Bread machines make home baking easy. However, some people who use one are disappointed with the results. This is usually – if not always – because of incorrect usage. What follows are some essential and good bread machine tips.
Many bread makers stand idle because the owner has tried baking one or two recipes with disastrous results. If this has happened to you, don’t give up and store the machine away from the light of day never to be seen again. Instead, persevere and refine the recipes and how you use your bread maker. Here are some tips you may find useful.
The best tip you’ll ever get is to carefully read the instruction manual that came with your machine. Not all machines are the same so, even if you’ve had a bread maker before, you should read the instructions and take note of key points, like cleaning the appliance, what order to put in the ingredients and understanding the various baking cycles.
Some manufacturers state that it is perfectly okay to place the mixing paddle and the bread pan in a dishwasher. However, never do this as using a dishwasher will shorten the life of both paddle and pan. Instead, wash with warm soapy water. Never immerse the pan in water instead, put water into the pan and let it soak for 15 minutes, then empty and simply wipe clean with a dish cloth.
Don’t let removal of the paddle turn into an epic struggle. Before using, coat the paddle with margarine, olive or cooking oil. This makes removing the paddle after baking much easier. Never try to free the paddle by using a knife or metal utensil as this will scratch the non-stick coating.
Different machines require that ingredients are added in a certain order; always, always add the ingredients as instructed.
Unless, otherwise stated in the recipe, always use bread flour as it contains more gluten than regular flour – as well as helping the bread to rise, gluten gives structure to a loaf.
If you want to use honey rather than sugar remember to reduce the liquids used (milk, water etc.) by the equivalent amount.
When using either butter or margarine, it is better if they are nearly at room temperature. You should also cut butter and margarine into small pieces so it will blend easier.
Measuring the ingredients correctly is vital. Use measuring cups, spoons and jars. When adding flour, give it a tap and level it off with a knife. When using brown sugar, press it down gently before leveling. Never pour liquids into measuring cups or spoons over the bread machine pan, as some liquid will inevitable spill over in to it.
Loaves that sag in the middle can be because there is too much water in the recipe. You can experiment by reducing the amount by 1 tablespoon at a time. A sagging loaf can also be caused when the yeast has become too active, which results in a rapid rise followed by a rapid collapse. You can either add more salt (salt is a yeast inhibitor) or by reducing the amount of yeast.
Even when following a recipe to the letter, the dough can be either too wet or dry. This can be because of a number of factors. Many recipes give measurements in cups, tablespoons, teaspoons and so on, however, not all cup measures are the same. Also, humidity and temperature can affect the constituency of dough. You can increase or reduce the amount of liquids used but be sure to write down the new measurements so you remember the next time you use the recipe.
Home baking, even when using the best bread machine money can buy, is as much of an art as it is a science. If your loaves of bread aren’t coming out of the bread maker how you would like, then don’t get despondent, instead try changing the recipe slightly. Before long you’ll be baking perfect loaves each and every time.