Bread Troubleshooting – Bread That Rises and Then Falls — 49 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!

    • Hi Meesha. Tjis is a reply after 2 years. Was wondering what is the ambient temperature at which you are using room temp water? Here the temp is 35C and humid. Can one use normal temp water instead of fridge water?

      • Hi Sanjeev, This is a great question! Where I live it’s usually around 72F (22C) in the house. My Zo heats things (like water and butter) up before it starts mixing. So I don’t add cold water, but just room temperature water.

        But it’s a preheat cycle and that’s not an issue for you.

        I’ve seen some instructions for machines without preheat cycles to heat the water to 80F(26.6C). So that’s the minimum temperature needed. But can the water be too hot? Yes! At about 120F (48.8C) active dry yeast starts to die.

        To make a long story short, 35C should be just fine. 🙂

  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!


  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.

      • 1litre of water weighs 1kg. To put it another way,1cup holds 250 mls so if you need 2 cups of water you need 500 mls or 500 grams if weighed.

        • Phil, this is inaccurate. The weight of a particular volume of water varies greatly depending upon it’s temperature. At boiling, a cup of water will only weigh .959 what it weighs at 70°F.
          (1c Water = 236.59g @ 70°F
          1c Water = 227.10g @ 190-212°F)
          A similar thing happens close to freezing for a totally different reason. I weigh my ingredients, including water, and noticed the discrepancy. Then I learned that generally, water is usually measured by volume, NOT weight because of this.

    • My receipe has worked for 4 different bread makers. 1and 1/4 cups of very hot tap water, 1 tablespoon of white sugar, 2 tablespoons of cold butter from fridge, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. Make a little hole in flour for the yeast.

  12. I’ve had this happen withe past three loaves, I wondered first if it was caused by a draught, so re-sited b/m next I slightly decreased yeast as recommended , next bought new flour! The machine has been operating thrice weekly for about two years and am wondering if perhaps the heating element has gone pphwt.

    • Sadly, bread machine don’t last forever. In my case usually what happens is that the bread paddles no longer spin. That’s on my Zo. I imagine that different bread machines break in different ways.

      Before you give up on your machine, you might try buying a bread mix. That will take care of any ingredient or measuring issues that may be occurring.

  13. Please help! I’ve tried everything but can’t seem to fix the big valley. After multiple attempts everything seems to be going perfectly through the process and my raw bread rises beasutifully in the pan. As soon as it starts baking it looks fine but after about 5 minutes of heat it starts to cave and 15 minutes into the baking process it’s completely failed. I just tried another batch with 1/2 as much yeast as the recipe calls for and and extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Frustrated but not giving up yet! Thanks!

    • Steve, Have you ever had a recipe turn out right? If not you may want to try a different recipe. If that works, then you know that your machine and ingredients are fine.

      I’ve also had some strange experiences with different water sources. To rule that out as a problem you may want to try a loaf of milk bread. It doesn’t have any water so if that recipe works then you know that the your water is OK.

      If all of those things check out, just keep going changing just one or two things at a time. I don’t know how many tries it took me to get my potato bread recipe right. Hang in there.

  14. Hi, my problem is with wheat breads. All my white breads are fine. But the whole wheats, not so much. When the heat comes on to bake the loaf immediately falls. Any recipe with whole wheat flour does it. Any with white flour is fine. I have made Raisin/Walnut, Cheddar/Beer, French, white sandwich, all fine. Only the whole wheats.

    Any advice would welcome.

  15. I had dozens of misshapen loaves until I got a digital scale and made little adjustments until I got a repeatable properly shaped loave. I weigh the water as soon as it boils so it is always the same weight per gram and then cool it in the bread maker pan. Flour is far faster to weigh than measure and far more accurate. Even weigh the vital wheat gluten— 40 grams for most whole wheat recipes. The biggest culprit by far is too much water and too much yeast is a close second, but measuring everything in grams means that when you get it right it stays right. I have converted all my recipes to grams. The only problem is the birds dont get any rejects anymore.

    • I think I’m slowly moving to the digital scale camp. I’ve been experimenting and it’s pretty easy with the right scale and as you say, the results are great. Great for everyone except the birds that is. 🙂

  16. Hi
    I really need some help!
    I’m try ing to make whole wheat bread. My bread rises and then falls down. sometimes as much as 4cm!
    I tried a lot of changes such as cold water or decreasing the yeast or sugar. All leads to less up and then less down but the bread is always concave!
    One time I turned the machine off when it was rised enough and turned it on again and started bake program, but the bread went down after about 10 minutes!

    Is heat couses the dough to go down? Maybe the heat is too much!


    • Thanks so much for writing!

      I wouldn’t recommend turning the machine on and off. Let it run through the whole cycle.

      Are you following the recipe? A lot of people like to experiment, and that’s fine. However, it’s always best to follow the recipe the first time that you make it.

      Check out my article on vital wheat gluten. With a lot of wheat bread recipes, it’s the key to success.

      Hope this helps!

  17. I’m sloppy with my measurements and my bread usually turns out ok. That said, I do watch how much yeast I use. I find that when I first open a jar of yeast, the bread rises quicker than after a few weeks. So, I believe I should measure the amount of yeast specified in the recipe, but be prepared to increase the amount of yeast as the efficacy of the yeast decreases. I sometimes get the big valley likely because I just opened a new jar of yeast but measured the yeast as if I was using an old jar.

    • It would make me crazy to try and remember how old my yeast is. 🙂

      I’d estimate that we buy yeast once a year or so. We buy it in bulk and then store it in the refrigerator. I don’t notice any change in the effectiveness in the yeast at all.

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