Check out all of Linda's Bread Making Hints:
Bread Machine Bread Recipes
Sourdough Starter - How to make a Sourdough Starter
Sourdough Bread Recipes
Secrets to using the bread machine
Yeast in bread making - Yeast Bread Tips
Linda Bread Recipes using the Bread Machine.
How To Use The
Bread Machine - 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
Liquid (milk, water)
Eggs, oils, melted or softened butter
Salt, sugars (including honey, molasses)
Dried or powdered milk
Dried or fresh orange or lemon zest (peel)
Dried herbs, dried flavorings, seeds, and nuts
Whole wheat flour
Bread flour or all-purpose flour
2. Adding Ingredients:
- I usually start out by adding fairly hot water (120 degrees F.) and
find that by the time I have added all the other ingredients, the
water has cooled to the proper temperature.
Butter - Melt or
soften butter or margarine in the microwave before adding it to the machine.
- I bring my eggs to room temperature by placing them in a cup of
really warm water for several minutes before adding.
Refrigerated Ingredients - Heat anything taken from the
refrigerator (milk, buttermilk, cottage cheese, etc.) in the
microwave until it is warm to the touch, about 1 minute.
Salt - Use only non-iodized salt (iodine
attacks the yeast activity, slowing down the first fermentation).
Salt is a yeast inhibitor and it is best to add it so it is not
touching the yeast. If you are having trouble with short loaves, try
cutting back on the salt (sometimes this solves the problem). I like
to use coarse salt or sea salt in all my bread baking.
Other Ingredients -
Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel or zest, as well as cinnamon and
alcohol, will have a retarding effect. Too much will stop the yeast
activity completely. Cinnamon has a direct effect on the yeast
activity and in large quantities it will stop fermentation
completely. Keep high percentages of cinnamon out of the dough
itself and add it in the fillings where it can have
only a limited effect on the yeast activity.
Gluten - Add 1 teaspoon of vital gluten per cup of whole
grain flour in your recipes. This will produce a taller loaf. If you
find the loaves are still short, increase by adding an extra
teaspoon until you get the results you desire (be sure to note the
amounts on the recipe).
Flour - For most
breads, you should use bread flour. It has a higher protein content,
which forms more gluten during kneading. If you use all-purpose
flour, the bread doesn't rise as high, but it certainly rises. The
bread is denser and not as fluffy.
Yeast - I
use Instant Active Dry Yeast in all my breads. I use 1
teaspoon of instant yeast per cup of flour. If the recipe calls for
over 3 cups of flour, I still use only 3 teaspoons. This gives me a
taller and well-textured loaf. Sometimes, if the day is warm and
humid, I cut back 1/2 teaspoon to prevent over proofing. The rapid
dough cycle is the only cycle I use on my bread machine.
Store your yeast in the refrigerator for a longer life.
3. The most important hint or
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
Another secret is not to always flour the surface on which you form the dough
(unless you have a very sticky dough). Instead, lightly oil the work surface to prevent the dough from
sticking. It is often the case that one uses too much flour on the work
surface and, since dough that has risen will not accept any more flour,
the excess flour used on the work surface just toughens the bread. I
spray lightly in one spot and use my hands to spread it over the entire
work surface. It's a sure bet that oiling your work surface will produce
wonderful rolls and loaves of bread.
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.
I knead the dough just a little on the sprayed surface and form into a
oval, cover with plastic wrap or a cotton towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.
This is an important step to let the dough rest after turning it out of the bread
pan. This is called "benching" and it allows the dough to relax, making
it easier to handle and shape.
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.
Handle dough gently. Over molding could cause breaking of the surface
tension and will result in a smaller finished loaf. After resting, turn
dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Then fold dough into shape
you want. Place on a
cookie sheet or jelly roll pan dusted with cornmeal or the new
Silicone Baking Mats (I, personally, recommend the
Silicone Baking Mats as nothing sticks to them and they are washable). Cover and place in a warm spot to
rise, approximately 20 minutes. It is often difficult to determine when hand-shaped dough has risen enough, so test it by pushing on the dough
with your finger (if it springs back up and hesitates, it has risen sufficiently).
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.
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).
is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers
asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the
Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. Originally designed for professional users, the
Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world. To learn more about this excellent
thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined:
Another secret to give your bread the professional bakery look is to use
a cornstarch glaze. I keep this mixture in my refrigerator to use on most of
the breads I bake.
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
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.
Comments from readers:
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
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. (7/31/12)