Have you ever been baking something, like cookies, bread, or pies, and noticed that your dough starts to crack? It can be frustrating, especially if you’re not sure why it’s happening.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there are reasons behind this dough dilemma. We’re here to help you understand why your dough might be cracking and what you can do to fix it.
Cracked dough may be caused by a number of factors, including over-flouring or under-watering, or not allowing gluten to develop properly.
A bread that has not been kneaded enough will lose its long, flexible gluten chains, resulting in a more likely split dough. It is less common for problems to arise because of poor shaping or insufficient proofing.
Here are some of the most common reasons bread dough cracks during proving or baking. In this way, you should be able to ensure that your dough holds together and doesn’t split, resulting in perfectly baked loaves every time.
What Causes Dough To Crack?
In order to figure out where the problem lies, it’s important to explore each of the possible causes until you identify the one that causes the cracks in the dough.
To fix your dough and prevent it from splitting during baking, you may need to make more than one change. Cracking is most commonly caused by:
1. It’s Too Early For You To Bake The Bread
If you want your dough to stay intact, you must allow it to prove for a certain period of time. Without enough proofing, the gluten in your bread won’t have developed sufficiently to prevent splitting.
How Do You Fix This?
Always test your dough before you decide it has finished proving, and follow the guidelines for the recipe’s proving time.
Before you proceed with baking it, determine whether it has sufficiently developed using the poke test described above.
2. The Dough Is Not Covered While It Proves
It is important to allow your dough to rest for a period of time to allow the yeast to activate and the gluten to develop. Some people, however, fail to cover it after leaving it on the counter.
It will evaporate moisture from the outside, making the dough dry and encouraging it to crack as a result.
It’s surprising how much moisture you can lose this way. It’s likely that your dough will crack once it’s heated in the oven, even if it doesn’t crack during the proofing process.
How Do You Fix This?
In order to prevent your bread from drying out, always place it in a covered container when it is being proofed.
When it comes to storing bread, a container with a lid is often a good idea, but it may be necessary to use a very large one so that it can expand as it bakes.
Some people prevent moisture loss by putting a damp kitchen towel over a large bowl filled with bread. You can also use this method.
Adding some additional water to your dough after it has already been proved on the counter is a good idea if the dough has already been proved.
3. Your Bread Is Badly Shaped
To ensure that your dough doesn’t have any air pockets when you shape your bread and knead it, ensure there is surface tension.
Putting a firm “skin” around the bread and getting rid of the air before baking will prevent the bread from splitting.
How Do You Fix This?
Make sure you press out the air pockets by molding the dough carefully. When the bread begins to bake, any air pockets near the surface will break free, causing the loaf’s surface to crack.
The bread must be thoroughly molded, then the skin must be tensioned to avoid these problems. Those who are having trouble doing this can watch videos online to learn how to do it effectively.
During the final proving period, you use the skin tension to hold the bread’s shape. You should pull it gently around the body of the loaf until it is tight, but be careful not to tear it.
Be sure to seal the seam properly on the bottom of the bread. When the bread starts cooking, it won’t split.
4. Your Bread Dough Isn’t Kneaded Enough
While kneading can be labor-intensive, it is crucial to preventing cracks in your bread. As a result of kneading, gluten develops long chains that bind it together.
Bread that hasn’t been sufficiently kneaded will split and be heavy and unpleasant. It won’t develop gluten if it isn’t kneaded sufficiently.
How Do You Fix This?
Fortunately, re-kneading the bread can solve this problem. A minimum of 10 minutes should be spent kneading it.
Once this has been done, you are ready for the poke test. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, and then press a finger into it to about an inch deep.
As soon as it springs back, the gluten has developed and it is ready for baking. There will need to be more kneading if the indent remains.
5. Lack Of Water
A dry, leathery dough won’t hold together if you add too little water, just like you do if you put in too much flour. A lack of water will result in cracks. Hence, it is important to follow the recipe exactly.
When your dough isn’t moist enough, the gluten won’t develop properly, and the dough won’t be able to form its long bonds.
The dough must therefore be slightly tacky by the time you’re done kneading it (without sticking to your hands).
How Do You Fix This?
You can use the method below to add water to the dough. The dough will develop gluten when it is kneaded with wet hands, so make sure there is enough moisture in the dough to facilitate this process.
Try spraying or flicking the dough with water if that method doesn’t work for you. Once the moisture has been absorbed, fold the dough over the water and knead it until it is smooth and elastic.
In order to avoid making your dough sticky, you need to be aware of how much water you add. Your dough should, however, hold more water if you use these methods.
6. You Have Too Much Flour In The Recipe
You will notice that your dough feels dry if you add too much flour. Roll it back and forth in your hands to feel the difference. Your skin may have small pieces of flour clinging to it, and it may feel somewhat leathery and dry.
It won’t hold together properly if the surface is very dry. Your bread will be drier if it has more flour. To avoid overusing flour, it’s always a good idea to check your recipe.
Be aware that heavily flouring your kneading surface will increase your dough’s flour content. It is necessary to put flour on the surface of the dough, but too much flour will cause it to become drier, resulting in cracks.
How Do You Fix This?
You should first double-check the recipe and make sure that there are no mistakes. A recipe error could be responsible for this problem if it’s a consistent problem. Try reducing the flour next time and see if it helps.
In order to make your current loaf better, you must add more moisture. There is no doubt that this is a difficult task, but it is possible. You can get the best results by dipping your hands in a bowl of warm water before kneading the bread.
By kneading the dough with wet hands, you will gradually incorporate moisture. You will probably get better results using this technique than just pouring water on, since it will bond better with the flour.
Cracking During Baking
Cracks/bursts in the dough during baking mean that you can’t turn back and you’re left with a mess. To avoid this, make sure the dough is mixed properly and all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Avoid overworking the dough and if it is sticky, add some flour. Finally, make sure to allow the dough to rest before baking. Here are a few reasons why this happened in the first place.
It Wasn’t Scored
For some dough to bake without bursting, a score is all that’s needed.
For a more controlled and better rising of your bread, you might want to score it if you notice that your bread bursts open quite frequently.
A Tight Surface
When proofing dough, it’s important to build a tight skin, or ‘surface tension’, to keep the dough from spreading out.
In the oven, dough would not rise very well without surface tension, but too much surface tension may cause the gluten to tear.
Tighten the dough’s surface carefully. You don’t want to ruin it by doing it too much.
A Dry Oven
In order for bread to be baked successfully, it is important to have a humid oven. The dough browns too quickly without humidity, and parts are more likely to crack or burst.
In an oven with humidity (steam), the crust takes longer to set and the dough browns more slowly. The dough is therefore prevented from cracking during baking because it has risen more during baking.
Cracking During Proofing
A crack in the dough during proofing might not seem like a big deal at first, but if it cracks during the final proof, it will expand out the cracks during baking.
The crack in the dough isn’t a big deal since you’ll be shaping it and allowing it to proof again after the first proof. While the dough is proofing, it cracks for the following reasons:
Too Little Water
There is a greater chance that a dry dough will crack since it cannot develop gluten much. It wouldn’t be possible for gluten to develop without enough water, so without this water it can’t be developed.
In order for there to be enough gluten development in the dough, the flour must be fully hydrated.
It is almost always possible to make dough that feels slightly tacky after it has been fully kneaded, regardless of its hydration level. A lack of water may result in it not being tacky.
Insufficient Gluten Development
A good loaf of bread should contain gluten. This is what allows the bread to rise properly and create its structure.
You get a very dense piece of baked dough without gluten. If you want good results, you need to fully develop the gluten.
Since the structure isn’t strong enough to contain the gas the yeast produces, a dough with inadequate gluten development will start splitting or cracking as it rises.
The majority of amateur bakers either do not knead their dough for long enough or use flour that does not produce enough gluten. As a result, your bread will not be as good as it could be when it is baked.
A Dried Surface
In the process of drying out, dough becomes less elastic, tougher, and much more leather-like.
During the rising process, the surface becomes harder than the dough underneath and cracks/splits.
It is most common for a dough surface to be dry when it isn’t covered adequately or if it is in a very dry environment.
You risk losing some humidity if it’s not completely covered. The likelihood of it cracking is high if it is not covered at all.
Many bakers are concerned when their dough cracks or bursts during proofing or baking.
There might be some reason for this cracking, but you do not know what it is. You shouldn’t have much trouble with the bread, but it’s something you should probably avoid the next time you bake it.
In dough, cracking occurs when the gluten is not properly developed. You may have used the wrong flour or kneaded the dough too little.
It is possible to allow the dough to rise without cracking by using bread flour, adding more water, and kneading it adequately.
Maintaining hydration and making sure that gluten develops are the most important steps to prevent cracking. In order to make very good bread, you have to understand that it is a science and that many factors go into it.
If your dough cracks, it’s just another learning curve, as there will be plenty of mistakes to be made throughout the process. Regardless, this is a pretty easy mistake to fix.