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Many home bakers yearn to make the perfect loaf of bread. It should be soft and flavorful without being overpowering, and have just the right amount of crumb. For many, perfecting bread baking is one of the signs that they have made it as a baker.
However, breadmaking is a very complicated process and there are many things that can go wrong along the way. One of the most common problems is bread that is too crumbly.
Crumbly bread has difficulty holding its structure, making it a poor choice for sandwiches. It also loses much of its moisture and doesn’t taste as good as it should.
The Importance of Gluten in Bread Making
Gluten is a type of protein that forms when flour is mixed with water. Most traditional loaves of bread contain gluten, although there are gluten-free breads and flours for people with allergies or celiac disease.
Gluten is important because it gives bread the soft, elastic structure that makes it so delicious. When a baker mixes ingredients for bread together and kneads the dough, they are helping gluten develop.
However, when gluten does not develop properly in bread, that is when the texture comes out wrong. Usually, bread that is too crumbly is the way it is because gluten has not developed as it should.
There are many factors that affect a bread’s gluten development as well as its texture, from the ingredients to temperature. While overdeveloped or underdeveloped gluten is not the only reason why bread can turn out crumbly, it is often a significant factor.
Reasons Why Bread Might Be Too Crumbly
There are many different factors that affect bread’s textures, and any one of them could be making your bread crumbly. You may recognize your error immediately after thinking back on what you did during the bread-making process, or you may need to test out a few loaves before identifying the cause of your crumbs.
1 – Too Much Flour
One of the most common culprits for too much crumbling in bread is an excess of flour. Too much flour makes the bread very dry and affects the texture and structural integrity of the bread, making it crumbly.
Bread’s primary ingredients are flour and water along with yeast and salt. With so few ingredients, there is little room to make mistakes when it comes to ratios and quantities. When the ratio of flour to water is not exactly what it should be, then the texture will be affected.
Beginning bread makers also struggle with understanding the texture of the bread. They panic when it is too sticky during kneading and immediately add more flour when kneading some more usually gets the stickiness out.
If you suspect that your heavy hand with flour is causing your crumb problem, the solution is to add more precision when you are baking. Weigh out the suggested amount of flour before you start baking so that you’re sure not to add too much.
People tend to add more flour than they think they add because recipes usually tell you to add as you go. Weighing out your flour beforehand means that even when you add it in increments, you will not exceed the recommended amount for the whole recipe.
In addition to weighing your flour, another way to stop yourself from adding too much is to knead your bread for longer than you usually do. Many bakers add too much flour once they start kneading their bread and notice that the dough is sticky.
However, the stickiness in your dough will usually go away once you knead it for a little longer. Next time, instead of adding more flour, try pushing your bread around for longer and see if the texture improves with work. Kneading is also necessary to develop gluten.
2 – Not Enough Gluten in Your Flour
As mentioned above, gluten is crucial to developing the pillowy bread texture that we all know and love. However, not all flours have the same amount of gluten. If you’re using the wrong flour, you could be setting yourself up for failure before you even add any other ingredients.
Whole wheat flours overall have less gluten than white flour. Even among white flours, there is a difference. All-purpose flour has less gluten than bread flour, which is milled specifically to create bread with optimum texture.
If you are using flour with less gluten, that will affect the texture of your bread. Instead of being cohesive, your bread will become crumbly.
The best solution to stop your flour from sabotaging your bread is to use flour with the right gluten content. The best flour for making bread is obviously bread flour because it has a higher protein count, which forms gluten when mixed with water.
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot use other flours if you choose to do so. You can adjust the gluten level to the right amount by mixing your whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour with bread flour.
You can also buy powdered wheat gluten online or in specialty baking stores and add it directly to bread doughs made with flours with low levels of gluten. Usually, you should add about one tablespoon to your regular dough.
3 – Over-Proving
Most people do not realize it, but proving bread dough for too long actually makes it more crumbly. When it comes to proving, beginners assume that the longer they leave their dough, the better, but that is not always the case.
A bread’s rise and soft texture are formed when the right ratio forms of gluten, air, and steam. However, when bread proves for too long, the yeast becomes too active, throwing off that ratio.
Over-proved bread loses its texture and allows too much air into the bread. This affects the cohesiveness and leads to more crumbs.
Luckily, over-proving is a relatively easy problem to correct for future loaves. Record for how long you prove bread each time, and if you notice too much crumbling, prove it for less the next time.
Most recipes recommend proving bread for about 45 minutes. However, this time will vary depending on the recipe, the yeast, and even the temperature of the room.
A good rule of thumb when checking to see whether your bread has proved or not is to see the change in size. Most recipes call for the bread to double.
You can also try poking a hole in the dough. If the hole stays in place or only fluctuates a little bit, then your bread is done.
4 – Not Kneading Enough
Another part of the bread-making process that can cause a crumbly texture is kneading. While proving for too much time causes crumbs to develop, the problem with kneading is that bakers tend to do it for too little time.
Kneading is a crucial part of the baking process because that is what helps the dough develop gluten. Gluten is what makes the bread stick together and provides structure for the dough.
Besides being important, kneading is also fairly arduous. Many bakers decide to hand-knead their dough and then quit too early because they get exhausted or think that they’ve done enough.
The obvious solution when you think that you have not been kneading your dough enough is to knead your dough for longer. Most recipes recommend kneading your dough for about 10 minutes, so set a timer and challenge yourself to keep going for that entire time.
Many people skip the second knead, which is supposed to happen after proving the dough. This time is shorter, about two minutes, but it is still crucial in helping the dough develop gluten.
One way to tell that your dough is kneaded enough is to break a small piece of dough off of the main mass and stretch it. If it forms a windowpane without breaking, then your dough is done kneading.
No matter how long you knead your dough, it won’t matter if you are not using the right technique. Double-check that you are kneading properly by attending a class or watching an online tutorial.
5 – Too Much Yeast
Breadmaking relies on a precise ratio of ingredients. We already discussed what happens to crumbs when the ratio of water to flour is off, but adding too much yeast can also affect the texture of your bread.
Adding too little yeast means that your bread will not rise. However, if you add too much yeast, then your bread will rise too fast.
When bread rises too fast, this throws off the balance of gluten to air that forms the right texture. It also makes it harder for the dough to form a cohesive bread loaf, leading to more crumbs.
If you think that your yeast measurements are the cause of your crumbling bread loaves, the best way to fix this problem is to add more precision to the process.
Many bakers use active dry yeast, which comes in single packets that are already apportioned to the right amount for bread dough. If you don’t have yeast packets, measure out your yeast to precisely 2¼ teaspoons, which is the amount that usually comes in packets.
6 – Not Enough Salt or Fat
Some bakers think that salt or fat in a bread recipe is not necessary since it does not impart much flavor. However, besides preventing bland bread, salt and fat are crucial to developing the right texture in a loaf of bread.
Salt and fat stop yeast from developing too quickly. As mentioned above, dough that rises fast does not have time to form the right texture and level of gluten.
Fat, in particular, is important because it helps prevent the bread from drying out. Bread that stays moist maintains a cohesive texture, while bread that dries out forms crumbs.
If you’ve been skimping on your seasoning or fat during the bread-making process, the first thing you should try next time you make bread is to add more salt and fat.
Most recipes recommend about one teaspoon of salt. This flavors the bread and acts as a barrier to yeast growth without overpowering the dough.
You can also try adding an extra tablespoon of butter or oil to improve the moisture content of your bread.
7 – Temperature
Temperature affects the way that dough proves, and as we’ve already discussed, over-proving your dough affects the texture of your bread. A high temperature causes the yeast to become more active.
If the room that you are using to make bread or prove the dough is too hot, this will make yeast more active and cause crumbs once the bread is done baking.
Besides room temperature, the oven temperature can also affect the texture of your bread. If you are baking your bread at a temperature that’s too high, it will dry out your dough.
Even adding too much hot water at the beginning of the bread-making process, when you are trying to dissolve your yeast, will affect the texture of the final product.
While you’re baking, be mindful of the temperature at all points of the process.
First, you should only dissolve yeast at a temperature of 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Any hotter and the yeast will become overactive.
You should also take care not to bake your bread at a temperature that is too hot. Many home ovens are imprecise, so you can invest in an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven is actually heating food to the temperature you set.
Finally, you should make sure that the room you are baking in is not too hot. If it is a hot day outside and you must bake bread, adjust your proving times to be shorter so that the yeast does not overdevelop.
Sometimes, even the actions you take after the bread is done baking can affect the bread. When you take the bread out of the oven, it is not finished baking. The steam that is trapped inside has to finish baking the dough to the right texture.
Wait until it cools to slice the bread to allow the texture to become cohesive. You should also use a serrated bread knife to minimize crumbling.
If you only notice that your bread is crumbly a day or two after baking, that means that it is stale. Homemade bread goes stale faster than store-bought bread, so it will form crumbs sooner.
If you cannot eat all the bread you make right away, make sure that you store it properly. Wrap it tightly the day after baking, and store any pieces you want to use later in the freezer.
How to Tell What Is Making Your Bread Crumbly
This article just listed several factors that affect bread texture, any one of which could be affecting your loaf.
Sometimes, the solution will be apparent. For example, if the last time you made bread, you completely left out the salt and then it turned out crumbly, you know what you need to do next time.
Other times, you may not be sure where you went wrong during the bread-making process. In that case, you may need to engage in a little trial and error and make adjustments each time you make a new loaf.
Don’t get discouraged, trial and error is a normal part of perfecting your bread-making skills. Some bakers record each attempt in a notebook where they note what they did differently each time, which could also help you.
Making Bread That Is Fluffy, Not Crumbly
The last thing you want when making bread is to create a loaf that will crumble in your hands. Ideally, you want bread that is perfectly seasoned, light, and airy, but with enough structure to support a sandwich.
There are many ways that the bread-making process could go wrong because the chemical reaction that forms it requires a precise ratio of ingredients, the right environment, and perfect timing. One small mistake could leave you with a crumbly loaf.
Adding the wrong amount of flour, yeast, salt, or fat could create a bread loaf that falls apart in your hands. Other common mistakes that cause crumbs include not kneading the dough for long enough, proving the dough for too long, or even cutting bread too soon after it comes out of the oven.
Through trial and error, and diligently recording your attempts, you can bake a loaf with the right cohesive texture and just the right amount of crumbs.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.
Banana bread might be one of your favorite dessert dishes, and many people find it to be absolutely delectable.
Not only is it a great way to get potassium, but it’s a satisfying dessert that the whole family should enjoy. You can buy it at bakeries, or you can easily choose to make your own.
What if you baked banana bread, and it turned out dry, though? Is there a reason why this would occur?
Keep reading to find out what leads to the dryness so you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
1 – You Might Be Overmixing
You might think that being thorough is a good idea, but it’s better to only mix the batter a bit. You see, mixing the batter too much will cause air pockets to form in the bread.
This has an impact on how the bread turns out. It can make it dry, and it might be responsible for other types of strange problems.
Don’t use an electric hand mixer when you’re mixing the batter. Instead, you should use a simple whisk or a spatula to get the job done.
Stop mixing the ingredients together when everything is fully combined. Don’t continue to mix after this point has been reached.
2 – Baking the Banana Bread Too Long
Another thing that can cause banana bread to turn out dry is baking it too long. You need to make sure that you’re baking the bread for the correct amount of time, or it’s not going to turn out right.
Keeping it in the oven for too long will dry it out. Also, it makes it more likely that the top of the bread will burn.
Most recipes call for you to bake the banana bread for sixty minutes. Some might ask you to bake the bread for slightly longer.
Of course, there could also be an issue with your oven. Sometimes ovens will have hot spots or other issues that will cause the heat to be higher than usual in certain locations.
Always place the banana bread in the center of the oven. Do your best to get your oven serviced by a professional if you suspect that something is off.
3 – Using the Wrong Type of Flour
Using the wrong type of flour isn’t a good idea when you’re baking banana bread. You need to make sure that you’re using flour that will make things turn out right.
Sometimes you might use a type that will cause the bread to turn out dry. This is certainly not the result that you’re hoping for.
The most common banana bread recipes call for you to use all-purpose flour. This is the common type that most people keep stocked in their pantries.
Using a different type of flour is going to produce different results. Some flour types will be all wrong for making banana bread.
If you were to use a type that has high protein content, the results would be less than ideal. High protein flours have too much gluten, and this causes banana bread to turn out dry and dense.
Always use the type of flour that is called for in a recipe. When in doubt, seek out a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour so you can get consistent results.
4 – Is It Simply the Recipe?
It’s possible that you might be using a banana bread recipe that simply isn’t that good. Maybe the recipe that you chose is the problem.
This recipe might be what is making the bread turn out a bit dry. Perhaps trying another one and seeing the difference will help you to get results that are more to your liking.
Some might like banana bread that is slightly dry. Others will not enjoy it at all.
There are so many banana bread recipes online that you shouldn’t have trouble finding a new one. You can also seek out cookbooks or get a recipe from a trusted friend.
Will Banana Bread Dry Out Overnight?
Yes, banana bread will dry out overnight if you don’t take the right precautions. Storing the bread properly is important when you want to enjoy it to the fullest.
Just leaving banana bread out on the counter isn’t wise. The bread will dry out, and it won’t be as good in the morning.
Most people recommend storing it in an airtight container. Keep the container in an area that’s room temperature, and the bread should stay good for a few days.
Don’t put it in your refrigerator. Refrigerators will cause bread to dry out, and it’s not going to be helpful to make your bread dry out faster than usual.
Some people like to keep paper towels in the airtight containers with the banana bread. The paper towel can soak up excess moisture to keep the bread from getting soggy.
Can You Freeze Banana Bread?
Banana bread can easily be frozen if you want to save it for later. Perhaps you’re worried that you won’t be able to eat the whole loaf before it gets dry.
You can feel free to freeze slices, half-loaves, or even entire loaves. Simply store the banana bread properly and then place it in the freezer.
Banana bread should be placed in airtight plastic containers before being put in the freezer. Many people like to wrap it in aluminum foil first as well.
The bread should stay good for up to four months if you do things right. It’s best to write the date on the container somewhere so you can be sure to use the bread before it is too late.
Bread that has been in the freezer too long won’t taste good at all. The texture will be all wrong, and the flavor won’t be nearly as good as it should be.
What to Do with Dry Banana Bread
Eventually, the banana bread is going to dry out. Storing it properly helps it to stay good for longer periods, but it’ll still get dry over time.
When your banana bread is dry, you might not want to eat it any longer. At this point, you can choose to throw it out if you’d prefer to go that route.
Many people hate the idea of wasting food, though. If you’d like to utilize the dry bread, it’s possible to put it on top of other desserts.
You might enjoy banana bread crumbles on top of ice cream. Some people also use banana bread bits on top of certain types of pie or even brownies.
There are people who enjoy turning dry types of bread into bread pudding. So you could make an entirely new dessert out of the dry banana bread if you wish to go to the effort to make it happen.
Eat Banana Bread in Moderation
Remember that banana bread is a type of dessert. Even if you love it and it’s one of your favorite foods, it’s still not appropriate to eat it daily.
Banana bread should be a type of dessert that you make on the weekends. Enjoy it as a treat, but don’t make it a part of your daily diet.
You always need to exercise in moderation when enjoying dessert dishes. Banana bread is tasty and contains beneficial nutrients, but it’s still high in calories.
So long as you know this, it’ll be easy to enjoy it without going overboard. Eat a reasonable amount of it and only enjoy it sometimes.
Knowing what can cause banana bread to turn out dry will help you to avoid making mistakes. There are many things that can go wrong when you’re mixing the batter.
Often, people will mix the batter too much and cause the bread to turn out wrong. This causes air pockets to form and makes the bread turn out dry and tough.
Even baking the bread for too long can be to blame. When you bake banana bread longer than you should, it’ll be dry instead of moist.
Do your best to avoid using the wrong type of flour. High protein flours contain too much gluten, and this can easily cause the bread to be dense and dry.
Bake banana bread on the weekends for your family, and be sure to enjoy it. You can get great results even if you’re a beginner to the world of baking.
“Stale” redirects here. For the village, see Stale, Poland. For given name, see Ståle.
Staling, or “going stale”, is a chemical and physical process in bread and similar foods that reduces their palatability. Stale bread is dry and hard, making it suitable for different culinary uses than fresh bread. Countermeasures and destaling techniques may reduce staling.
Ingredients for bread pudding, including pieces of stale bread
Many classic dishes rely upon otherwise unpalatable stale bread. Examples include bread sauce, bread dumplings, and flummadiddle, an early American savoury pudding. There are also many types of bread soups such as wodzionka (in Silesian cuisine) and ribollita (in Italian cuisine). An often-sweet dish is bread pudding. Cubes of stale bread can be dipped in cheese fondue, or seasoned and baked in the oven to become croutons, suitable for scattering in salads or on top of soups. Slices of stale bread soaked in an egg and milk mixture and then fried turn into French toast (known in French as pain perdu – lost bread). In Spanish and Portuguese cuisines migas is a breakfast dish using stale bread, and in Tunisian cuisine leblebi is a soup of chickpeas and stale bread.
Stale bread or breadcrumbs made from it can be used to “stretch” meat in dishes such as haslet (a type of meatloaf in British cuisine, or meatloaf itself) and garbure (a stew in French cuisine). It can be a subsidiary ingredient in dishes such as fattoush (a type of salad in Levantine cuisine). Stale bread can be used as a base for dips such as skordalia (in Greek cuisine), or substituted with another ingredient.
In medieval cuisine, slices of stale bread, called trenchers, were used instead of plates.
- ^ a b c “Staling”. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 2019.
- McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (2nd ed.). New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-80001-2.
Look up staling in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
- Gray, J.A.; Bemiller, J.N. (January 2003), “Bread Staling: Molecular Basis and Control”, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2 (1): 1–21, doi:, PMID 33451240
- Xie, Feng (1998). The study of bread staling using visible and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (Ph.D.). Kansas State University. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved .
Broadly speaking, dry cake isn’t exactly an earth-shattering problem. But when you’ve put your skill, effort, and ingredients into a cake that later reveals itself to be dry — and worse yet, when that revelation comes at a special celebration — it certainly impacts your own little world.
Why does cake turn out dry — and what can you do to prevent that sawdust-y scenario? Let’s examine the most common causes of dry cake.
Certain cakes, especially those that’ll later be rolled or stacked and filled (like this Genoise) are meant to be on the dry side. Their drier texture helps them support creamy fillings without becoming soggy.
1) It’s the recipe
Some cakes are supposed to be a bit on the dry side: think nonfat foam cakes like angel food, or a lower-fat genoise. In fact, their drier, sturdier texture is considered an asset: They’re better able to handle being rolled or filled with custard, soaked in syrup, or slathered with whipped cream. If your recipe uses no fat or calls for butter as its only fat (and not much of it), then you can assume it’s not going to produce a super-moist cake.
2) Too much flour was used
Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne
The soft, tender crumb of this Coconut Cake comes from cake flour, which also helps keep the cake moist.
3) A different flour was substituted
Your recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, or cake flour, but you think “whatever” and opt for all-purpose flour. Whoops! If a recipe calls for a specific flour (and doesn’t offer a substitute), use what’s called for. Both cake flour (with its fine grind and higher starch content) and whole-grain flours (more coarsely ground) absorb and retain more liquid than all-purpose flour. This liquid retention results in a cake that stays soft and moist longer.
(So if your recipe calls for all-purpose flour, can you substitute cake or whole wheat flour and get a moister final product? Maybe. But at least on the King Arthur site, the recipes are written such that you’ll get the best results by using the flour called for.)
4) Butter was used in place of vegetable oil
If you can’t resist using butter, try substituting it for half the vegetable oil (by volume), and increasing the amount of butter you’re substituting by 25%. Example: If your recipe calls for 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) vegetable oil, use 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) vegetable oil and 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter. Melt the butter before stirring it into the cake batter.
Want to know more about balancing butter and oil to get the best attributes of both in your cakes? See The key to making a cake that tastes straight from the box.
Baking your cake in a pan larger than what the recipe calls for can easily result in overbaking — i.e., dry cake.
5) You chose an alternate pan
What if your recipe calls for a 7” x 11” pan, and all you have is a 9” x 13” — close enough, right? Nope. The thinner the layer of batter the more quickly it’ll bake, and the faster the cake will dry out. Match whatever pan you have as closely as possible to what the recipe calls for, volume-wise. For help, see The essential alternative baking pan sizes.
Choose an oven thermometer with big, clear numbers so you can read it through the oven window; opening the door to read the thermometer will drop your oven’s temperature as much as 25°.
6) The oven was too hot — or not hot enough
You choose your oven temperature, hit preheat, and 20 minutes later you’re sliding your cake onto the middle rack. But hold on: did you check your oven’s temperature with an independent oven thermometer?
Ovens are notorious for their inaccuracy: 10 minutes after you turn it on, the oven signals it’s 350°F when your hanging thermometer inside reads 225°F. Likewise, an oven that’s on for a while can start to creep up, the 350°F gradually becoming 375°F or even 400°F.
Baking a cake in a too-hot oven for the recommended time will dry it out. And baking a cake in a not-hot-enough oven will dry the crust before the center is fully baked. For best results, check the oven temperature before loading your cake, then monitor it every 10 minutes or so throughout the bake, making adjustments as needed.
The top layer of this hot milk cake was in the oven just 5 minutes longer than the bottom layer — yet look what a difference in browning. You can guess which layer was drier.
7) The cake was left in the oven just a bit too long
If your recipe says to bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, start checking it at around 20 minutes. (For what to look for, see How to tell when cake is done.) Much better to tuck your not-quite-done cake back in for 5 more minutes than to suddenly remember to look at it 10 minutes after you ignored the timer going off. Even a couple of minutes can spell the difference between a cake that’s perfectly baked and one that’s disappointingly dry.
8) The cake was stored in the fridge
Warning! Warning! Do NOT store cake in the refrigerator long-term unless it includes a topping or filling that needs to be refrigerated, e.g., whipped cream, custard, and their ilk. Your perfectly moist cake, no matter how well wrapped, will start to dry out after a day in the fridge.
You need to chill the cake for its filling to set? No problem. The recipe says to refrigerate the layers for 30 minutes to make them easier to frost? Fine; simply apply a crumb coat and your covered cake will remain soft for as long as 12 hours or so. But putting a perfectly good lemon cake brushed with syrup into the fridge for “safekeeping” and leaving it there for several days (or longer) is the road to ruination.
Likewise, if your cake does have to be refrigerated for a few hours (or even overnight), be sure to let it warm at room temperature for a bit before serving. Any solid fats used in the cake (e.g., butter, in either the cake itself or the frosting) re-solidify when cold, making its mouthfeel (you guessed it) dry.
A generous application of Simple Syrup helps bring dry cake back to life.
Rescuing a dry cake
If despite your best efforts your cake turns out dry, bring it back with some simple syrup, either plain or flavored. Brushing 3 to 4 tablespoons syrup onto each layer of cake before frosting will help disguise any dryness-inducing errors you made along the way!
Does your idea of the perfect cake come right out of a box? See how to give homemade cakes that signature moist boxed-mix texture: The key to making a cake that tastes straight from the box.
Cover photo and food styling (Back-to-Basics Yellow Cake) by Liz Neily.
For a couple of months every year, it seems that bakeries and the internet become flooded with pumpkin recipes. According to What’s Cooking America, since the 1600s pumpkin pie has appeared in various forms at the American Thanksgiving table. However, a more recent addition to the baking frenzy is pumpkin bread. A quick Google search will bring up plenty of Starbucks copycat recipes that have been created to satisfy what appears to be a never ending search for the moistest bread.
If you’re not a born baker, then you may have struggled when making bread recipes — ending up with a final product that is only palatable when dipped in tea or coffee. Drying out your batter is a common problem when making baked goods that have the intention of being melt-in-your-mouth treats. Thankfully, a few key points should keep you on the right track so that you can enjoy your next slice of pumpkin bread without a coughing fit.
How to bake moist pumpkin bread
Experienced bakers such as The Baking ChocolaTess have tackled the problem of dry bread, finding the main sources and some creative tricks to reverse the issue. One common problem is having an incorrect ratio of wet to dry ingredients. This can be easily adjusted by increasing the liquid or decreasing flour. If the realization comes too late, The Baking ChocolaTess suggests making a solution that is one part sugar and two parts water. Poke some holes in your bread and lightly mist the sugary solution on top with a spray bottle.
The team at Martha Stewart suggests using a high egg to sugar ratio for a light airy cake that won’t weigh you down. They also mention that overmixing is a typical baking issue that will ruin the moist texture of your bread. While you might think you are doing an exceptional job mixing, there is a reason most recipes specify to mix until just combined (via Food52).
Overmixing can affect your dough by pushing in too much air and kickstarting extra gluten production, both things that can lead to gummy, dried out batter. Our Every Day Life notes that setting your oven too high and baking your bread too long could also be the source of dryness. Tenting a piece of tin foil on top of the loaf half way through the baking time helps to avoid drying out the top while the inside cooks.
Time to test out these techniques and get baking!
Did your rustic loaf of artisan bread get as dry as an oversized crouton? Here’s how to freshen it up so it’s almost as good as new again.
How to Freshen up Stale Bread in 5 Easy Steps
1. Check for mold. If your bread looks like a science project, it’s too far gone. If it’s merely dry and stale, there’s still hope.
2. Add moisture. Brush or spritz water all over the bread. Use more if the loaf is very dry and/or has a thick crust. Use less if the loaf has a thin crust or just needs a little pick-me-up. I’ve actually run the crust of a stale loaf directly under the faucet for a brief second without the bread getting soggy. However, if the loaf is cut with the inner bread exposed, it’s better to use a brush on the crust.
3. Wrap it. Use aluminum foil to make an airtight wrap around a very dry, dense loaf. For a day-old baguette, you could get away with putting it back in the paper bag it came in; just roll the top closed.
4. Heat it. Put the bread in a cold oven, then turn the heat to 300° F. Let the loaf slowly heat up for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the density and dryness of the bread. Start checking the bread after 10 minutes. Here’s what’s happening: The water turns into steam, which is trapped by the wrapping. The bread absorbs the steam and plumps right up.
5. Crisp it. When the inside of the bread feels moist enough for your taste, open up the wrapping and put the bread back in the oven, right on the rack, for about 5 minutes. If the bread is in a paper bag, remove it from the bag before putting it back into the oven. This step draws excess moisture out of the crust and makes it pleasingly crisp again. Plus, your kitchen will smell like warm, fresh bread. And what’s not to love about that?
Tip: You could speed up the heating process by wrapping a damp towel around the loaf and microwaving it for 10 seconds at a time. The drawback to microwaving is that the bread can take on a rubbery texture. Having tried both, I have to say I prefer the oven method.
There are other money-saving things to do with stale bread, too. After all, it’s the main ingredient for French toast, croutons, and bread puddings.
15 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home
A fresh loaf of bread right from the oven is soft, pillowy, fresh perfection. But, like many good things, it doesn’t last.
WHAT HAPPENS TO SOURDOUGH AFTER BAKING
Very soon after coming out of the oven bread begins to go through a process called starch retrogradation. In the oven the dough gelatinizes at 150°F. At this point the crumb structure is formed and the starch is absorbing moisture on its way to becoming semi-firm.
As the loaf cools down after baking – below the 150°F point, to be exact – the starch is no longer absorbing moisture; in fact, it is releasing it. And that is when bread begins to stale or go dry.
Baking with enriching additives such as eggs, sugar, fat, or dairy helps to slow down the starch retrogradation process, giving you a loaf that stays soft longer.
It is inevitable, though, that even the most enriched loaf will dry up. When this happens you can revive the loaf, or use it for something new.
Download our Sourdough guide book today to discover the best methods for restoring your sourdough bread and making it taste just as good as when it was first baked.
REVIVING A LOAF FOR FRESH EATING
Splash some water over the top of your bread, just enough to become slightly damp. Place the loaf in a 250°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch it closely and remove it when warm. Too long in the oven and you’ll get dried-out toast.
The Microwave Method
Wrap a damp towel around the bread and place on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Check that the loaf is warm and soft; if not, repeat.
UPCYCLE THE LOAF TO A NEW PURPOSE
Sometimes bread is beyond saving, or maybe it is simply better to use dry bread for a purpose where its dryness is actually beneficial. From french toast to bread crumbs, there are many ways to use stale bread.
All is not lost when your loaf of sourdough bread goes dry. Revive it for fresh eating or use it in some delicious dishes!
If you’ve made nearly any stuffing recipe, the idea of using stale bread has likely been drilled into your mind. Cookbooks, TV hosts, and grandmas everywhere will tell you that stale bread is the only way to achieve a fluffy stuffing. Your days-long Thanksgiving meal prep might begin with leaving a loaf of bread out on the counter. Stale bread is as quintessential to stuffing as turkey is to Thanksgiving.
Letting bread go stale doesn’t actually dry it out. After sitting out on your counter, bread goes through the process of retrogradation. The starch molecules crystallize and make your bread appear dry and hard. However, that moisture didn’t leave the bread—it became trapped inside.
“Whether your bread is fresh or stale,” says Delish Food Director Rob Seixas, “the water content is the same.”
But how does that affect your stuffing? A perfect stuffing should achieve a delicate balance between moisture and texture. Too dry, and your stuffing will be crumbly and bland. While too much liquid will leave you with a soggy, unappetizing dish.
“If you’re using stale bread and adding liquid, there will be nowhere for the liquid to go,” says Seixas. “It’s like when you’re trying to cram more people into a fully booked flight. There’s no space for extra moisture to fill.”
As a result, your stuffing will have a soggy texture. And even worse—it’ll taste less delicious. All of the broth, aromatics, herbs, and butter you add will be diluted by the flavorless moisture from the bread.
Thankfully, there’s an alternative to stale bread that makes a show-stopping stuffing, and it doesn’t require days to prepare. Drying your bread in the oven takes less than an hour, and will actually remove the moisture we want to avoid.
“Dried bread has had all of the moisture evaporated, so it can absorb and hold any liquid you add to it,” Seixas says.
Simply chop (or even better, tear) your bread into bite-sized pieces, spread them on a baking sheet, and cook them in a 250° oven for about 45 minutes. All of that moisture will be gone, the bread may even take on a slight toasty flavor, and your stuffing will be the perfect texture.
So there you have it. Now check out our favorite stuffing recipes for all that dried bread, and plan the rest of your Thanksgiving menu.
Gabby Romero is Delish’s editorial assistant, where she writes stories about the latest TikTok trends, develops recipes, and answers any and all of your cooking-related questions. She loves eating spicy food, collecting cookbooks, and adding a mountain of Parmesan to any dish she can.