Made the Old Fashioned Sandwich Loaf. Beautiful rise before it went into the oven and then it collapsed and didn't rise. I've made bread plenty of times before but I don't know what happened.
My sandwich loaf was lovely and hard on the top when I took it out of the oven after 42 minutes at 180c fan forced (my oven is quite hot so that's why I took it out a few minutes early) but as it cooled on the wire rack it became soft....just on the top. It crunches up beautifully in the toaster but I just wanted to ask if this is what should happen, that the top goes soft when cooled or should I have cooked it a few extra minutes?
Nigella's Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf (from COOK, EAT, REPEAT) has a soft crumb and a firm crust and is ideal for sandwiches or for toasting. The bread goes through two rises, the first after the bread has had its short kneadings and the second when it is shaped and put into the loaf tin. For the second rise Nigella suggests 1-1½ hours, however in a warm kitchen the dough can rise much more quickly. We suspect that the dough may have over-proved. This stretches the glutens in the flour and when the bread is baked the gases expand further and the glutens can't take any more stretching so collapse, leading to a collapsed loaf. Keep an eye on the loaf and it is ready to bake when the dough has risen just over the top of the tin and feels pillowy if you gently push it with a finger. Your finger should also leave a slight indentation in the risen dough.
The crust on loaves will soften over time and it is moisture that causes the softening. If the top of the loaf is softening on cooling it is probably from moisture inside the loaf. If you know that your oven runs fast/hot then it may help next time to reduce the temperature by 10-20c to give a slightly longer baking time. Alternatively you could try turning off the oven, leaving the door ajar and leaving the loaf in the cooling oven for an extra 5-10 minutes to let some of the moisture evaporate. The Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf is the January 2021 Cookalong recipe.