In a bread machine bread recipe, why is milk powder included? And is milk powder needed?

I have baked several loaves without milk powder. When the bread is baking sometimes the loaf collapses with a 'crater' depression of about 3 cm.

  • I had the falling dough problem also. I was told by someone to reduce the yeast by 1/4 tsp. It helped solve that issue. As for the milk, I don't know.
    – user42179
    Jan 3, 2016 at 23:26
  • I never use the dried milk and I never have a problem. I make as many as four to six loaves a week (I share it with the neighbors) and I have never missed it either I take or rising.
    – user43743
    Feb 26, 2016 at 17:07
  • Tangent: you should consider adding powdered milk to your pantry. It's really handy and there are many good recipes that utilize it. It's half the price fresh milk. Tip: some people add a touch of heavy cream to it to make it more like Whole Milk.
    – Paulb
    Feb 27, 2016 at 13:28

4 Answers 4


Milk or milk powder are not strictly needed in bread recipes. There are many formulas that omit it: the minimal ingredients for a loaf are water, flour and yeast; salt is probably essential for a loaf that is tasty.

Milk (or milk powder) is a way of enhancing the dough to:

  • Make a softer loaf (due to the milkfat acting as a tenderizer by interfering with gluten production)
  • Add flavor to the loaf
  • Enhance browning of the crust due to the potential carmelization of the milk sugars

The use of milk powder as opposed to liquid milk may be just for convenience, or because there is sufficient hydration in the loaf from other reasons, so it avoids adding additional water as part of the milk.

You may choose to omit the milk powder, but you will lose its benefits. Instead, I suggest you find one of the myriad bread recipes designed for bread machines that doesn't include it if you don't want to use it.

The cratering issue is likely to be unrelated to milk or milk powder.

  • 2
    Enzymes, like glutathione, in unscalded milk or low-heat powdered milk can lead to weakened gluten structure and could be related to the OPs collapse issue. High-heat dry milk (aka Baker's dry milk) is used by pros to get the benefits elaborated by @SAJ14SAJ, without weakening the gluten structure. Sep 26, 2013 at 16:51
  • So is the effect ameliorated by scalding the milk? I ask specifically because I'm making bread tomorrow and I'd really rather use scalded milk than milk powder.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 27, 2013 at 5:17
  • 2
    Yes, scalding the milk (bringing it to at least 180˚F) denatures the enzymes. Sep 30, 2013 at 3:02
  • Do you need to scald the milk if you're using soya milk?
    – Virgo
    Mar 8, 2017 at 0:46
  • 1
    Is glutathione not denatured during pasteurization?
    – joshwa
    May 15, 2020 at 0:11

In the manual for my bread machine, the use of milk powder was said to be because the machine might be set to cook hours later via the timer and having the milk sitting on the counter for hours might lead to spoilage.

If you decide to use milk when making bread right away, you probably should reduce the water added an equivalent amount.


Your loaf may have cratered due to the lack of salt. Salt is essential to deactivate the yeast. Putting less yeast in will solve the problem but this may also affect the rise so a good balance of yeast and salt, on opposite sides of the pan, is essential. As a guide, about 2 teaspoons, 10 grams, of fast acting yeast and the same of salt is about right for a 500 gram, 1 pound, loaf.

There's very little difference between the milk and the milk powder as said above, however most bread machine manufacturers recommend the powder if you're making an enriched dough as if the machine is left overnight on timer, the milk will not spoil.

Happy baking!


Better late than never :)

To answer this, you need to understand there are 2 common types of milk powder, with different uses -

Low-heat nonfat milk powder (instant milk powder) is made at lower temperatures, and dissolves easily. It contains the protease enzyme an glutathione protein, which are known to impair yeast production and gluten formation. As such, this type is not recommended for bread making in large amounts.

High-heat nonfat milk powder (Bakers Dry Milk) is made at a higher temperature, giving it has a higher denatured protein content.

Dry Milk provides the following benefits for bread making:

  • It adds flavour
  • It improves texture, creating a softer crumb
  • It may help increase the breads shelf-life, depending on fat content
  • The high temperature production deactivates protease and denatures glutathione
  • The added protein improves the breads rise
  • It can be used without altering your dough hydration

An alternative to Dry Milk is to scald liquid milk to 190°F/88°C before use, which also deactivates protease and denatures glutathione. Yogurt and buttermilk do not need to be scalded. Bread dough using unscalded milk may weaken, and not rise well.

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