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I have a bread machine and when I follow the recipes in the included booklet that came with the machine, the bread rises for about an hour, but the collapses back on itself and comes out rock hard and, usually, undercooked (doughy). I've tried adding flour, which helped a little, but didn't cure the problem. When I bake bread in the oven (hand-kneading, etc.) it comes out just fine.

Some additional info: I've had similar problems with chocolate-chip cookies. Recipes that work perfectly for other people collapse in our kitchen (even the recipe from the Nestle chocolate chips package). My only theory is that since we live one block from a very large lake the air is somehow more humid, or dense, or something. Adding almost twice as much flour to the cookies has make them stay up, but now they taste "cakey."

Does anyone know what might be going on and what I could try to help the problem? I'm stabbing in the dark, since I don't know the science behind what's going on.

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Get a humidity meter and a barometer, perhaps, to see if you really do have environmental issues? –  goblinbox Jul 19 '10 at 19:34

4 Answers 4

It may be because of the type of yeast being used. Quick-cooking bread machines (1 hour cycle) typically requires "instant" yeast which rises much faster. Standard-cooking bread machines (2-3 hour cycle) need regular yeast, which is active longer. It sounds like you're using instant yeast in a standard recipe; thus the yeast stops working before the bread machine gets to the second rise cycle. Under-cooking may be because the resultant dough is denser than the machine expects, thus doesn't heat through in time.

Unfortunately the trade names for "Regular Active Dry" yeast and "Instant Dry" yeast can be very confusing.

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Proof the yeast first by adding it to water at 115 degrees F along with sugar or honey.

Add slightly more yeast, baking soda, or baking powder than the recipe calls for.

Decrease the amount of salt in the recipe.

Buy a barometer. Bake bread when air pressure is steady or rising. Don't bake when air pressure is dropping.

Knead the dough longer/faster.

Use filtered water instead of tap water.

Try using different kinds of flour.

Don't add more flour without adding more leavening agent.

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I agree with adding more yeast; I had the same problem, so I doubled the yeast, and it worked like a charm. –  JustRightMenus Jul 19 '10 at 19:37

The cookie deal may not be related. Cookies made with a higher butter-to-shortening ratio will spread and harden due to the butter melting. If you're using a lot of butter, that's the answer there.

Then, if I'm right about your cookies, it sounds like your bread machine could just very well be broken. The "undercooked" remark being the ultimate clue.

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If you have a reasonably-local friend with a bread machine that they know works, it would be easy to test this... just swap bread machines and both try again with your normal recipe. That will tell you whether it is the machine or the recipe. –  GalacticCowboy Jul 19 '10 at 19:37

I could not get the recipes to wok either and after 5 years have my own recipe which works every time and the ingredients are always available at the shops. I cant post the recipe here but if you want it go to Whirlpool and look up bread recipes as I have posted two there, a yeast free and a yeast recipe.

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