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Bread Troubleshooting – Bread That Rises and Then Falls Revised — 24 Comments

  1. Hi Marsha, thanks for all the info! Going to try your sour milk bread this afternoon.

    My understanding is the Big Valley is usually caused by too much, or too rapid of a rise. The expanding CO2 from the yeast overwhelms the glutens ability to stretch (rise) and contain it. Note most all of your solutions are aimed at slowing yeast activity. Limiting food (sugar, qty/quality of yeast) or increasing salt which inhibits yeast or the quality (gluten) of the flour. One other thing I have tried with success in addition to those mentioned is adding, or adding more gluten. A couple teaspoons is usually enough for a 1.5# loaf.

  2. I am new to breadmaker-ing and am fighting the big valley. By the way, it makes me feel better to label it with a humorous term. Thanks for that! I decreased the water by a tablespoon and had little change; so I maintained that same water measurement and decreased the yeast by 1/4 tsp. I’ll try another 1/4 tsp. yeast decrease next time since I still have the sunken top. It’s not terrible, but I’d like to master this. Any encouragement or other suggestions for going forward are appreciated. FYI I’m starting with an Oster breadmaker…low end, I know.

  3. Hi,

    I need some help here, please. My favorite bread machine recipe, Dill Onion, is just delicious and rises just fine. What happens is the sides (not the top) cave in. (I don’t think this is what youall are talking about re the ‘big valley’.). This does not effect the taste but it’s just frustrating not to be able to correct it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    L. Barker

    • Interesting! I haven’t had this happen to me, but I’ve heard about hourglass loaves of bread. It’s a tricky problem to solve. One thing that you might try is using a different flour. Try for one with slightly less gluten. If you’re adding an improver, like vital wheat gluten, try adding a little less. Are you baking the bread in the oven or in the bread machine? If you’re using the oven you might try cooking it at a slightly higher temperature or leaving it in for a little bit longer.

  4. Hi Marsha,

    My bread does tend to lose it’s crown and come out flat, but it’s not a typical rise-then-fall valley scenario. The loaves (all kinds, from light white sandwich to multi-grain to raisin, suffer from an uneven texture. They’re more dense/heavy at the bottom of a slice and very light, even floppy sometimes, at the top. I want to be right between the two, texture-wise. Have you ever seen anything like this?

    I live in Tampa and bake 1.5 lb loaves in a Zo Virtuoso (PAC20).

  5. Great information! Thank you so much, I’m learning so much thought this site. I have a zojirushi virtuoso and I made the cornbread recipe that you use but I used fermented coconut milk, coconut oil instead of butter and no sugar and my cornbread came out about 2″ tall. Is that normal? I cooked it on the cake mode. It taste great just small. Can I double or triple the recipe and it turn out?

  6. Another tip that I recently heard of is to use water that is just room temperature, not warm, because that may cause the yeast to activate too soon. I was using quite warm water and always had the ‘big valley’. Then I tried with slightly cool water/room temp, just as it comes out of the tap, and the bread was perfect – no valley. Hope this helps!

  7. I struggled with this problem in a Zojirushi for some months, but have solved it. I think that all the advice to cut back on the factors that promote rising are misleading, because they merely produce a smaller, denser loaf. The heart of the problem is the structure: in a traditionally made loaf, the dough is periodically punched down and folded during the rising phase, and is shaped before the final rise. If you look at a slice from the middle of such a loaf, you will see that the air is trapped fairly evenly in elongated concentric layers. The bread machine cannot structure the dough like this, so larger, more uneven pockets develop, which then burst through during expansion at the beginning of the bake, causing the loaf to deflate. This is particularly evident with the twin-paddle machine, because of the voids between the two dough lumps over the paddles. The remedy is to take out the dough just after the final mix, remove the paddles, then fold and shape the loaf before putting it back in the pan for a final rise and bake. The machine manufacturers do not give this advice, because it rather detracts from the convenience of the process (the promise of a fresh loaf ready in time for breakfast), but I hope that they are working on a clever design to solve the problem automatically.

  8. Hello! OK so, my bread JUST started having a valley….I have not changed anything in my recipe it’s from a bread machine cook book, it’s just a country white bread, and it always worked then the last 3 loafs for some reason started caving… I am going to try and decrease the yeast a little and see if that helps then go from their. But do you have any idea why it would just now start to cave when I have done nothing different?

    • That does sound strange. Something like that happened to me once and the issue was the water. I’m on a community well and the well water got a “treatment”. Could it be something like that?

    • I am having the same thing happen, and the only change I’ve made is that I’ve gone from the individual packets of yeast to the jar of yeast, so when I add it, it’s been in the refrigerator. I’m wondering if this is causing my issue. It just started with my last three loaves.

      • Candy,
        I was told/read to let the cold yeast warm up.
        I take my yeast out of the freezer, measure what I need, then sit it by the window to warm up in the sunlight.
        Then I go assemble the rest of my things.
        This gives the yeast time to warm up to room temp.

  9. Hoping someone is still here:)

    I started making bread a couple of months ago.
    Everyone of my loaves have been perfect.
    Until day before yesterday.

    I have two big Valley loaves. 🙁

    I just finished making two more.
    Decided to do it exactly as I have been making my bread.
    Will post results.

    Very glad and happy I found this site!

    Louie

  10. I have an older “Nutritionist” machine that I inherited some time ago. Finally started using it about 2 months ago with great success using the recipes in the small book that came with it. Those used rapid rise yeast. The last two loaves I used recipes calling for just active yeast with a longer process and have had the Big Valley. I live in Florida and we have had a lot of rain lately. My wonderment is, do you think that the increased humidity may have been a contributing fact? Next one I will decrease the water slightly. Hopefully that will work. Also, do you have any recommendations on the newer machines that are on the market now?

    • Hi Shelbie, Thanks so much for writing. Yes I think that the increased humidity is the problem with your Big Valley. Decreasing the liquid slightly is the thing to do. If that doesn’t help you can also decrease the yeast slightly. (In addition to the humidity to adding water to the air, it makes the yeast work stronger and faster.

      I’ve always used Zojirushi machines. I love ’em. I make all our bread and the machines last for a long time. I also love the horizontal layout of the bread pan. My current machine is a BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso.

  11. I might have found my problem, but am not yet sure. The loaf shrunk almost by half! I use 2 TSB of honey for sweetening instead of sugar and I have been using 2 TSB of butter for the oil. The time before today it came out right and I had only used salad oil instead of the butter. Today the butter may be the culprit for another big valley. I dunno. But it doesn’t seem right that that I have to measure the water by the tsp which I have measured to be right at a cup and a quarter. I don’t fill the cups overflowing just very close to the top. And the flour is “all purpose” and right at 3 cups. I’m frustrated as I think only twice have I had it turn out right. Next time I will use the salad oil and find out if that give me the full sized loaf again or not. Any suggestions??

    • Wow! You’ve sure been working hard on getting this right. Keep making small changes and documenting your results.

      In addition to that I’d try using bread flour instead of all purpose flour. Also, on the liquid you don’t need to measure it in a teaspoon at a time, but do make sure that you’re getting the proper amount. (A see-through pyrex measuring cup is best for measuring liquids.) You might also try slightly decreasing the liquid to see if that helps.

    • Don, Couple comments.

      – Measuring cups. I have 3 different measuring cups, and none of them match, at 1 CUP of water. I have no idea which of the 3 cups is most accurate. And putting 2 or 3 cups of water from my 1 cup measuring cup into the 4 cup measuring cup does not match the markings either. ARGH !!!!! No wonder I was having problems.
      So accurate or not, I selected one of the cups as my master to reference the other cups to. That leads to the next problem.

      – Being a guy, I wanted a NON-messy, EASY and REPEATABLE way to measure flour.
      Flour could be packed, scooped, or fluffed, and everything in between. And the 3 ways would give you 3 different amounts of flour, which is NOT good.
      The NON-messy comes from watching my mother sift flour to make it even to measure … what a mess that was, flour all over the kitchen 🙁 OK not quite that bad but it was still messy.
      So I got a digital kitchen scale, and I now measure my flour by weight. The weight of a cup of flour is printed on the flour bag. Measuring by weight eliminates the packed vs loose problem of measuring flour. X amount of flour, packed or loose, weighs the same.
      The only problem, is converting what a recipe has as 1 cup to grams. I don’t know how the recipe writer measured their 1 cup.

      – That leads back to #1 above.
      I did some research on the internet, and found the weight for 1 cup of water (237 grams). So now I can measure water or milk by weight, rather than volume.
      And the scale is more accurate than the measuring cup at the 2 cup level. With a measuring cup, I can barely see any change when adding 1 tablespoon of water. So with the measuring cup, I am close, but not accurate. That is probably why you are measuring water by the teaspoon.

      Having said this, I am still a novice at using my bread machine. Which is why I am trying to make my measurements accurate and repeatable.

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