A bread machine is easy to use—add ingredients, select a program, and remove the bread. We’ve got tips to help you make the best loaf and avoid mistakes.
Using a bread machine doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist (or even know how to make bread the old-fashioned way). It does all the ingredient mixing and baking in one machine.
That said, there are still some basic things you should know before you start baking to avoid mistakes and make the perfect loaf.
This short guide will show how to use a bread machine and cover some frequent questions prospective bakers might have before they start.
How Does a Bread Machine Work?
A bread machine kneads the dough, mixes the ingredients, and then bakes the bread.
Bread machines can be used to make more than just bread: Many bread machines can prepare doughs for other uses aside from bread, jam, yogurt, and even cake. On top of that, they can offer several types of bread.
Is It Worth Getting a Bread Maker?
If you want to learn how to bake, a bread maker is a great idea. I had no idea how to make bread before I got a bread maker. If you asked me to name the ingredients of bread, I’m pretty sure you would have ended up with cake mix!
Bread makers are also great for simplifying the process, and in the end, your newly baked bread could taste nicer and, as an added benefit, warm.
More experienced bakers, however, may prefer their way. At the end of the day, a bread machine can mean limiting the shape of your bread to the shape of the pan.
For example, my bread machine has a setting for French bread. However, I can only make it in the shape of the bread pan, and it’s rectangular. This also means that you won’t be able to make a loaf larger than your bread pan either.
Is it Cheaper to Make Bread With a Bread Maker?
Yes, the ingredients to make bread can work out cheaper than buying a regular loaf of bread, but that’s only ½ of the equation. You also have to consider your energy consumption.
Bread makers can consume a lot of power as they first knead the bread and then bake it—they can be working on your bread for more than three hours in some cases.
To save money with a bread maker, it should be energy-efficient, or it could end up more expensive than buying a loaf from the supermarket. So, be sure to check its energy rating before buying.
How to Use a Bread Machine
The short instructions:
1) Add your ingredients, 2) choose the required settings, and 3) wait for bread. Unfortunately, though, not every bread machine works in the same way.
You must check the instructions of your machine before you get started. While many advise adding liquids, then dry ingredients, and then yeast, you will see others that suggest a different order.
Recently, I saw a video where the instructor added yeast first, then flour, and water last—the complete reverse order from what I knew.
If you do not have your instruction manual handy, look online to see if you can find it for your specific bread machine. There are several sites online, such as InstructionsManuals.com, where you may be able to find instructions for your bread machine.
Our bread machine’s manual primarily gives the ingredients for each setting. It’s also worth mentioning that recipes also vary depending on the size of the bread you want to make.
Below, you will see that my machine has three options for loaf size (1,000g, 1,250g, and 1,500g), color (light, medium, and dark), as well as a rapid option. Particularly loaf size may impact the ingredients you need to add.
Make sure you put ingredients in the right order or you’ll end up with an unmixed mess! And make sure the kneading blades are in place. We once forgot to add our blades which meant the ingredients were not mixed—and it was pretty disappointing when we checked back on it a few hours later.
When making bread, always add water first, then oil, then flour (ideally cover all the water).
Other ingredients can then be added on top, such as sugar, salt, powder milk (depending on the bread you’re making), and finally, yeast.
Note that yeast should not touch the water. The best way to avoid this is to make a little hole in the flour and put the yeast in there.
And when you place the bread pan in the bread machine, make sure it clicks so that the kneading blades are connected to the machine.
It should also look level within the machine. Kneading blades may move, and you may need to move them around a little from underneath the bread pan to make sure they fit properly in the machine.
After you have added all ingredients, put the bread pan in the machine, turn it on, and select your setting. Your bread machine may also include options for the size of your loaf and how dark you want the crust. Different sizes and colors may impact how long it takes for the bread to finish.
For my bread, I mixed brown and white flour—in my opinion, it’s the best combo, but of course, use whichever flour you prefer.
Tip: Note that the teaspoon and tablespoon measure and measuring cup are used multiple times with different ingredients. Because of this, it is recommended that you clean these measures every time. I recommend this after adding salt, as you will then have to use the same measure for the yeast, which it can kill.
What Is Bread Machine Yeast?
Bread machine yeast is a type of yeast supposedly ideal for bread machine bread.
You can also use regular dry yeast which is what I have been doing and so far, I haven’t had a problem with it. That said, you may want to check Why Is My Bread Not Rising in My Breadmaker? and Why Does Bread Collapse in the Breadmaker? below.
Also, a side note on yeast. Yeast can expire, so make sure you check the use ‘before date’ before you start. Expired yeast will not make your bread rise.
Why Is My Machine Bread Not Rising?
If your bread is not rising in your bread maker, it means you are not using enough yeast. Yeast is what makes bread rise—it feeds off the sugars found in flour which creates carbon dioxide, making the bread rise and the small bubbles in the bread.
Look back at the recipe you are using and check that you have added the right amount of yeast.
Why Does My Bread Collapse in the Bread Machine?
Bread can collapse in a breadmaker if you’ve added too much yeast. It’s the opposite problem from the above. What happens is too much gas is produced from the yeast that you have added and the top collapses.
Bread made by breadmakers is more likely to collapse because of its rising cycles which can overstimulate yeast to produce more carbon dioxide. Again, make sure you check the recipe before you start—if it continues to happen, reduce the amount of yeast you are using.
When to Remove the Bread from the Bread Machine?
To give you the long answer short, you can remove bread from a bread machine when it has finished baking.
Your bread machine will likely have a timer and may make a noise when it’s finished. Leave the bread in the bread machine slightly longer if you want it to get a little darker. I typically do this for a crunchier crust.
If you remove the bread too early, it may not be fully baked and not ready for consumption. If that happens, you may be able to put the bread back in the machine and turn on a ‘bake’ option—if not, you can try sticking the bread in the oven for a bit.
How to Get the Bread Out of the Bread Machine?
Remove the bread pan from the bread machine using oven gloves (if you just finished baking, the pan will be hot).
Next, tip the bread pan upside down and shake it till it comes out (it might not look very classy, but I’m yet to find a more practical way).
Bread can sometimes get stuck in a bread machine because it dries up and sticks to the surface of the bread pan or the kneading blades.
After you have removed your bread, check for the kneading blades which can sometimes get stuck inside the bread. To remove the blades, you can use a hook.
How Long Does Homemade Bread Last?
According to most trustworthy sources, homemade bread lasts 3-4 days. However, some of the loaves I’ve baked have lasted up to 5-6 days before turning too crusty or molding.
How to Make Machine Bread Less Dense
If your bread is coming out too dense, there are three primary reasons why.
Either you have used too much flour, need to use bread flour instead, or as mentioned above, your yeast could be out of date. The image above comes from some very dense bread I made. Super confused about what happened, I saw that the yeast was one month out-of-date.
Recipes for your breadmaker could also be incorrect and some amounts may be too high or too low. If you’re not an experienced baker, you may only find this out after you attempt some of the recipes. With my bread machine, I have had to tweak a few of the recipes to get them right. Though, this could also be the fault of some of the ingredients I’m using.
You can still use dense bread—don’t throw it away. I often slice it thin so it’s easier to eat and it can make great toast or croutons for soup. Or if that doesn’t work for you, feed it to the pigeons.
Can I Make Pizza Dough in a Bread Machine?
A variety of bread machines come with pizza dough or ‘dough’ options. Just like making bread, you need water, oil, flour, salt, and yeast. Remember, water and oil first, then flour and the rest of the ingredients. When added, turn on the machine and select the dough or pizza dough option and the machine will mix the ingredients.
If you do not have a dough option on your bread machine, theoretically, you could remove the dough before the baking stage, though this might mean waiting by your bread machine for a while and it would probably be easier just to make pizza dough without the machine.