French Bread Not Rising: Why Does It Happen and How to Fix It

person holding dough

Ah, French bread is a true delight – and it’s not just for those living in the City of Light. So, when you’ve set your heart on baking the perfect French bread, disappointment is inevitable when it ends up not rising.

But fear not, there’s hope yet! In this article, we will explore the most common reasons why French bread fails to rise and what you can do to fix it.

Insufficient Yeast

Let’s start with the most logical culprit – yeast. Yeast is a vital ingredient in bread baking because it’s responsible for making the bread rise.

If the yeast is expired, dead, or insufficient in amount, then chances are you’ll end up with a flat and dense bread.

Remember to check the quality of the yeast and use the appropriate amount. A general rule of thumb is to use 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast per 3 cups of flour.

But, this isn’t set in stone, so use your judgment based on your recipe.

Additionally, it’s essential to use the correct measurement when it comes to ingredients, and this includes yeast. Don’t eyeball the measurement, fool! Use a measuring spoon like a pro.

Incorrect Kneading

Kneading should never be overlooked when it comes to bread-making. It’s often the most physically demanding and time-consuming part of the process, but it’s undoubtedly necessary.

It makes the bread rise and gives it that soft, airy texture we all know and love.

So, what happens if you over or under-knead your dough? Simply put, it’ll affect your bread texture. Over-kneaded dough will produce a tough and dense bread, while under-kneaded dough will be soft and flabby.

The key is to be precise with the kneading technique and time. Ensure that you knead the dough until it’s elastic and no longer sticky.

Unideal Temperature

It’s no secret that water activates yeast, but the water temperature is also vital to achieving the perfect texture in your bread. In fact, the temperature of the dough and your kitchen environment is crucial for a full and perfect rise.

Ideal yeast activation and bread-rising temperature range between 68°F and 86°F. If the temperature is too cold, the yeast will not activate, and the bread will not rise.

And, if it’s too hot, the yeast will overheat, die, or produce sour-tasting bread.

Poor Water Quality

It’s easy to overlook the water we use when baking bread. But, choosing the wrong type of water can have significant effects on the final outcome of your French bread.

The taste and choice of water directly influence the taste of your bread. Not to mention, impurities in the water can inhibit yeast activation and degrade gluten formation.

It’s recommended that you use filtered water when making bread to minimize impurities that could affect the texture and taste of your bread. And, if you’re feeling fancy, you can treat yourself to bottled or distilled water – don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.

Inadequate Proofing

Proofing is the term used to describe the final rise of the dough before it goes into the oven. Depending on your recipe, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

Proofing is essential to achieving a perfect loaf of French bread.

If you fail to allow enough time for proofing, you’ll end up with dense bread with no air pockets. Conversely, over-proofing leads to a sticky dough, which results in a flat and grainy loaf of bread.

The key is monitoring the dough’s development closely and not being afraid to manipulate the proofing time.

Unsuitable Flour Type

Flour is the foundation of bread – literally. The type of flour you use will impact the overall appearance and texture of your French bread. You might think all-purpose flour can deliver the perfect loaf, but this isn’t always true.

French bread requires a particular type of flour, often referred to as bread flour. It’s high in protein and gluten, making it ideal for bread-making, including French bread.

Improper Salt Usage

Salt is a vital ingredient in bread-making, and for good reasons. Not only does it add flavor, but it also has a significant effect on the texture of your bread.

Using too little salt makes your bread flat and uninteresting, while too much makes it taste like nothing but salt.

The general rule of thumb is to use 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt per 3 cups of flour, but again, use your recipe as an excellent reference point.

Poor Scoring Techniques

Last but certainly not least is the technique of scoring, which is the final step before baking. Scoring refers to the marks and cuts made on the surface of the bread before it goes into the oven.

These scores allow the dough to expand evenly before forming a hard crust in the oven.

If the scores aren’t deep enough, the bread might not rise as it’s supposed to, giving you a flat surface. If they’re too deep, the crust will break open, which definitely isn’t ideal.

So, invest in a good quality bread knife and practice your scoring techniques.


It’s safe to say that there are several reasons why French bread doesn’t rise. However, with the right techniques and the correct ingredients, you can bake an indulgent loaf to satisfy your bread and carb cravings.

Remember to pay close attention to details like temperature, yeast quality, kneading technique, and proofing time. And, above all, don’t be afraid to experiment and practice to achieve perfection. Happy baking, friends!

Christian R

Hello, my name is Christian and I'm the owner of (Academy Of Bread). If you can't tell by the name this site it is all about bread, bread making, dough, and anything and everything else bread related.If you love bread then you are in the right place!This site is dedicated to one thing... helping you make and bake the best bread ever! Whether you are baking bread for the first time or just have some general questions about bread or dough I will try to answer them on this site.

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