Panasonic breadmaker: Bread is not rising as it used to. Changed the yeast, given it a longer program(French bread instead of rapid) but loaf still comes out half the size it used to. Is the thermostat going?
We had exactly the same problem. We contacted Panasonic who supplied bogus "advice" about changing the type of flour and using more water. We eventually discovered the reason for the problems: the mixing paddle was now a loose fit to the spindle. Part way through the baking process it would stick. We also have a solution. You jam tin foil in the gap between the spindle and the paddle, it works a treat. Don't waste you money on a new paddle, this won't be a tight enough fit.
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A couple of ideas. Firstly get fresh yeast, I use active dry yeast from the bulk barn, it is way cheaper than "breadmaker yeast" and I use a bit more. When I want more rise to my bread, I add an egg, which works wonders.
You're using a fast-acting type of yeast instead of the standard active dry yeast. It's a very common mistake made even more common by the erroneous bread machine recipe writers. Here are the rules concerning bread machines and the yeasts they love the most: Use standard active dry yeast for all your standard-rise bread recipes. For the fast-bake white bread recipes use only fast-acting dry yeast. Fast-bake type mode selections are available on most newer models and the custom recipes provided in their instruction manuals are the only ones you should use. You should never experiment with recipe ingredients and their portions when using the fast-bake mode on any breadmaker. P.S. Always refrigerate your yeast with a close eye on the expiration date. When using grocery-bought bread mixes always substitute the yeast packet provided with fresh active dry yeast. Tip: A packet (or "sachet") of standard active dry yeast contains 2-1/4 teaspoons. Hope this helps.
A few tips.
The yeast must be absolutely fresh, use sachets instead of packets.
Keep yeast well away from the fats and liquids.
The fast rise setting will produce less rise than the full program.
You must only use strong bread flour.
Open lid immediately beep sounds.
Accurate measured ingredients, fresh and best ingredients (especially yeast and flour), warm liquid (110 degrees), use peanut oil instead of butter (raises well and stays fresh longer), pkg. Rapid Rise yeast is same as bottled bread machine yeast and is always fresher (1 pkg equals 2 1/4 tsp.so use jarred yeast for odd amounts, ie. 5 tsp=2 pkgs + 1/2 tsp from jar). Wheat bread will rise good and drop a little but stays good for slicing. Oster's pan is too large so I cut loaf in half length ways for smaller and easy to slice pieces.
Sinking in the middle means that there was too much rising for the amount of structure in the bread.
-too much yeast (reduce 1/2 tsp.)
-too much sugar (reduce 1/2 tsp.)
-not enough salt (increase 1/4 tsp.)
-too much water (reduce 1 tbsp)
Another possible remedy: use "best for bread" flour, it has more gluten, or add gluten separately, 1 tbsp.