Freshly baked bread is one of my favorite scents to smell when I enter a kitchen, but making homemade bread can be pretty time consuming and take a lot of effort. Sometimes, the kneading itself can be a workout. Not everyone has that kind of energy, time, or patience though.
That’s why it’s time to bring out your favorite bread mixes and the bread machine. Your bread machine can give you that delicious smell of fresh bread wafting through your house homemade bread for you and your family to enjoy with little effort. Simply measure out the ingredients into the bread pan, press start, and walk away. That’s it. Sure, you still have to wait for your bread to bake, but you don’t have to babysit it.
Bread mixes and your bread machine can really be a lifesaver, but it isn’t always so easy to use when you’re starting out, especially with so many buttons and options to choose from. Don’t worry. We’ve created this informational guide on how to use your bread machine and how to use your bread mixes in the bread machine to clear things up and make things easier on you. Be sure to check the user manual for your bread machine as well.
We will be discussing how to set up your bread machine, the different settings and what mixes to use with them, removing your loaf, troubleshooting your bread machine, and other frequently asked questions.
Why Use a Bread Machine
Before we get into understanding your bread machine, let’s talk about why you should use it instead of making your bread by hand. Here are some of my favorite reasons:
- It fills the house with the scent of fresh bread.
- It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and you can just walk away.
- It saves on cleaning and dishes because all of the processes are completed inside one machine.
- It can make more than just bread, and they will always taste bakery- fresh.
- It doesn’t heat up your house nearly as much as the oven.
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about baking bread is the aroma that comes with it. With a bread machine, you can still get that delicious smell, but you don’t have to spend the same time and effort. It really is just adding in the carefully measured ingredients, closing the machine, picking your setting, and pressing start. I can’t think of anything easier and more convenient than that.
If you use a bread mix, you can cut even more effort from the process because you only have to get the water temperature right, measure it out, and then dump in the mix and the yeast. The ingredients are already measured for you down to the tiniest gram.
No matter what you decide to bake, whether it’s bread, bagels, donuts, jams, pizza dough, or even meatloaf; it always comes out tasting as if you got it fresh from the bakery. And you don’t even have to do more cleaning than just the bread pan. It really is a lifesaver when you’re limited on time and energy, and it’s one of our favorite kitchen appliances here at the test kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What Can I Make in the Bread Machine?||Some of our favorite things to make in the bread machine, besides simple bread, include: dinner rolls, sweet rolls, focaccia, braided bread, stuffed bread, jam, breadsticks, and even pizza crusts. You can find a lot of these mixes on our site.|
|Can I Use Prepared Pantry Bread Mixes in My 1 Pound Bread Machine?||If you love our mixes but have an incompatible bread machine, you can still make the dough in the bread machine using the “Dough” setting, and then you can finish it out in the oven.|
|Should I Make These Bread Mixes on a 1.5 pound or 2 pound setting?||Most of our bread mixes are 2 pound loaves and are made to be put on the 2 pound setting. Each bread mix will include specific instructions as to whether they make a 1.5 pound loaf or a 2 pound loaf and which setting should be used.|
|How Can I Make Bread in the Oven Instead of the Bread Machine?||Whether you’re simply finishing the bread-making process in the oven or have decided that bread machines are not for you, you can make your bread in the oven at 350 degrees for 18-30 minutes, depending on whether you’re baking a loaf of bread or rolls. You can also find more specific instructions on the back of your bread mix package.|
How to Set Up Your Bread Machine
Now, let’s get started. For some of you, your bread machine has been set up from day one, but for others, you might be just getting started. Either way, it’s important to set it up the right way to avoid issues like the bread not baking properly, getting the kneading blade stuck inside the bread, or strange noises coming from your bread machine.
To set it up, you will want to remove the bread pan from the machine, attach the kneading blade, add in your ingredients to make your bread, and then carefully set the bread pan into the bread machine. Some bread machines will require you to turn the bread pan clockwise in order to lock it in place to keep it from wobbling inside.
Keep in mind that while your bread machine goes through the different cycles to make your bread, it may tend to wobble and move a bit. To prevent it from wobbling its way off the counter, place your bread machine safely away from the edge of the counter. Once your bread pan is securely set inside, don’t forget to plug it in.
Now that your bread machine is set and ready to go, let’s get to baking. Are you making a basic bread, quick bread, French bread; or are you simply forming a dough to prepare in the oven? Let’s discuss the different settings and cycles.
Understanding Your Bread Machine Settings
Some of our favorite settings, here at the Test Kitchen, are the basic bread setting and the dough setting just because it leaves room for so much room for creativity, but we’ll start at the beginning of the most common settings.
|Bread Setting||Function||Average Time|
|Basic||Bake white breads and basic bread mixes and recipes.||3-3.5 hours|
|French||Bake light, crispy crusts. Longer kneading, rising, baking times.||3.5-4.5 hours|
|Whole Wheat||Bake breads with heavier flours. Longer kneading and rising times.||3.5-4.33 hours|
|Sweet||Bake Breads with higher sugar content and additives.||2.75-3.5 hours|
|Express Bake||Bake smaller loaves in under 2 hours.||1-1.9 hours|
|Quick||Bake quick breads and cakes that don’t use yeast.||1.75-1.9 hours|
|Dough||Prepare a dough to be baked in the oven.||1.5 hours|
|Jam||Make jam with fresh fruit.||1-1.33 hours|
|Bake||Activate the bake cycle to bake a dough or darken the loaf.||1-1.66 hours|
The “Basic” Setting
Some bread machine models will also have this listed as the “white” or “white bread” setting. For most bread machines, this setting is typically used for white bread, basic bread mixes, and recipes using basic bread flour or all-purpose flour. This will likely be the most used setting on your bread machine because it accommodates the most basic recipes and mixes.
This setting will typically last three to three and a half hours, depending on your model, the size of the loaf, and the level of darkness you have it set to.
On that note, for many bread machines, especially the newer models, you can choose a darkness setting or level. Your options usually include light, medium, or dark. This refers to how dark your crust will turn out. You can set this according to your preference.
The “French” Setting
This setting is used just how it sounds, to make French bread. French breads typically are made with a finer flour and come out fluffier on the inside with a crispy crust. They also come out much lighter in coloring than most other breads. French bread will require more time to knead, rise, and bake.
This setting will usually last between three and a half hours to four and a half hours, depending on the model, the size of the loaf, and darkness setting.
The “Whole Wheat” Setting
Some bread machine models will also have this listed as the “whole grain” setting. This setting is typically used for breads made with heavier flours like whole wheat flour or rye flour. The heavier flour also requires a longer amount of time to be spent on kneading and rising the dough. Whole wheat breads will often come out a bit darker and denser than your basic white bread.
This setting will last between three and a half hours and four hours and twenty minutes, depending on the model, size of loaf, and darkness setting.
The “Sweet” Setting
This setting is usually used for breads containing a higher sugar or fat content. This includes breads with additives, or inclusions, like fruit juices, grated coconut, raisins, dried fruits, chocolate, cinnamon chips, or other added sugars. This setting requires a longer rising time, which leaves the bread light and airy yet increased in height and color.
This setting typically lasts between a total of two hours and forty-five minutes and three and a half hours, depending on the model of your bread machine, the size of your loaf, and the darkness setting.
The “Express Bake” Setting
Depending on the size of your bread machine, there may be options for a 1.5 lb Express Bake and a 2 lb Express Bake. Some models might have this setting listed as the “Ultra-Fast” or even just “Express” setting. This setting is typically used to make loaves in under two hours. The 1.5 lb option is typically used for smaller loaves, and the 2 lb option is used for larger loaves.
Recipes or mixes used in this setting should use quick-rising yeast. The results often come out as a smaller and rougher loaf compared to the “Basic” setting. Be careful with using this setting because the bread often comes out dense and not always well-mixed due to the limited amount of time for the kneading, rising, and baking.
This setting usually lasts between fifty-eight minutes, and an hour and fifty-five minutes, depending on the model, the size of the loaf, and the darkness setting.
The “Quick” Setting
This setting is used for breads that do not include yeast and use baking powder or baking soda as the rising agent instead. These breads are more commonly referred to as quick breads and/or cakes, like Zucchini or Banana breads. This setting is similar to the “Express Bake” setting in the way that it takes less time than the “Basic” setting, but it lasts a little longer and creates a finer texture.
Quick breads will typically turn out shorter and a bit denser than breads made with yeast.
This setting usually lasts between an hour and forty-five minutes and an hour and fifty-five minutes, depending on your bread machine model, the size of your bread loaf, and the darkness setting.
The “Dough” Setting
This setting is best used to prepare a dough that will be baked the rest of the way in the oven. This includes artisan and freestanding loaves, buns and rolls, and even fry bread and pizza crust. You can use any bread machine mix in this bread machine setting and then finish it out in the oven.
You can use this setting when your bread mix is meant for a loaf larger than the size of your bread machine. You simply add in the mix and other ingredients, put it on the dough setting, and then take out and bake it the rest of the way in the oven.
The “Dough” setting will usually go through the cycles of kneading and sometimes even two cycles of rising (depending on the model), and exclude the bake cycle. This allows you to shape the dough by hand, allow it to rise, and bake it in the oven.
It will typically last an hour and a half, no matter the model of your bread machine or size of the loaf.
The “Jam” Setting
As expected from the name, this setting can be used to make jams, compotes, and marmalades out of fresh fruit. With the placement of the heating element, the contents will not be burned during the process, and the paddle of the kneading blade will be constantly and automatically stirring.
The “Jam” setting begins with a heating phase, making the bread machine seem inactive for the first bit of the program, but then it quickly begins mixing after about ten minutes.
It typically lasts between an hour and five minutes and an hour and twenty minutes, depending on the model of your bread machine.
The “Bake” Setting
This setting is used simply to bake dough. Whether you have store-bought dough you want to bake or the loaf came out too light or not cooked all the way through, you can use this setting to activate only the bake cycle without any of the kneading or rising.
This cycle usually lasts up to one hour or even an hour and forty minutes, depending on your model. Of course, you can stop the cycle at any point if you are simply baking the loaf to give it a slightly darker color.
How to Remove Your Bread Loaf
To remove your loaf from the bread pan, simply turn the pan counterclockwise (if you locked it in place), lift it out of the machine, turn it upside down and gently shake the bread out onto a wire rack. Remember that it will still be hot, so you will need to use oven mitts.
If the bread does not come out easily, you can use a rubber spatula to free it away from the sides of the pan. If the kneading blade is also stuck to the loaf, you can carefully pull it out from the bottom by gripping the base. Some bread machine manufacturers may include a special removal tool to help with this.
Troubleshooting Your Bread Machine
|Didn’t Rise:||This could be due to improperly stored yeast or yeast that is too old, not using enough yeast or sugar, using too much salt, or the temperature of the ingredients was too low. This is why we recommend using a candy thermometer to heat your water exactly to 80 degrees.|
|Rose Too Much:||This could be due to using too much yeast or sugar or using too little salt. It could also be that your water was too warm or you used too much water in general. Be sure to measure your ingredients very carefully.|
|Too Dense:||This usually means that the dough did not rise enough, whether it was due to a lack of time or an issue in the ingredients. A dense loaf also usually means that there was too much flour and not enough liquid or too many added ingredients.|
|Crust Is Too Thick or Too Dark:||This is usually caused by leaving your loaf for too long after the baking cycle is completed, or there may have been too much sugar. Your darkness setting may also need to be adjusted.|
|Top is Puffed Up or Sunken In:||If the top looks more like a mushroom top, you have likely added too much yeast, water, or sugar. Or the bucket may simply be the wrong size for the recipe. If the top is sunken, the bread machine was opened during the baking cycle, or there might have been too much liquid or even too much humidity.|
|The Texture is Off:||If your bread came out coarse, it’s likely you used too much yeast or liquid, or it could have been that there was too much humidity or your add-ins were too moist. If the texture turns out gummy, there was likely too much sugar and too much liquid, or the temperature outside of the machine was too cold.|
|The Dough is Sticky||If you set your bread machine on the dough setting, and it came out sticky, it could be that there is a pocket of unmixed flour in a bottom corner. It’s important to check that the mixer is inserted correctly. To fix your thin and sticky dough, sprinkle a little extra flour onto the dough and gently knead it in.|