Baking in a Bread Machine – an Easy Way to Make Your Own Bread

Using a bread machine can be the gateway to bread making. If you have never made bread or are new to baking in general, or simply don’t have the time to make bread by hand, a bread machine is a great way to get some tasty results in all sorts of flavour combinations. You will even be able to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread by choosing a TIMER option.

The bread machine

How to make bread

The setting - DOUGH or BAKE program?

 

The bread machine

Choosing your bread machine is the first step: make sure you think about how you will be using this new gadget. How many people will you be catering for? This will define what size machine you will be looking at. What kind of bread will you make? Will you want to add fruits and nuts to your dough? Will you make gluten free bread or a sourdough loaf? If so, you might want to choose a machine with a fruit and nut dispenser, a gluten free program or a sourdough setting.

Once you know what you will be using the machine for, you will find it easier to narrow down your search, decide which baking cycle matters to you and what size pan you require. It is well worth researching which model will work best for you and your needs.

TIP:

  • Size matters: when choosing and using your bread machine, it’s important to know what size bread pan the machine has and what size loaf this will make. This will also dictate what recipes are suitable for your pan. Here is a chart that shows what size loaf your pan will make. To have a rough idea of your pan size, fill it with water and pour it into a measuring jug.

 

Pan size

Pan capacity

Loaf size

Serving

Small

1.9L

1 - 1½lb

450 – 700g

8 slices

Medium

2.4L

1½ – 2lb

700 – 900g

12 slices

Large

3.0L

2 - 2½lb

900 – 1200g

16 slices


How to make bread

Nearly all bread machines are different. They require ingredients added in different orders and quantities, and have an array of different baking and dough cycles. So, if you are a novice to machine bread baking, it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you are more confident and get to know your machine, you can be a bit more experimental and adjust the recipes to suit your taste.

Flour, yeast and water are the basic essentials to make bread. Choosing your ingredients allows you to know exactly what is going into the loaf you’re making. Many different ingredients can be incorporated to create an array of style, taste, loaf shape, texture, colour and flavour.

Here’s a little bit about bread-making ingredients – some are essential, others are optional: 

  1. Flour - For best results always use a strong bread making flour which gives you the high protein levels you need. Speciality flours such as einkorn or emmer are best when combined with a strong white bread flour.
  2. Yeast - This is essential for the rising and leavening of bread dough. Use a fast acting type of quick yeast that does not need rehydration. Make sure your yeast is in date and that you store it in an airtight container.
  3. Water – Use water straight from the tap, it is not necessary to use lukewarm water as the bread machine gently warms the ingredients anyway. 
  4. Salt - A small quantity of finely ground salt will help to strengthen the gluten and develop the crumb structure, though adding too much could inhibit the fermentation.
  5. Oil - Adding some oil or butter will soften the crumb, add flavour and can help improve bread-keeping quality.
  6. Sugar - This is optional in bread making although a small amount of sugar will nourish the yeast and help to brown the crust. Do not use artificial sweeteners as these don’t work in the same way.
  7. Milk - Many bread machine recipes include milk powder although it is not an essential ingredient for bread making. Vegan milk could also be used instead of the milk in your recipe.
  8. Vitamin C – This is sometimes used to help increase the volume and lift of the dough.
  9. Extras – by extras we mean all things that are additional to your essential ingredients: fruit, nuts, seeds or even chocolate chips. The extras are usually added after the second kneading cycle, either by the “fruit and nut dispenser” or thrown in manually at the appropriate time, so that they don’t get overly mashed into the dough and keep their shape and texture.
  10.  Gluten Free - Different ingredients and methods are used to make gluten free bread. For more information and recipes click here.

TIPS:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions: make sure you follow the order in which the ingredients should be added to the pan.
  • Be precise: always carefully measure your ingredients. The easiest way to do this is by putting the pan straight onto your scales, then add the ingredients required.

 

The setting - DOUGH or BAKE program?

The beauty about a bread machine is that by choosing the full cycle program, which includes the baking stage, it delivers a finished loaf, ready to make perfect sandwiches for the entire family’s lunch boxes. If your machine offers a TIMER option, you will even be able to prepare your ingredients in the evening - set off the machine and wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread. What a great start to a lazy Sunday morning!

On the other hand, the DOUGH setting, which is programmed to end before the baking stage, allows you to shape your dough to your heart’s desire and finish the loaf by baking it in the oven. The DOUGH setting requires slightly more planning than when you finish the whole loaf in the bread machine, but it can be very rewarding as the loaf has a handmade shape that will give you a rustic feel as well as variety. There is no limit to the shapes that you can make, you can also brush you loaf with something like egg or a bit of milk and get creative by sprinkling seeds over the top.

The DOUGH setting is particularly suited to those who are after that handmade look and don’t have the time for the first stage of the bread making process or those who struggle with the physical aspect of the kneading itself.

TIPS:

  • Finished? When the cycle is finished, make sure to remove the loaf from the machine and leave it to cool on a wire rack. By doing so, you avoid steam absorption and a resulting soggy crust.
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