Bread machines sound like a relic – why bother making bread from scratch when you can grab a loaf on your next trip to the grocery store? In reality, this small kitchen appliance is about to become your new best friend. Bread machines really are the best thing since… well, sliced bread. If you’re new to the bread making practice you might think it’s easy to mess it all up. The good news, however, is that with a few tips for beginners you can actually create bread at home like a pro in no time.
What’s the Fuss About?
If you want to make bread a home, a bread machine is simply the way to go. It’s faster, easier, and produces more consistent results than kneading dough from scratch and baking it in the oven. In fact, you can just dump your ingredients (flour, eggs, yeast, etc.) into the machine and let it do the mixing for you. Yes, your machine will knead and prepare the dough before it bakes it into bread. This translates to less work for the baker and dough kneaded to a much finer degree than what is typically achieved when working by hand. Additionally, a bread maker eliminates the need to grease and dirty bowls and utensils during the mixing process. All of these benefits make bread maker machines especially ideal for beginning bakers.
So, How Does it Work?
A bread machine combines the ingredients you add, mixing them with blades until dough is created. In a perfect world, the dough will be thick enough that it isn’t runny, but not so thick that a ball is created. Many bread machines have settings for different types of baked goods, such as cake or sourdough.
Once you have added your ingredients to the machine and turned on the “dough” cycle, your machine will go to work. Don’t be afraid to open the lid from time to time to check on the progress. In fact, if near the end of the kneading cycle you notice that the dough is not firming up, you may need to add additional flour in small doses until you are happy with the consistency. As a beginner, you may not recognize when additional flour is needed. Once you become a seasoned bread baker, however, knowing when to add more flour or water will become second nature.
When the dough is ready, your machine will bake it on a timer. After baking and cooling, your bread is ready to hit the table!
Quick Tips for Baking Success
As a beginner, be ready to learn through trial and error. Your bread machine may be top of the line, but cut yourself some slack if the first loaf doesn’t rise to perfection. Here are a few tips for how to avoid disasters when baking bread, bearing in mind that every recipe may have its own unique challenges.
The most important piece of bread making when working with a machine is getting the ingredients right. Even the best bread machine can produce questionable results if you don’t add the correct proportions of the right ingredients. Bottom line – start with an easy recipe for white or wheat bread and stick to the recipe exactly.
Bread machine yeast is recommended, as regular yeast first needs to be dissolved in water before it can be used. Also be mindful when using substitutions. Whole wheat flour and white flour each absorb water differently, and can’t be substituted for each other without making other modifications to the recipe.
When your bread collapses during baking, the size of your recipe may be too large. Consider cutting it in half and trying again. You may also want to stick to bread flour if you continue to experience issues with your bread rising. If you want your bread to be fine (in other words, you don’t want a lot of holes in the bread), try running it through more than one kneading cycle.
A bread machine is one of the best modern conveniences for experimenting with baked goods. Once you nail the bread loaf, you can move on to rolls, pizza dough, and other culinary creations that will keep your entire family happy and full. Remember to experiment with your ingredients once you become more familiar with your machine – many ingredients, such as salt and cinnamon, can be added to or decreased from a recipe with no major consequences besides the taste of your final product.
Check out 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes for more ideas!
GUEST BLOGGER: Darron Witsel is an avid home cook and always on the search for new recipes. To try some homemade bread recipes he recently did a search for the best bread machine on the market and now he wants to share what he found out.