“My Bread Didn’t Rise”: 5 quick tips for high-rising yeast loaves

“Why didn’t my bread rise?”

Here at King Arthur Flour, we field hundreds of questions each week from people all over the world. A steady stream of puzzled, challenged, and sometimes frustrated bakers call our telephone baker’s hotline, access our online chat, email us (customercare@kingarthurflour.com), and connect with us via social media and our blog – all with problems that need solving.

Most common question? Anything to do with sourdough. Feeding it (“Why do I have to throw some away? Seems wasteful…); baking with it (“How can I make my bread taste more sour?”), and resuscitating it (“Help, I think I killed my starter!”).

Most common area of concern? Yeast baking. And beyond sourdough, the most frequently asked question is this:


“Why didn’t my bread rise?”

Talk about loaded…

There are soooo many reasons for bread rising poorly, it’s impossible to address every one of them here. But let’s just look at a few of the more common causes.


1) Your bread did rise. You simply baked it in the wrong pan.

See these two pans? The one on the left is a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, most commonly used for “quick” breads: batter breads that rely on baking powder or baking soda for leavening. Think banana bread, zucchini, pumpkin… you get the picture.

The loaf pan on the right measures 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″. It’s most commonly used for yeast breads. Think sandwich loaves.

So, what’s a mere 1/2″ difference among friends, right?

Believe it or not, that 9″ x 5″ pan has a 30% greater capacity than the 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan.

So what happens when your sandwich bread recipe calls for an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan, and you decide, “Ah, the 9″ x 5″ is close enough”?


Same recipe; same rise; same oven; same everything – except the pan.

That’s a 9″ x 5″ loaf on the left; an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf on the right. Both rose just fine; it’s simply that the loaf on the left rose sideways, rather than up.

Lesson learned: when the recipe calls for an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan, use it.

And what if your recipe simply calls for a “loaf pan,” without specifying size?

The basic rule is, if the recipe uses 3 cups of flour, choose the smaller pan. If it uses 4 cups of flour, choose the larger pan. For any amount in between 3 and 4 cups, use either pan – understanding that you’ll get a taller (though possibly mushroom-shaped) loaf in the smaller pan.


2) Your bread did rise; but then it fell.

My fellow blogger MaryJane recently posted a great guide on determining when your rising loaf has reached its optimal level (which is NOT “as high as possible”), and is ready to go into the oven. Read The Bread Also Rises for some nifty tips.


3) Your dough was too dry.

See that dough on the left? Here in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, we’d call that dough “gnarly.” It’s fairly soft, and doesn’t feel particularly dry, but during kneading it doesn’t come together in a ball. Instead, it twists and turns itself into a bunch of separate pieces that keep slapping against one another; it’s gnarly.

See that dough on the right? It’s soft, but not overly sticky; e.g., it doesn’t cling to your hands when you pick it up. Instead, it just barely “kisses” the side of the bowl, if you’re kneading in a stand mixer. If you’re kneading by hand, it will stick to your kneading surface in a “tacky” way, rather than viscously, like glue.

This degree of stickiness shows that the dough’s flour/liquid balance is right on.

So does it really matter that much?

Sure does. A loaf made with too much flour (or not enough liquid – same thing) will be dry, dense, and heavy. Yeast is happiest in a moist environment, feeding happily when it’s got enough to drink. Likewise, gluten (the network of protein strands that allows your loaf to expand and hold its shape) stretches more readily when there’s more liquid present.

Think of trying to blow bubbles out of thick, viscous soap. Now think of the ultra-thin soap/water you dip your wand in to make those backyard bubbles. Get the picture?


Two loaves. Same recipe, same pan, same rise time, same oven, same bake time.

The loaf on the left was made with 2 tablespoons less water than the loaf on the right. That translates to a 12% difference.

Not a lot, right? But look not only at the rise, but the shape. You can see that the loaf on the left struggled to rise, crowning only at the top, while the sides sluggishly resisted. The loaf on the right rose more evenly, side to side.

Takeaway: yes, measuring your ingredients carefully is important (which is why I always use a scale).

Also, if you’re kneading dough by hand, resist the urge to add more flour as you knead; if the dough is perfectly balanced (flour/liquid) to begin with, every extra tablespoon of flour you throw down on your kneading surface and pick up with your dough is upsetting that balance.

Hint: Knead on a lightly greased surface, rather than one that’s floured. A silicone kneading mat is very handy.


4) The more whole grains in the loaf, the harder it is for it to rise.

Loaves, left to right: 100% all-purpose flour; 50% all purpose/50% whole wheat; 100% whole wheat flour.

Look at the difference between the white flour loaf on the left, and the whole wheat loaf on the right. Pretty significant, eh?

Don’t get me wrong; it’s possible to make a lovely, high-rising 100% whole wheat loaf. But you need to follow a recipe written for especially for whole wheat flour.

Many of you love to take a favorite yeast bread recipe and make it more nutritious by adding whole wheat (or rye, or oats, or bran, or…) That’s fine; but those flours and grains don’t provide the stretchy network of gluten all-purpose flour does, and thus these whole grain loaves won’t rise as well.

Still, adding whole wheat to a favorite white bread recipe is a laudable goal, health-wise. Want to learn more about converting your favorite yeast recipes from white flour to whole wheat? Read Yeast Bread: From White to Wheat, a Baker’s Guide.


5) Your loaf had trouble rising because its top crust was dry.

A little thing like that can make a difference? You bet.

Maestro, the metaphor, please!

Think about blowing up a balloon. Usually it’s pretty easy, right?

But what would happen if you painted that balloon with a thick layer of hard-drying paint, and then tried to blow it up?

You’d huff, and you’d puff, and… well, you wouldn’t blow the balloon up very easily, would you? You’d have to crack that layer of paint first.

Same with yeast bread. If its top surface has dried out and hardened while rising, it’ll struggle in the oven.

Covering your rising loaf with a dish towel protects it from dust and flying insects, it’s true; but it doesn’t keep it moist. Plastic wrap keeps it moist – but it can stick, too, even when it’s greased. How many of you have tried to remove sticky plastic from your risen loaf, only to see it tear and deflate? I sure have.

The solution? An inexpensive shower cap (pictured above).

Use a clear plastic cap, if you can; you get a better view of what’s going on inside. The elastic keeps the cap firmly anchored to the pan, while the plastic on top “poofs” nicely, sheltering your rising loaf without actually touching it.

Where do you find these clear shower caps? Well, every time one of my co-workers goes on a trip, I ask him or her to bring me back a souvenir: a shower cap from the motel room.

Don’t have any traveling pals? The dollar store usually stocks packs of these inexpensive caps.

OK, I know I’ve covered the promised five reasons for low-rising bread, but here’s a bonus I can’t resist, one of the most common reasons for poorly risen bread –


You’ve added too much sugar to the dough.

Any loaf where the weight of the sugar is 10% or more of the flour weight* is going to rise sloooowly. Add too much sugar, and your bread will stop rising entirely.

*Example: Make a loaf with 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) flour and 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar, and the weight of the sugar will be 14% (1 3/4 divided by 12 3/4) of the weight of the flour.

Why the problem? It’s that liquid balance again. Sugar is hygroscopic; it absorbs as much liquid as it can. The result? Thirsty yeast is left high and dry, and simply goes dormant.

The solution? “Osmotolerant” yeast, a type developed especially for high-sugar doughs, e.g., SAF Gold. This yeast is like a camel; it simply doesn’t need as much water as normal yeast, and thus performs better under dry (read: high-sugar) conditions.

Well, class, have you learned something today? I hope so. Our goal here at King Arthur Flour is to teach the world to bake – and share. We’re happy to do both regularly, here in our blog.

Happy baking!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Suzanne M

    Any tips for slow, and I mean SSSLLLOOOWWW, rising breads? Every recipe I try I have to extend the rise time significantly. I have started using my microwave as a proofing box. I nuke a cup of water for a minute or two and leave the warm water in while the dough is rising. It helps, but still takes longer than expected. This has happened on rolls, sandwich loaves, pizza dough, everything! I use all KAF flour and yeast and the yeast isn’t too old and passes it’s proof test and is stored in the freezer. I have slacked off baking breads now because I can’t count on the dough to be ready for dinner. Bummer!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Cool dough and dry dough are both slow to rise. As you have already worked on finding a warm place for your dough, I would suggest being sure your dough is soft enough. Best of luck, Jaydl@KAF

    2. Sara

      Have you tried using the oven? If it goes as low as 100F then you can just set it to that and leave the dough to rise in there. My oven goes to 170 so I preheat it to that then turn it off. The residual heat lasts long enough for the dough to rise and it’s not too hot.

    3. Carrie

      The article name many for why bread doesn’t rise. BUT it was not mention to have yeast at room temperature and proof it. I always put my bread in an oven that I have heated for 3 min and turned it off. Also having the oven light on helps.

    4. Christy G.

      Thank you for these suggestions! I heatedthe oven to 100 degrees and the bread rose! It was too cold in my house!

    5. Elizabeth

      I turn on my oven to pre heat and put my dough on, or next to, the stove where the warmth of the oven can warm it. Of course that means leaving the oven on for 30 minutes for the rise but I don’t mind so much….especially in the winter months!!

    6. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for sharing this tip, Elizabeth. It’s a good plan to preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes anyway, so you’re on the right track! Barb@KAF

    7. Samantha Fairless

      This is going to sound weird, but I set a plate over my rising bowl. Then I heat up my kettle to boiling and place that on the plate with and oven mitt in between so it’s not too hot. Works like a charm every time.

    8. Melissa

      I have the same problem! I’m waiting all day for the second rise. But…I’m going to start using a smaller pan, less sugar and a thermometer for the water. I’m going to get this!!

    9. kimbakat

      I use my oven..I run a low heat for about 3 min before I put the dough in. I also dribble some warm water on top of the loaf. I don’t bother covering it as I put moisture on the top. I let it sit in there for about 1.5 hours. I check it once or twice. Then turn the oven on to bak when you see it go 1 ” above the edge. If it doesn’t go above the edge after 2 hours…then just bake it. it’s the highest it’s going to get. I also made the mistake of too much sugar in water and yeast…and sifting too much salt in the flour before mixing it in.

  2. jenni

    thanks for this! a lot of this stuff i knew from experience, but not with all of the corresponding “science-y” info. 🙂

  3. Chris Wenchell

    I bake sourdough bread.I have been for thirty years.Recently I moved my family from Long Island,NY to Monument,CO. Sea level to over 7000′ altitude. I learned all I know by reading and doing.When it comes to sourdough I have to say I bake very good bread until now. My yeast is Fleischmann’s. The bread flour is ConAgra Mills bread flour .I purchased it from Costco. I know the high altitude will cause the bread to rise faster but this not my problem.the yeast is good.It proofs in warm water with a pinch of sugar.The volume more then doubles.When I lived at sea level I knew what went wrong if the bread didn’t rise.I used General Mills All Trump hi gluten flour spring wheat. This is the first time I bought ConAgra bread flour. Made to attempts to bake bread here in the mountains and both times after a real long time to rise it didn’t work .Dense bread thick hard crust, nothing good about it except to toss in the garbage.I’m at a loss. Any ideas?

    1. Carolyn

      When I bake bread and it does not rise I used to throw it away. I now have learned to put it back in the mixer, mix warm water in yeast, let the yeast rise, add to bread that did not rise good,add flour and mix again. I don’t throw it away anymore. I keep it covered with baggies with elastic that I get at Sally’s Beauty supply. Large quantities.. Also great for outdoors cooking and eating out side.

  4. Sue

    While I agree on most of this, what you gloss over is the feel of the dough. Any good recipe should mention the desired texture of the dough (wet, tacky, dry, heavy, etc). And because the amount of moisture in the flour can vary (Is it humid out? Is your air conditioner on?), the amount of flour needed for a given amount of water will vary. (At my altitude and low humidity, a recipe can take anywhere from 25 to 30% less flour.) I’m not trying to discourage new backers; I occasionally teach friends and family how to make yeast breads and I always tell them, “You’ll learn something new every time you make bread. It may come out a brick, sometimes, but it’s a really good tasting brick!” Believe me, I’ve had a few bricks over the years–and not just when I was learning!

    1. K

      Thank you Sue for sharing the percentage of flour decrease to try at elevation. I’ve tried and tried to use the suggested high-altitude formulas with no success. I think I wasn’t decreasing flour enough. Will give it another try because of what you had to say. Thank you again!

  5. fabian

    What about temperature.There are many variables.Yeast crust density temperature force at dough.How temperature regulates volume.Good luck.Good bye.

  6. Lynda

    Nice article with very helpful info. I would like to suggest a better alternative for the shower caps. For many years I have been using clear plastic bowl covers. You can get these at any grocery store, and they’re reusable and not too expensive. I use the large size to cover both the bowl during the first rise, and then the loaf pan when the bread is on the second rise. At first glance the bowl covers look just like the shower caps, but with two important differences: First the plastic used is guaranteed to be food-safe. You don’t have that guarantee with a shower cap, and you could have nasty toxins leach into your food. Second, they’re much more durable than shower caps. Just my two-cents. Thanks!

  7. Bakeraunt

    Large plastic containers make good rising chambers for breads or rolls. I also grab any large deli covers that come my way at work. I’ve used two deli covers (one upside down and one right side up over it) to make a covered chamber for a recipe that bakes three loaves of bread.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thank you so much for sharing! It’s always great to be able to re-purpose things in the kitchen and this is a new one I’ll have to try out soon. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      You’re most welcome, Leslie – we love helping people to bake their best! 🙂 PJH

  8. Larry

    Make Walter Sands Bread, used the old bread machine to mix the dough then put in pan and baker off it is very good. Did this many times. Thank you for all the recipes. Read you site all the time, thank for your hard work.

  9. susanwarder

    How to measure loaf pan? Opening or base? The ends of mine are a trapezoid 4 ⅜ at widest and 3 ¾ at bottom, 2 ½” high (deep) by long sides: 8 1/2 x 8. Is this the smaller pan you mention above or what size? Thanks

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Susan, good question – you always measure a pan at its top, so this is the smaller (yeast bread) pan. PJH

  10. Margy

    You forgot one more very important reason–you forgot to put in the yeast! Has to have happened to someone besides me! 8D

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That is a pretty big factor, Margy! It does happen, so it is always a good idea to keep track of what you are adding. Jon@KAF

    2. Marya

      Early in my bread baking, i was melting shortening for a bread recipe– heated it to nearly frying temperature– and put it in the bowl. You could almost hear those poor little yeasties screaming as they died… so of course it didn’t rise a bit. So, don’t kill the yeast!

  11. Jean Arno

    For proofing – I put a sheet cake pan on the lowest oven rack, put my loaves on the middle rack, pour boiling water into the sheet cake pan, close door and voila – a good rise. I live in Maine and my kitchen sits on a crawl space. I rarely makes it to degrees all winter. Since it is very cold, bread would not rise until I tried this.

  12. kent p thalacker

    Fabulous tips for the young and us old bakers. An off and on bread baker from WI thirty plus years. Never knew before how to measure a baking pan, thanks. On using ingredients, after setting out what I need from the pantry for the recipe I measure into cups or bowls then add to as needed. Haven’t forgotten the yeast, yet.
    The salt: My bread sometimes needs a bit more salt. I am not a heavy salt user. I tend to under-salt in regular cooking but follow the recipe in bread. It is that sometimes the salt balance just isn’t there.
    On storing sourdough starter. Cover loose, or tight. Plastic wrap or shower cap. Appreciate the suggestion that shower caps may not be food safe. I have used screw top containers and left them loose. What are your thoughts?
    Thanks for the wonderful tips and expertise offered on Bakers Hotline.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Kent! I always use plastic wrap to cover the top of my starters. Plastic wrap is porous enough to allow the starter to “breath”, but it holds in the ever important moisture. I sometimes hear of folks developing a dry skin on their starter, this is usually caused by covering the starter a bit too loosely. Jon@KAF

  13. HellboundAlleee

    Our last loaf had a great rise. I don’t know about other factors, but it was over 100 degrees outside, so we covered it up, put it on the deck in the shade, and ended up with more of a rise than we anticipated. Go nature!

  14. Melissa

    My kitchen in Hawaii is always between 72 and 83F, so as you can imagine, the loaves rise really quickly. I’ve read that this means the favors don’t fully mature, though the bread tastes fine. Using the refrigerator for the first rise (~ 2 hrs) resulted in poorly rising loaves on the second rise. Suggestions?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Melissa, I believe I answered your last reply. Feel free to check out that response as it will answer this question as well! Jon@KAF

  15. wozniaksusan

    I cover my rising dough with a piece of wax paper topped with a kitchen towel but I pour olive oil over the dough and spread it with my hand to create an oil envelope for the dough. I would guess that this both helps the dough maintain moisture as well as serving as a coating for the rising dough.

    A woman I knew close to 40 years ago, made bowl covers by sewing a square piece of linen to an equally sized square of heavy plastic and simply reused them for years. She just draped the covers over her bowls and let the dough rise that way.

  16. Judy Griffiths

    This is a great article. Very informative and extremely helpful.

    Looking at things from a humorouos twist, I loved the photo of the Walter Sands white bread that didn’t rise. Your caption and that pic of the loaf of bread made me laugh out loud. Thanks!

  17. Lorena

    Learning to bake bread is my goal this year. Thanks much for the info in this post-most helpful.

    I’ve had some success. Some not so successful. But I continue on. KAF has given me the confidence to try the first loaf.

    I have no living family member who bakes bread so am learning from the web and you-tube videos. My Mother baked bread when I was little but I didn’t learn how to do that. I’ve been using a bread machine to knead the dough, but my Ultimate Goal is to actually knead the dough with my own hands.

    Thanks KAF for all the info and passing on your tips and knowledge to this novice baker

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re here for you, Lorena! When you have questions, don’t hesitate to use the LiveChat option of our website or call our Baker’s Hotline (855-371-2253). We have staff to listen to your baking dilemmas or assure you along the way. Call us in Vermont – 8 AM to 9 PM weekdays and from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekends. We’ll do our best to help you achieve those family favorite breads. Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

  18. Joe

    Greetings PJ et al,

    As a long time home bread and pizza baker, I enjoyed reading the blog and reply comments.I have a question of a slightly different, but related nature for the bread baking community. The time has come to start investigating replacement of our multipurpose (bread as well as regular dinner cooking) oven. We are replacing a four burner stove top, convection with broiler Viking.

    I am not sure if this is the correct forum, but would appreciate other bread/pizza baker’s thoughts on what equipment they have used successfully.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.


    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Joe,

      I’d say you’d probably reach more folks and get a bit more input by posting over on our community pages. Great bakers from all over the world, so happy to give great advice. ~ MJ

  19. Leslie Fok

    How about this? The first rise was nice and easy, but the second rise and proofing was slooooow. It happened to me a few times and I am at a loss. It couldn’t be the yeast since it rose beautifully the first time.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Leslie, I’m wondering what kind of yeast you’re using? This sounds quite typical of “rapid rise” yeast, which goes hard and fast, and then tends to slow down/poop out. If you’re using rapid rise, stick to a single rise; or, switch to active dry or instant yeast, and see if that helps. If you’re not using rapid rise, then I’m a bit at a loss. Unless your first rise was super-long (like, overnight in the fridge, or 7-8 hours at room temp), the yeast should actually be getting stronger, not weaker… Please feel free to contact our baker’s hotline to discuss this further. PJH

  20. Jim O.

    How did you figure out that the 9×5 has 30% greater capacity then the 8.5×4.5 loaf pan? I multiplied for volume and got only 15% greater capacity? is there another way to figure it out for the actual pan size?

  21. Leslie Fok

    Aloha PJ,

    I use SAF red (should be instant?). When I make bread with eggs, it rose really well throughout, but without eggs (everything else essentially the same, little less sugar), it doesn’t rise nearly as well. While I keep my yeast in the fridge, again, I have no problem if I have eggs in the mix.


    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      That’s interesting, Leslie. Eggs add both protein and liquid. Protein strengthens structure, and liquid softens the dough, making it easier to stretch/rise. Whatever the reason – keep it up! 🙂 PJH

  22. Jerry Provencher

    My baguette dough is not rising! I use the Baker’s Companion recipe, a scale to measure and King Arthur bread flour. I bake them regularly and have been pleased with results. The only new thing is that this past weekend I was at King Arthur for a baking class and bought the instant yeast. I make my poolash the night before and it has that pock marked moon finish, although it does not seem to be as high as before. My dough rises marginally and my baguettes are coming out like breadsticks. Could it be the yeast? or is my flour old? All other factors are unchanged.I keep my yeast in the freezer, although I have always done that without problems. Any help? thanks. Loved the class by the way.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Jerry, I would suggest to give our Baker’s Hotline a call so we can troubleshoot over the phone. Our number is 855 371 2253! Jon@KAF

  23. Christina

    Thanks for all the great tips! I’m new to baking and I’ve had a terrible time with some things not rising. I made what should have been a delicious loaf of cinnamon swirl bread yesterday, that never didi rise properly. It didn’t help that our 4m old lab was eating bees in the back yard and we had to leave said cinnamon bread for 2 1/2hrs (during the last rise) while we raced to the vet for a Benadryl shot. By the time I got back I just want that bread in the oven and didn’t pay to much attention to the fact that it didn’t rise. So needless to say, my cinnamon bread was a terrible disappointment 🙁
    That all being said, I was really happy to find your site! And I’m going to try that cinnamon swirl bread agin today. I’ll let you know how it turns out, wish me luck!! ……. And the puppy is not aloud out of my sight until it’s done 😉

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like a good plan Christina! Next time when there is an emergency just place your rising bread in the frig until you return. It will rise more slowly. Be sure it is covered. Elisabeth@KAF

  24. gaahonore

    Another outstanding, informative and funny post by you, PJ! I hope you don’t mind if I use the info on pan size and pan measuring with my baking students. I recently had an issue with my chocolate bread not rising well. It just laid there like a slug. When I baked it, it got these huge, nasty cracks on the bottom, like the breads at the beginning of your post. This had never happened before and I have been making my chocolate bread for well over 10 years. The only thing I could think of to try was changing the yeast. I bought a fresh package of SAF Red, used it and — voila! Perfectly risen chocolate bread! My question is — how long will yeast retain its rising power after the package is opened? My previous yeast was also SAF Red – about a year old. I kept it in the fridge in a plastic container. How should I store it?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We always suggest to freeze your yeast for the best shelf life. Refrigeration is fine, but the yeast won’t last as long as freezing. Freezing should help keep your yeast for 18 months or so. Jon@KAF

  25. Julia Cole

    I know this post is a few months old, but loved reading it and adding tips to my arsenal of baking knowledge. I did not see my question in the comments, so will try posting.
    I have an issue with “slashing” the top of my risen loaf before putting it in the oven. I understand the principle, and bought a curved blade tool specific to the job. But I have given up trying it – I either snag the bread and cause it to deflate immediately before I can get it in the oven. The crown just falls. Or possibly I go too slowly, and not deep enough to make a difference. Admittedly I have had to learn the “feel” of my dough over the years and have learned a good deal about the moisture level in my loaf. But I am afraid of ruining a perfectly good loaf, so I won’t cut the top anymore. As a result, many loaves rise to the side, as your second photo, of the dark bread. Any tips?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Julia, If your dough collapses when you slash it this is a sign that the loaf is over proofed and would benefit from a shorter rising time in the pan. It could also be due to a dull blade or cutting too slowly, but as long as the dough still has energy it should not collapse, even if the cut is not perfectly executed. I would try putting your bread in the oven earlier and giving it a quick, self-assured slash with a sharp knife or blade. And remember you can always call the Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-2253 for further assistance. Barb@KAF

    2. Denise Marquez

      I slash my bread with a pair of cooking shears, that way I do not disrupt the loaf.

    3. MaryJane Robbins

      Neat idea! I’ve seen it done on buns, but never thought about doing a big loaf the same way. ~ MJ

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Linda, you can always knead more yeast into it and keep trying. If that doesn’t work, roll it flat, brush with olive oil, scatter with herbs, and make cracker-like flatbread. Good luck – PJH

  26. Smaakmakerij


    After years of making bread just fine (Baltimore suburbs; Chicago suburbs), I moved to South Carolina, three miles from the ocean, and have had nothing but problems trying to figure out the humidity vs liquid vs flour vs kneading amounts. I called the baker’s hotline and was sent videos that covered pretty much what I knew generally, albeit with a bit more detailed discussion. In here, however is the suggestion of elasticised covers (since moving, every piece of liberally oiled plastic has broken the bread’s surface tension upon removal) and I too have had the same problem with slashing the bread – which I never had in the other locations It would be really helpful if you could set up a chart of tips on your website for those of us living in less standard areas: High-altitude; semi-tropical; tropical.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We do have high altitude directions on our Learn page; you might want to ask other bakers in your community what they do, or give your local college extension service a call for some advice. They would be very attuned to your micro climate. Please call us for advice, but bear in mind we bake in cold, dry Vermont! Happy baking!

  27. Barb in Texas

    Salt rising bread is nice and flat in the pans when I put it in the oven. As it bakes it rises unevenly. One side is higher than the other. Cause? Solution? Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      It sounds like you may have a hot spot in your oven. Try turning the loaves partway through baking to get a more even bake all around. ~ MJ

  28. Karma

    Exactly the help I needed! My mother just bought us an mixing stand/bowl and I want to bake my first loaf of bread – preferably with a nice round, beautiful rise.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Glad we could help you today Karma! Have fun giving that stand mixer a work out! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am not sure if you are using flax meal or whole flax but I am guessing whole. Whole flax meal has sharp edges and are acting like little knives slicing the gluten strands which hold the by-product CO2 which is responsible for helping the bread to rise. You may soak the flax seed in the liquid to help soften. Or grind into a coarse meal. Elisabeth@KAF

  29. Patrick

    I just made 2 loaves of Amish White Bread. They both were a total disaster. This is a bread I have made before. This time, the yeast would not/did not proof. I don’t know why. I measured the temp of the water and measured the sugar and the Yeast was not expired. Yet it would not proof. Any ideas as to why ? The dough was a mess, it was gnarly and would not come together. Perhaps too much flour? I did measure the flour (6-cups). And, the bread did not rise – not at the first rising, and not at the second rising (when it was in the loaf pans). And it did not rise in the oven while baking. I was devastated. I don’t know what I did wrong.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The clue here is “gnarly”. Gnarled bread does not come together and needs more water. If the bread does not have enough water, the gluten cannot hydrate, and the bread will not be able to rise. While you are kneading, add more water as needed to create a supple, smooth dough with a lively spring. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  30. Home Ec Years-Ago

    Every-so-often the crust rises right off my loaves after I’ve removed them from the oven (at 190 degrees) and completely cooled them on their sides on racks. I’ve tried covering with damp tea towels during proofing, putting a steaming pan of water under, covering in plastic and waxed paper . . . but to no avail. I use liquid and dry ingredients as specified. This is a somewhat new phenomenon; only occurring irregularly in the last several years. Has some ingredient changed in some way?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      The crust separation issues are typically caused by over proofing, so it makes sense that every now and then if you’ve over risen a loaf you’d see this issue. Just keep an eye on the dough so it doesn’t go too far and you should be just fine. ~ MJ

  31. Maureen in Florida

    Fabulous article. The pictures made all the difference. I’ve been baking, off & on for ten years & I’ve never baked a successful loaf of bread. I’ve tried, white, 100% wheat & a mix of both. My last endeavor, I used 100% whole wheat & again I failed. However, for the first time ever I did achieved a loaf that was more than 2″ high. This time my loaf was 4″ high but, dense, bland & too moist. Here’s what I did. Perhaps you can see where I’ve gone wrong. I adjusted this receipe to address a previous failure & to accommodate my lack of ingredients. When you have failed as much as I have…you go through a lot of ingredients quickly.

    3-1/2 c …100% whole wheat
    1 c … Warm water (decreased by 1/8 c)
    1/4 c … Olive oil (substituted for veg. oil)
    1/3 c … Corn Syrup (substituted for honey)
    2-1/2 tsp … active dry yeast
    1/4 c … Apple sauce (in place of dry milk &
    my attempt to add
    3/4 TBSP… Course Salt (increased from 1-1/4
    tsp to add flavor)
    1/3 c … dry grated parmesan (another
    attempt to
    add flavor)

    First I proofed the yeast in 1 cup warm water, with all the corn syrup, for 5 minutes. Yeast rose above measuring cup. I mixed in the dry ingredients. Then I added the wet ingredients & mixed until a ragged dough was formed. I smooshed down the dough & covered it. I let it rest for 2 hrs to try to soften the grains. The dough doubled & I kneaded it on a lightly wheat floured surface, adding wheat flour sparingly. In about 10 min’s the dough became soft & elastic. I placed it in an oiled bowl, covered it & let it rise for 2 more hrs. The dough doubled again. I placed it on an oiled surface. Then I kneaded it for a few seconds before using my hands to flattened the dough & roll it into a log, pinching the seam & ends. I placed it, seam side down into a well oiled, 9.5 x 4.5 straight sided, aluminum foil pan. I covered it & let it rise until the center crowned 1″ above the pan rim (it took 1 hr). In a preheated, 350 degree oven, I baked it for 10 min’s uncovered. Then I baked it for an additional 20 min’s, tented with foil. Finally, I baked it an additional 5 min’s to brown the crust. I immediately removed it from the pan & placed it on a cooling rack. I tapped the bottom & it sounded hollow. I noticed it kept it’s height but, only half of the crust browned. Also, the brown half of the crust peeled off. The crumb was very dense. It tasted no better than my previous wheat bread attempt & was too moist, almost doughy in the center. I know I’ve given you a lot of info but, can you help me make a successful loaf of bread? Thank you!

  32. Elizabeth

    Oh my goodness!! Everything makes sense now! It’s not that I’ve been doing it horribly wrong but the little things sure do make a difference.
    I’ve learned sooo much and can’t wait to get to baking in the morning!

  33. Karen

    Thanks, KA! I’ve tried my hand – twice in one day – baking up two loaves of Pain de Mie from the French Culinary Institute’s Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking. Both batches didn’t rise. After reading this, I’ll try a few things, as the recipe is incredible. Despite the lack of rise, the crust and crumb were amazing. First thing to try, putting them in the oven to rise, as it’s still cold out there. My guess is my house is too cool for those poor yeast to really get going.

  34. Chelly

    Could all these tips work the same if I’m using baking powder and bextartar instead of yeast?
    My bread just won’t rise in my halogen oven. It is free from dairy,gluten,wheat,eggs & yeast but the recipe I have is designed to work so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Chelly, baking with baking soda and cream of tartar is a very different science than baking with yeast. When baking soda and cream of tartar are moistened in a batter or dough, they begin to react to each other right away produce lots of carbon dioxide bubbles. It may seem quicker or easiest than using yeast, but there are a few drawbacks. When you bake with these leaveners, you must get whatever you’re making into a preheated oven as quickly as possible before the bubbles begin to disappear. The second drawback is that, no matter how dry these combination powders are kept, they lose their potency after awhile. You also lose the yeasty flavor that makes homemade bread so desirable to most–but if you prefer the flavor and ease of baking powder, continue on!

      Despite these differences, you may be able to apply some of the tips from this blog to trouble-shoot your bread (such as proper pan size and covering the top to prevent drying out). You may find this Quick Bread Primer on our website helpful in adjusting your recipe: http://bit.ly/1ATtzlp Good luck and happy baking to you! –Kye@KAF

  35. JCHamel

    Hi PJ Hamel !

    wow was SO surprised to see your spelling of your last name, same as mine, JC Hamel. (orig. fromPA, now in NY) I believe my father’s family owned a brewery in Phila. have great day. Thanks.

    JCHamel ( : )

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      My husband’s family name came from Canada around the turn of the century, down to Massachusetts – who knows, maybe we’re distant relations! 🙂 PJH

  36. Melanie

    I’m trying to cut down on my wheat consumption and increase my protein intake. I put some pretty heavy ingredients in my bread for added nutrition: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, various whole grains (Bob’s Red Mill 6-grain cereal). The bread only rises to about 4″ high. The flavor is very good. It makes delicious as toast but it’s too dense for a sandwich. The loaf is really very heavy and dense. It needs to be sliced very thin.

    I have two questions:

    1) Is there any hope of getting such a heavy bread to rise any more?

    2) How do I know how much to use of each added ingredient? I use 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of honey, 4 cups of flour (half regular whole wheat and half white whole wheat) and then 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the additions. I’m really just guessing.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Melanie – We would love to talk you through it. There is hope for a better rise for sure. What I suggest is you begin with a recipe. We have one that is called, No-knead Harvest Bread that is loaded with nuts and dried fruit. You could customize it the way you like as far as the add-ins are concerned. You may also use your preferred flour(s) in place of the bread flour. An adjustment to the liquid may be needed in form of an increase. Please call our hotline if you would like further assistance, 1-855-371-BAKE. Elisabeth@KAF

  37. A Disapointed Baker

    I tried to make sandwhich bread today for the first time. I used Gluten free flour and hand kneaded it for a long time. My recipe said to knead it for 8-10 minutes or until it springs back when you poke it. when I thought that it sprung back a bit it was way over 10 minutes.
    It never quite rose though :/
    Gluten free bread at the store is expensive and we have been wanting to try to make some.
    Can you help me?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi! We can certainly help you to produce a G-F bread that is better than what you are finding in your local grocery store. We highly encourage you to not convert rather use recipes that are already gluten free. We have done the work for you so why not benefit? There are no cut-and-dried methods for converting wheat flour recipes to gluten-free flour recipes. Converting these recipes means experimenting and, often, a few tries to get it just right. Please tryGluten Free Sandwich Breadfrom our website. Here is where you should begin! Elisabeth@KAF

  38. Mary

    I messed up and forgot the baking powder and now have dense banana bread. Any ideas of how to salvage what I have? I hate throwing it away. I feel so bad but want to salvage it for use. Even in a desert. HELP, ANYONE! LOL

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Mary,
      Sorry to hear of the troubles! I would make up some chocolate fondue and dip the afternoon away! ~ MJ

    2. Claudina Clark

      You can use your unrisen banana bread as a partial base in bread pudding, or try making it into French Toast.
      You could use it as a base for a truffle.. add a bit of rum or brandy sprinkled on, roll into cocoa powder or chocolate.
      Very thin slices could be spread with butter and pan fried or oven toasted for a fried sweet flat bread.
      Or cut it into pieces, deep fry it then roll into powder sugar for a dense doughnut type thing.

  39. Andrew

    When you put the shower cap over the dough do you mist the inside of the shower cap first? Would there be any harm or benefit in doing that?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We generally don’t mist our breads while rising. I can’t see it hurting, though it may not help much either. Jon@KAF

  40. Kelli

    Would too little flour also be a culprit for low rising bread? I knead by hand and my dough is MUCH tackier than your picture above. The first rise is great, but when I punch it down and put it in the bread pans, it doesn’t seem to rise as much as it should.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kelli, It’s possible that a wet dough might ferment a bit more quickly, and perhaps not offer enough structure to hold a high rise, but the more likely result of this type of dough would be a loaf that rises and then falls in the oven. I think it sounds like the type of yeast you’re using might be at fault. If you’re using either “quick rise” or “rapid rise” yeast, we’ve found that these varieties of instant yeast give you a great first rise, but lose rising power over time. For more help diagnosing your bread baking issues, please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253(BAKE). Barb@KAF

  41. Leslie

    So if you only have the larger loaf pans, how do you compensate when you need two of the smaller ones? A little more dough for one, then either rolls (in a muffin tin?) or a free form loaf??

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Sorry, Leslie, I’m not quite following the question. Are you looking for help with making one large loaf from a recipe calling for two loaf pans? I would say getting in touch with the baker’s hotline is a good idea, it’ll be easier to “talK” in real time. ~ MJ

  42. mike m

    Nice article, btw. Not too techy, enjoyable to read and very informative. Here’s my problem, ,,,
    I’ve been making bread for many years (sourdough, yeast and otherwise). I recently moved to iron river in upper peninsula Michigan and I can’t get my yeast to proof properly. Starting with an unopened 2 lb block of red star dry yeast (2 years out of date) and then buying a jar of red star quick rise and a jar of Fleischmann bead machine yeast (both new) and I can’t get them to activate properly. The red star regular yeast just sits there and the other 2 yeasts take over an hour to start foaming. I am very careful about the temperature (95 to 105 ish) of the water and I have a proofing setting on my oven. It doesn’t matter what type of bowl I use and I’ve tried with or without sugar. It took 5 hours to make cinnamon buns the other day which turned out fine but holy smokes, that’s too long.
    So my question is this,,,,, have you folks ever encountered a problem with city water? I feel like I’ve ruled everything else out and I’m fairly methodical in my methods. The water here is very hard (probably something to do with living in iron river) but maybe there’s something else in the water that’s killing the yeast. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance,

    I believe it was Dick Cavett who said “if your parents never had any kids, chances are that you won’t either.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mike, It’s possible that your tap water is affecting your yeast, so I would recommend doing a test by using bottled water in a recipe. If you notice a significant difference in the way your bread rises, this will confirm your theory. It’s possible that allowing the water to sit out overnight in an open container, or filtering or boiling the water may improve matters, so before you resign yourself to buying water for baking, you might try these alternatives. Barb@KAF

  43. Jennifer K

    One thing I have found out through my trial and error, is if you put the dough by a place where sunlight shines through your window, it raises really well! I’ve tried this with my cinnamon swirl and rye breads, and my dough rose really well!

  44. Marianne Dolmyer

    Loved this post! Wish I had read it when posted, before I purchased and used the 9×5 pans for my bread baking. Is there any way to compensate for using the larger pans when baking sandwich bread?
    Thanks so much!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      If your recipe calls for 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 pans, and you only have 9 x 5 pans, you can increase the recipe by 1/4 and it will fit your pans much better. ~ MJ

  45. mary

    I made some no knead bread its very tasty , but the crust was tough couldn’t cut it what did I do wrong I followed the recipe

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      A thicker pale crust can be the result of too long a fermentation, too little steam in the oven, or too low an oven temperature. For any of those reasons, people leave the bread in the oven longer, hoping for a richer color, and instead thicken the crust. Laurie@KAF

  46. Gerhard Boerner

    I use damp clothes to cover my rolls during the final rise. Is that incorrect? I don’t see that anyone else is using this method.
    Thanks, Gerhard

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gerhard, you might try using sprayed plastic wrap to cover the rolls, as the towel may be too heavy and could stick to the rising rolls. Barb@KAF

  47. rischa

    first time ever making yeast bread and Im making sourdough bread, everything seemed to be looking right and I added the last flour and now its not rising. your article was so helpful! I think my dough was gnarly! 😀 I added flour while i was kneading and it was getting tougher as i was going. Good house keeping’s recipie needs less flour, or maybe i need the stretchy plastic bowl covers, or both.
    so now I know what to try next time!.
    I was inspired by the Netflix miniseries Cooked.

  48. Samantha Fairless

    I hope you can help me with this. Judging by it’s loaf shape, my dough seems to have the problem of being too dry. But it’s the perfect springy, slightly sticky consistency as you described before I put in the oven. I always set mine out for a second rise in the bread pan before I bake it, with a second bread pan turned over and place on top. Do you think it is getting dehydrated in this step? Would placing a wet cloth over it help?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Samantha, it could be getting dried out in this step. Instead of a wet cloth, try a sheet of greased plastic wrap over the top of the loaf. Also, make sure to weigh your flour–once cup should weigh 4.25 ounces–if you’re scooping or pouring from the bag, you’re getting too much flour per cup and that can contribute to baked goods being dry. Bryanna@KAF

  49. Kasia

    Thank you for doing this post. It definitely explained why my yummy bread did grow to its full potential. I now know what needs to be fixed 🙂

  50. Kris

    Thank you so much for this post! I think I made every mistake possible. But today’s a new day. Looking forward to trying again > more informed this time 🙂

  51. Nate Murphy

    lol, first time bread baker here, i came here worried because it seems like my loaf isn’t rising as much as it should on the second rise, I’m glad i did! picked up quite a few tips, reading the post and the comments. Thank you so much, I hope to eventually stop buying store bread and just baking our own 🙂 just gotta get all the tricks mastered

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jen, it can be a challenge to bake in a cold, dry environment. I make good use of my microwave as a proofer during the winter months. You can boil water on the stove and then put a pyrex cup in the microwave to make it warm and moist. Recharge as necessary by replacing the cold water with boiling water; just don’t turn on the microwave with your dough in there! Be careful if you’re boiling the water in the microwave as it can become superheated and blurp up dangerously. Placing a wooden spoon or popsicle stick in the cup of boiling water will help prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a microwave, our proofer may transform your winter bread baking experiences. Barb@KAF

  52. Alan

    This is a very frustrating article because I just made a KAF recipe (cinna-buns) that didn’t rise, and according to the article, it’s likely because the recipe called for 4.5 cups of flour to 0.5 cups of sugar (i.e., too much sugar for flour, by weight). Help! Is the recipe just bad or is the amount of sugar not really a problem like this article says?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Alan, the amount of sugar is pretty significant, and you can definitely cut it back next time, if desired. Readers have reported that the rise time is longer than what’s called for; we’ll send this back to the test kitchen for another go-around, and I suspect you may see some clarifications. Thanks for sharing your experience here. PJH

  53. Tom

    Have been making yeast bread for many years so I guess I’m one of those “old bakers” lol. I have been making 2 loaves of 100% whole wheat bread almost every week for the last 2 years or so with great success. Today I decided to add 1C of quick oats to my recipe and cut back on the flour accordingly, the dough was just as sticky as it usually is when I put it in the pans to rise but for some reason it was very sluggish on the rise and just stalled when the top of the loaf had just crested the pan. After deciding that it wasn’t going to rise any further I baked it as usual. Didn’t fare too well, kind of looks like whole wheat bricks. Did I use too much oatmeal? Or is there something else at play here. My yeast was Red Star and it proofed nicely. All conditions were the same as any other time I made this bread without the oatmeal. Any thoughts?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tom, assuming your recipe for two loaves calls for roughly 7 cups of flour, subbing in one cup of oats should be doable. Our first thought is that oats will absorb much more liquid than even whole wheat, so you likely just needed more liquid in your dough to lighten it up enough to rise regularly. We’d suggest mixing up the ingredients and allowing the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes before beginning to knead it. This will allow both the whole wheat and the oats to hydrate, and it will become clear how much more liquid you’ll need to get to the desired dough consistency. Then knead, rise and bake as you would without the oats. We think this will do the trick, but if you do find yourself with additional trouble, we’d encourage you to give our free Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE to chat directly with one of our bakers. Mollie@KAF

  54. Elizabeth Anderson

    I proof my yeast, mix it in with other ingredients, knead it until forms ball, cover then refrigerate overnight. Next day, roll out my nutroll, put on pan, and place in warm area, but it will NOT rise for second time. What a waste of time, ingredients, and work. HELP!!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Elizabeth, as you can see from this article here, there are a number of reasons why dough fails to rise. If you’re not able to deduce the cause by using this article as a guide, we encourage you to call the Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-BAKE(2253) so we can troubleshoot with you further. Kye@KAF

  55. Elaine Marie

    So frustrated! Five days ago I made two of the most beautiful loaves of bread. Two days ago I used the remaining 2 packages of yeast to make Swedish coffee braids which I have made in the past with success. They did not rise although I did everything right, in my opinion. Today I made one using another strip of yeast with another date and again, no rise. Weather related? If so, nobody would bake bread in the summer humidity. If tears would help, I would try that!! I’m not a novice baker but this is not good. I’m reading all the posts and I guess I will try again some day. Meanwhile…back to just plain white bread!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Elaine, one thing is for sure — tears won’t help. We’ve heard that smiles and laughter sometimes do the trick to make dough rise, but tears often impede the rising action of yeast, so try to avoid it if it’s at all possible. Like this blog points out, there are many reasons why dough sometimes fails to rise from the kind of yeast used, to the consistency of the dough, to the way it’s kneaded, to the weather outside. Don’t worry — our Baker’s Hotline is here to help. Give us a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) when you’re ready to talk, and our friendly bakers will troubleshoot with you. We look forward to helping you with this. Kye@KAF

  56. Aamee

    My bread dough rises nicely before baking. But it didnt rises during baking. Plz help me whts wrong with my dough?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Some loaves have more oven spring than others, Aamee, but if your recipe indicates that you should get some nice oven spring, it may be that your oven isn’t cool or moist enough. With artisan-style loaves, in particular, adding steam helps to ensure that the crust doesn’t set until the loaf has finished rising. You can read our tips about using steam in baking here. If your loaf is falling at all in the oven, then over-proofing may be to blame, as we explain in #2 above and here. If you suspect that neither explanation applies in your case, we encourage you to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE to puzzle it out directly with one of our bakers. Mollie@KAF

  57. Bonnie

    My house tends to be cool, maybe 65 degrees or less. I like it that way but my sourdough starter yeast doesn’t. It rises, but s-l-o-w-l-y. I fell asleep waiting one time. So now, if the house is cool or the rise is slow, I set the pan on a wire rack on top of a heating pad, set to the lowest setting. Works great, but you have to watch that rise. Once it warms up it really gets going.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry to hear you had trouble making a successful loaf of bread, J k. Good news! We’ve got a whole team of bakers on the hotline who are experienced and ready to help you trouble. Consider giving us a call to explore some of potential pitfalls more thoroughly: 855-371-BAKE(2253). Kye@KAF

  58. Lee

    I have found an easy solution for keeping dough moist while it is rising. I have a large under-bed storage bin, made of plastic, with a lid that snaps on. It holds several loaf pans. There is plenty of room for the dough to rise, the lid keeps the moisture in, and I can see the loaves without raising the lid.

  59. Jim Gallagher

    I made dough for Italian Tomato Pie and followed the directions to the T. Te dough seemed dry after mixing, I did use dough paddles, and the finished product was a tough crust. I was told it was a lack of water in the recipe, another told me not enough yeast, and others said its a sea level issue. I live in central Florida, is the problem or recommended solutions tied in to that

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      One of the most common reasons why baked goods turn out dry and heavy is because too much flour is used. To ensure you’re using the right amount, we recommend measuring your flour by weight using a scale, or by fluffing and sprinkling it into the cup one spoonful at a time like this. This will help you measure light cups of flour and will result in dough that has just the right consistency. We hope that helps, and if you continue to experience trouble, don’t hesitate to give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253).

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