Why Your Dough Keeps Cracking (With Fixes)


There’s little that’s more frustrating than trying to bake and finding that your dough keeps cracking. You put all your time and energy into creating dough, and then it bursts when you’re letting it prove or you’re baking it. This can be enormously disheartening.

There are a few things that can cause your dough to crack, including using too much flour or too little water, or not developing the gluten properly. If you don’t knead the bread enough, the gluten will not form long, flexible chains, and the dough is more likely to split. Less common issues involve poor shaping or not proving it enough.

In this article, we’ll check out all the common reasons that bread dough may crack when it’s proving or baking. This should help you to ensure your dough holds together and does not split, so you get a perfect loaf every time.

dough cracking fix

What Causes Dough To Crack?

A few different things can cause bread dough to crack, so it’s important to explore each of them until you have figured out where the issue lies. Sometimes, you’ll need to change more than one thing to fix your dough and make sure it doesn’t split during the baking process. Here are some of the commonest causes of cracking:

  • You have too much flour in the recipe
  • You don’t have enough water
  • You haven’t kneaded the bread enough
  • You have shaped the bread badly
  • You don’t cover the dough while it’s proving
  • You are baking the bread too soon

Below, we will check out all of these problems and explore how you can fix them so your loaf comes out perfectly every single time.

You Have Too Much Flour In The Recipe

If you have added too much flour to your recipe, your dough will feel dry and somewhat heavy. You may be able to feel the difference if you roll it back and forth in your hands. Bits of flour may cling to your skin, and it will be dry and somewhat leathery.

Having a very dry surface will stop it from holding together well. The more flour is in your bread, the drier it will be. That’s why it is always important to check whether you are using more flour than your recipe calls for.

Remember that heavily flouring your kneading surface will increase the amount of flour in the dough. Although you do need to put flour on the surface, if you put too much on, the dough will become drier, and you risk making it crack.

How Do You Fix This?

The first thing to do is double-check the recipe and see whether you have made a mistake. If this is a consistent problem, there may be an error in the recipe. You should reduce the amount of flour accordingly next time, and see if this helps.

For your current loaf, you will need to try to add more moisture. This can be quite challenging, but it is possible. One of the best methods involves putting a bowl of warm water on the side and dipping your hands in it before kneading the bread.

Keep wetting your hands and kneading, and the moisture will gradually be worked into the dough. If you try to add water by pouring it on, it will probably slide straight off, so use this technique to encourage it to bond with the flour.

See Also: Simple Fixes for Sticky Cookie Dough

You Don’t Have Enough Water

Similar to putting in too much flour, putting in too little water will result in dry, leathery dough that doesn’t hold together well. You are very likely to see cracks if you skimp on the water, so make sure you follow the recipe carefully.

If there isn’t enough water in your dough, the gluten won’t be able to develop properly, and this prevents the dough from forming the long bonds that hold it together. You must therefore make sure your dough is slightly tacky (although not sticking to your hands) by the time you have finished kneading it.

How Do You Fix This?

As mentioned, adding water to dough can be challenging, so use the method described above. Kneading the dough with wet hands will encourage the gluten to develop and ensure that there is enough moisture in the dough for it to do so.

If you find that method isn’t working for you, try rolling the dough out flat and spraying it or flicking it with water. Fold the dough over the water and knead it until the moisture has been absorbed.

You don’t want to add so much water that you make your dough sticky, so you will have to be careful about your approach. However, using these methods, you should be able to work more water into your dough.

You Haven’t Kneaded The Bread Enough

Kneading can be a chore, but it’s crucial to making sure your bread doesn’t crack. Kneading encourages the gluten to develop long chains that will hold it together. If you don’t knead the bread sufficiently, the gluten won’t develop, and you’ll get dough that splits and bread that is heavy and unpleasant.

How Do You Fix This?

Fortunately, there is a simple fix for this: re-knead the bread. You should usually be kneading it for a minimum of 10 minutes. When you have done this, it’s time for the poke test. Wait for a few minutes, and then press a finger to about 1 inch into the dough.

If it springs back almost immediately, the gluten has developed and it’s ready to bake. If the indent remains, it’s going to require more kneading.

You Have Shaped The Bread Badly

When you finish kneading your bread and shape it ready for baking, you need to create surface tension and make sure that there are no air pockets left in the dough. If you don’t pull a firm “skin” around the bread and get rid of the air in it, the bread will split when it’s baking.

How Do You Fix This?

Start by molding the dough carefully to press the air pockets out of it. Any air pockets near the surface will break free when the bread starts to bake, causing cracks in the surface of the loaf. To avoid these, you need to thoroughly mold the bread, and then tension the skin.

There are many videos online that will show you how to do this effectively if you are struggling with it. Essentially, you use the skin tension to make sure the bread holds its shape during the final proving period. Pull it gently around the body of the loaf until it is tight, but be careful not to tear it.

You should position the seam on the bottom of the bread and make sure it is properly sealed. This will ensure that it doesn’t split when the bread starts cooking.

You Don’t Cover The Dough While It’s Proving

You need to leave your dough to rest for a period while the yeast activates and the gluten develops, but many people make the mistake of simply leaving it on the counter without covering it.

If you do this, moisture will evaporate from the outside of the dough, making it dry and encouraging it to crack. You can lose a surprising amount of moisture this way. If your dough doesn’t crack during the proving process, it is likely to crack as soon as it is exposed to the heat of the oven.

How Do You Fix This?

You should always prove your bread in a covered container to prevent it from drying out. A container with a lid is often a good idea, but you might need a very large one to allow the bread to expand.

Because of this, some people place the bread in a large bowl with a damp kitchen towel on top to prevent moisture loss. This will also work.

If you have already proved your bread on the counter, try gently massaging some additional water into the outside of the dough.

This can be challenging because you don’t want to make the dough wet and sloppy, but if you do it carefully, it should be possible to make the outside tacky again without making it soggy.

See Also: Does Dough Go Bad?

You Are Baking The Bread Too Soon

The proving period can be a test of patience, but it is crucial for ensuring your dough doesn’t crack. If you don’t prove your bread for long enough, it will split, because the gluten won’t have developed sufficiently.

How Do You Fix This?

You should follow the guidelines for your recipe’s proving time, and always test your dough before you decide that it has finished proving. Use the poke test described above to determine whether it is sufficiently developed before you move on to baking it.


As you can see, there are quite a few reasons that your dough might be cracking, but it’s generally easy to fix. Run through each of these checks and make sure your dough is sufficiently moist and springy before you put it in the oven to bake.

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