with it.
How to Fix Deflated Bread Dough
If your bread dough is caused by one of these problems: under-kneading, under-proofing, over-proofing, or mishandling you can try to fix it before baking it. (Unfortunately, there is no remedy for deflated bread after its been baked.)
The only possible solution is to punch your dough ball to break the gluten network and release all the gasses. Then, start with the kneading and proofing process all over again. Do it right this time.
If that doesnt work, it may have to be a different issue, and its best to start from scratch.
5 Ways to Avoid Deflated Bread After Rising
As you can see, plenty of problems can cause deflated bread. You can reduce the chances of deflation by following these simple steps for success:
1. Knead Your Dough Correctly
You knead to knead your dough (get it?). But on a serious note, kneading your bread dough is essential for your breads success. By hand, you should knead for around 12 minutes. If using a stand mixer, about eight minutes should suffice.
2. Proof for the right amount of time
Bread typically takes around one to three hours at the best proofing temperature, 80F. However, keep in mind that some bread requires a lengthier proofing time. For instance, sourdough should proof in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
You can tell that your bread is done proofing by checking its size and performing the poke test.
- Check the size. Has your dough doubled in size? Then its ready to go. Keep in mind that it should not be hanging over the sides of the pan.
- Perform the poke test. Give your dough a gentle poke. Does it spring back slowly and leave a minor indent? Its done!
3. Don’t add too much water
If you followed your recipe closely and ended up with too much moisture, consider leaving out cup of water during this next round. You can always add more when needed, but you cant remove it once its in your bread dough.
Make sure you get accurate measurements by sifting and using a kitchen scale. After all, if you add the right amount of water but accidentally put too little flour, youll have a moisture issue that can cause deflation.
4. Use active yeast
Double-check the expiration date of your yeast. If its expired, throw it out. It will not work.
If youre unsure, then you can always check for activeness by doing the following:
Step 1: Add one teaspoon of sugar to a cup.
Step 2: Add one yeast envelope to the same cup.
Step 3: Cover with cup of warm water.
Step 4: Wait ten minutes for the mixture to take effect. If the mixture is bubbly, its good.
5. Handle with care
Think of your bread dough as the most precious thing in the world, such as a newborn baby or the most expensive diamond on the planet. Yes, this may seem a little extreme, but you want your bread to turn out right, dont you?
Dont forget to be gentle while youre scoring your bread dough. If you cut too deep or are too rough with the knife, you can accidentally destroy the gluten network and cause deflation.
Now your brain should be loaded with plenty of info about deflated bread. But if youre still curious to learn more, look at these frequently asked questions!
What happens if you let the dough rise for too long?
The most likely thing to happen is that your bread will collapse. It may also have an alcohol smell and taste sour. While its technically safe to consume, it might not be very good. Its better to stop the rising process when your dough has doubled in size and not a second more!
Why does my dough deflate when I score it?
There are two possible problems. First, your bread dough may have been over-proofed, and all the excess gasses try to escape the second you make a slat. Secondly, you may be cutting too deep. Deep cuts are not necessarily when scoring your dough!
What happens if you put too much yeast in bread?
Some people add extra yeast in hopes that their bread dough will rise faster, but too much yeast is detrimental to the outcome. Excess yeast will produce gasses before the bread is ready, leading to a flat loaf.
Deflated Bread is a Common Problem with Simple Solutions
The main reason your bread deflates after rising is that it was under-kneaded or over-proofed. The simplest fix is to punch out the gasses, destroy the gluten network, and start from scratch, ensuring your knead and proof long enough.
Do you struggle with bread that deflates after rising? What was the problem, and how did you remedy it? Share with us in the comments!
How do you fix deflated bread?
Simply punch it down gently, reshape it, and let it proof again for the recommended amount of time. In the test kitchen, these steps resulted in bread that tasters found acceptable in both texture and flavor. 1.
Why did my bread deflated after proofing?
When carbon dioxide exerts more pressure than a fully proofed dough can withstand, the cell membranes tear, releasing the gas and deflating the dough. An overproofed dough won’t expand much during baking, and neither will an underproofed one.
Why does my bread collapse after proving?
Overproofing your dough will result in a flatting or collapsing of the dough. The reason for this is that the yeast in your bread has exhausted itself and does not have any more energy after you put it in the oven.
Can you fix sunken bread?
In most situations, an undercooked loaf of bread can be fixed by returning it to the oven for a few more minutes. This is true for loaves where the outside of your bread may look fully set, but the inside of the bread is still gummy. Place the loaf back in a preheated oven at 350° F for 10-20 minutes.
What does Overproofed dough look like?
What to look for in an over proofed loaf. Similar to the signs of over proofed dough, an over proofed loaf will be very flat, without much rise or retention of shaping. Over proofing destroys the structural integrity of the bread, so loaves that have gone over are unable to hold their shape in the oven.
Why does dough shrink after rising?
Water evaporates during baking, and this evaporation causes shrinkage. Therefore, the more water you add, the more shrinkage that will occur.
What are signs of Overproofed bread?
The Signs of Over Proofed Dough
The structure is: fragile, loose, airy, and puffy, like an overinflated balloon.
The size is: more than twice the frozen size.
The shape: can become distorted.
The surface is: bubbly, blistered and wrinkly, not as smooth and dry, not wet at all to the touch.
Should bread bounce back?
“When ready, it should feel a bit elastic and have some bounce to it, but it shouldn’t feel dense or stiff in any way.” What bakers call the “poke test” is the best way to tell if dough is ready to bake after its second rise. Lightly flour your finger and poke the dough down about 1″.