Why Did My Cake Crack?

Experiment Overview

Goal: To see and taste a difference in bread that’s under- or over-proofedRecipe: Hokkaido Milk Bread from What to Cook TodayMethod: Prepare bread dough as instructed through the first rise. Shape the dough, then bake either immediately, after proofing for 45 minutes, or after proofing for 2 hours. Bake, cool, and taste.Results: As the proving time changed, we noticed differences in– Poke test results– Dough size– Bake time– Bun shape– Bread crumb– Bread textureConclusions: Perfectly proofed dough bakes up with a smooth surface and light texture. Under-proofed bread tends to split along the side and have a dense texture, while over-proofed bread can become wrinkly and spread too much.

Why does my nut roll crack? Nut rolls will crack or have a ‘blow out’ when the dough is rolled too thin, especially on the final roll. Keep the dough just above xbc inch in thickness. If you want to have the dough just slighlty thicker at the edge that will be the final roll arroud, that will works.

Testing Method

As listed in Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe, no mix-ins.

Baking the Bread

  • Prepare the bread dough as written in the recipe through the first rise. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line three baking sheets with parchment.
  • Punch down the dough, then remove 9 portions of dough, 25g each. Shape each bun into a sphere by tucking the edges to the center, turning the seam side down, and rolling the bun against the work surface. Place three buns on each baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Once all buns are cooled to room temperature, slice and taste!

Quick bread are loaves that rely on baking soda, baking powder, or air trapped in the mix to rise quickly instead of yeast. These breads are notable for not requiring a lot of time, hence the name “quick”. Quick breads include banana bread, cornbread, and many other breads. They are not all sweetbreads, but they tend to be such. There are many mistakes people make with quick breads, and it can be hard to get clean, soft, and even quick bread. Let’s look at some of the most common questions people have about quick breads.

So, what causes quick bread to crack? Note that a cracked top on your quick bread is desirable. For example, minor cracking on cornbread is a plus, not a minus. However, too many cracks, gaps, and holes are a problem. Tunnels and voids that turn into big cracks can occur when you over-mix. Only mix the bread mix until the dry ingredients are moist. This may mean leaving a few lumps in it.

If the bread is cracked because the center has sunk down, the batter may have been left alone too long before you baked it. If the center has sunk down and the bread is soggy, then you either added too much liquid or you didn’t give it enough leavening agent.

This can also happen when you’re mixing in hard ingredients like nuts or fruit. The harder, heavier ingredients sink to the bottom. Coat them in flour before mixing them into the batter.

This increases the odds they are evenly distributed in the batter and ensures you don’t get bread that breaks as you pick up the lighter upper half.

A cracked uneven top can also occur because the oven temperature is too high. Steam is escaping while the bread is trying to rise due to the leavening agent.

The solution is to adjust the oven temperature. Conversely, a flat top to your bread with a few small peaks in the middle means the oven temperature is too low.

Homemade biscuits, properly made, are feather-light and filled with tender layers. They have a golden-brown top with tiny cracks and crevices. For most bakers, the challenge in making biscuits is that they often turn out hard and flat. If your biscuits have a light, tender texture, the cracks on the top are probably nothing to worry about. Fat in the dough forms pockets of air that fill with steam, causing the biscuits to rise. As the biscuits rise, the tops crack slightly, which is the effect you want. If your biscuits have cracks in them, but they’re also dense and hard, you’ve got a problem. Altering the temperature, mixing method or ingredients usually resolves the issue.

Ice Cold and Piping Hot

The first rule in biscuit making is to keep the ingredients cold and the oven hot. The fat, especially, should be cold so it doesn’t mix completely with the flour. The chunks of unblended fat create the air pockets that give biscuits the desired loft. You can even go so far as to chill the flour and mixing bowl, although chilling the fat is probably sufficient. Once you’ve made the biscuits, place them on a baking sheet and chill them for 30 minutes in the freezer, which also helps the biscuits rise. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 20 minutes. Baking biscuits at high heat ensures that they heat quickly so they rise before the tops bake and harden.

Mix It Up

Another common mistake when making biscuits is to mix them too vigorously. When you’re making yeast breads, you encourage gluten formation by vigorous kneading. The opposite is true when making biscuits and other quick breads. Use a light hand to prevent gluten formation, which creates a tender crumb. Mix the ingredients with a fork, pastry knife or your hands, just until they hold together. If you use a food processor or stand mixer, use short bursts to avoid overdoing it.

The Flour Matters

Some cooks prefer lard, while others prefer shortening, butter or even heavy cream for the fat in biscuits. All these types of fat can produce tender, flavorful biscuits, although the taste and texture varies slightly. Lard and shortening produce a very tender biscuit with a moist crumb. Butter and cream produce crispier biscuits with a delicious butter flavor and a sturdy crumb. Perhaps more important than the type of fat you use is the type of flour. Southern bakers often use low-gluten flour made from soft red wheat, which is hard to find in the northern and western parts of the U.S.; it makes a difference in the tenderness of your biscuits. Although all-purpose flour will do, use cake flour if you have it or add a spoonful or two of cornstarch to your flour.

Cut It Out

Just as you babied the dough when you were mixing it, you should take the same care when you roll it out and cut it. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick square or round with your hands, or roll it out carefully. Dust your countertop with just a little flour, because too much flour can harden the biscuits. Use a round biscuit cutter and make sure you press straight down without twisting. Another option is to cut the dough into wedges or squares with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She’s the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled “More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes.”


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

One of the things that go wrong consistently is a cake with a cracked top. There are many reasons that can cause this. So if you are wondering why did my cake crack? We have some answers and get ready to put it in the oven!

Why Is A Cracked Cake An Issue

A cracked cake may seem like a small problem but can be very annoying especially if you want to make a layered cake.

Sure you can cut away the top and frost it but it is much better if you have an even cake.

A crack in a cake can happen when you bake a loaf cake or a round layered cake.

Some are not too concerned with a crack in the cake me included, especially with a pound loaf cake as this cake is very dense and usually cracks a little.

Why Do Cakes Crack When Baking?

There are several reasons why cakes crack when baking but the most common cause is the temperature.

When you bake a cake whether a loaf cake or a cake layer the outside cake batter closest to the cake pan bakes quicker than the center.

The center of the cake is insulated by the batter surrounding it.

So the outside of the cake bakes first and is done faster while the inside of the cake is still cooking and rising.

There is no way out for the inner cake batter so it pushes the cake upwards causing it to crack when baking.

Reasons Why Cakes Crack

So why did my cake crack? The main reason why cakes crack is caused by the oven temperature being too high and baking the outside of the cake too fast.

But there are more reasons why a cake can crack while baking.

  • Cake position in the oven – when you bake your cake on the top or lower level of the oven it can impact the result and cause your cake to crack
  • Open and close the oven door – not all ovens have a light that works so understandably you are curious how your cake is doing. When you open the oven door cold air flows into the oven causing the temperature to fluctuate. The oven has to heat up to the requested temperature. This can lead to uneven baking results and cracks in your cake. Besides cracking it can also cause a cake to sink in the middle
  • Raising agent – when your flour contains too much leavening agent this can impact the end result and cause your cake to rise too fast while baking
  • Cake pan size – the size of the cake pan you use can also cause a cake to crack a small cake pan with too much batter will push the cake up and cause it to crack
  • Incorrect cake recipe – the cause of a crack in a cake can be an imbalance or error in the ingredients
  • Overmixed cake batter – when you mix the cake batter longer than needed it can have an effect on the result. When you overmix, you add a lot of air to the batter resulting in the cake rising tall while baking. Then the cake deflates when it cools and a crack in the cake

How To Prevent Cake From Cracking

There are several ways you can prevent a cake from cracking:

Reduce oven temperature

When your cake keeps on cracking reduce the by 25℉ and extend the cooking time by 10 minutes. Use an oven thermometer to check the temperature shown.

A lot of ovens are not calibrated properly. With a thermometer, you can see during baking if you need to adjust the temperature.

Then check if the cake is done.

Reduce Raising Agent In Cake

Another reason why cake cracks can be caused by using too much baking powder. If you use too much baking powder the cake batter can rise too quickly while baking causing it to crack.

Reduce the amount of leavening agent in the recipe or use self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour and leavening agent.

If this still doesn’t yield the correct result combine 3/4 of self-rising flour with 1/4 all-purpose flour

Bake The Cake In The Middle of the oven

Always bake your cake in the middle of the oven and use convention settings instead of fan settings.

That way the cake is wrapped in the same type of warmth.

When you put the cake higher in the oven it may be warmer and result in the cake rising faster and cracking on top.

No Peeking In The Oven

Resist the urge to peek inside the oven. If you want to look, check the window and turn on the oven light.

Else wait for the baking time to complete before checking if the cake is done.

Size Cake Pan

if your cake towers high above the cake pan it is too small for the amount of batter.

When you bake a cake, the batter should fill up between ½-⅔ of the height of the cake pan. If the cake batter takes up more than that you should use a bigger cake pan.

Correct Recipe

When you prepare cake batter it should be pourable but not too thin or too thick. Both can cause issues while baking.

If your cake recipe fails repeatably try a different recipe.

Follow Cake Recipe Instructions

You can also use cake flour with contains less gluten, or do not mix longer than stated in the recipe.

Cake Strips

You can buy cake strips made with fabric, or make them with paper towels and aluminum foil.

The idea is to wet a cake strip or paper towel and squeeze out the excel water and wrap it around the cake pan.

If you are using paper towels wrap them in foil and then wrap the foil around the cake pan. The water will slowly evaporate while cooking and help keep the temperature of the cake pan down.

That way it takes longer for the outside of the cake to cook and prevent a crack in your cake.

Bread machines are a popular kitchen appliance, but sometimes bread can come out imperfect. One issue you may encounter is bread that cracks on top while baking in the bread machine. There are several possible reasons for this problem.

One reason your bread may be cracking on top is that the dough is too dry. When dough is too dry, it doesn’t have enough moisture to rise properly and can cause cracking. To prevent this, make sure to measure the ingredients accurately and add additional liquid if needed.

Another possibility is that the machine itself isn’t hot enough. Bread machines should be set to between 200-210 degrees Fahrenheit for proper baking. If it’s not hot enough, the dough won’t rise correctly and will crack on top.

Double-check that your ingredients are correctly measured, ensure your bread machine is set to the correct temperature, and don’t over-knead the dough.

With these tips in mind, you can enjoy perfect loaves of bread from your bread machine every time!

If your bread is cracking on top, it could be due to a few different reasons. The most common reason is that the dough is too dry. When the dough is too dry, it doesn’t have enough moisture to form a tight seal, which causes the crust to crack.

Another possibility is that the loaf pan you’re using is too small for the amount of dough. This can cause the dough to rise up and crack on the sides or top.

Lastly, if your bread machine doesn’t have a delay timer, it’s possible that the yeast is over-activated and causing the bread to collapse while baking.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your bread to crack on top, try experimenting with different recipes and pans until you find a combination that works for you.

How Do You Keep Bread from Cracking on Top?

If you’ve ever baked bread at home, you know that one of the most frustrating things can be when it cracks on top. There are a few different reasons why this might happen, but thankfully there are also a few different ways to prevent it.

Here are some tips for keeping your bread from cracking on top:

  • Make sure your dough is the right consistency. If it’s too sticky, it will collapse as it bakes and cracks on top. If it’s too dry, however, the gluten will be unable to form properly, and again, the bread will crack on top. The perfect dough should be tacky to the touch, but not stick to your fingers when you lightly press into it.
  • Preheat your oven before baking the bread. This will help ensure that the temperature is even throughout the baking process, which will prevent any sudden expansion or contraction that could cause cracking.
  • Bake in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, or grease well with butter or cooking spray. This will help the bread release easily from the sides of the pan and prevent any sticking or tearing that could cause cracks on top.
  • Be careful not to over-bake your bread – this is perhaps one of the most common causes of cracking on top (along with an under-proofed dough). Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or cake tester into the center of the loaf – if it comes out clean, it’s done!

Why Does My Homemade Bread Split on the Top?

If you’ve ever made homemade bread, you know the feeling of disappointment when you pull it out of the oven and see a big split running down the top.

While there are a few different causes of this issue, most often it’s due to one of three things: too much flour, too much sugar, or not enough fat.

Too Much Flour. When making bread, it’s important to measure your ingredients carefully. Too much flour will make the dough too stiff, and as the bread rises and expands in the oven, that extra flour will cause it to crack along the top.

If your dough is particularly dry or crumbly before baking, that’s a good indication that there’s too much flour. To avoid this problem in the future, make sure to measure your flour by weight rather than volume.

And when adding it to the other ingredients, do so slowly and stop when the dough comes together but is still slightly sticky to the touch. Too Much Sugar

Another common reason for splitting bread is using too much sugar. Sugar helps yeast breads rise and gives them a nice flavor, but too much of it can weaken the gluten structure causing splits on top during baking. A

gain, measuring by weight is key here – 1 tablespoon of sugar only weighs about 12 grams, so it’s easy to accidentally add too much if you’re scooping it from the container with a measuring spoon.

Start by using less sugar than called for in your recipe and only add more if needed. Not Enough Fat One final culprit in split-top bread is not enough fat.

Without adequate fat (usually in the form of butter), bread can be dry and crumbly which leads to cracks as it bakes.

This isn’t as common an issue as using too much flour or sugar since most recipes call for at least some amount of fat, but if you’re cutting back on butter or oil to save calories, this could be part of your problem.

Try increasing the amount of fat next time you bake and see if that prevents splitting.

The top of your bread may be collapsing due to a few different reasons. One possibility is that the dough is not properly kneaded. This can happen if the dough is too dry or if you did not add enough flour when you were making it.

Another possibility is that the yeast was not activated properly. This can happen if the water you used was too hot or if you did not let the dough rise long enough. Finally, the bread could be overcooked.

This happens when the bread machine’s timer is set for too long and the bread ends up baking for too long. If this is the case, try setting the timer for a shorter period of time next time you make bread.

How Do You Get Rid of Cracks in Bread Dough?

If you’re looking to get rid of cracks in your bread dough, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure that the dough is well-kneaded. This will help to create a more elastic dough that is less likely to crack.

If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water and knead again until it’s the right consistency. You can also try rolling the dough out onto a floured surface before baking, which will help to prevent cracking.

Finally, make sure that your baking surface is properly greased so that the dough doesn’t stick and cause cracks.

7 Common Bread Machine Mistakes That Are Easy To Avoid


How to Prevent Bread from Cracking When Baking?

If you’ve ever had your bread crack while baking, you know how frustrating it can be. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. First, make sure your dough is the right consistency.

If it’s too dry, it will crack when it bakes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Second, don’t overwork the dough. Once you’ve mixed it, knead it just enough to form a ball.

Overworking the dough will make it tough and more likely to crack during baking. Third, let the dough rest before shaping it into loaves or rolls. This will give the gluten time to relax so that the bread doesn’t shrink and crack as it bakes.

Finally, bake the bread at the right temperature. If it’s too hot, the outside will crust over before the inside has a chance to cook through properly. This can cause cracking or even collapse.

Conversely, if it’s not hot enough, the inside will finish cooking before the outside browns properly, resulting in a dense loaf of bread with cracked tops. The ideal temperature for baking bread is 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.67 °C).

There are a few reasons why your bread might be cracking on top when you bake it in a bread machine. One reason could be that the dough is too dry. If the dough is too dry, it will cause the bread to crack as it rises.

Another reason could be that the baking time is too long. If the bread bakes for too long, the crust will become hard and cracked.

Finally, if the loaf pan is not properly greased, the bread can also stick to the pan and cause cracking.

Why Does the Quick Bread Have Crisp Edges?

Crisp edges get in the way of that first, rich bite. We aren’t talking about burned edges, something caused by uneven heating in the oven or burned bread. Instead, we’re talking about bread mix that creates a hard edge through the rest has the proper texture.

This can happen because you added too much fat, sugar, or both to the mix. If the bread has a “greasy crumb” as well, then you added too much fat to the recipe.

The solution may be to cook it with less fat, then add a layer of melted butter.

Another solution may be switching to a different quick bread baking method. For example, switch from the muffin method of mixing liquid fat like butter and oil to cold fat methods like the biscuit method.

It is easier to get a precise volume of fats by cutting up the lard or hard butter rather than pouring cooking oil into a mix. The biscuit baking method will give you a flaky texture, but you won’t get excessive cracking on the surface. A secondary benefit is that you are unlikely to overmix the mix when using the biscuit method. Others choose the muffin method because it has more tolerance for lumps in the end product. You can get a more even mix by mixing with a spatula instead of whipping it with a whisk or spoon.

At least then you won’t over-mix it, something that can cause cracks on the surface. On the flip side, you almost guarantee that you’ll over-mix it and get tunneling if you mix it with a mixer. The solution here is to mix the quick bread mix by hand.

What is the white stuff in a Salted Nut Roll?

Is that what that white stuff is in the middle of a Salted Nut Roll? Yep! Nougat. That nougat center is a game-changer! It makes the Salted Nut Roll not only a little bit sweeter, it makes it softer and chewier.

What is the origin of povitica?

Povitica bread (for those not familiar) is an Eastern European nut roll that is traditionally gifted as a symbol of honor and respect. It’s also called Potica (Po-TEE-tza) bread or Yugoslavian Christmas bread.

Does nut roll have to be refrigerated?

This nut roll can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. To get a few additional days out of your nut rolls, store them in the fridge. The key is to still place them in an airtight container.

What is in a Salted Nut Roll?


How many calories are in nut roll?

Having a slice of nut roll is can be guilt free. One serving of Nut Roll has 334 calories (155 calories from fat), 17.2g total fat (7.0g saturated fat), 58mg cholesterol, 509mg sodium, 150mg potassium, 37.9g total carbohydrates (1.9g dietary fiber, 10.1g sugar).

Why Does My Quick Bread Taste Bitter?

The general culprit here is using too much of the leavening agent. If it has a bitter aftertaste, you probably added too much baking powder. Too much baking soda can leave a “soapy” aftertaste.

If the quick bread isn’t rising or dense, the solution isn’t adding more leavening agent – it is getting new leavening agents. This could also happen if you have an old batter.

You can try to solve that by baking quicker, but now you risk overheating it and getting tough bread or bread with cracked peaks in the middle.

How long does cranberry nut bread last?

Storage. Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before serving or packaging. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap or foil to prevent it from drying out. The cranberry orange bread will stay fresh at room temperature on the counter for 1-2 days, and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week

What is the difference between povitica and potica?

Kolachi, a butter dough pastry rolled up with a variety of sweet and creamy fillings, is an Eastern European delicacy, enjoyed on holidays, for breakfast, as a snack, or as an evening treat.

Why Do I Have Coarse, Crumbly Bread?

Note that this can happen in bread that’s still moist. Quick bread should be dense and moist, sticking together in soft pieces.

If the bread is crumbling, it either has too much fat or too much leavening like baking soda.

Are nut rolls healthy?

Not only are these date nut rolls healthy, but they are also vegan and gluten-free. These date rolls truly make for the perfect snack to keep you energized! They are even a healthy option as a dessert to keep on hand to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Where are kolachi rolls from?

Orahnjau010da variation of nut rollAlternative namesMany see textTypePastryPlace of originCentral EuropeMain ingredientsSweet yeast dough, ground nuts1 more row

Why Is My Quick Bread Tough?

One reason you have a tough texture is that you over-mixed it. Another possibility is that it dried out. This could occur because you baked it at too high of a temperature or just let it sit in the oven too long. In some cases, it is because you didn’t have enough moisture in the mix.

It could also be happening because you added dried fruit that dried out the bread mix. A solution to this problem is to soak the fruit in juices.

It could be apple juice, orange juice, brandy, or rum. Yes, this is how your relatives made a rich, creamy fruit cake with alcohol-soaked fruit.

If you are worried about the effect this has on the flavor, then soak dried fruit in boiling water for fifteen minutes, drain, and then add to the finished batter. Make sure it is drained well enough to not add excess moisture to the batter.

What is a kolachi roll?

Why do cakes crack when baking? A: Oven too hot or cake placed too high in oven; the crust is formed too soon, the cake continues to rise, therefore the crust cracks.

Why is my pastry cracking when I roll it?

It sounds like it was too cold to roll. The butter solidifies and the dough will break up when it’s rolled. If it’s had longer than 30 minutes in the fridge, take it out and leave it in its bag for about 20 minutes. When you unwrap the dough give it a little press with your fingers.

What is in the middle of a Salted Nut Roll?

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Does date nut bread need to be refrigerated?

To maximize the shelf life of date bread, cover with foil or plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag to prevent drying out. Properly stored, freshly baked date bread will last for about 1 to 2 days at normal room temperature

How do you keep dough from cracking?

One or two cracks can be fixed by brushing with water and rolling the edges together to seal. Next time, allow the dough to warm up slightly if very cold and roll as evenly as possible near the edges to prevent cracking. Dough was kneaded too much after the water was added. Or, the dough wasn’t relaxed after rolling.

Why Is the Crust of My Quick Bread Too Thick?

There are two main reasons the quick bread’s crust is too thick. One is that you added too much sugar. The solution to this is to glaze the bread after you made it instead of putting so much sugar in the recipe itself. In short, use less sugar in the mix and more icing.The other reason this happens is that the oven temperature is too low. If the crust is thick but you have little uneven peaks in the middle, you know the oven temperature is too low.

Solutions range from turning up the temperature to not opening the oven door so much to verifying the heating elements are working properly.

Is povitica the same as babka?

What is the Difference Between Babka and Povitica? Babka may be the most well-known, but it is not the only twisted or braided bread from Eastern Europe. Povitica, an Easter bread from Slovenia and Croatia, is a similar enriched bread rolled with a walnut filling

What is Kolaci?

Origins: Kolachi is the old-world generic term for many sweet yeast dough pastries and breads, originating from the word kolo meaning circle or wheel, in our case the dough flattened into the shape of a circle, filling spread, then rolled up. Kolachi (kawl-a-chi) is plural and kolach (kawl-atsh) is a single roll.

What causes bread to crack while baking?

Cracking in dough occurs when there is poor gluten development. This can be due to inadequate kneading, too little water, or the wrong flour. By using bread flour, more water, and kneading the dough adequately, you will develop enough gluten to allow the dough to rise without cracking.

How long can a nut roll be frozen?

The nut roll can be frozen by wrapping in plastic wrap, then again in foil, and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature.

What Should I Do If There Is One Big Crack in the Middle of the Loaf?

That’s actually normal with quick breads. The crack occurs because the top sets before the rest rises. The problematic situation is when the top has multiple cracks across the surface and/or a less than desirable texture.

How many calories are in a homemade nut roll?

Calories255.0Cholesterol17.2 mgSodium57.4 mgPotassium136.4 mgTotal Carbohydrate25.5 g8 more rows


As I mentioned in the Method, we can use the poke test to gauge whether bread dough is proofed. Firmly poke the dough as if you were trying to get someone’s attention. Right after shaping, the indentation quickly springs back all the way. With time, the indentation fills back more slowly, and a small hole remains. If the dough is over-proofed, the indentation will not fill back at all. I demonstrate the poke test in my challah video here.

Remember that yeast actively produce gas as they feed on sugars in bread dough. The gas fills and expands individual cells within the dough to raise the bread, kind of like how Mr. Fredricksen filled millions of individual balloons to lift his house in the movie Up.

When we punch down and shape the dough, we redistribute the yeast, making sure they have access to the fresh food they need to continue creating gas. So right after shaping, the yeast are making plenty of gas. If we poke it, the dough springs back quickly as gases build up inside. It’s like how the balloons have the strength to rip the house off its foundation when Mr. Fredricksen first fills them.

As time goes on, however, the balloons lose air, and Mr. Fredricksen’s house sinks lower and lower to the ground, eventually landing on the ground forever. Similarly, yeast lose vigor over time as they deplete their food sources. When the dough is perfectly proved, the yeast are reaching their limit. If we poke the dough, the yeast only muster up enough gas to push back a little. And if the dough is over-proofed, they’re no longer creating the amount of gas they need to fill the indentation back up.

Dough size

The longer the buns proofed, the larger their diameters.

The longer the dough proofed, the larger the buns became. As you can see, these expanded from about 1-1/2 inches across to 1-5/8 then 1-3/4 inches. Keep in mind that when a recipe tells you the dough should “double in size,” it should not expand twice in size in all three dimensions, since that would be an eight-fold increase in volume. If you want to get mathematical about it, the cube root of two is about 1.25, so we’re looking for about a 25% increase in each dimension. Then again, not all doughs will double in size by the time they’re ready. Usually, I feel confident baking the dough if there’s been a noticeable increase in size. And again, you can use the poke test. Either way, it’s important to use more metrics than just time — remember that yeast activity rates vary depending on the environment. If your kitchen is a little warm or a little cold, your proofing time will change. The times given in a recipe should only be used as a guide.

Bake time

As the proofing time for the buns increased, their bake time decreased. As I described in the Method, the bake time decreased by about a minute as the dough proofed for longer. In this experiment with baking powder in muffins, we saw that batters with more air bake faster than batters with less air. Similarly, in these buns, the ones that proof for less time and start off with less gas heat up more slowly, so they need to bake longer to attain the same color.

Bun shape

As you can see below, the differences in the baked buns are striking. Most obviously, the under-proofed buns split dramatically along the sides. The over-proofed buns are flatter and wrinkly.

The under-proofed buns split along the side. The over-proofed buns are flatter than the control, and the surface is wrinkly.

Remember that most of the air in bread dough comes from yeast. Yeast eat the sugars around them in the dough and produce gas as a byproduct. This gas inflates the bread dough, and in the oven, it expands to raise the bread even further. Yeast also work more quickly as they warm up in the oven, and they eventually die at higher temperatures.

Because yeast also reproduce as they eat and produce gases, the longer our dough proofs, the more yeast there are, the more food they eat, and the less food remains in the dough around them. This is why we punch down and knead the dough a bit after the first rise—we want to redistribute the yeast and move them to fresh food.

In our under-proofed buns, the yeast have barely made a dent in the food around them before we put them in the oven. It’s like we dropped them at a buffet and told them they only had five minutes to eat. Naturally, the yeast stuff themselves as quickly as they can, which means they also produce a lot of gas very quickly. In fact, by the time the outer crust of the bun sets, the yeast in the center are still cranking out gas, and the buildup of pressure gas splits the outer crust of the bread and forms a crack.

In the over-proofed buns, the yeast have created an excess of gas. They’ve taken their time at the buffet and stuffed themselves so full it hurts. As we saw in our over-creamed cupcakes, excess air creates a lot of problems. For one, the dough doesn’t have enough structure to support all the gas, so it doesn’t hold its shape—you can see that the over-proofed buns have flattened more than the other two.

Once the over-proofed dough enters the oven, the problems compound. As the gas expands even further, it stretches the dough holding it in place, ultimately tearing the dough and causing the structure to collapse. This created a wrinkly surface in these buns, and in more extreme cases, it can result in a deflated loaf.

Bread crumb

The under-proofed buns had a tight crumb, and the over-proofed buns had a more open crumb.

The differences in proofing time they led to different bun shapes also created different crumbs. As you can see, the under-proofed buns have the tightest crumb, especially in the center, and the over-proofed buns have an open crumb. Remember that the holes in the crumb are pockets occupied by air.

Because the under-proofed buns didn’t start off with much air, the bubbles didn’t expand much before the bread set. This is especially true at the center, where the rise was constrained when the outer crust set. On the other hand, in the over-proofed buns, the bubbles started off with a lot more air, so they expanded to a larger size. (The crumb reminds me of these muffins with doubled sugar.) These buns were not over-proofed enough to deflate dramatically.

Bread texture

The texture of the buns reflected their crumb. The under-proofed buns were dense, while the over-proofed buns were most tender in this experiment. However, more extreme over-proofing could have resulted in more structural collapse and a noticeably denser texture.


Although proofing is more of a waiting step, getting the timing right is essential to baking bread with a good rise and texture. Under-proofed dough is prone to unseemly splitting, and the baked bread is dense. Over-proofed dough loses its definition, its surface wrinkles, and it can deflate. As your dough proofs, watch the clock, but only use time as a guideline. To check whether your dough is ready, make sure it’s visibly increased in size or use the poke test. It is better to err on the side of under-proofing, but if your dough is severely over-proofed, you can just punch it down, which removes the air, re-shape, and let it proof again as long as food remains available to the yeast.


Figoni, P. How Baking Works, 3rd ed.; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, 2011.

“How to Know Your Dough Has Properly Proofed.” Cooks Illustrated.

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