Introduction to Bread Machines
Welcome to the wonderful world of bread machine baking! While you may be using a different method than your grandmother did, you’re still doing the same thing that humans have done for centuries: combining flour, water and yeast to make bread.
Your bread machine can be your best friend in the kitchen. Just remember our first basic rule: Your bread machine is a robot and like a computer, the machine can only do what it’s programmed to do. You have to do the thinking for it.
How do bread machines work? They’re not complicated. Once you’ve put ingredients into the machine’s pan and pressed START, the machine mixes the ingredients (pre-knead); kneads the dough (first knead); gives it a short rest (rest); kneads it again (second knead); lets it rise (first rise); knocks it down; lets it rise again (second rise); then bakes it (bake). Your machine has a motor that turns a paddle to knead the dough and a heating element to provide the warmth for rising and baking.
Each machine is programmed a little bit differently. Some knead the dough longer; some let it rise at a higher temperature, or for a longer period of time; some bake for a longer time at a lower temperature.
Remember to follow a recipe that is sized for your machine: either 1-pound, which the recipe may also call “small”, or 1 1/2-lb. or larger, which may be called “large”. Many people have asked for help in modifying 1 1/2-lb. bread machine recipes to fit their 1-pound bread machines. Simply cut all of the ingredients in a 1 1/2-lb. recipe by one-third (i.e., 3 cups of flour becomes 2 cups of flour). Yeast is an exception to this rule; use 1 teaspoon of yeast in a 1-pound bread machine recipe. Eggs are also an exception; instead, substitute a small egg for each large egg called for in the 1 1/2-lb. recipe (you should always use large eggs in your recipes, unless otherwise indicated).
We’ve found that often the manuals that come with bread machines can be confusing, and can contain incorrect information. For instance, one of the manuals we’ve read says that poorly risen bread may be caused by too little sugar in the recipe, when just the opposite is true. Too much sugar can cause a small, dense loaf. In addition, the recipe books that come with the machines are not foolproof; sometimes the recipes work, sometimes they don’t. The best independent bread machine book we’ve found is “Bread Machine Baking -- Perfect Every Time”, by Lora Brody, published by William Morrow. Each recipe includes slightly different versions for each of the major machines, including DAK, Welbilt, Maxim, Sanyo, Regal, Hitachi, Zojirushi and Panasonic/National.