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Tips For Bread Making & Bread Machines

bread dough

Tip One: Freedom to Check Your Dough

Go ahead, open your machine to look at and adjust or move the dough around while it kneads. You won't usually have to do this, but some flour may absorb or need more or less water (or more flour). We test most bread recipes with King Arthur's, Bob's Red Mill, Stone Buhr, Pillsbury bread flours. If during the first five to ten minutes of kneading you need to open the machine, you won't affect the rise or shaping. Plus, this is the only way you’ll be able to tell if the ingredients used are right for the perfect dough. A couple of don'ts, however: Don't poke at the dough, especially while it's rising. You can lift the lid with the first rise, but not the second and not during baking.

bread machine timer

Tip Two: Careful With Delay Timers

Don’t use fresh ingredients such as milk, eggs, cheese, etc. with "time delay" cycles, especially if the time to start is more than an hour away. Bacteria begins growing right away. There is a risk of "food poisoning" when dairy products sit at room temperature for more than an hour.

how to make hamburger buns

Tip Three: Shaping Dough & Oven Rising

When shaping dough for the second rise, turn your oven on to 200° F for one or two minutes, then turn it off. Set your loaf pans, trays, or baking sheets in the oven covered with a very light cotton cloth and let it rise in there. Usually about 45 minutes.

bread collapses

Tip Four: Rise Collapses

If your dough rises and then collapses, you might have too little yeast or too much water. If you repeat the recipe, watch it right after kneading when the first rise starts. You want to know when and what happened so that you can fix the problem.

bread rise questions

Tip Five: Solving Rise Questions

A few things can cause dough to not rise.

1. If yeast is placed into a bread machine alongside of the sugar, the yeast may die. Make sure yeast and sugar are at opposite ends and set in small pockets in the dry flour. Never add yeast first and don't mix sugar in with the water.

2. Yeast may be dead. Test it in a small bowl with room temperature water and a dash of sugar. If it doesn't "boil" up, it's not good.

3. Your recipe may need more yeast. Our no-salt formula for white bread flour is 1 packet bread machine yeast for 2 to 3 cups of flour. Four level teaspoons (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) for 3½ cups to 5 cups of flour. For Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat we use one-tablespoon bread machine yeast for 2 to three cups of flour and two tablespoons of bread machine yeast for 5 or more cups whole wheat flour. Also we add 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for each cup and a half of whole wheat flour. If a loaf just isn't rising well, then try doubling your yeast. Our recipes already call for ascorbic acid. Try doubling that and making sure you have at least one or two tablespoons of either cider or red wine vinegar. (1 tablespoon for up to 3 cups flour, 2 to 3 tablespoons for up to 6 cups flour.)

bread flour, why use

Tip Six: The Flour To Use For No-Salt Bread

We use bread flour (either white, whole wheat or white whole wheat) exclusively. Bread flour has some ascorbic acid already added in. We add a very small amount to ensure that it works. If you use a high quality bread flour like King Arthurs, Stone Buhr or Bob's Red Mill, you won't to add our suggested ascorbic acid. But you should add the suggested vital wheat gluten. The gluten interacts with the sugar and acid(s) and that's when we get a "commercial" loaf of bread with perfect texture. White bread is the easiest and pure whole wheat or high grain are the toughest for consistent success. Grain breads will be denser than white breads. With these recipes you'll find that the requirement for yeast may be doubled.

bread rise questions

Tip Seven: Making No Salt Bread:

The basic ratio of ascorbic acid is about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon up to four cups flour, 1/3 a teaspoon for up to 6 cups of flour. Vinegar we add should be about 2 tablespoons per 3 cups flour, 4 tablespoons for up to 5 cups flour. To give bread a "salt kick" if you find it necessary, we add granulated onion powder with a ratio of 1/4 teaspoon for 3 cup recipes and 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon for up to 6 cups flour.

bread rise questions

Tip Eight: Weather Sensitive

Bread flour is sort of weather sensitive. We use a few tablespoons more flour in the summer and one or two tablespoons less in the winter. This is not a myth. In humid climates it's particularly wise to adjust for this.

bread rise questions

Tip Nine: Nuts and Raisins

If you add raisins or nuts or other ingredients to the bread machine before the "fruit and nuts buzzer," then the machine will most likely grind them down to flavor only. In other words, the raisins and nuts will be pulverized.

bread rise questions

Tip Ten: Adding Non-listed Ingredients

You may want to add flaxseed meal, or other flavors (such as a nice spice bread) even though the recipe you are using doesn't call for them. Spices will make no difference to the rise and baking. Flaxseed meal might. Flaxseed meal absorbs some water, so you may have to add a few tablespoons to the recipe. Keep an eye on the kneading and if the dough needs more water, then add it one-tablespoon at a time.

bread rise questions

Tip Eleven: Can We Convert Bread Machine Recipes To Bread Made By Hand?

In most cases yes. However, remember that you need to make a "sponge" for handmade bread.

bread rise questions

Tip Twelve: The Sugar, The Yeast & The Mix

When adding yeast to your bread maker, make sure it doesn't come into immediate contact with the sugar. Place the yeast on one end of the pan and the sugar at the other.

bread rise questions

Tip Thirteen: Warm Water, Yeast & Chlorine

Water that is too cold and water that is too hot will kill the yeast. If your water is tap water and it's heavy with chlorine, that too can affect your yeast, often killing it. Water temperature should be about 105° F and 110° F. Never place the yeast directly in the water. We use distilled or filtered water only. The temperature noted here is also important when using buttermilk, milk, orange juice or other liquids.
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