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I had been making bread reliably for a few years until we moved (from Sweden to Austria) six months ago. Suddenly, any loaf I make rots within a few days in the bread bin. Specifically, it goes soft and moist in the centre (the crust stays fine) and it starts to smell like rotting grapes.

I have tried:

  • Swapping the flour. I have tried various kinds and qualities.
  • Swapping the yeast (I use instant yeast)
  • Baking longer (at 230°C)
  • Changing the bread bin for a large tupperware with the lid very loose. In Sweden I did not have a bread bin, so I kept bread in a plastic bag, but we never had rotten bread.
  • Making sure the bread is completely cool before placing in the bread bin.

Can anyone suggest where I might be going wrong?

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    Have you checked your oven calibration? What's the inside of the bread like as soon as the loaf is baked and cool? It sounds like it might not be cooking in the middle. – Chris H Apr 8 at 21:27
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    @ChrisH- I was going to say the same thing. This happens to me when the bread is underbaked and a sloppy oven will do that. When the bread is done, the interior of the loaf should be about 190F (180F at my altitude). – Sobachatina Apr 8 at 23:13
  • If it were on the outside, I'd say that your bread bin might need to be disinfecting ... but I have no clue for the inside of the bread. Is this a problem with whole loaves, cut loaves, or both? – Joe Apr 9 at 0:06
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    @Sobachatina that sounds about right - although I don't think in F it seems hot enough both for cooking and to kill most things (given that there's time and steam). I doubt the middle is even getting to 60C. Maybe it's too wet to cook in time but that's normally obvious. The effect of increased altitude should be fairly small though real as you've noted, but if combined with a cooler oven (and perhaps going from a fan oven to one without forced air) undercooking seems to be the cause. – Chris H Apr 9 at 6:38
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    The bread appears uniformly cooked through to the middle when it comes out of the oven. I have had the same phenomenon when I have forgotten the bread and left it in the oven too long and overcooked it. This applies to whole and cut loaves, in the latter case the cut edge stays dry and the interior rots. I have also tried disinfecting the bread bin. I have not calibrating the oven. – tellis Apr 9 at 8:22
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Most likely you are suffering from a cooler oven and underbaked bread. But you should also consider getting back to an older way to store bread - in a fabric bag (preferably cotton). This will keep it fresh enough without risking rot quite so much.

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I have marked George M's answer as the accepted answer, but I thought I would post a slightly expanded answer.

I can confirm that the following ideas that were raised in the comments did not work:

  • Hotter oven
  • Cooking longer
  • Cooling completely

What has worked is to wrap the bread completely in a tea towel or two until completely cool. Then, the bread stays really fresh for at least a day.

I also found that bread thus cooled can be placed in the bread bin still wrapped in the tea towel, and it doesn't rot.

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