Bread Troubleshooting - Bread Problems and Solutions

Loaf too small

  • Dough too stiff because too much flour during mixing or kneading; dough should be tacky after mixing, smooth after kneading
  • Too much salt
  • Not enough yeast or starter
  • Bread rose at too cool a dough mixture to allow yeast development
  • Too short a rise
  • Dough not kneaded after the last rise and before forming the loaf
  • Oven temperature was too high.

Bread did not rise

  • Proof the yeast before using.   
  • Check the proper water temperature before dissolving the yeast. 
  • Salt added directly to the yeast inhibits or kills it.
  • Dough too stiff because too much flour during mixing or kneading; dough should be tacky after mixing, smooth after kneading

Sour flavor, strong yeast odor

  • Over-risen bread dough. Stop the rising when the dough has almost doubled in size (use finger-top test).
  • Incomplete baking.
  • Rising temperature too high so bread rose too quickly. Keep rising temperature at 75 - 85 degrees F.
  • Not kneading enough.
  • Too much yeast.

Odd, uneven or poor shape

  • Forcing dough when shaping. Let dough rest for 10 minutes for easier handling/shaping.
  • Incorrect bread pan size.
  • Insufficient kneading and/or rising time.
  • Loaf was improperly or poorly shaped.
  • Bread in the wrong position in the oven. Next time place a single loaf in the center of the oven for even heat distribution. Do not crowd the oven.

Mushroomed, with a deep indentation around the bottom (Loaf broke away from the bottom crust)

  • Too much dough into too small a pan
  • Putting a free-form loaf into an oven that was too hot at first, causing the bottom to cook too fast and break away. 

A free-form loaf spread too much as it was rising.

  • Dough was too soft; Free-form loaves must be quite firm when shaped.
  • Dough not contained; Use a ring to contain the dough, or let it rise in a basket.  

Crust cracked on top

  • Too much flour used during kneading and shaping. Lightly dust countertop with pinches of flour before kneading. Do not use an excessive amount when shaping.

Bread sough or loaf collapses

  • Dough was overrisen and collapses; You can knead, reform, and re-rise the loaf.      
  • During baking, the loaf collapses. Oven temperature that's too low. This means the dough rises to its maximum, then collapses before it gets hot enough to set. Or, dough could have been over-risen.

Flat top

  • Too short kneading period
  • Allowed dough to rise too long before baking

Wrinkled crust

  • Improper shaping

Crust separates from bread

  • Dough drying out and forming a crust during rising; Grease surface and cover dough with plastic wrap when rising.
  • Poorly formed loaf, allowing oven heat to cause instant aeration when put in the oven.
  • Over-risen dough
  • Too stiff dough
  • Insufficient rising time 
  • Freezing bread to store it for a while.

Thick crust 

  • Kneading problems. When finished kneading, dough should be ‘tacky’, not dry.
  • Bread formed a crust as it rose; oil outside bread dough and cover with plastic wrap. Do not let overrise. 
  • Oven temperature too low
  • Bread overbaked.

 Tough crust

  • Use the flour called for in the recipe
  • Not enough kneading
  • Bread didn't rise long enough
  • Baked too long.

Bread did not brown on sides

  • Use light colored (not shiny), NOT nonstick heavy baking pans; shiny pans reflect heat, causing insufficient browning
  • Next time remove the bread from the pan and place it on the rack or tiles in the warm oven to brown and crisp the bottom and sides, turning the loaves once, before cooling. (Also, do not ever wrap loaves in plastic before they are thoroughly cooled. This will soften the crust, and can promote mold.)

Gummy Crumb (Insides)

  • Oven too hot at beginning; If the crust browns too early, the loaf can't expand to its maximum volume. This interferes with the inner texture of the bread.
  • If it's taken from the oven too soon; just because the outside looks done, and the baking is actually incomplete, the inner crumb will be gummy and lacking in flavor. The doneness test will help.

"Blisters" on the loaf's top crust, and possibly cracking between the crust and the sidewalls. 

  • Excessively high baking temperatures cause blisters. Maybe your oven temperature is "off" or the recipe calls for baking temperatures that are too high. The norm is 400 degrees F for lean dough, and a slightly lower 350 degrees F for sweet yeast breads.
  • Use only enough flour to handle dough. Avoid too much flour on board when kneading first time.
  • Dough too stiff.


  • Low-grade flour.
  • Insufficient rising period.
  • Over-risen dough.
  • Too much fat

Pale crust

  • Too little sugar.
  • Dough temperature during mixing and rising was too high (so the yeast ate all the sugar before baking, not allowing enough for caramelization during the baking process)
  • Oven temperature was too low.

Dark crumb

  • Low-grade flour.
  • Too cool an oven
  • Using dark pans; Use light colored (not shiny), NOT nonstick heavy baking pans; shiny pans reflect heat, causing insufficient browning

Streaked crumb

  • Poor mixing of dough
  • insufficient kneading.
  • Dough drying out before shaping; keep lightly greased and covered with plastic wrap when not in use.
  • Too much flour used when shaping


  • Weak flour (lacking in gluten strength); Use the flour called for in the recipe.
  • Over-risen dough

Coarse texture

  • Low-grade flour); Use the flour called for in the recipe.
  • Baking temperature too low.
  • Dough too soft.
  • Temperature of dough during mixing and rising was too high.
  • Rising time too long.

Large holes (This is an advantage with certain loaves)

  • Poor kneading, causing bubbles of gas to be distributed unevenly.
  • Over kneading
  • Over-risen dough. 

Small, hard lumps in your bread slice

  • Dough was not mixed sufficiently
  • Dough got too stiff to handle. 

Circular streaks in your slices

  • When  rolling and pinching of the dough when you formed the loaf, and your probably pinched the dough too vigorously.

Other Recipes