Do you really knead, uh, need bread? Here are some useful hints to get the most from your bread machine.
Using a bread machine
If you believe that bread is the staff of life, then your bread machine will be the cornerstone of your kitchen appliances.
- Even experienced bakers love them, saving their fingers from the arduous chore of kneading the dough.
Bread maker recipes abound on the Internet—everything from cheese and onion loaves to gooey cinnamon buns to calzones. But to make sure your loaf of choice is fresh, chewy and perfect, heed these steps.
1. Take a peek
- Don’t be afraid to open your bread machine to look at and poke the dough as it kneads.
This is the only way you can tell if the combination of ingredients you have chosen are working.
- If the dough is too moist, threatening to turn into soup, add more flour one teaspoon at a time.
- If it’s too dry, add water one teaspoon at a time until you get a tacky ball.
2. Start simple
Before you rise to more elaborate recipes, it’s best to start with a simple grocery-store bread mix or a foolproof recipe like the ones for pizza dough.
- A simple white bread is a good bet; whole-grain flours can be more difficult to work with.
3. Use the right yeast for the job
The yeast that works best in bread machines, as far as timing and how it is mixed with other ingredients, is called rapid-rise yeast or “bread machine yeast.”
- Make sure it hasn’t passed its expiry date.
- Store the yeast in a cool, dry place in the pantry and, once opened, in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Use approximately one-half teaspoon of yeast for each cup of flour.
4. Think outside the machine
Sometimes you’ll want to use your machine to make dough but finish the baking in your regular oven.
- When you press the dough cycle button, the machine stops after the first rising so you can form the dough shape by hand. This is necessary, for example, if you are making pizza crust or rolls.
- But also you might want to bake bread in a different shape than the standard square one of the machine.
5. Room temperature is the rule
Since yeast likes to grow in a warm environment, all ingredients should be room temperature when you add them (including the yeast).
You can use your microwave to gently warm milk from the refrigerator.
6. Make sure you have the right size
Different machines offer different loaf sizes, ranging from one- to three-pound loaves. A 1.5- to two-pound loaf is sufficient for most people.
7. Be careful about substitutions
At first follow the ingredient list of recipes as closely as possible for the greatest chance of success. One-to-one substitutions don’t always work.
- For example, a cup of whole wheat flour doesn’t necessarily equal a cup of white or even all-purpose flour.