Making our own bread is nice (even the machine does most of the work for us). Beside from saving money, we can play with many bread recipes out there at our home, it’s fun. You know that because you’re reading this topic - "How To Use a Bread Machine".
Here are what I wanna discuss with you about bread machine:
- Notes before looking for bread recipes and tips/tricks if you’re beginner
- How to use a Bread Machine: Main parts of bread machine
- Using a bread machine
- Basic ingredients to bake a loaf of bread
- Adding ingredients to the right order
- What can you select (program) with a bread machine?
- Fast bread baking, what’s difference?
- Cleaning bread machine
Before going to the part of how to use a bread machine, there are some notes you should know first,
Note #1: Don’t look for anywhere for basic tips when you’re holding the manual
Come with all the machine we purchase like laptop, iPhone, stove, etc is the manual. And we know most of the cases we don’t need the manual to know how the machine works or how to run it smoothly. Well, this case doesn’t apply with bread machine.
You can find in a bread machine manual the basic recipes which you’re searching somewhere else. The machine has different bread settings and they surely provide the recipes with each. Why make a setting if you don’t show people how it works?
Beside from the recipes, the manual gives us the tips which other sources might not notice. For example, have you ever thought that where you live actually affect the baking process? If you live at high altitude, your dough rises faster and the flour is drier. Therefore, you should add more water if it is too dry and decrease amount of yeast or sugar if the bread rises too high.
What else? Safety and cleaning tips, the measurement equivalency chart. You don’t think that the information of which order to put the ingredients is not in the manual? In fact, it is. More importantly, some bread machines are different than others and it needs special measurement or different recipes.
In short, a bread machine manual covers the most basic things about that specific bread machine. So read it, skim through it for information (even though it’s tedious). Believe in the taste of the manufacturer. You can find the manual online at amazon or the manufacturer’s website if you don’t have a copy.
Note #2: Don’t take the bread recipes lightly
Bread recipes need to be precise. Baking a bread with bread machine isn’t like making coffee with a coffee maker. If your water and coffee input is not right, your coffee still comes out but less flavorful. With a bread machine, it may result in a mess, the machine collapses or your bread is unediable because the dough rises to high or doesn’t rise at all due to the wrong amount of sugar or salt.
If you’re experienced, it’s not such a big deal since you can improvise, be creative and have fun. But if you’re a beginner, stick to the basic recipes, measurement and do it right.
Note #3: Be precise with ingredients.
Too old yeast won’t work. Or, ingredients are too hot kill the yeast, cold won’t activate the yeast. Want to use fast baking option? Use liquid with the right temperature as well as with the right type of yeast and the right type of flour. You get what I mean, right?
Note #4: Follow the safety tips
It is a machine which use heat and electricity. So, follow safety tips provided by the manufacturer is recommended. For example, adding ingredients and applying baking pan before plugging the cord or do not put the machine on unsteady or cloth-covered surface.
Main parts of the bread machine
I’m no tech geek so there’s nothing to expect super complicated technical here. The bread machine contains 3 main parts:
- The machine: programmed to bake your bread
- The baking pan: where the dough is kneaded and baked
- The kneading blade: the artificial hand to mix ingredients and knead dough
Baking pan and kneading blade can be taken apart from the machine.
Using a bread machine
Here comes the most important part. How to use a bread machine? No home appliances are made to make you confuse of how to use (maybe, how it works). If it’s something about food and beverage making machine, run it simply by adding ingredients and pressing a few buttons.
And this time, this case also applies for bread machine:
- Step 1: Pull out the baking pan (use a little force straight from the machine if it doesn’t come out easily), clean then install back to the machine, make sure to install the paddle (kneading blade) after that. The paddle often comes apart from the machine, so note to unwrap and install it or you’ll lose it somewhere.
- Step 2: Put in the ingredients in this order, liquid ingredients first (milk, water, egg,) then dried ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) and yeast to be the last ingredients.
- Step 3: Plug in the cord, select what you want and press start.
- Step 4: Use oven mitts to take out the whole baking pan. Turn the pan upside down onto the cooling rack and shake until the bread comes out. If the bread sticks, use a rubber spatula since metal can damage the pan’s surface. Leave it for about 15 minutes then enjoy. Note that it’s very hot in this stage so be careful.
It’s easy, the recipes are what make it hard. Let’s see what makes a loaf of bread.
Basic ingredients to bake a loaf of bread
- Yeast: There are two types of yeast, active dry yeast and rapid rise yeast. If you’re not using the rapid baking method, then use “active dry” yeast. Fresh yeast is better. Yeast stored for a long time may not make the dough rise.
- Flour: Use bread flour to make bread is the best since you’re using bread yeast and bread machine. You can use other types of flour to make bread such as multi-purpose flour (it is made to use with all kinds of baking). Using which is fine, a loaf of bread still comes out, however the recipes and the taste might be different. If you’re beginner, stick with the bread flour. It is made for making bread after all. Note that some types of bread machine give you the types of flour selection (so that it can bake your bread differently with different kinds of flour for better bread).
- Sugar and Salt: Not only they add flavor, they also affect the rising process of dough. Too much sugar and other sweeteners like honey can cause over rising and mess as a company. So, these shall be measured carefully.
- Liquids (water or milk): Liquids must be at room temperature (a little bit warmer than tap water, your drinking water temperature is fine), too hot will kill the yeast or the yeast won’t activate when it’s cold and there will be no rising process as a result. However, with rapid baking option, warm liquid is must-have.
- Fats (butter, oil): This ingredient makes the bread softer and richer as well as less sticky to the surface of the pan. If you use butter or any kinds of solid fat, you don’t need to melt it before adding to the mix.
Add and stir 2 teaspoons of sugar in a warm cup of water. Then add a few teaspoon of yeast, sprinkle it on the water surface. Wait about 15 minutes, the yeast shall foam and there’s a distinct odor. If neither happens, the yeast is no good to use anymore.
Adding ingredients to the right order
If you bake bread right away, it doesn’t matter you put what when. If you’re being busy with something or intend to set the clock while you’re away then the order must be this:
- Liquids and anything like that (egg for example)
- Dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, butter) and make sure they cover or seal the liquids
Why? Because the yeast will be active when it touches liquid and this will ruin the whole baking process.
How to use a Bread Machine: Simple white bread ingredients (2 pounds)
- 1 & 3/8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry milk
- 1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
What can you select (program) with a bread machine?
There are often five settings in a bread machine:
- Loaf size (small, medium, large)
- Crust level (darkness, often three options)
- Flour types
- Rapid Baking
- Dough – only (only mixing and kneading)
One main different thing when you select different option is the baking time. Most of the machine choose default time for you, there are some which let you customize time a little bit though.
Fast bread baking, what’s difference?
We shall expect more than 3 hours to finish baking a loaf of bread (with a bread machine or not). However, modern bread machines have fast baking option which gives us one loaf baked bread under 1 hour. So what’s difference aside from baking time between fast baking bread and normal baking bread?
First is the bread itself, the bread baked from fast baking option tends to be denser and shorter as well as has thicker and has darker crust. There also might be cracks on the top of the crust. Why? Because it is baked with higher temperature in shorter time and with different ingrediens.
Second is the ingredients we use:
- Yeast: It is recommended that we use rapid (fast) rising type of yeast, not the “active dry”.
- Liquids: Use hot water or hot liquids (from 1150F – 1250F), using a cooking thermometer is recommended because hotter water may kill the yeast and cooler may not activate it.
- Salt: Less salt.
- Flour: Use the bread flour.
- Other ingredients: At room temperature.
This is for the best result with no mess or accident, you may want to try another way, there’s no limit to food recipes.
Cleaning bread machine
Clean like you clean anything except for:
- Don’t put the machine under water. You may see robot being deactivated or broken in a movie because it soaks in water. This case applies for bread machine, too (the machine part). So, no cleaning under water or putting in a dishwasher. Use cloth to clean it or something soft, non-abrasive.
- The pan and the kneading blade might be washed under water, however, dishwasher is a no since it can damage the finish of the pan.
Try to pour warm water into the bread pan, wait for 10 – 15 minutes, this will loosen the blade for you to uninstall it.
Here comes the end of the brief bread machine 101 (how to use a bread machine). The bread recipes are introduced in another topics. If it is your first bread maker, find the basic recipes in the manual. It’s a nice and right start because the recipes come along with the machine, it obviously suits the machine, so they’ll surely make a great combination.
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