Fresh bread from the oven is so tasty. And with all the work you put into it, there’s a sense of accomplishment when you pull out a perfect loaf from the oven. The buzz you get from making bread drops to incredible lows when you cut in to find out your bread is doughy after being cooked. You followed the steps carefully; you did everything right, so why did your bread come out doughy under that perfect crusty edge? It leads to many bakers giving up, but you’re not like the others are you?
The most common reason for doughy bread after baking is that it was simply undercooked. This could be due to the oven being too hot and not baking long enough. It can also be because of improper cooling or not following the recipe correctly.
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Check your oven temperature
When it comes to making bread and not having your bread doughy when cooked, the first place to start is to check your oven. If the temperature of your oven is too high, the crust of your bread will bake faster than the core, making it appear baked to the eye, although it’s not.
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Ovens can vary in how they operate, so make sure that you know your oven and how it works. If you have a new oven, it may be a good idea to try it out for a bit first, making sure you know the exact cook times and temps for your particular model. Testing the temperature of your oven using an oven thermometer is the best way to do this.
Are you using a baking stone?
Baking stones are great for evenly distributing heat throughout the bread as it cooks. You will also want to make sure that your oven has had time to preheat all the way. Especially if using a baking stone (recommended), you will want to make sure that you heat the stone for 60 minutes so it has the chance to get hot enough.
What can you do to prevent doughy bread when using a baking tin?
Also, if you are baking your bread in a tin, a baking stone will help keep the base from being soggy. If you do use a tin, be sure to remove your loaf of bread from the tin right after baking and let it cool on a rack. Some bakers find joy in poping the bread back in the oven tin-less for 5 minutes to allow the heat to penetrate the centre of the bread.
Use a thermometer to check it is baked throughout
Not only is a temperature probe an excellent tool for double-checking your dough temperature, but it is also useful to check the temperature of your bread during baking. Just like you would check the internal temperature of a turkey, whole chicken, or pork you can check the temperature of a loaf of bread.
For soft bread, once the temperature reaches 180 to 190 F (82-88C) internally, you can consider it has finished cooking. And for crustier, leaner bread, you will want the internal temperature to reach 200 to 210 F (93-98C) before considering it thoroughly cooked. When checking the temperature of the bread, if the temperature of the bread is too cool you should return it to the oven for a few extra minutes. Don’t be afraid to drop the baking temperature a little to prevent it from over-browning.
What do you do if you do not have an instant-read thermometer? Can you tell if bread is done? Yes! Not to worry, you can still check by removing the bread from the oven. When it has cooled enough that you can handle it, tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers. Does it sound hollow? If so, your loaf of bread is done.
Did you get your measurements right?
Another way to avoid doughy bread is to make sure that you have measured your flour and other ingredients correctly. The best way to do this is to measure the flour by weight instead of measuring cups. Using measuring cups can lead to using too much or not enough flour. And if you do not use enough flour in your recipe, you will be left with the centre of your loaf being undercooked.
So, if you plan to become an avid bread baker, you will find it will be worth it to invest in a kitchen scale. Of course, you can always try using calibrated measuring cups as well, but the first choice should always be a scale.
Cool your loaf of bread properly
You may not have doughy bread; it may be that it has not been allowed to cool properly. We know it’s tempting to cut a slice off of that bread when it comes out of the oven. There is something about a warm piece of bread with a bit of fresh butter. I get it! But, it is essential to let that loaf of bread cool completely before slicing it. While baking, steam is trapped inside the loaf. This steam needs to escape, which happens as your bread cools.
You want to let your bread sit for at least 2 hours till it drops to blood temperature (99F or 37C). Otherwise, the bread can appear doughy inside even when cooked thoroughly.
Can you fix undercooked bread?
Not to worry, that doughy bread when cooked, is not a complete waste. Here are a couple of tips to save all your hard work.
- Set the oven temperature to 350 F (180C) and put the bread back in the oven. Bake it for another 10 or 20 minutes. Even if the bread has cooled, this should still work. Are you concerned about the top getting too brown? You can cover it with a tent of tin foil which will solve the problem.
- If you do not have the time to put the bread back in the oven for more cooking, treat it like it is a par-baked loaf, cooked to 90%. You will want to completely cool the loaf, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and then put it in your freezer. You will want to remove the loaf the day before you plan on serving it and move it to the refrigerator so it can thaw overnight. Then, the next day you can finish baking it in the oven; just add a few minutes to the cooking time.
- Unfortunately, if you have removed the loaf of bread from the oven before it has properly set and it collapses, there isn’t much you can do. You can try to continue baking; it won’t hurt anything. You may get lucky, but chances are, it won’t end up working, and you will need to start over.
Baking bread so it isn’t doughy in the centre
Baking bread can be a bit daunting, but it can also be rewarding. Not to mention tasty! It is a precise process. But, with a little bit of patience and some practice, you should be able to bake perfect loaves one after the other and avoid having doughy bread.