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Bread Troubleshooting – Bread That Doesn’t Rise

It’s happened to all of us.  Lovely aromas emanate from the bread machine.  You open the bread machine expecting to see a perfectly formed loaf of bread.  Instead you see a bread brick.  The bread didn’t rise.

What happened?  To help figure out the issue, take a close look at the loaf.  Did it rise at all?  The answer to that question will point you in one of two directions.

The Bread Brick -  the bread rose a little, but not enough:

  • Not enough liquid – try increasing water or milk by one to two tablespoons
  • Too much salt – try decreasing salt by ¼ teaspoon
  • Not enough sugar – try increasing sugar by ½ teaspoon
  • Not enough yeast – try increasing yeast by ¼ to ½ teaspoon
  • Flour – The flour might have been old or not the right type
  • Yeast – The yeast might have been old or might have been the wrong type for the setting (regular yeast vs. rabid rise yeast)

The Uber Bread Brick  – the bread didn’t rise at all:

  • Flour – The flour might have been old or not the right type
  • Yeast – The yeast might have been old or might have been the wrong type for the setting (regular yeast vs. rapid rise yeast) or maybe no yeast was added at all

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.breadmachinediva.com/2010/12/bread-troubleshooting-bread-does-not-rise/

38 comments

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  1. Swapna

    Yay! Thank you for this – it’s very helpful. I also appreciate that you emailed me about it – thank you!

  2. Remi Parent

    Hi and thank you in advance. This is my second bread that I make in my new bread maker, the first loaf was perfect but the second one didn’t rise enough. Here is what I think “might” have caused it. First one I used a package of regular dry yeast and added just a little bit of “rapid rise yeast” to equal 1 TBSP. It was perfect and even rose a bit too much but just to say..

    I did almost the same recipe but made a some changes (used the same amount of flour, liquids, sugar and salt though).

    But instead of 2 1/2 cups of white bread flour I used 2 cups of it and 1/4 cup of wheat germ flour and 1/4 cup of ground flax seed. Everything else remained the same.

    Ha and a few things I made different.. I put salt in the liquids this time instead of with the flour. But thats it.

    Think using all rapid rise yeast vs one packet of regular yeast could have caused it? Or the wheat germ and ground flax seed made a difference?

    Thanks for the feedback! If I don’t get a reply I guess I’ll have to go by trial and error.. I think I’ll still be able to eat my second loaf though, just not as nice.

    Thanks again!

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Remy,

      Thanks so much for your comment. It points out that I really need to do a post on the differences between regular yeast and rapid rise yeast. In short, I wouldn’t advise mixing them. They need different amounts of time to do their work. That’s why most bread machines have different cycles for them. Just stick to one type of yeast per loaf of bread.

      Take care,

      Marsha

  3. Remi Parent

    Thank you, I will follow that advise for future breads. Another question if I may.

    I see a lot of recipes calling for 3 parts all purpose flour and 1 part whole wheat and ask to use white bread setting. When do you think I should choose whole wheat setting? When half or more of whole wheat is used perhaps? Will the longer time of whole wheat setting help to rise more because whole wheat is heavier then white?

    1. Marsha Perry

      Remi, I’d use the white setting for bread that’s made with mostly white flour. Like you, I tend to use the setting that goes with the majority of the flour. I’m not sure if that’s democracy in action or not, but it seems to work. :-)

      I haven’t noticed any difference in the way the bread rises depending on the setting. Instead I’ve noticed, that it just takes heavier bread longer to cook thoroughly. I might be wrong about that, but that’s how it seems to me.

  4. Bread Machine

    Thanks for this it’ll help me a lot, I’ve really been struggling with my new bread machine, although I have been a bread machine addict for a year or so now!

    Thanks again,

    Ben

  5. Carma

    Hi! Thanks for the help. I have been using my bread machine for years with no problem but recently every single loaf I make barely rises. I got desperate and got some store-bought mixes. I followed the directions exactly and I set baking time in the 2 hour plus range just like the instructions said. They didn’t rise, either. Can it be the high humidity we have here? It’s always 90% humidity or higher. Or am I doing something really, really wrong?

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Carma, Humidity can change the way the bread rises or doesn’t rise. :-S Are you still having the problem? If so, I wonder if it’s a problem with your bread machine. How old is it? I think that they usually last four to six years.

  6. barbara Mitchell

    have a recipe from the Donna German bread book. It calls for 1 1/2 c bread flour, 3/4 c whole wheat flour, 1/c oats, 1/4 c wheat germ, 1/4 c nonfat dry milk. I use regular oats, not quick cooking. All of my ingredients are fresh. It tastes wonderful, but the bread rises beautifully and then falls in the center at the end of cooking. should I be using the white bread setting not wheat? I have tried reducing the flour and increasing the water. Thanks for your help.

    1. Marsha Perry

      Barbara, What a great question! I call this The Big Valley and it’s happened to me too. Your question inspired me to write a blog post about the issue of bread that rises and then falls.

  7. Bonnie Ashby

    i have the same problem as Barbara Mitchell. Also, I have 2 breadmaking machines. Both bought @ my Goodwill, one had a manual. The Oster,recipes all add liquid first, the Breadman recipes, (got them on line) all add liquid last. What is the difference? Yeast first or last?

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Bonnie, Regarding the bread machines – follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to do things. Each machine can have different times for kneading, different temperatures, different rise times, etc. So it’s best just to follow their instructions.

      I believe most bread machines want you to add the yeast last. So if you don’t have instructions about the yeast, try adding it last.

      For bread that rises and then falls, making a Big Valley in the middle, try some of the troubleshooting methods on this page.

  8. SMZ

    Hi, am getting a bit desperate, so I’m really hoping you’ll have a solution :) My breadmaker worked like a dream for two weeks. Over yesterday and today, three loaves have flopped — they barely rose, were misshapen and underbaked and could only be chucked in the bin. I thought it could be the yeast and tried a fresh sachet today but it didn’t make a difference. Everything else remains the same from previous loaves — flour, oils, leavens, salt, sugar. I follow recipes to the T. What do you think could be the problem? And how do I solve it? Thanks SO much.

  9. SMZ

    quick update: it WAS the yeast — after the panic post, realised that the bread was rising perfectly :)

    1. Marsha Perry

      Yay!! I’m glad it worked out.

  10. Randy Jan

    I’ve read your reviews and thoughts and tips on bread machines and I have a question. I have a Sunbeam 5891 and 3 out of 4 loaves I try to bake never rise, they end up as thick hard blocks in the bottom of the holder. It also seams the recipes from the booklet that came with the Sunbeam never rise. I got a book “Great Bread Machine Recipes” by Norman A. Garrett and the recipes from that book do a little better. So why doesn’t my bread rise and bake correctly? I’m very accurate with all instructions.

  11. Marsha Perry

    Hi Randy, I wonder if your flour or your yeast are old. Here’s a link for how to “proof” (test) your yeast – http://www.thekitchn.com/baking-lessons-how-to-proof-ye-94555

  12. Mike

    Hiya,

    I’ve got a bread machine, for bout 1 month now. When I bake white bread, it’s all good, my bread rises fine, and is nice to eat, even when putting the crust on white, it works well, deosn’t rise so high, but enough.

    Now I’ve tried making a whole wheat bread for 5 times, and they all look like a brick. As hard as stone, I’m following the process adding the yeast in a hole as the booklet tells me from the machine. But still the whole weat bread doesn’t seem to rise. I’ve put the setting on 2lb wholemeal, which it also states on the flour package.. Pls help me!! getting desperate here…

    Thanks,
    Mike

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Mike – When you say the white bread “doesn’t rise so high but enough” it makes me wonder if maybe your yeast is old. That’s just a guess. At any rate, I’d suggest working through the items I’ve listed on this page. One of them (old yeast, old flour, etc.) may be your culprit.

  13. Linda

    I have used Krusteaz bread mix and both times it reses then goes flat before done baking. Is it the mix and should I make bread from scratch?
    Linda from Kalamazoo

    1. Marsha Perry

      Have you checked the expiration date on the mix? I’m wondering if the yeast is too old.

      1. Linda

        Yes,I did and it had not expired. I bought some bread flour and made a recipe from scratch and the same thing happened. It was good but very big, just does not rise. I am getting discouraged.
        Linda

  14. Patricia

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve had a couple loaves of bread coming out flat (they taste awesome though, they’re just very …uhmm… dense). I’m sure it’s the yeast. I feel bad, though, because I still have a lot of yeast, which isn’t cheap (and dollars aren’t abounding lately). So my question is: can I double (or triple) the amount of yeast to make my bread rise? Or do I just need to toss it and get new one?
    I also discovered that I have some soy flour that I should probably use up soon. I’ve read somewhere that if added to bread (at a 1/16th ratio), it won’t rise as much. Also in that case, then, should I increase the amount of yeast?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Patricia, A dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to go. That’s for sure. If the bread coming out of your machine tastes OK, I wonder if you should try and use it up. Maybe it would be good for hearty sandwiches or pizza dough. As for the soy flour, I’ve never worked with that. Can anyone else comment on that issue?

  15. Jen

    For everyone who is saying their bread isn’t rising, even though to yeast is still fresh, I’ve got a trick for you.

    I followed all directions exactly, and still my bread wasn’t rising. My yeast was brand new. Then I read in another forum that you should TOTALLY ignore the bread machine instructions saying to add the yeast last.

    Add the sugar to the water, and pour it in the bread machine first. The water should be 80-95 degrees. Then add the yeast directly to the water. Wait for a couple of minutes – you’ll start to see the yeast bubbling and reacting as it starts working on the sugar. After it gets all frothy, then add your flour. LAST things you should put in are the oil and salt.

    Ever since I’ve followed these steps, every loaf has turned out PERFECT!

    1. Marsha Perry

      Jen, I’m glad you found something that worked for you. It all depends a lot on your bread machine. I have a Zojirushi and the instructions that came with the machine work great. What type of machine do you have? And does it have a preheat cycle?

      1. Jen

        I just got a West Bend machine for a wedding present – prior to this I was using my sister in law’s machine, and I can’t remember the brand. I just made my first batch on this new machine, and it turned out great. I don’t believe it has a preheat cycle. I think it’s mainly “Knead, Rise, Knead, Rise, Bake.”

        1. Truthful Nacho

          This seems to be just the suggestion I was looking for. Thank you, Jen.

  16. Janice

    I have an old machine, a Westbend from 1994. My bread just doesn’t seem to rise anymore. I have never had a problem unless the yeast was old. I bought new yeast and it still doesn’t rise. I no longer use bread machine flour though but I really don’t think that’s it. Is it possible that the machine is just old and isn’t malfunctioning?

    1. Marsha Perry

      Janice, I wonder if the machine’s heating element isn’t working quite right. Why don’t you buy a bread mix and see what happens. If that doesn’t work then my guess would be that there’s a problem with the machine. The good news is that it sounds like you certainly got your money’s worth out of the machine!

  17. Gabriella Ricci

    I just received a Moulinex Uno machine (French brand) and every bread is a disaster. Before that I had a borrowed no-name one from Tesco and it worked awesome. Now the same recipes just yield brick-like breads. I put in ingredients according to the instructions, but even the “basic bread” recipe provided with the machine did not turn out edible. I am at my wits end. The thing is three weeks old and I have not had one loaf of bread out of there that was decent. I feel like I am wasting money buying more flour and yeast, only to end up with miserable results. I do not know what the issue might be. The dough just does not rise. I’ve had to literally babysit the machine, stare at it while it is mixing, fiddle with water quantities, scrape the sides etc. The dough looks great when it is mixed, seemingly the right proportion of everything but just would not rise. Please help…

    1. Marsha Perry

      Gabriella, How frustrating! You’ve used a bread machine before so the problem isn’t you. It sounds like the problem is the machine. I’d recommend taking it back. Using a bread machine should be a happy thing, not a chore.

      1. Gabriella Ricci

        Thanks Marsha. For reasons that are too long to explain, I cannot take it back. My husband finally managed to get a decent loaf out of it, but only by first putting the yeast into some lukewarm water with some molasses and adding 1.5 times the yeast recommended by the recipe book provided with the machine. There is *some*hope, but it is still very finicky… If you have any other recommendations, they would be most welcome… Thank you. :)

        1. Marsha Perry

          Gabriella, I have two thoughts. My machine brings the liquids to the proper temperature before starting to make the dough. Maybe your machine doesn’t do that. Most recipes I’ve read say that the liquid should be at 80 degrees. So try heating the liquid to 80 degrees before adding it to the bread pan. A second idea is that maybe your machine can make the dough, but can’t really cook the bread. If that’s the case, try setting the machine on the dough cycle and then bake the bread in the oven. Good luck with this!!

  18. Trish

    Just read these tips. I just made a sweet bread that I had made before (successfully) but I had no milk so used yoghurt and a little water. Bread is like a brick and under cooked. Could the yoghurt have had an effect on the yeast? The yeast I used was purchased about a month ago and still stored in foil packet in jar.
    Not sure what went wrong :-(

    1. Marsha Perry

      Hi Trish, I’m sorry your bread didn’t turn out. I hate it when that happens! I think that some yoghurt has salt. That might have killed the yeast in the bread. I’m also wondering if the acid in the yeast relaxed the dough too much.

  19. Trish

    Thanks for replying Marsha, the yoghurt was a plain low fat and home made but by a pre-packaged dry mix product – I will check the label for contents. I will try the same yeast again this weekend with a plain bread mix and see how it goes. Yes I was so disappointed as it usually is a great sweet bread! Oh well, win some, loose some :-)
    thanks again,
    Trish

  20. Fred

    You guys are so close that you actually deserve the proverbial cigar! I have been making bread in my Salton bread machine for years. I seldom have a failure now. The BIG secret as noted above is to get the yeast active in water and a little sugar. Add the
    WARM water (not hot) to the bread makers pan then add sugar and yeast and leave for about 10-15 mins. This mixture must become a little frothy. If it does not, then your yeast is dead. You have not wasted much. Then simply add all the other ingredients and press bake. Enjoy your lovely loaf of bread. Much nicer than shop bought bread. G’luck,
    Fred

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