BREAD MACHINE BLUES?
Disappointed with the bread you’ve been making in your bread machine?
Here are 5 steps you can take to make picture-perfect loaves in your bread machine.
- Activate your yeast. Most bread machine recipes state that you can put your yeast in the machine with the rest of the recipe ingredients. But making bread this way is a big part of the reason bread loaves are dense and unappetizing.
Alternate method: warm your recipe liquid (water, milk, etc.) to a temperature range between 105 and 110 degrees. This is the temperature at which yeast thrives. By measuring your liquid(s), adding your sweetener to it and making sure it’s within this temperature range, you can get your yeast off to a great start. Use hot tap water or microwave the liquid briefly before adding the yeast. Don’t heat it to more than 113 at the most, as higher temperatures will kill the yeast. Use a digital thermometer to test your liquid temperature to make sure it’s just the right temperature.
- To help keep your bread dough warm, heat up the bread machine canister using hot tap water before you add any recipe ingredients. You can even warm up the measuring cup you use for your recipe liquids if your kitchen is really cool. I typically need to do this during winter months because everything in my cupboards is pretty cold.
Fill the bread machine canister nearly full of hot water and allow it to sit in the canister while you prepare your recipe ingredients. Once you’re ready to use the canister, empty the water and add your ingredients.
- Bread machines are great for maintaining the warmth and moisture necessary for supporting yeast activity. They’re also great at kneading bread properly so gluten in the flour works with the yeast to achieve that high rise you want to see in your loaf. Set your bread machine to knead your dough for 15 minutes, let it rest 20 minutes, then knead a second time for 15 minutes. This will help ensure a high rise and light, tender texture in your bread. If you’re making bread with low-gluten content – i.e. rye, spelt, etc. – set kneading times to 18 minutes each.
- If you bake your bread in the bread machine, you don’t need to do anything else once the second kneading cycle is complete. The machine will keep the dough warm and bake it adequately.
- If you remove your dough from the machine and bake it in the oven as I do, you’ll want to warm your bread pan – yes, with hot water – before you place bread dough in it. This helps maintain a consistent dough temperature.
You also want to cover the bread pan with a light cloth to help preserve the warmth and set the pan in a warm environment (the oven works best) with a temperature as high as 120 degrees. I generally turn my oven on and let it reach 150/170 degrees, turn it off and leave the door open about 3 minutes, then set the bread pan inside the oven as the dough raises. After 15 minutes the dough should raise to the top of the bread pan; within 30 minutes the dough should be 1 to 2 inches above the pan. That’s when it’s time to remove it from the oven and bake (at 350 degrees).
Learn more tips about baking perfectly formed loaves of bread in “Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever!”
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find information about her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, on Pinterestand Facebook.