How Bread Makers Work
The way in which a bread maker works can vary a huge amount from one model to another. However, all you really need to know is that in general, the machines will knead, rise and bake bread for you, and all you have to do is place the ingredients inside the machine and let it get to work.
However, nearly every machine will contain a lid, a vent and a control panel. Inside the machine, you are likely to find a bread pan or bucket, normally with a foldable handle, as well as a kneading paddle, which may also be removable. Before trying to use your machine, it is worth taking the time to read the instructions carefully.
Types of Bread You Can Make
As we all know, there are many types of bread and the types that you can make will depend on your specific bread maker. The same is true of the size of the loaves that you can make. Your bread maker may only be able to bake one-pound loves while others may be able to produce far larger loaves. It is very important that you do not try to put too much dough inside your bread maker as this could cause it a lot of damage, so be sure that your recipe matches your machine’s capacity.
You will likely also be able to use your bread machine to make rolls, simply by using it to mix, knead and rise the dough. You can find a vast number of recipes for bread machine-specific doughs, so it is worth spending some time researching the best ones for your taste and your machine’s capabilities. It is also possible to find machines that can make things such as jam, so be sure to check the instructions carefully.
What Are Bread Machines Best and Worst At?
This is again something that will vary greatly depending on your machine, so you should read the manual to see what types of breads your machine is best suited to. In general, bread makers are best at pillow-soft breads, and if you want to do the entire process in your bread maker, you will want to make whole loaves. However, bread makers can also be used to make rolls, pizza dough, pretzels, and more, but in these instances, you will be using the machine to make the dough and be finishing the process in your oven.
In general, bread makers are not very good at making breads with a crispy or crunchy crust, such as sourdough. This is become the machines cannot get hot enough to make a dense loaf. Furthermore, the machines are not very good at shaping loaves.
What is the Best Type of Flour to Use?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the best flour to use is bread-making flour. This is flour made form hard wheat, which means that it has a higher gluten content (or wheat protein) than regular all-purpose flower. It is possible to use all-purpose flour, but it will produce inferior quality bread, as the flour is a mixture of hard and soft wheat, which is less than ideal for bread.
How to Add the Ingredients
This will vary according to the machine, so it is important to read the manual first. However, you will nearly always start with liquid ingredients, in order to keep them separate from the yeast, which will start to activate as soon as it comes into contact with them. Next comes salt, which must also be kept separate from the yeast, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, dry milk powder and seasonings. Finally, the yeast is added to the machine.
What Yeast to Use
If you want to keep life as simple as possible, you should buy bread-machine yeast. It can be added directly to the bread machine and it will activate very quickly. If you want to use active dry yeast, then it needs to be proofed outside of the machine. You will also need to adjust the recipe accordingly. You may also see rapid rise yeasts that are meant to speed up the baking process; however, some believe that they have no discernible effect.
The Baking Process
Using the machine is very easy. First, place all the ingredients in the bread pan and then place the pan securely inside the bread machine. Then select the appropriate setting for the type of bread you are making and start the programme. Many bread makers have small windows through which you can monitor the baking process. The first thing you will see is the machine mixing all the ingredients together and then kneading the dough. The dough gradually becomes a smooth ball, and while this process is taking place, it is important that you do not open the machine, as it will be carefully regulating the temperature. The machine will tell you when you can remove the loaf, at which point you should allow it to cool on a wire rack before trying to slice it.
There are a few other tips we can give you to help you bake the best possible bread. First of all, make sure that your eggs are at room temperature, your water is warm, and that cold butter is cubed. You also need to be extremely exact in your measurements to make sure that nothing goes wrong. It is also important to make sure fully understand the settings on your bread maker so that you don’t end up making a mistake. However, bread makers really do make life easy, so you should soon be enjoying some lovely fresh bread.