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Troubleshooting Shaping Problems
from the Fleischmann's WebSite





Possible Cause



   Odd Or Uneven Shape Was dough rested between rising and shaping? A 10-20 minute rest period will make the dough easier to handle and shape properly.   
     How was the dough shaped?

Try shaping bread by rolling dough out with a rolling pin and then rolling up by hand to desired shape.  Make your own cutter out of a coffee can or food service container.  Put your loaves in cake pans.

     How long was the dough proofed? Dough should be given sufficient proof (time between shaping and putting in the oven) and should be tested by the finger test to show adequate rising. Usually 20 minutes for Byzantine loaves.   
     How much yeast was used? Too much yeast is harmful to the loaf shape and flavor. Try reducing the amount of yeast.   
     Was an oven thermometer used? A low oven temperature or an uneven temperature can lead to a poorly shaped loaf. Use a thermometer when in doubt.   
   Folds And Creases On Top/Sides Of Loaf Was dough rested between rising and shaping? A 10-20 minute rest period will make dough much easier to handle and shape properly.   
     Was surface smooth and taut when shaped? Use a rolling pin, then cut to size with forms made from tin cans or round plastic containers.   
   Bread Cracked On Side How much flour was used? If you are making Russian Prosphora, overly damp dough will cause too much rising and crack the crusts. Try adding flour. With Byzantine loaves (which rise more because the texture is much more like regular bread), excess flour can lead to a stiff dough that cracks. So try using a little more water. If you follow this recipe, the piercing of the loaf will allow the cracking to occur on the bottom of the loaf, out of sight.   
     How old is flour and how was it stored? Flour should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within one year.   
     What was the oven temperature? Use an oven thermometer to assure the oven is the correct temperature.   
     How long did the dough rise? Test for double in size using the finger-tip test. Insufficiently risen dough can crack.   
     Is the bread evenly browned? The oven may not be heating evenly.   
     Was the dough covered prior to baking? The bread will crack if the dough was dried out before baking.   
     Is the problem break and shred? Some cracking on the side is appropriate. All bread expands in the oven causing some cracking.   
   Cracked Top How much flour was used? Excessive flour can lead to a cracked top. Reduce the flour used in kneading and shaping.  Try steam baking.   
     Was the dough correctly mixed and kneaded? Knead vigorously 15-20 minutes by hand or 2-5 minutes with a dough hook. Read this.   
     Where was the bread cooled? Do not cool bread too quickly or in a drafty location. If you are having problems with cracks after baking, spread a lightly damp dish towel over the bread after bringing it out of the oven. This will slow down the cooling process and soften the crust.   
   Free-Form Loaf Flattened/Sagged Too Much How long was the dough kneaded? Dough that was under-kneaded cannot maintain its shape properly. Follow recipe directions for kneading.   
     How much flour was added? Free-form loaves require more flour to maintain their shape.   
     How long was the rising? Did the dough collapse in the oven? Dough that has risen too long can collapse in the oven. Finger test to determine when the dough is done rising. Prosphora loaves generally need 20 minutes of proofing under normal conditions.   
   Bread Collapsed How long did the bread rise? Bread dough cannot rise indefinitely. Use the finger-tip test to determine when the bread is done rising.   
     What was the rising temperature of the loaf? Do not raise the dough at an overly high temperature. 80-85 degrees F is correct for rising.   
     How much flour was used? Add flour until the dough is tacky but no longer sticking to hands and work surface. Use this test: push your finger into the doughball. If the dough sticks to the end of the finger but not the sides, it is ready. If it doesn't stick anywhere, it is too dry. If it sticks all over, add flour.   
     How long was the dough kneaded? Knead 4-10 minutes by hand, or 2-5 minutes by dough hook depending upon the recipe. Dough should be smooth to the touch.