What is a bread machine?
A bread machine is a device that converts raw ingredients of bread into beautifully baked bread. It is a small device, similar to the size of a microwave that can be placed on the kitchen countertop. It has a lid, which, when opened, exposes the oven compartment. In this compartment, there will be one or multiple bread pans or tins placed in the middle so that you can put your bread. It has a control panel, with different buttons, in which you feed in data for the cooking process.
It can be used for many different kinds of dough, such as French bread, white bread, brown bread, pizza, etc. It has different settings for each kind of bread. Sometimes it has a timer built-in so that it stops when the time is up. Also, many bread machines provide the ability to make custom cycles of baking.
The first bread machine was made in Japan in 1986, released by a company that later became Panasonic. It was made by a project engineer, Ikuko Tanaka, who spent time with a professional chef to make the product give the best results. Later on, Funai electric company released a bread machine with a built-in cooling fan. Because of this feature, the bread maker can be left unattended. Funai company claimed that they built the first automatic bread machine, which was released in 1987.
Now, it is being used in the USA, UK, and Australia with its popularity increasing every day.
Bread machine baking vs. oven baking
If you are a daily bread consumer, you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of both bread machine baking and oven baking. Comparing these two options will help you make an informed decision that will suit your needs.
- They both, oven baking and bread machine baking, gives you the ability to add your mix of flour.
- They both are considered to be quite healthy.
- They both provide a cheaper cost than buying bread from the store every week.
Oven baking advantages
- It provides space for the bread to rise and spread without any interference.
- The bread will come out more light and airy, which is ideal if you are going to use it as slices.
- You don’t need to consider buying specialty flour.
Oven baking disadvantages
- It takes a lot more time than machine bread making. The time wasted can be used to do other things such as household chores or even your hobby.
- When making different types of bread, you need to adjust the control settings yourself accordingly. Unlike the bread machine, you have to know the temperature and time to bake each type of bread.
- They are a lot more complicated to use than a bread machine. Oven baking may lead to many mistakes.
- You need to knead the bread yourself by hand, which takes a lot of your time and energy.
- You need to preheat the oven beforehand to bake the bread.
- A lot more pans and dishes are used and become dirty in this process of baking.
- Oven bread baking is not as convenient as machine bread baking.
Bread Machine baking advantages
- It saves a lot of time by doing all the work without your supervision.
- For different types of bread, some machines offer custom features for them.
- It is very simple and easy to use.
- No kneading is required.
- There is no need to preheat or prep the machine before baking.
- You don’t need to clean a lot after you are done.
- It is more convenient than oven baking.
Bread machine baking disadvantages
- Bread is usually a little less airy and denser.
- It has less space for the bread to rise.
- Some companies encourage you to buy specialty flour for the bread machine.
Basics for Bread machine baking
It’s very simple to make bread using the bread machine device. All the processes, mixing, rising, baking, and cooling, all happen within the machine. Here are some basic tips for baking your perfect bread machine bread.
- First things first, you need to put all your bread making ingredients into the machine. They are the same for any bread. You can add your variation and flavorings to the mix if you want. Typical ingredients include Yeast, Flour, Water, Salt, Sugar, Milk, Eggs, and Butter.
- You need to work according to your device’s instructions. Devices from different companies work with their instructions. To get the optimum result, you need to follow your device’s manual. Some say to pour your liquids first, and some say pour your dry ingredients first.
- Depending on your bread machine, you may have different switches to work with. You could also have just an on and off switch. To know what buttons to press, read the bread machine’s instruction manual carefully.
- When following a recipe for bread using a bread machine, you need to find out the amount of maximum bread flour for it. The bread machine has a tight space, so if you accidentally put more amount of flour than it can handle, your bread will not turn out good. Some machines make 1 pound, some 1½ pounds. You need to buy the machine that will suit your needs, and when following a recipe, you need to adjust the quantities, so it matches your machine’s capacity. Small bread usually uses two cups, and bigger ones use three. You need to be exact in your measurements.
- Some companies encourage you to buy bread machine bread flour, but it is not necessary. They’re the same as bread flour with a lot more gluten than all-purpose flour. You can use bread flour for your recipes.
- Special yeasts are available for bread machines called bread machine yeast or rapid rise yeast. Both of them become active very quickly compared to other normal yeasts. They also do not need to be dissolved in water or other liquid. They can be added straight into the mix in the machine. You just have to ensure that the mixing process is effective.
- It is better to use high gluten flour when making bread, which makes it stable. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, which gives the bread structure. More gluten means more stability and more chewy. It’s better to use hard wheat for baking because it has a higher gluten content. If you are making something that requires low gluten flour, then you can add vital wheat gluten. It is a product that you can add if your dough consists of low gluten flour. You can add one tablespoon of it for every low gluten flour cup you add to the mixture in the machine.
- It is important that you remember to make all your ingredients come to room temperature or the yeast will not activate. If you’re using milk or eggs from the fridge, first bring them to room temperature, then use them. Your yeast will become activated as soon as it comes in contact with any wet ingredient, even water.
How does the bread machine make bread?
- First, you plug in the bread machine.
- Then, you need to read the recipe of the bread your baking and measure them accurately before adding them into the machine.
- Then, you put all the ingredients required for making the bread and put them in the device.
- Lastly, you turn on the device by pushing a few buttons. Some devices only have one on and off button.
- Now, the machine does all the work. First, it will raise the temperature of the ingredients.
- Next, it will knead the mixture into a dough form. If you are using rapid rise settings, then it is done once, but if not, then it is done twice.
- Now, it lets the dough rise for a while.
- Then, it mixes the dough and lets it rise again.
- Now, it bakes the dough till it’s ready.
Tips for bread machine baking
If you are new to baking with a bread machine, you might have some problems at first using the device. Here are some helpful tips to get your bread baking days started without a hassle.
- Add or layer the ingredients into the machine according to the company’s instruction manual. It has steps and guidance written down for almost every situation.
- Use room temperature water when adding and not too hot or too cold. It should be around 80°F or 26°C.
- Use fresh ingredients as much as possible. You can add dry ingredients at room temperature.
- If you are new to using the bread machine, it’s better to experiment with bread flour at first. Make a few loaves of bread using it to get a feel for what is right and what doesn’t work. Bread flour is stronger than other flour, and it will resist the machine’s processing.
- Use active dry yeast when making bread in regular cycles. Do not use active dry yeast on express cycles or one-hour cycles. You can generally use ¾ tablespoon of yeast for every cup of flour.
- Use instant yeast according to the settings provided by the company. You generally have to add half tablespoon of yeast for every cup of flour. You may have to double that amount for Express or one-hour cycles. Temperature also differs from machine-to-machine, so follow the guidelines carefully.
- Make sure that the yeast is fresh; otherwise, the bread will not rise. To check if it’s fresh, do a proofing test.
- When placing the yeast in the machine, make a shallow depression in the dough and place it there. Do not directly put on salt or sugar; this will decrease the yeast’s action.
- It is important to check the dough’s moisture. A few minutes into the kneading cycle, open to check if the door is in the consistently that you want. If it’s too wet, add flour, and if it’s too dry, add milk or water.
- If the milk is included in the ingredients and you have to use the delayed cycle, replace it with buttermilk or powder milk.
- If you’re adding butter or margarine into the mix, first cut them into pieces and then add them into the machine.
- You must measure flour carefully. Use a tablespoon to put the flour into the measuring cup, once full, gently slide your finger across the surface. This will ensure good measuring.
Common problems with bread machine baking
Many problems can occur during the baking of the bread in the machine if you do not know how to use it properly. Here are some common mistakes that usually happen and tips to avoid them.
- The crust is too thick and dark
This usually happens because the bread has been left in the machine for too long after the baking is completed. To fix the problem, you have to remove the bread immediately after it is done.
- Bread collapsing out of the machine
This happens when your yeast does not react properly with the rest of the ingredients. It could be the temperature or the problem of the ingredients. To ensure that this never happens, accurately take the temperature of the ingredients. Use enough liquids, not too much. Some people use a lot of yeast, so use less amount of yeast in baking. You can also add more salt. During a season of high humidity and warmth, use less amount of and cooler liquids.
- Bread not rising at all even during baking
This can happen for multiple reasons. To fix this problem, accurately measure the number of ingredients. This can also be caused by using low gluten flour. You need to check if your yeast works or not. Also, you need to check the temperature of the liquids.
- Bread being too dense
This can occur if you’re using whole grains instead of white flour. Keep checking the moisture so that it’s not too dry. If you are using low gluten flour, your bread will not be stable enough, so you need to add more gluten.
- Bread is raw in the center
This can happen if you use too much liquid in your mix. You also need to check your yeast’s activity. This can also happen if the bread machine is not working properly. You can check your manuals instructions to figure that out.
- No color on top
You need to add an adequate amount of sugar to have good color. Use too much, and it will be too dark. It could be that you’re using too many ingredients, so use a smaller recipe. If your machine has a glass top, put foil on the lid.
Bread machine FAQs
Question: Why should I bake bread in a bread machine?
Answer: The Bread machine is an innovative device that makes making bread very convenient. If you want to eat fresh bread every day but do not have the time to do it, this device is for you. Also, if you have special dietary needs, you can tweak the recipes yourself per your needs.
Question: What are bread type cycles?
Answer: Different company’s machines provide different types of cycles. A cycle is optimized to make a specific type of bread, for example, if you are using the whole wheat cycle, the big time will be longer because whole wheat needs a little bit more time. The availability of different cycles makes it easy for you to make different types of bread.
Question: What is the crush color option?
Answer: Crust option allows you to choose what kind of crust you want on your bread. If you want a light and soft crush then, you go for a light crust option. If you want a dark and thicker crust, then you press the dark crust option.
Question: How to add yeast in the bread machine?
Answer: For active dry yeast, use it in regular cycles. Do not use active dry yeast on express cycles or one-hour cycles. You can generally use ¾ tablespoon of yeast for every cup of flour. For instant yeast, you generally have to add half tablespoon of yeast for every cup of flour. You may have to double that amount for Express or one-hour cycles.