Most bread machines are easy enough for a grade school child to operate, but the more you know about the machine and ingredients, the better your bread will be and the more you'll enjoy the task.
Have you read the manual? If it came with a video, did you watch it? Instructions take a little time to sift through, but you might be surprised at some of the features you missed. Safety precautions are extremely important. You might know you should use oven mitts to handle the hot bread pan, but you might not realize the machine must be unplugged after each use.
If your first loaves aren't up to par, don't give up or blame the bread machine right away. There are a number of reasons for failed bread, from outdated or overheated yeast to lack of salt or too much sugar.
Here are some general tips for bread machine baking and ingredients along with several bread recipes, pizza doughs, and dinner roll recipes.
Bread Machine Tips and Ingredients
Always check dough consistency during the kneading cycle; add water or flour a little at a time, if necessary. It's easier to start with a little less water in a recipe, then adjust by adding about a teaspoon at a time while it's kneading.
Keep yeast refrigerated. If you buy in bulk, yeast will keep in the freezer for years. 2 teaspoons active dry yeast = 1 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rise, instant, or bread machine yeast.
Moist ingredients, such as vegetables, fruit, mashed potatoes or cottage cheese, count as about half liquid. For instance, if you add 1/2 cup of mashed bananas, reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.
Applesauce can be used to replace the butter or oil in most recipes.
If you substitute honey or maple syrup for granulated sugar, reduce the liquid by an equal amount.
Dough blades often stay in the loaf; always check for the blade when removing the loaf.
Whole grain bread will not rise as high as white bread. Add vital wheat gluten (found in the flour section of most grocery stores) to give whole grain flour a boost.
Toss dried fruits with a little flour before adding. They'll blend into the dough more evenly.
To create a warm environment for dough that must rise out of the machine, turn the oven on its lowest setting for about 1 minute, then turn it off.
Take notes! If your bread comes out great, you'll want to make it the same way again, and you might want to share the recipe.
Basic ratio of ingredients for each cup of bread flour:
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon fat
- approximately 3/8 cup liquid (1 large egg = scant 1/4 cup)
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