Nothing smells better than walking into a room with a fresh, hot loaf of homemade bread waiting to be devoured. But baking the bread can be frustrating when all of your hard work results in a loaf that rises too much which ultimately results in a sunken mess.
Understanding why your bread rises too much in a bread machine is the first step in solving this problem.
Your bread might rise too much in a bread maker because you have too much yeast in the dough. But it’s more likely that you have too much liquid, not enough salt, or that the weather, humidity, or altitude of your geographic location is to blame.
The good news is that this problem can be corrected with a little bit of trial and error. Let’s get started before you attempt your next loaf!
Reasons Your Bread Rises Too Much in a Bread Maker
Although frustrating, the problem with bread rising too much in a bread maker is very common. In fact, this situation happens so frequently that many bakers and bloggers have named it things like the “Big Valley,” the “Big Dump,” and my favorite, the “Big Crater.”
It takes trial and error to fix the problem, but understanding possible causes will help you determine where to begin to look for the solution.
Sometimes You Added Too Much Yeast
Many times, the problem is that you have used too much yeast than what the recipe called for, the type of yeast you are using, or your geographic location. For example, instant yeast is stronger than active yeast, so you need less of it.
Using too much yeast is so common that King Arthur, a leading brand for bread flour, lists too much yeast as the number one cause for bread that rises too much.
Even authors like Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway address using too much yeast in their book, The Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints. They recommend cutting fast-active yeast in half on the second attempt if your first loaf rises too quickly and then falls.
There are other times when bread rises too much, and adding too much yeast might not be the reason for dough over-proofing. In fact, there are many other things to consider before permanently changing the amount of yeast the bread recipe calls for. Let’s take a look at some of them.
It May Not Be the Yeast
Although we look at the amount of yeast used in the recipe first, few amateur bakers realize that they must also consider the weather, kitchen temperature, altitude, and humidity when baking bread.
If your kitchen is too warm, it could cause your yeast to work much more quickly, which can result in too much rise in your bread. Or if your kitchen is too humid, you have the same problem.
Warm Weather Can Cause the Bread To Rise More Quickly
It used to be that people baked bread during the winter months because using ovens to cook the bread made homes miserably hot in the summer months. However, with the invention of bread machines, eating a homemade loaf of bread at a summer picnic became more commonplace.
But issues with bread rising too quickly became more common too. This issue occurs, at least in part, because the warmer summer weather causes liquids in the bread recipe to heat more quickly which can cause the dough to rise too quickly.
So, if you’ve already reduced the amount of yeast used in the recipe, and the bread still rises too quickly, you can try refrigerating liquids prior to using them in the recipe.
Kitchen Temperature and Humidity Also Impact Ingredient Temperatures
If you live in the South, you know the impact of humidity on every aspect of life, but kitchen humidity levels can impact bread in any geographic location. As humidity rises, so does the temperature of the liquids you are using in the bread recipe.
Fortunately, you can use a humidity and thermometer combo such as this Antonki Humidity Gauge found on Amazon.com to help you determine if the temperature or humidity levels might be causing the bread to rise too quickly.
As a general rule, bread rises best when humidity levels are between 70 and 80%. However, humidity levels in many areas can reach 85% by 7 am, so it’s important to pay attention to humidity levels if your bread habitually rises too much in your bread maker.
In addition to heat and humidity, altitude impacts how bread rises in bread makers. If you live in locations over 3,000 ft (914.4 m) you can expect yeast to rise up to 50 percent faster. To explain, the higher the altitude, the thinner the air, so there’s less resistance for the yeast as it pushes through the dough.
So, if you’re baking bread in the mountains and you see that it’s rising too quickly, you’ll want to cut the amount of yeast you use in the next loaf by one-third.
As such you’ll want to look at increasing the baking temperature by 15-25 degrees and decreasing baking time by 20-30%.
If you’re new to baking bread, you might want to try a loaf to see what results you get and then make necessary adjustments. Remember, most bakers do a lot of trial and error before they settle on the perfect recipe, so this is all part of the process.
What To Do When The Bread Rises Too Much
As frustrating as it is, once the bread rises too much and then falls, all is not lost. Fortunately, if you have allowed the bread to go through all bread machine cycles, the loaf won’t be pretty, but it should taste fine.
But if you don’t like how it looks, you could always cut the loaf into cubes, season, and dry them to make croutons.
If you’re able to catch the dough as it is over-proofing though, you might be able to salvage the loaf so that it tastes and looks good. Susan Reid, former editor of Sift magazine says that “most yeast doughs have a third rise in them,” which means if you can catch it in time, you can reshape the loaf.
Even so, she reminds bakers that each rise takes less time than the time before it, so you’ll need to watch the dough carefully after you deflate and reshape it, and change the bread machine settings accordingly. Alternatively, you might want to finish baking the loaf in the oven. Note that baking the loaf in the oven at this point is likely the better option.
Although you may be able to salvage an over-proofed loaf, the goal is to keep the dough from over-proofing, so here are some things you might try.
Other Simple Things You Can Try When Bread Rises Too Much
No two loaves of bread will be the same. Normally when the dough rises too much, particularly if the problem is recurring, there’s a simple solution and the process of elimination will help you find it.
Here are simple solutions when your bread rises too much:
- Check the dough’s texture while it is proofing.
Using a bread machine makes it easier to bake homemade bread, but there’s a trick to it. If the bread is rising too much, it could be that you’re using too much liquid, and the only way to tell is to do the touch test.
If you touch the dough and it is sticky or wet, you’ve used too much, or not enough liquid, so next time, adjust the liquid accordingly.
- Decrease the amount of liquid you use.
High humidity levels may mean that you’ll need to reduce the amount of liquid the recipe calls for.
Start reducing by ¼ cup until you get the perfect mix.
- Monitor the room temperature.
When possible, if you’re in a hot or humid climate, keep the room temperature between 68-77°F (20-25°C).
- When cooking in hot or humid climates, keep the yeast near a fan or air conditioner.
This suggestion sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to control how quickly the yeast rises.
When left in a hot/humid room, it’ll rise more quickly than it should.
- Check dry ingredients for signs of clumping.
If the flour or salt has clumped, don’t use either ingredient for bread recipes.
- Increase the salt content.
You’ll need to be careful here because you don’t want to impact the taste of the bread, but salt does hinder yeast growth, so using more of this ingredient can slow the yeast process down.
- Decrease the amount of sugar.
This ingredient also helps the yeast to activate, so unless you are baking sweet bread, reducing the sugar shouldn’t impact the taste because sugar is already in most flour.
- Make sure your pan is the right size.
The dip can happen when the bread rises and hits the lid before it begins baking.
- Pay attention to the type of flour you use.
Many people like to use wheat flour instead of white, or gluten-free instead of regular flour.
Remember that these exchanges are normally not a one-to-one ratio, so you’ll need to do a little research to find the right ratio.
- Consider starting the proofing process in the refrigerator.
A higher temperature speeds up the yeast activity, causing the bread to rise too much, negatively impacting the bread’s taste.
Few foods are more comforting than bread, and no bread tastes as good as a homemade loaf. It’s a time-consuming effort, and a labor of love made easier with a bread machine.
However, often things don’t go as planned, like sometimes the bread rises too quickly, creating less than a desirable loaf of bread. The fix is easy though when you adjust your recipe for temperature, weather, altitude, and humidity.