I also call this The Big Valley as it usually leaves a sunken area in the middle of the loaf. I wrote an article about this a few years ago, but here’s an updated version with more detail.
This condition can be caused by any number of things including:
- Too much liquid – try decreasing water or milk by one to two tablespoons. Remember to look at your dough after a few minutes of kneading and see if it’s a smooth, round ball.
- Not enough salt – try increasing salt by ¼ teaspoon
- Not enough flour – try increasing the flour by by one to two tablespoons
- Too much yeast – try decreasing 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. rapid rise yeast)
So how do you go about fixing the problem? This is what I advise:
- As a first step, try making the bread again. Maybe you accidentally measured something wrong or forgot an ingredient.
- If you’re making the recipe correctly, the next step is to try it again making just one or two changes. Resist the temptation to change three or four items at once.
- Make notes about the changes. How did you vary the recipe? What was the result?
- Use your revised recipe as the new baseline. Look at the result, look at the variables and try again. For example, maybe you adjusted the yeast and didn’t notice enough of a change? No problem. On the next loaf make you can try an additional change to the yeast or maybe a change to the salt.
- Bread suffering from The Big Valley usually tastes just fine. If it doesn’t consider using it in one of these recipes for leftover bread.