Bread Machine Tips
While bread machines offer freshly baked bread at the push of a button, some people have baked more "hockey pucks" or "mushroom loaves" than they'd care to admit. Below are some tips you might find helpful when baking with the bread machine.
Carefully read your manufacturer's directions and follow instructions for adding and layering ingredients.
Use 80°F water or liquids
Always use fresh ingredients, and dry ingredients are at room temperature.
Use bread flour - it is stronger that the other wheat flours and will tolerate the actions of the bread machine better, giving better volume and texture to your bread.
Active Dry yeast - use 3/4 tsp for each cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; Active dry yeast is not recommended for one-hour or express bread machine cycles.
Instant Yeast - use 1/2 tsp for each cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; if using a one-hour or express bread machine cycles - yeast amounts must be doubled or tripled; suggested liquid temperatures vary with machines - follow your manufacturer's instructions.
If you are unsure of the freshness of your yeast, you can test it to check its activity before using. See our Yeast Freshness Test section for directions.
Never place the yeast in direct contact with salt or sugar, as this will decrease the activity of the yeast. Use the back of a spoon to create a shallow pocket in the top of the flour and place the yeast there.
Humidity, the way flour is measured and the moisture content of the flour affects dough consistency. Open the bread machine's lid after 5-10 minutes into the KNEAD cycle. By this time, the dough should be in a soft, tacky ball. If it is dry and stiff, add liquid (80°F), 1/2 to 1 tablespoon at a time; if too wet and sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Flour is sifted many times before being packaged. During shipping, it settles and becomes compact. First, aerate the flour in the bag or container by using a whisk. It is important not to dip the measuring cup into the flour; instead, scoop the flour lightly into a dry measuring cup. Do not tap or shake the cup to put more flour into it. Using a flat edge, scrape off the excess to make the flour even with the rim of the measuring cup. This method will assure an accurate measurement.
When using margarine or butter, cut it into small pieces to ensure that it is properly blended with the other ingredients.
Use a plastic spatula to help a loaf out of the pan.
Use the handle of a wooden spoon to remove the kneading paddle from the hot loaf of bread.