Professional Baking Technology Book
from C.H.I.P.S.

Problems Solved
by Stanley Cauvain

An essential reference for all bakery product manufacturers, Baking Problems Solved is designed to help the busy bakery professional find the information needed for quick and efficient problem solving.


  • Enables the reader to understand the causes and implement solutions effectively
  • Arranged in an easy to use question and answer format
  • Contains more than 200 frequently asked questions divided into 12 chapters
  • Each question has a concise, practical and authoritative answer designed to help maintain product quality and productivity

Baking Problems Solved is an ideal problem-solving manual for all those involved in professional baking.


1. Problem solving – a guide

2. Flours

  1. What effects will variations in flour protein content have on baked product quality? How is the property measured?
  2. There are many references to protein and gluten quality in the technical literature, how important are these properties for bread and other baked products?
  3. I have seen that there are several different methods which can be used to assess flour protein quality assessed, which one gives the most meaningful results?
  4. We have been using a flour 'fortified' with dry gluten for breadmaking. The bread is satisfactory when made on a high speed mixer but less so we use a low speed mixer. What is 'dry gluten' and can you explain when we get different results when we change mixers?
  5. What is the Falling Number of a flour and how is measured? What values should be we specify for our flour miller?
  6. What is damaged starch in flour? How is it damaged and how is it measured? What is its importance in baking?
  7. We find that we often have to adjust the water level we add to our flours in order to achieve a standard dough consistency. What are the factors which cause the water absorption capacity of flour to vary?
  8. Why is flour particle size important in cakemaking?
  9. What is heat-treated flour and how can it be used?
  10. What is chlorinated flour and how is it used?
  11. We have two supplies of wholemeal (wholewheat) flour, one is described as 'stoneground' and the other coming from a roller mill. The bread we obtain from the stoneground flour is often smaller in volume, can you explain why?
  12. We have had some wholemeal flour in stock for a while and noticed that it has passed its use by date. Can we still use it?
  13. What are the active components in self-raising flour?
  14. What are 'organic' flours, how do they differ from other flours and what will be the differences to the baked product?
3. Fats
  1. What are the critical properties of fats for making bread, cakes and pastries?
  2. Our bread doughs prove satisfactorily but that do not rise in the oven. On some occasions they may even collapse and blisters form on the dough surface in the corner of the pans. What is the cause of these problems?
  3. What is the role of fat in the manufacture of puff pastry?
  4. What is the optimum level of fat to use in the production of puff pastry?
  5. Our puff pastry fails to rise sufficiently even though we believe that we are using the correct level of fat. Are we using the correct type of fat?
  6. What is the role of fat in cakemaking?
  7. We are making 'all-butter' cakes but find that after baking they lack volume and have a firm eating character. Why is and is there any way to improve the cake quality?
  8. We have been using oil in the production of our sponge cakes but we wish to change to using butter. Can you please advise on how to do this?
  9. We wish to produce a softer eating sponge cake and have been trying to add fat or oil but cannot get the quality we are seeking. Is the addition of fat to sponge batters possible and what do we need to do to achieve the quality we are seeking?
  10. We are making a non-dairy cream cake and find that after some days that a 'soggy' layer forms at the interface of the cake and the cream. We have balanced the water activity of the cake and cream but still see the problem and so believe that this comes from fat migration from the cream, are we correct?
4. Improvers
  1. What are bread improvers and why are they used?
  2. What are the functions of ascorbic acid in breadmaking?
  3. We have heard that soya flour is added in breadmaking to make the bread whiter. Is this true, and if so how does it work?
  4. I am using a bread improver which contains enzyme active malt flour and find that my doughs are becoming too soft and that the sidewalls of loaves collapse inwards to give a 'keyhole' shape. I suspect that the malt flour is too blame, can you confirm this?
  5. I understand that an enzyme called alpha-amylase can be added to flour or dough to improve bread quality but that there are several different forms. I have tried several and get different effects on bread softness. Which one(s) should be used?
  6. Why are emulsifiers used in bread improvers? And how do I decide which one I should be using?
  7. What is L-cysteine hydrochloride and what is it used for in bread improvers?
5. Other bakery ingredients
  1. I have heard that yeast requires oxygen before it can work correctly, is this true?
  2. How does baker's yeast produce carbon dioxide in breadmaking?
  3. We have been advised to store our compressed yeast in the refrigerator but our dough temperature is much higher, is this the correct thing to do?
  4. What are the causes of the dark brown patches we sometimes see on baker's yeast and do they have any effect on baked product quality?
  5. We have recently been experiencing 'weeping' from our non-dairy cream formulation. This shows itself as a 'soggy' layer where the cream is in contact with the cake. Can you please advise on how to cure the problem?
  6. The chocolate fondant on our cream eclairs has been falling off the top of the casing and gathers on the tray underneath as a sticky syrup. What causes this and how can we prevent it?
  7. When we changed our supply of bun spice we were using in our Hot Cross buns we experienced problems with slow gassing in the prover and flowing of the buns during baking. What can we do to avoid these problems?
  8. We are making a fruited bun product and from time to time experience problems with the product flowing out during proof and baking. Can you identify the cause and suggest a remedy?
  9. We wish to use milk powder in our fermented goods and have heard that it is advisable to use a heat-treated form. Can you explain why this is so?
  10. Does the addition of mould inhibitors have any significant effects on baked product quality?
  11. What are the functions of salt in baking?
  12. What are the correct proportions of acids and alkali to use in baking powders?
  13. Why is sodium bicarbonate frequently used alone or in excess to the normal baking powder for the production of ginger products?
  14. We are using walnuts in our gateau filling and find that it turns black. It does not appear to be mould. What is the cause of this discolouration?
  15. What is the role of emulsifier in the production of sponge cake products?
6. Bread
  1. We are producing a range of pan breads, some baked in a rack oven and others in a deck oven, and find there are large indents or cavities in the base of many loaves. What is the cause of this effect and how can it be overcome?
  2. We are experiencing a problem with the sides of sandwich loaves caving in. Sometimes the lid may also shows the same problem, though to a lesser degree. Is the problem associated with overbaking?
  3. We are producing hearth-style (oven-bottom) breads, baguettes and French sticks and are experiencing problems with ragged cracks appearing along the sides of the loaves. What are the likely causes of this problem?
  4. We have noticed the development of a 'fruity' odour in our breads after they have been stored. The problem is particularly noticeable with our wholemeal products. What is the cause of this problem and are there any remedies we can apply to prevent its occurrence?
  5. When viewing the texture of our sliced bread we notice the appearance of dark streaks and patches which have a coarser cell structure and firmer texture than the rest of the crumb. Is this a problem with uneven mixing?
  6. Periodically we observe the formation of large holes in the crumb of our pan breads and suspect that the adjustment to the pressure board on our final moulder is faulty. Can you confirm our suspicions?
  7. What is the function of four-piecing or cross-panning in breadmaking?
  8. Can you explain the role energy in the Chorleywood Bread Process?
  9. We are using the Chorleywood Bread Process to develop our doughs and apply a partial vacuum during mixing to produce a fine and uniform cell structure in the baked loaf. Sometimes we observe that the cell structure becomes more open even though the vacuum pump is still working. Can you explain the cause of this problem?
  10. We are using spiral mixers for our bread doughs. What is the best mixing time to use?
  11. Why is it necessary to control the temperature of bread doughs?
  12. We have been experiencing some variation in crust colour on our bread products. What causes bread crust colour and why should it vary?
  13. Why are the surface of some bread doughs cut before baking?
  14. What are the best conditions to use for proving bread doughs?
  15. Can we freeze our unproved dough pieces and store them for later use?
  16. What happens when dough bakes?
  17. Why do crusty breads go soft when they are wrapped?
  18. We have been comparing our bread with that of our competitors and find that our breads are firmer. Can you explain why?
  19. We have been deep freezing bread products and experience a number of problem with different products. With crusty products we observe that the crust falls off while with some other products we find that longer periods of storage lead to the formation of white, translucent patches in the crumb which are very hard eating. Are the problems related to the performance of our freezer?
7. Fermented products
  1. Can you suggest what steps could be taken to prevent our round doughnuts shrinking or collapsing within a few minutes of leaving the fryer?
  2. The fermented doughnuts we are making tend to be quite greasy to eat. Can you advise on how we can reduce this problem?
  3. When we retard our rolls before proving and baking we sometimes see a dark mark on the base after baking. We see similar problems with our retarded doughnuts. Is this mould because we have left products to cool on the trays before wrapping? We use silicone paper to bake on, does this aggravate the problem?
  4. We are retarding our roll and stick doughs overnight but find that the products made baked from them are covered with many small, white, almost translucent spots on the surface. We do not get the same problem with our scratch production using the same recipe. Can you give an explanation for their appearance and advise on how to get rid of them?
  5. We have problems with our retarded teacakes which have large holes underneath the top crust. We do not experience the same problem with scratch made products. Why is this?
  6. We have been receiving complaints that our small fermented products, such as rolls, teacakes and baps are staling too quickly. Can you advise on how we can improve the product softness?
  7. We have recently been experiencing difficulties with the production of our bread rolls. The finished rolls have poor volume with large holes in the crumb. Can you suggest measures we might take to eliminate these faults?
  8. Our fruit breads rise very slowly in the prover and fail to rise any further in the oven. We make some unfruited products with the same formulation and they are satisfactory in all respects. Can you explain why?
  9. Our fruited buns frequently collapse when they leave the oven. We have tried baking them for longer but this does cure the problem. Our fruited loaves made from the same dough do not have the problem. Can you advise?
  10. When we cut open bread rolls and hamburger buns which have been stored in the deep freeze for a period of time we observe a white ring just inside the crust which has a hard eating character. Where does this problem come from?
8. Laminated products
  1. What causes puff pastry to rise during baking?
  2. Why do we get a less regular lift in our puff pastry when we use the Scotch method compared with the English or French?
  3. We are experiencing a problem with our puff pastry which fails to lift and shows no sign of layering on baking. Why is this?
  4. What are the purposes of the resting periods in the production of laminated products?
  5. We have been experiencing some problems with excessive shrinking of our puff pastry products. Can you advise what are the likely causes?
  6. Why are acids sometimes added to puff pastry?
  7. How should we handle the trimmings we get during the production of puff pastry shapes?
  8. We are experiencing problem with the discolouration of unbaked puff paste stored under refrigerated conditions. Sometimes black spots appear on the surface. Can you explain why this happens and advise on how to avoid it?
  9. We wish to make croissant with the moulded ends joining to form a circle but find that they open up during baking. Can you suggest how we can overcome this problem?
  10. Why should croissant and Danish pastry doughs be given less lamination than puff pastry?
9. Short pastry
  1. Why does our pork pie pastry go soft during storage and what can we do to make our pastry crisper?
  2. We are producing unbaked meat pies but find that the short pastry lid cracks on freezing. The cracks become larger when the product thaws out and during baking the filling may boil out leaving an unsightly blemish on the surface. Why is this and what can we do about it?
  3. Why do our baked pastries and quiches have small indents in the base which project upwards and are pale in colour? They are baked in individual foils.
  4. How can we make the sweet pastry we use with our apple pies crisper eating?
  5. From time to time we experience problems with the sheeting of our pastry, in particular it cracks or fails to remain cohesive. Can you suggest why this happens?
  6. We are having difficulty in blocking out pie paste in foils, there is a tendency for the dough to stick to the block causing the base of the foil case to become misshapen. We do not have the same problems with our sweetened paste, can you explain why?
  7. Why is the hot water method preferred for the production of savoury pastry but not for sweetened pastry?
  8. Why does the filling of baked custards have a watery appearance in the cold product?
  9. How do we avoid 'boil-out' of our pie fillings?
  10. We wish to re-use pastry timmings but find that sometimes we experience a 'soapy' taste in the final product. Can you suggest a cause for the flavour and how best to re-use the trimmings to avoid this and any other potential problems?
10. Cakes and sponges
  1. What is the flour-batter method of cakemaking?
  2. What is the sugar-batter method of cakemaking?
  3. When making fruit cakes we find that the fruit settles to the bottom of the cake after baking. Why is this? And what can we do about it?
  4. Can we freeze cake batters and what happens to them during storage?
  5. When we add fresh fruits such as blackcurrants to our cake batters we sometimes find that they fail to keep their colour during baking and often discolour the batter adjacent to the fruit. Can you offer an explanation and a solution to the problem?
  6. Why do cakes go mouldy?
  7. In the light of the previous question, why do heavily fruited cakes go mouldy more slowly?
  8. Unexpectedly we are getting mould between our cakes and the board on which they sit. Why should this happen?
  9. We are experiencing mould growth on the surface of our iced Christmas cakes. This is the first time we have had this problem and cannot explain why. Can you?
  10. We are experiencing a 'musty', off-odour developing in our cakes, even though we store them in a deep freeze. Can you advise?
  11. When we take our cup cakes from the oven we find that the paper cases they were baked in fall off. How do we avoid this problem?
  12. Our genoese sheets tend to lack volume and have cores in the crumb. Can you advise?
  13. Sometimes our Madiera cake has a poor (coarse) texture. How can we improve it?
  14. Our small madiera cakes often shrink during baking. How can we avoid this?
  15. Why do cake batters sometimes have a curdled appearance? And does this affect final cake quality?
  16. We are experiencing seepage of our jam in our frozen fresh cream gateau when they are thawed. Can we avoid this?
  17. What are the causes of the small, white speckles we sometimes see on the crust of our cakes?
  18. We are getting an orange discolouration of the crumb of our fruit cakes. Can you offer an explanation?
  19. Our sultana cakes are collapsing. What can we do to remedy this problem?
  20. We are getting large holes in the crumb of our fruited slab cake but are not sure why this is happening. Can you offer some advice?
  21. Why do cakes sometimes sink in the middle?
  22. Our fruited cakes are fine to eat soon after production but tend to become drier eating after a few days. Why is this?
  23. We have seen that our cake quality varies when we change from one type of oven to another, even when they register the same temperature. Why is this?
  24. We are encountering an intermittent fault in our round high ratio cakes in that a shiny ring with a pitted appearance is seen on the cake surface. What factors are likely to give rise to this fault?
  25. How important is the temperature of cakes at the point of wrapping?
  26. We have a shrinkage problem with the Parkin cake we produce. Could you advise us on how to eliminate it?
  27. What precautions should we take when freezing of flour confectionery products?
  28. We should like to improve the quality of our slab cake and are wondering about the importance of batter temperature in this context. Can you comment?
  29. Why should the whole of the batter for one slab be placed in the tin in one piece rather than bit by bit?
  30. What happens to the batter when cakes enter the oven and how can you tell when a cake is baked?
  31. What are the advantages of having the oven filled when baking slab or other cakes?
  32. Why do we add extra acid to make white cake batters?
  33. We have been experiencing problems with the collapse of our sponge sandwiches which leaves the product with a depression in the top of the cake and an area of coarse cell structure in the crumb. What causes this problem?
  34. We are having problems with the bottom crust of our sponge cake products becoming detached after baking. We also notice that the corners of the product become rounded and the texture close. Can you offer any explanation for these problems?
  35. When making sponge drops we find that the last ones to be deposited are not as good as the first ones. Why is this?
  36. From time to time we experience problems with swiss rolls cracking on rolling. Can you help identify the causes of the problem?
  37. What causes sponge sandwiches to assume a peaked shape during baking?
  38. How do we convert a plain sponge recipe to a chocolate form?
11. Cakes and sponges
  1. What is 'Vol' and what is its function in biscuits doughs?
  2. From time to time we have noticed a white discolouration on the surface of our all-butter shortbread. Can you explain why this occurs?
  3. We produce biscuits containing powdered fructose which we cream with the fat and sucrose before adding the other ingredeints. Recently we have seen the appearance of brown spots on the product. Do you know what causes this effect?
  4. Our chocolate-coated wafer biscuits are prone to cracking. Can you suggest why this happens and how we can avoid the problem?
  5. We are experiencing intermittent problems with gluten formation in our wafer batter. What causes this problem?
  6. A batch of our biscuits containing oatmeal has developed a 'soapy' after-taste which makes them unpalatable. Why is this?
  7. How do biscuits and crackers get broken during storage, even if they are not disturbed?
  8. We are making a ginger crunch cookie but find that we experience variations in size. Can you advise?
  9. When making ginger nuts we find that we do not always get the degree of cracking that we would like. Why is this?
12. Other bakery products
  1. We are getting a grey-green colouration to our choux buns. Can you explain why this should happen?
  2. Why is powdered ammonium carbonate or 'vol' added to chou paste?
  3. Why are cream buns baked under covers and eclairs are not?
  4. What are the most important factors which control the volume of choux paste products?
  5. We wish to make a large batch oféclair cases and store them for a few days before filling and icing them. Can you advise on the best way to keep them to preserve their quality?
  6. Our choux buns collapse during baking. Can you suggest why this happens?
  7. We stand our finished choux buns on U-shaped cardboard and wrap them in a cellulose-based film. Recently we have observed the growth of mould colonies on the products. Why is this?
  8. We find that our Viennese fingers go soft very quickly after baking. How can we prevent this from happening?
  9. We freeze our unbaked pizza bases in a nitrogen tunnel. On defrosting and baking we get bubbles forming on the top of the base accompanied with an open crumb cell structure. Can you suggest ways of overcoming these problems?
  10. Our scones are made from frozen dough but frequently lack volume. We also find that the crumb colour rather brown is rather brown. Can you offer suggestions to improve our product quality?
  11. Some of our scone bakings have a coarse break at the side and an open crumb cell structure but the results are not consistent. Can you please suggest steps we might take to obtain a better and more consistent product quality?
  12. We wish to extend the shelf life of our scones. How can we do this?
  13. The surface of our scones is covered with speckles of a yellowish-brown colour. Can you suggest why we have this problem?
  14. Why should particular care be taken when washing scones with egg wash to ensure no egg runs down the sides of the pieces of dough?
  15. I am having difficulty with Royal icing which will not harden adequately. Can you advise?
  16. We are receiving complaints of opaque spots on our fudge icing. Can you suggest a remedy?
  17. After two days our royal icing tends to turn yellow. Can this discolouration be prevented?
  18. After storing our products overnight we find that cracks form in fondant coating. Can you suggest ways to overcome this problem?
  19. I have heard that off-odours can be caused by the icing used for cake decorations. Is this true?
  20. We make sugar paste shapes and store them in plastic containers for later use. In a few days the shapes soften and are inclined to droop. Can you suggest how we might overcome this problem?
  21. We bake our meringues on aluminium sheets and are having problems with the meringues becoming discoloured. Can you offer any advice on how to eliminate this problem?
  22. When making Italian meringues why is boiling water added slowly?
  23. We are experiencing cracking of our meringue shells during baking. Why is this?
  24. We are having problems with softening of coffee meringues in which we use coffee powder as the flavouring. Is this the cause of the problem?
  25. The aeration of our whipping cream varies from time to time and we often suffer volume losses. Can you suggest ways to improve the aeration and the consistency of our results?
  26. Why does our whipped cream collapse on standing?
  27. Recently we experienced a problem with a fishy taint in a batch of buttercream. Can you suggest why?
  28. How can we prevent our apple pie filling going mouldy within a few days?
  29. In some of our apple pies we find that the filling has turned blue. Why should this happen?
  30. Can you suggest a solution to the problem of shrinkage in our apple pie filling?
  31. After a short period of storage we observe crater-like crystalline formations on our cheese cake topping. Do you know why this occurs?
  32. Our crumpets have become blind, that is they have lost the characteristic surface holes. Why?
  33. Why is small amount of bicarb of soda added to pikelet batters just before baking?
  34. On some occasions our almond macaroons exhibit very coarse on the surface instead of the fine cracks we are seeking. We have not been able to trace the cause, can you help?
  35. Why are macaroons baked in a cool oven?
  36. Why are Japanese biscuits stored in a warm dry place?
  37. The chocolate coating on our marshmallow teacakes cracks during storage. Can you offer an explanation and solution to the problem?
  38. What causes the white bloom which sometimes occurs on chocolate coatings?
  39. The bakers' chocolate coating we use has recently tended to flake off our eclairs. Can you identify a likely cause of the problem?
  40. We would like to store our wedding cakes after coating with marzipan for some time before we ice them but find that the marzipan hardens. Why is this and how can we achieve our aims?
  41. The edges of our soda farls becomes gummy a couple of days after baking. What is the cause of this quality defect?
  42. Why is it that wine cakes do not break nicely if baked in overgreased tins?
  43. Why do we find jam or marmalade watery go watery?
13. What is?
  1. What is the phosphotase test and how is it used in the bakery?
  2. What is meant by hydrogen ion concentration and how is the pH scale determined?
  3. What is the meaning of the term synerisis when applied to bread?
  4. In some technical literature there is reference to batter specific gravity or relative density. What is this? How is it measured? And what is its relevance to cake and sponge making? Why is the volume of the baked product referred to in terms of specific volume?
  5. What is a super-saturated solution?
  6. What was the Aquazyme process?
  7. What is Trencher Bread and how it was used?
  8. What was the product known as a Grant Loaf?
  9. 9 What is Baumkuchen and how is it made?
  10. What are the origins of Papadams?
  11. What is Kebab bread?
  12. What is Balady bread?
  13. How are Chapattis made?
  14. What are Stotty cakes and how are they produced?
  15. What is ganache?
  16. What are Tortillas? And how are they made?
  17. What are the origins of the cottage loaf?
  18. What is micronized wheat?

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Baking Problems Solved
by Stanley Cauvain
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