Bread Machine Troubleshooting Guide

A Handy Bread Machine Troubleshooting Guide

Fresh bread…yummmm! Nothing beats it. When you’ve had a long day, and you get home to your bread machine, which was set to reliably cook up a wonderful loaf in your absence, sometimes the anticipation gets the best of you. You look into the bread pan, ready for the inspiring sight of a delicious, warm and fluffy loaf, and you are greeted with a mess. What happened? Read on to find out, and to learn how to make the perfect loaf on the next go-around.

Shape issues

When your loaf looks like a mushroom

If your fresh-baked bread looks like the clouds that follow a nuclear explosion, there are a few basic problems that could be to blame. Usually, this kind of loaf indicates that your ingredients weren’t correctly proportioned. If you followed a reliable recipe and received this result, check your loaf pan size. You can also get a loaf like this if you forgot the salt, or used too little. Adding sugary ingredients to the mix without adjusting proportions in a recipe can also give you a mushroom loaf.

When your loaf doesn’t rise at all

Fresh baked bread that looks more like a paving stone than fresh bread is often the result of old or improperly stored yeast. If you forgot to add the yeast, you can also get this result. Too much salt, too much sugar, and too high of a water temperature can kill yeast and cause flat loaves, as well. If you used the timer setting, your ingredients may not have been added to the pan in the correct order. Make sure to double-check your manufacturer’s suggestions.

When your loaf doesn’t rise completely

If your loaf ends up mini-size, you might need to get new yeast. Poorly stored or old yeast can result in this kind of a loaf. Your results can look similarly short in cases where the timer was used and salt or water made prolonged contact with your yeast due to incorrect ingredient order in the pan. You also might not have used enough sugar. It is important to note that this kind of a loaf is expected when you bake with all purpose flour or whole grain flour instead of bread flour. If none of these factors seems likely in your case, then the issue might be even simpler. You might need to make a bigger batch of dough next time.

When your loaf looks like a bowl, or caves in

Sometimes, you open to bread maker to be greeted by a loaf that grew too quickly and then – poof – collapsed in on itself. Common culprits include too much yeast, no salt, too small of a bread pan, high humidity, warm weather, or overheated liquids. Other causes include having too much liquid in the dough, and opening the bread machine during the bake cycle.

When your loaf is lopsided

If your bread machine has two mixing paddles and they are both not turning evenly, this can cause your dough to be lopsided while mixing, and this can carry over and result in an uneven loaf that is higher on one side than another.  Check to see if there is wear on one of your paddles and if the paddles are not both turning freely, which could cause this.


Texture problems

When your loaf is sticky and gummy

If your bread has the texture of raw dough or chewing gum in patches, you may have a defective thermostat in your bread machine. This is especially true if it happens over and over again. Using too many wet ingredients, too much sugar, or baking in a room that is too cold can all produce this result, too.

When your loaf is too dense

Biting into a loaf of bread that is much too dense isn’t ideal. It is often the result of too much or too little of an ingredient. Common problems that cause this kind of loaf include not enough water, salt, yeast, or sugar or too much flour, added ingredients like dried fruits, or too much whole grain flour. You can fix the whole grain problem simply – just use ½ bread flour and ½ whole grain flour the next time around.

When your loaf is coarse or has a lot of holes

If your bread looks like Swiss cheese and has a coarse texture, look to yeast, water, and salt as potential culprits. Too much water in a loaf can cause a holey texture. If the weather is warm, your yeast might have gotten a little growth happy and given you this result. Adjust by using slightly less yeast (start with 1/4 teaspoon less). Forgetting the salt can also lead to a holey loaf. If you included fruits and vegetables in the loaf, make sure that you pat them dry before adding them the next time you try this recipe.


Using the list above, you can learn what went wrong with your fresh baked bread. Adjust the ingredients as necessary, make sure you always add what you need, and if you change a recipe, aim to keep the right proportions. That’s all there is to it.

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