You don’t have to own a bread machine to enjoy the variety of bread machine mixes. And you don’t have to make blocky, square loaves with holes in the bottom. You can make wonderful rolls, traditional sandwich loaves, and artisan loaves with or without the aid of a bread machine. In this article, we will tell you how to convert any bread machine mix into great breads by hand, with your stand-type mixer, or with your bread machine.
We like to make more than one loaf when we bake so we’ll use two mixes and combine them. (When we have more bread than we can use, we slice and freeze it.) We’ll mix these in a bowl instead of using our stand-type mixer and bake one in a pan and make one into a classy artisan loaf just to demonstrate versatility.
To mix in a bowl
- Empty the mixes into a large bowl.
- Mix the yeast in the warm water and add this to the bowl. (105° instead of 80° which is for the bread machine)
- Add melted butter, if called for on package instructions. (Be careful to let the butter cool below 140 degrees so that it will not kill the yeast.)
- Stir with a spatula until the mass starts to stick together.
- When you cannot comfortably stir any further, dump the dough onto a floured surface and begin kneading. (The dough will likely be slightly wetter than you can handle by hand. A tablespoon or so of flour on the counter should make it just right. Do not add too much flour–a softer dough will rise better.)
- Knead the dough until it is elastic–ten to twelve minutes.
- Place it in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise until doubled–about an hour.
To mix using a stand-type mixer
- Empty one of the mixes into the mixer bowl (or half of one mix if you are baking a single loaf).
- Add the yeast and the water and mix with your dough hook on medium speed for 40 seconds–to start to dissolve the yeast.
- Add the other mix (or the rest of the mix if you are baking one loaf) and the melted butter and continue mixing at medium speed for another four minutes to develop the gluten.
- If the dough is too sticky, add one tablespoon flour.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled–about an hour.
Once the dough has risen, you may form the dough into rolls, a pan-shaped loaf, or a free-standing loaf.
To form a free-standing loaf, pull the dough around the center creating a taut outer skin and a well-shaped loaf. Pinch the seams together on the bottom and place the loaf on a baking sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover the loaf and let it rise until doubled–about an hour.
To form a pan-shaped loaf, pull the dough around the center to form a taut skin and place the loaf in a large greased 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise.
To form rolls, cut away egg-sized chunks of the risen dough and pull the dough taut around the center of the roll as you would a loaf, pinching the seam on the bottom. Place the rolls on a greased pan, cover, and let rise. One bread machine mix should make a dozen medium-sized rolls.
Most artisan loaves are baked with a thicker, chewier crust than pan-shaped loaves. To create these crusts, the bread is baked in a steamy environment and it is baked to a higher internal temperature in order to drive more moisture from the loaf. (Moisture trapped in the interior of the loaf will migrate to the crust and soften it.) The internal temperature of crusty breads should reach 210 degrees. If you would like to bake a crusty, artisan bread, click here for instructions.
Bake the pan-shaped loaf at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done. The interior of the loaf should be at least 190 degrees.
Bake rolls for 18 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until done.
If you would like to try baking these great breads from our Sour Cream Onion Bread mixes, you can do so. Click here.
Baking Hint: The bronze finish that you see on the loaves in this picture was created with an egg yolk wash. Simply mix one tablespoon warm water with one egg yolk and gently brush the wash on the loaf just before baking.