Why Bread Deflated After Rising and What to Do

So you check on your dough, and it’s risen beautifully. You think this is a clear indicator of a successful loaf. However, your bread collapsed somewhere down the line- before, during, or after baking. What gives?

Bread deflating after rising is a relatively common problem, even for experienced bakers such as myself. It’s typically caused by under-kneading or under or over-proofing your dough. Although, too much water, issues with the yeast, and mishandling can also cause deflation.

Hey, hey! My name’s Michelle. If you didn’t know already, I’m a baking fanatic. One of my (newer) favorite things to bake is bread. I make it all, from sourdough to regular white sandwich bread. I’ve dealt with deflated loaves a couple of times, and I’ve figured out what’s causing it (and, more importantly, how to fix it).

Keep reading to discover why your bread deflated and how to remedy it! 

Why Bread Deflated After Rising (5 Reasons)

Just because your dough rose perfectly doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. While a good rise is essential for success, things can still go haywire. One of the biggest (and most common) issues is deflation. Here’s why it happens.

1. Under-kneading

I know, I know; nobody likes to knead the dough. It’s time-consuming and can cause aches and pains in the hands and wrists. However, it shouldn’t be skipped, and you should never cut it short. 

That’s because kneading – by hand or in your bread machine – creates the strong gluten network necessary for trapping in the gasses that create the perfect “rise.” Without enough strength, the gasses will seep through the cracks – leaving you with a deflated ball of dough.

2. Under or over-proofing

Another rather nuissancing process of baking bread is proofing. Although this is another vital piece to the bread-baking puzzle, it can get a little annoying having to sit around and wait for your bread to poof.

Regardless, your bread needs to proof. During the proofing stage, yeast feeds on the sugars of your bread to create carbon dioxide – otherwise known as those must-have gasses that produce the perfect “rise.”

Under-proof your dough and your dough won’t have enough gasses to stand on its own two feet, leading to deflation. Over-proof, and you’ll be looking at an overabundance of gas production. So much so that it will collapse within itself like a dying star.

3. Too much water

Water is a common liquid ingredient when baking bread. In fact, you can make bread with just water and flour. Pretty nifty, right?

However, too much water will cause a potentially big problem – well, to be fair, it’s not a big problem since your bread won’t stay “big” like it’s supposed to.

Dough that is too wet is just too heavy. Thus, the gluten network won’t be as strong, allowing gasses to escape. 

4. Problems with the yeast

Did you accidentally add expired yeast to your dough? Then, surprise, surprise – your bread will deflate. That’s because dead yeast simply doesn’t work. It won’t create carbon dioxide, leaving you with a flat, disappointing ball of dough.

The other problem is adding too little yeast. Sure, you can get it by adding small yeast amounts. The problem is that the less yeast added, the more proofing time is needed. If you skip the extra proofing period, your dough won’t rise or be able to maintain its rise.

5. Mishandling

Bread dough is delicate. Read that again.

Although it might look ready to take on an entire army, it’s not. The dough’s gluten network, holding all essential gasses, is quite fragile. It will surely break and deflate if you’re too rough with it. 

How to Fix Deflated Bread Dough

If your bread dough is caused by one of these problems: under-kneading, under-proofing, over-proofing, or mishandling – you can try to fix it before baking it. (Unfortunately, there is no remedy for deflated bread after it’s been baked.)

The only possible solution is to punch your dough ball to break the gluten network and release all the gasses. Then, start with the kneading and proofing process all over again. Only this time, do it correctly.

If that doesn’t work, it may have to be a different issue, and it’s best to start from scratch.

5 Ways to Avoid Deflated Bread After Rising

As you can see, plenty of problems can cause deflated bread. You can reduce the chances of deflation by following these simple steps for success:

1. Knead Your Dough Correctly

You knead to knead your dough (get it?). But on a serious note, kneading your bread dough is essential for your bread’s success. By hand, you should knead for around 12 minutes. If using a stand mixer, about eight minutes should suffice.

2. Proof for the right amount of time

Bread typically takes around one to three hours at the best proofing temperature, 80F. However, keep in mind that some bread requires a lengthier proofing time. For instance, sourdough should proof in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

You can tell that your bread is done proofing by checking its size and performing the “poke test.”

  • Check the size. Has your dough doubled in size? Then it’s ready to go. Keep in mind that it should not be hanging over the sides of the pan.
  • Perform the poke test. Give your dough a gentle poke. Does it spring back slowly and leave a minor indent? It’s done!

3. Don’t add too much water

If you followed your recipe closely and ended up with too much moisture, consider leaving out ½ cup of water during this next round. You can always add more when needed, but you can’t remove it once it’s in your bread dough. 

Make sure you get accurate measurements by sifting and using a kitchen scale. After all, if you add the right amount of water but accidentally put too little flour, you’ll have a moisture issue that can cause deflation.

4. Use active yeast

Double-check the expiration date of your yeast. If it’s expired, throw it out. It will not work.

If you’re unsure, then you can always check for activeness by doing the following:

Step 1: Add one teaspoon of sugar to a cup.

Step 2: Add one yeast envelope to the same cup.

Step 3: Cover with ¼ cup of warm water.

Step 4: Wait ten minutes for the mixture to take effect. If the mixture is bubbly, it’s good.

5. Handle with care

Think of your bread dough as the most precious thing in the world, such as a newborn baby or the most expensive diamond on the planet. Yes, this may seem a little extreme, but you want your bread to turn out right, don’t you?

Don’t forget to be gentle while you’re scoring your bread dough. If you cut too deep or are too rough with the knife, you can accidentally destroy the gluten network and cause deflation.

FAQs

Now your brain should be loaded with plenty of info about deflated bread. But if you’re still curious to learn more, look at these frequently asked questions!

What happens if you let the dough rise for too long?

The most likely thing to happen is that your bread will collapse. It may also have an alcohol smell and taste sour. While it’s technically “safe” to consume, it might not be very good. It’s better to stop the rising process when your dough has doubled in size and not a second more!

Why does my dough deflate when I score it?

There are two possible problems. First, your bread dough may have been over-proofed, and all the excess gasses try to escape the second you make a slat. Secondly, you may be cutting too deep. Deep cuts are not necessarily when scoring your dough!

What happens if you put too much yeast in bread?

Some people add extra yeast in hopes that their bread dough will rise faster, but too much yeast is detrimental to the outcome. Excess yeast will produce gasses before the bread is ready, leading to a flat loaf.

Deflated Bread is a Common Problem with Simple Solutions

The main reason your bread deflates after rising is that it was under-kneaded or over-proofed. The simplest fix is to punch out the gasses, destroy the gluten network, and start from scratch, ensuring your knead and proof long enough.

Do you struggle with bread that deflates after rising? What was the problem, and how did you remedy it? Share with us in the comments!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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