The Self Taught Life

What it's like to self-educate and make the most out of it.

10 Things That Cause Bread Baking Fails

COVID-19 have turned almost everyone into bakers! I find myself baking a lot of bread these days too. Now is a good time to learn a new hobby or even just to learn baking for your daily consumption. Before starting my bread baking journey, I’ve watched A LOT of YouTube videos on bread baking. “That looks easy. I can do that!”, was a lie that I told myself. LOL. I felt so betrayed after trying to bake bread after watching those videos. IT IS NOT EASY! It took me a bunch of fail bakes and some time to research why my bread didn’t turn out great. For those in the same situation like me, here are some things to check or you might be doing wrong.

Just a quick note, I will be linking the products I bought from Amazon because that is where I got almost all of the things I’ve used.

1. Your Yeast is Expired

To make sure that your yeast is still good, wait for at least 5 minutes for your yeast to “bloom”. If 5 minutes passed and there are no bubbles, your yeast might be bad. Time to buy a new one.

2. Your Water is Too Hot / Too Cold

Water temperature is key to activate your yeast. There’s a certain water temperature range that is safe for your yeast. Make sure that your water temperature is between 89F to 105F. I’ve seen online that you can even go up to 110F but that didn’t work for me.

Use a thermometer to make sure that your temperature is right. You can find really cheap ones from Amazon.

3. Your Environment is Too Cold

If this is the case, you may want to wait a little longer for your dough to rise. I’ve tried making an “overnight” bread which I’ve left on my counter for about 8 hours. I live in Canada so it’s still a bit cold right now.

You can heat up some water in your microwave and then quickly place your dough inside to keep the warm and humid atmosphere in your microwave. This also helps in proofing your dough.

4. You’re Using the Wrong Kind of Bowl

This is just from experience but I noticed that whenever I use my stainless bowl, my dough takes a long time to proof or not proof at all. When I switched to a plastic bowl, my dough doubled in much lesser time. I would’ve used a glass bowl but I don’t have one that’s big enough for my dough.

I find that using these kind helps keep the temperature around the dough from cooling really fast.

5. You’re Using the Wrong Pan / Pot / Tray

Because I’m only learning how to make bread, I didn’t really want to invest on bake ware. I just want to use whatever I currently have. So, I tried to use a baking tray to bake my bread. The tray is too wide and flat for my dough. My bread turned out to be more flat like a Focaccia than a Loaf Bread. LOL.

Since I wanted to get a loaf-y kind, I have a heavy bottomed pot that is oven safe. That is what I used to bake my second bread in. If you don’t have this at home, here are some that you can use as well.

6. Your Dough is Over-proofed

When your dough is over-proofed, it looses it’s structure. This happened to me because I wasn’t sure when my dough is ready or if it’s done proofing. I’ve left it in a warm and humid area overnight! LOL. It became too “airy” and too soft that when I tried to bake it, there’s a lot of air bubbles that popped on the surface. The bread was too uneven and airy.

If you’ll be baking on the same day, keep your dough in a warm and humid area for about 2 hours. When it’s doubled its size, you’re good to go.

If you’ll be baking the next day, you can leave it on your counter top or somewhere cool for 8-10 hours.

7. You Didn’t Add Sugar

Aside from warm water, yeast love sugar. Sugar helps activate the yeast. A tsp of sugar mixed in warm water should do the trick. Think of it as food for your yeast. 😉

8. Salt Killed Your Yeast

If your recipe calls for salt, DO NOT mix it with your yeast. Add the salt on your flour and mix it before adding your activated yeast.

9. Your Oven Temperature Might Not Be Accurate

This problem is very common. Every oven is different. To make sure that your oven temperature is accurate, use an in-oven thermometer. It is not expensive and it’s a great investment especially when you’re into baking.

10. Your Bread May Be Under-cooked

What I love about baking bread is that it’s more forgiving than baking cakes. If you take out your cake too early, it will sink and you’ll have to start over. For bread, if you take it out too early, you can just put it back in the oven. Use a thermometer to check the inside temperature of your bread. The ideal range would be 190F to 210F. I like staying on the safe side so I stick with 200F.

These are some of the things I did wrong while baking bread. I hope these will help you troubleshoot your baking fails. Keep trying and never give up. You can do it! 🙂


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