Bread Machine Secrets
1. My bread machine has a regular dough cycle and a quick dough cycle. I usually use the quick dough cycle. It also has a rise after mixing the dough. After the rise has completed, I remove the dough from the machine.
I use the Zojirushi Bread Machine shown in the photo. I only use the quick dough cycle in making my breads. When the dough is done, I remove it from the bread machine and prepare my bread dough as per the instructions below.
Follow the instructions for your bread machine regarding order of loading ingredients. The important thing is to keep the yeast away from the liquid and the salt until the bread-making begins; this is especially important when the machine won't start mixing the dough for several hours.
I follow the liquids-first-then-dry method, but instead of putting the sugar and salt on top of the flour, I add them to the liquid. I, personally, recommend placing ingredients in the pan in the following order:
3. The most important hint or tip! Learn to read your dough. Don't be afraid to open the lid to check how your dough is doing. It should form a nice elastic ball. If you think the dough is too moist, add flour a tablespoon at a time. The same is true if the dough is looking dry and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time). If you can't judge your dough by looking, stick your finger in and feel the dough. It should be slightly tacky to the touch.
To oil the surface, you can either use oil or a nonstick cooking spray. If you wish, flavored oils may also be used, provided they are compatible with your bread. The nonstick cooking sprays should be used carefully, since it is easy to spray them unevenly.
The type and size of the plastic wrap or towel used to cover the dough is also important. Be sure it is large enough to cover your entire dough or you will have a "crust" form and the dough will no longer rise. Use a large cotton towel with a smooth surface. Do not use a terry towel (it will stick to the dough and flatten the loaf). An even worse consequence is that you might end up with a bread studded with bits of terry loops.
Should you run out of time to bake your bread, allow the dough to go through the first rising, then shape the dough, and place into the refrigerator.
The cold of the refrigerator will slow the yeast growth enough to give you 24 hours of breathing room. Before baking, allow the dough to come to room temperature
(about one to two hours) before baking.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (this is the temperature I use in a regular oven for most of my breads). After rising, slash the bread with a very sharp knife, razor blade, or a lame (a lame is a sharp blade that gets under the dough as you cut, giving you just the right shape for expansion). Brush or spray the top of the bread with cold water (this keeps the dough wet so that it won't form a crust from the heat of the oven, thus allowing the bread to get a good "oven spring: during the first 5 minutes of baking) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. (A good check is to use an instant meat thermometer to test your bread. The temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees. I do this all the time).
In a small saucepan, with a small whisk, stir together water and cornstarch. Heat mixture to a gentle boil. Stir, reduce heat, until mixture thickens
and is translucent. Cool. Brush on loaf about 10 minutes before baking is finished and again 3 minutes before bread is completely done.
Check out all of Linda's Bread Making Hints:
Linda Bread Recipes using the Bread Machine.
Thanks for the well organized tips on your webpage. I have used my bread machine about as you suggest; except I never thought of using the dough setting. I am going to use your schedule of adding ingredients on my next batch of dough.
I decided last October, just after I turned 80, that I would move up the plan for improving my bread making that was on my bucket list. After 40 years of "just making bread" for myself I improved my bakery by adding the missing ingredient: Patience! I started off with a bread machine and moved on to the mixer and hand kneading.
Now, I don't mind starting my bread in the morning and finishing it at 9 or 10 PM in the evening. It certainly has garnered me some friends that send invitations for dinner and suggest I bring some fresh baked bread instead of some other useless gift. Needless to say . . .
How I rise my loaves - I put the tiles on the racks and turn on the oven light when I start gathering my ingredients. I leave the lights on until ready to put the dough in the oven to start the rise. I check the temp in the oven looking for 72-76 F degrees. - John Farrell - I live on a little farm next to the North Fork of the Crow River in Marysville Township, Wright County, MN.
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