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I'm having a hard time making bread loaf at home. My breads after coming out of the oven always shrink. Here's the recipe I used:

320g flour (because I didn't have bread flour so I replaced with 315g all-purpose flour 11.5% + 6g gluten)

160g water

40g heavy cream

20g sugar

5g salt

5g instant yeast

30g unsalted butter

I baked in a pullman loaf pan 2.5 liters, 175°C 30 minutes. I tried to raise the temperature or bake longer, but in both cases, the bread crust was too thick and it still shrinked a bit at the side.

Can everyone share tips to avoid shrinking bread loaf after baking?

Edit: Here's the recent bread I made. It shrinks at the top, one side and a bit at the bottom enter image description here

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  • You can't eliminate shrinkage, but you can potentially alleviate it some. Can you post a picture of the crumb? Aug 26, 2021 at 16:59

3 Answers 3

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Looking at your method and recipe, a number of factors could be at play here. I have baked many loaves without the butter and cream in an open top bread tin, and have never experienced shrinkage, quite the opposite in fact.

First of all, the dairy components will lead to a much softer "Milk bread" consistency in comparison to a "Traditional" loaf. This will mean the texture is much lighter and more delicate, so when all the steam has evaporated from the bread, as it cools it will naturally shrink as it is not as rigid as traditional bread. Secondly, the bread is partially steamed being inside an enclosed Pullman tin. This will have a major influence on the texture and density as well.

What you want to achieve is for the bread to "Set" as quickly as possible, yet maintaining the delicate soft texture. In a commercial environment, this is done using flour improvers etc. You haven't mentioned how you prepared the dough, hand kneeding and using a food mixer will also have different impacts on the end result. Pre-rise time will also have an affect, as will using a pre-fermented poolish etc. All of these will affect the crumb size and texture to some degree though.

You could try removing the lid 5-10 minutes before taking the bread out the oven to let some of the steam to escape. I'd also be tempted to use full fat milk rather than heavy cream, as this may contributing to the shrinkage.

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No, there is no way to prevent it from shrinking. It is one of the basic laws of physics - a spongy material filled with air/steam, both at almost 100°C, has larger volume than the same material at room temperature. Your bread will shrink, and that is absolutely normal.

If your bread is for some reason collapsing into a solid inedible mass, that's another thing, but it doesn't sound that this is what happens in your case.

Update: Now that you posted your picture, this is a very normal look for the style of bread you are making. I have had this loaf shape many times from professional bakeries. A sunken bread in need of action looks like this:

sunken loaf

If you go for recipes which don't produce that look, you will also end up with a different texture both of crumb and crust, and especially the crust will have to be thicker and sturdier than now - which you state you don't want.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Yes, my bread is edible and has spongy texture, but is it normal if it shrinks quite significantly? Like it has an hourglass shape?
    – Sean
    Aug 26, 2021 at 17:07
  • The shape depends on the loaf style/recipe. Yours looks quite susceptible to a hourglass shape, due to the high percentage of fat and the baking in a pan. There are bread types which shrink equally in all directions, keeping their shape - these would be typically sturdier unenriched loaves baked as boules.
    – rumtscho
    Aug 26, 2021 at 17:21
  • Thank you. That's interesting. I understand now... This was my first time baking with a pullman pan. I found that recipe from a Japanese website and the result should look as normal sandwich bread. Do you think I should reduce the hydration of the dough? Or can I reduce the oven temperature and increase baking time?
    – Sean
    Aug 26, 2021 at 20:34
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Maybe not a complete answer, but a hack ?

You could do the same technique that Panettone bakers have.

When the Panettone is removed from the oven, they turn it upside down to let them cool and let them keep their shape.

For example (Chef John's Panettone video)

https://youtu.be/H00djJq68VE?t=515

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