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Tips For Using A Bread Machine

Tips For Using A Bread Machine

By Kristin Salaky, News Editor, Kristin Salaky Is The News Editor At Delish.Com Covering Viral Foods, Product Launches, Food Trends.

We're surely not the first to tell you, there are many ways to make bread: in a Dutch oven, in a loaf pan, in a cast-iron skillet. All our wonderful, viable options—and all require a decent amount of hands-on time. Not into that? Enter: a bread maker. It's one of the simplest ways to speed up the bread making processes and make picture-perfect loaves every single time.

If you've recently taken the plunge, are wondering if a bread maker is right for you, or just want to get even better at using your bread maker, we've got answers to your most pressing FAQs.

How do bread makers work?

Bread makers really, really vary by make and model. But the main thing you need to know is that bread makers, generally, are machines that knead, rise, and bake your bread for you. All you have to do is dump your ingredients in and let the machine do all the hard work.

Bread machines can vary in their operations (for example, with some it might be better to mix the ingredients before placing them in), so you should always read the instructions thoroughly before making your first loaf. But generally, expect fluffy bread without spending hours kneading or peering into an oven.

What can you bake in a bread machine?

Obviously you can bake bread, but again, how much varies greatly by machine. Some are designed to only make up to one pound loves while others can handle bigger jobs. You should do your research to find a bread machine that is best suited to the bread you make most. It's extremely important you don't try and put too much dough in your bread machine so do your research and make sure your favorite recipes match your makers' capacity.

You can also make things like rolls using a bread machine, but for that, you'll simply use the machine to mix, knead, and maybe rise. There are tons of recipes for bread machine-specific doughs so read them thoroughly and give them a try. Some bread makers can also be used for things like making jam, but again, check your manual.

Chelsea Lupkin

What are bread machines best for?

Generally, if you want to get the most out of your bread machine, you'll use it for, well, bread—specifically bread that will fit in the tin in your specific bread maker. Bread machines tend to be better for pillow-soft breads and if you want to make it from start to finish in your maker, you'll want to make whole loaves.

You can also use bread machines to make rolls, pizza dough, pretzels, but you'll just be using the bread machine to make the dough and you'll do the rest in your oven.

What are bread makers not so good for?

Bread machines are not great for breads that require a crispy crust, like sourdough. They just don't get hot enough for them and tend to produce denser loaves. If you like to shape your loaves, bread machines aren't great for that either.

What type of flour should you use?

You should use bread flour in your bread machine; it contains more protein and produces more gluten than all-purpose flour. Some recipes will call it "bread machine flour" but...it's just bread flour.

Lucy Lambriex Getty Images

What order should you add the ingredients to your machine?

Again, this will vary greatly by your manufacturer's instructions so always read those first. Generally, you're going to want to put liquids first then dry ingredients. The yeast always goes in last.

What about yeast?

If you buy a bread machine, you should probably also buy bread-machine yeast (or rapid-rise yeast) to make things easier. This type of yeast can be added directly into the maker as it activates more quickly. If you want to use active dry yeast, you'll need to proof it outside your maker. You'll also likely need to adjust the proportions and Fleischmann's Yeast has a great explainer on that here.

How can I avoid mistakes?

Like anything, practice makes perfect. That being said, some common mistakes from first-timers include being too afraid to peer inside the bread maker and check on progress (this is typically totally fine except for during the baking process), adding liquids that are too hot (they should be around 80 degrees unless stated otherwise), and not measuring properly.

Are there any other tips I should know?

Yes, lots! But here are just some super important ones.

Prep your ingredients: Eggs should always be at room temp if you're using them, water should be warm, and if using cold butter, make sure it's cubed.

Be exact: Baking is already a pretty exact science, but when it comes to baking in a bread maker, that gets ratcheted up to, like, 10. You definitely don't want things overflowing from your bread maker. Measure out your ingredients carefully and make sure your water is the proper temperature. Of course you can eventually try some things to improve or change your bread, but be careful.

Get to know your settings: All bread machines are different, but get to know which setting your model has. For example, you can use a "Quick Bread" cycle for things like banana bread and pumpkin bread that require no yeast, and you can use a "Jam" cycle for making, well, jam. There are also somethings you should know, like never put dairy in your maker when using the "Delayed" cycle. Basically, read your manual front to back—then do it again just for funsies.

Kristin Salaky News Editor Kristin Salaky is the news editor at Delish.com covering viral foods, product launches, and food trends.

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