Bread Errors Part 1 (Mixed Flour- and Rye Breads)

Causes of Bread Errors and Ways to Avoid Them 

To achieve flawless baked goods, you must stick precisely to the recipe and the conditions for working the dough. Measuring and weighing is essential.


The flour you tend to find in stores is rarely the source of error. It is calibrated in the flour mills’ laboratories for the desired baking properties. If you work exactingly as a rule, you can quickly find the error in the recipe or the instruction steps.  

You should look for errors in a systematic fashion. In doing so, you should check:

  • Flour quality: Flour made from sprouted grain flour, storage damage or enzyme-weak flour
  • Recipe: Did you keep to it? Were ingredients forgotten? 
  • Souring: Were the sourdough stages strictly executed? Was ripe sourdough used? 
  • Making the dough: Did you keep to temperature, dough consistency and rest times? 
  • Forming/Shaping: Was the work done carefully?
  • Proofing: Was the main proof appropriate?
  • Oven entry: Were the final proof and the oven temperature adjusted to correspond to each other?
  • Baking process: Did you keep to the temperature and baking times? 

The type of error often points to its origin, making it possible to take countermeasures. Multiple errors can appear at the same time or one error can have multiple causes. 

Errors in the form 

Form too round:

(Often accompanied by a dense crumb, cracks in the crumb, or a sagging crust) 

  • Dough too stiff and proof too short
  • Oven too hot and final proof too short

Countermeasures: softer dough, longer proof, cooler oven

Form too flat:

(Flat bottom and sharply angled sides)

  • Overproofed
  • Oven too cool
  • Flour poorly suited to baking

Countermeasures: place in oven on time, raise the baking temperature, add wheat flour, add more sourdough and salt, create dough with a warmer temperature

Low volume:

  • Fresh flour or flour from sprouted grain flour
  • Too stiff dough
  • Insufficient souring
  • Underproofed and oven too hot

Countermeasures: Increase quantities of salt and sourdough, softer dough, riper sourdough, longer proof or cooler oven

Crusts Errors

Crust too light:

  • Incorrectly stored flour/young rye flour 
  • Baking temperature too low
  • Baking time too short
  • Dough too stiff and with a floury surface
  • No salt in the dough

Countermeasures : Mix in correctly stored flour, raise temperature, increase baking time, make the dough softer, add salt

Dark crust:

  • Flour from sprouted grain flour
  • Insufficiently fermented dough and sourdough
  • Oven too hot

Countermeasures: Increase quantities of sourdough and salt, mix in flour with better baking properties, use mature sourdough and dough, adjust baking temperature 

Uneven crust color:

  • Uneven heat emission in oven
  • Unevenly moist dough surface

Countermeasures: Place dough in the right places (in oven), increase quantity of steam, brush dough evenly with water


  • Immature sourdough
  • Dough made too cold
  • Dough resting times and proof too short
  • Dough too soft
  • Oven too hot

There are usually multiple reasons for the blisters. 

Countermeasures: use mature sourdough, temper ingredients, keep to the dough temperature, use mature dough, adjust dough firmness and oven temperature.

Sticky crust:

  • Oven too hot
  • Baking time too short

Countermeasures: Adjust the oven temperature and baking time to correspond to each other

Thick, hard crust:

  • Oven too cool
  • Baking time too short

Countermeasures: Adjust the oven temperature and baking time to correspond to each other

Bark-like crust:

  • Overly soured dough
  • Too much sourdough
  • Overproofed
  • Formation of “skin” during proof

Countermeasures: Check sourdough quantity, avoid overly fermented dough, protect the surface of the dough (cover while proofing and avoid drafts)

Crust cracks:

The location, length, width and pattern of the cracks all provide clues as to the cause! Poor binding ability of the dough can lead to a weak crumb formation and further impair binding ability. The dough’s surface is unable to withstand the pressure of the gas that is created in the oven. Individual causes:

  • Inadequate flour 
  • Too much oat flour, barley flour, or corn flour, such as in mixtures
  • Dough surface dries out while proofing
  • Incorrect usage of steam (too little, released too late, insufficient formation of the dough skin at the start of baking)
  • Oven too cool
  • Loaves shaped too tightly
  • Dough too stiff

Countermeasures: Avoid formation of “skin” on the dough’s surface while proofing, use more steam and release after a short amount of time (30-45 seconds), then leaving the oven door open until the skin on the dough has sufficiently solidified, check the baking temperature, use a softer dough .

Dough seam rips open:

  • Dough too stiff
  • Underproofed
  • Oven too hot
  • Too much flour used when working with the dough

Crumb Errors

Overbaked crust:

Some common causes are a major breakdown by enzymes or insufficient absorption of moisture. This results in a dough that is not elastic enough to withstand the normal pressure of the fermentation gases or excessive tension, which, occurring in conjunction with a delayed oven spring, can lead to quicker solidification of the crust. Individual causes:

  • Flour made from sprouted grain flour
  • Unripe sourdough 
  • Insufficient souring
  • Inadequate proofing, leading to a delayed strong oven rise after the crust has already formed 
  • Oven too hot
  • Overly ripe sourdough, leading to weakened ability to retain gas and insufficiently active yeast

Countermeasures: Temper ingredients, keep to dough temperature and consistency, perforate with a fork before baking, increase acidity, increase salt, use ripe sourdough, precisely follow sourdough and dough steps, adjust proofing and baking temperatures, check oven temperature

Overbaked crumb:

  • Insufficiently fermented dough
  • Insufficient souring
  • Dough spurred too quickly in the oven, for example by using convection heat (the crumb is unstable and is torn apart by shocks)

Countermeasures: mix in flour with good baking properties, include wheat flour, include old bread, increase sourdough and salt amounts, temper ingredients and dough 

Moist, inelastic crumb:

(Water patches and rings)

  • Insufficient starch gelatinization 
  • Flour made from sprouted grain flour or highly overmilled flour with low starch content
  • Dough too soft and baking time too short
  • Dough experiences shocks during baking
  • Insufficiently fermented dough and therefore insufficient dough relaxation, preventing equal distribution of moisture
  •  Overlapping storage of fresh bread

Countermeasures: bake until well browned in an oven that is not too hot, add additional starch agents (potatoes, rice, corn starch), make a stiffer dough that stays in the oven longer at the end, avoid shocks during baking, use mature sourdough and dough

Cracks in the crumb:

(General causes are insufficient absorption capacity and insufficient starch gelatinization.)

  • Fresh flour that has not be stored properly
  • Insufficient souring
  • Dough made too cold and proofed too little

Countermeasures: Increase amount of sourdough and salt, temper ingredients and dough 

Crumbly crumb:

“Dry crumbs”

  • Lack of water due to flour with poor absorption abilities
  • Dough too stiff
  • Too much wheat used

Countermeasures: softer dough, reduce amount of wheat

“Moist crumbs”

  • Baking time too short
  • Too little water absorbed by the starch during gelatinization 

Countermeasures: bake longer, add various starch agents (corn, potatoes, rice starches)

Pore Errors

Overly dense poring:

  • Dough too stiff
  • Proof too short

Countermeasures: make dough softer, let proof longer

Coarse, irregular poring:

(Desirable in certain types of bread)

  • Underfermented dough
  • Sloppy shaping of the dough 

Countermeasures: more care in working the dough

Air pockets/blisters:

  • Sloppy working of the dough using too much flour
  • Errors when making the sourdough and dough (for instance kneading too little)

Countermeasures: more care in working the dough, more care in making the sourdough and dough

Taste errors

Bland taste:

  • Too little sourdough used
  • Sourdough made too warm
  • Unripe sourdough
  • Too little salt

Countermeasures: increase amount of sourdough used, make the foundation sour at a cooler temperature, use ripe sourdough, increase salt

Sour taste:

  • Overly soured sourdough (too much acidity)
  • Occurring with highly overmilled flours: too much sourdough used

Countermeasures: use ripe sourdough, decrease resting times and amount of sourdough used in the multistage method

Bitter taste:

  • Old flour that has been stored for too long

Countermeasures: use another flour

Dull, musty taste:

  • Old flour that has been exposed to too much moisture during storage 

Countermeasures: when the error is minimally noticeable, you can sieve the flour (aeration), use a different flour