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.

  • 1
    Get a humidity meter and a barometer, perhaps, to see if you really do have environmental issues?
    – goblinbox
    Jul 19, 2010 at 19:34
  • 1
    My mother makes a lot of different recipes in her bread machine. Almost all of them come out like this, with a flat or indented top. I always assumed that was just normal for bread machine bread. If it turns out there's a solution, I look forward to learning it!
    – csk
    May 18, 2021 at 18:37
  • 3
    Have you ever tried to decrease the amount of yeast?
    – Stephie
    May 18, 2021 at 20:15
  • 1
    Normally I'd say that was a result of over-rising. How long is the rising cycle for the baking, and what's the temperature in your home?
    – FuzzyChef
    May 18, 2021 at 20:41
  • @FuzzyChef the rising cycle is 1h50 according to the book. House temp usually around 20C.
    – Jontia
    May 19, 2021 at 5:53

7 Answers 7


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.



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.

  • I agree with adding more yeast; I had the same problem, so I doubled the yeast, and it worked like a charm. Jul 19, 2010 at 19:37

I was about to ask in a comment as to where in the world you were, as there are a few factors that can play into this. However I spied packages in the background and with a bit of sleuthing deduced that you bought Allinsons products, probably from Tesco and were hence likely in the UK, so high altitude isn't likely to be one of your problems.

I bake pretty much all my bread in a bread machine, mostly because I was living somewhere where bread was terrible in taste and texture, but have continued since moving away from there.

I find that bread machine recipes tend to be a little off how the recipes work. This might be something as simple as different flour brands used or the fact that tests are done in controlled conditions in labs with stable temperature and humidity.

The problems that cause bread to collapse like this generally fall into 4 categories

  1. Too much water/too little flour
  2. Additive missing
  3. Too much yeast
  4. Machine timing issues

1 and 3 are fairly self explanatory. My first guess would be water:flour ratio. Too much water (or too little flour) results in dough that is too wet and ends up in a more open texture. Your recipe has a hydration of 70% (280/400 *100). This is at the upper end of what you would want to use in a bread machine. For comparison, I use a recipe that has 300 ml water with 480 ml flour (62.5%). As a general rule you want 60-65% water for an all-purpose loaf.

Too much yeast will cause the bread to rise too fast and become too open, leading to collapse. Your recipe looks like the right amount.

I have come across a problem, in countries where the flour is not bleached, that you need to add some "bread improver", which is just some vitamin C and a bit of soy lecithin. I surmise the following is happening, but have no certainty on this: Without the improver the dough tends to rise slowly once the yeast has used up the added/free sugars in the flour - so the second rise fails to work well, leaving the heating from the cooking expanding the few bubbles remaining after knock-down too much, so the bread then collapses. If you are buying "bread machine" specific yeast it may have added improver already (if the UK needs it). You can tell this is the case as it will look like a mix of flour-like substance (improver) with small cylindrical granules (yeast). Plain yeast is a just the granules.

I find that bread machines (at least my one) don't knock down the dough properly or have a long second rise, which results in the upper part of the loaf being more open than I would like. I think this is a function of the timing of the rises, with the second rise being too long (or the element heating too slowly), so the loaves tend to rise, then collapse as there are too many bubbles in the dough.

  • This sounds fantastic, thank you. Yes you've spotted we're in the UK correctly and so I hope we don't have a high altitude problem. I don't think the yeast I'm using has any improver in it, but the package is long gone after not holding together well and the content is just in a jar. I should probably save the tick until at least trying out these ideas, but this gives me more things to try at the very least.
    – Jontia
    May 19, 2021 at 8:01
  • Less yeast appears to be the way forward. But reducing water at the same time leads looks like it might be a little bit better still.
    – Jontia
    May 22, 2021 at 16:14

It's going to be very difficult to answer this exactly without more information, you need to open the lid at different times in the process and see when it collapses as that will tell you much more. If you cannot try that then here's some general advice. First would be not to add lemon juice.

From my own experience with bread machines I've found that they rarely get it right without experimentation. By far the most common problem is over-proofing, which can cause exactly the kind of problem you are having, and the most successful way to control this is to reduce the yeast in the recipe so there's a bit less activity. Try adding 1/2 tsp instead of 3/4, or even less for a batch and see if that helps.


The best solution we've found is sticking to the largest loaf size and then replacing 30ml of water with orange juice. Every recipe we've tried this in has worked much better, and has domed correctly though there is still some inconsistency in the size of the rise.

  • You've done a rare thing - come back a long time after the fact to post a solution! The orange juice will have vitamin C in it, which will help the yeast grow happily. Inconsistencies in size can be down to batches of flour (e.g. new bag or aging of the bag as you work through it) or sometimes humidity, and/or oil content (e.g. not weighing the butter and adding too much).
    – bob1
    Nov 3, 2022 at 23:28
  • @bob1 I wish I could take more credit for coming back, but the Question hit 1000 views today just as I was putting a loaf on, so I got the push I needed.
    – Jontia
    Nov 4, 2022 at 7:01

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.

  • 4
    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. Jul 19, 2010 at 19:37

I've been baking bread for awhile now and have been all through the problems, and dealt with them all. A couple of tips; Use Wessex Flour, it's the best you'll find and there all good for bread machines, not all flours are. Always keep your Yeast in the fridge and don't keep it too long.

Hope this helps Michael

  • Michael, welcome! You do realize that we are a pretty international crowd here, right? Your specific brand of flour is probably not available in, say, Indonesia or Chile and even I wouldn't be willing to order it from the UK to Germany. You could greatly improve your answer if you could explain what the special properties of Wessex Flour are, so that other users can look for brands with similar characteristics.
    – Stephie
    May 6, 2016 at 19:44

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