Troubleshooting Bread Machine Mixes and Thermometers


“Check the gas!” my father used to say anytime I couldn’t get the lawnmower to run right. When I would tell him that I did check the gas, he would tell me to check it again. Ninety percent of the time, he was right.

We get several calls every week from folks that are having trouble with their bread machine mixes. Granted, that’s a tiny percentage of our bread customers but we don’t want anyone to have a problem.

It’s the water! Nearly every time it’s the water. It’s either the wrong temperature or the wrong amount—usually the wrong temperature. The water should be eighty degrees. If it is eighty degrees, it will work. If the water temperature is off by ten degrees, the mix will not work properly.

How do you get eighty degree water? With a thermometer. The water out of the tap, off the counter, or out of the cooler is not eighty degrees. I use a thermometer every time I make bread for both bread machines and traditional mixes.

If you don’t have a thermometer, get one from us. Professional Baker’s Thermometers

Even with eighty degree water, your bread machine mix may not be perfect (though it will be good). Measuring cups are notoriously inaccurate and kitchens differ in humidity, temperature, and altitude. It’s a good idea to check the dough ball during kneading. It should indent easily and be slightly tacky—one of our customers calls it the “tacky test”. If it is not tacky, dribble no more than a tablespoon of warm water into the machine. If it is too moist, add no more than a tablespoon of flour. Now your bread should be perfect.

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