Bread maker machines are advertised as easy to use — and they are, once you get to know them. But your first results can be disappointingly deflating. Small, dense and under-cooked loaves are often a problem for new machine owners. You can, of course, go with a bread mix, which has all the ingredients in one bag. Just add yeast and water and you’re ready to go.
But if you’d rather start from scratch, here are ten tips to make sure your loaves are the best every single time.
Use High-Grade Flour
In some countries
You’ll have noticed many different types of flour on the supermarket shelves, and each is best suited to a particular use. In New Zealand,
Warm The Flour
It’s a good idea to make sure the flour is at least room temperature before it goes into the bread maker. My flour lives in the pantry, so in winter I make sure I bring it inside for a while before I need to get started. I often pop the bag down by the fire if I need it to warm up in a hurry.
Measure Flour Correctly
Bread maker recipes will give you two ways to measure: cups and weight. Using a set of scales will give you a consistently accurate amount of flour each time. The amount of flour in a cupful can vary quite considerably, depending on whether you heap it or not. Some people pour the flour into the cup, others scoop it out of the flour bin. Each method will result in a slightly different amount of flour in the cup.
Be Generous Measuring Other Ingredients
The standard ingredients for an ordinary loaf of bread are flour, sugar, salt, oil, milk powder and yeast. I find that the amounts stated in the recipe in my bread maker book are a bit small. The amounts I use for a loaf made from 450g (1lb) of
- 1 ½ tbsp olive or rice bran oil
- 1 ½ tbsp milk powder (1 ½ tbsp of liquid milk works too)
- 2 tbsp sugar (white sugar or coconut sugar both work well)
- 1½ tsp salt
- Yeast (see below)
Tbsp = tablespoon (15 ml in NZ) Tsp = teaspoon (5 ml)
Your machine is probably not made in New Zealand, and the measurements given in its recipe book may be using Australian or US tablespoons, which are actually a different size to NZ ones. An Aussie tablespoon, for example, is 20 ml whereas NZ tablespoons are only 15 ml.
To be on the safe side, I use the largest tablespoon in my set which is actually NZ1½ tbsp.
Warm Water Is Important
Use water that is warm to the touch but not hot. Water that is too hot will kill the yeast, but cold water will take too long to activate it, and your bread is less likely to rise properly.
Use a yeast with added improvers
In New Zealand
I use Edmonds Surebake Yeast — look for the jars with red tops in the baking aisle — but I have seen at least one other brand which also offered a yeast+improver option.
3 tsp is a good amount to add.
Breadmaker recipes vary as to the amount of yeast to use. Some will break it down into a yeast measurement and an improver measurement.
I’ve experimented with amounts over the years, and have found that 3 tsp of Surebake Yeast has given a well-risen loaf every time.
Check the date on the yeast jar.
If you’ve done everything else correctly and the bread still doesn’t rise properly, check the date on the yeast jar. If it’s a long way past the “best before” date then stale yeast could be the problem.
Add the ingredients in the order listed for your bread maker.
Your bread maker machine recipe book will have a list of ingredients and the order you should put them into the bread pan. Some start with the water and add the flour and yeast last. Others list the yeast first. It’s probably best to add them in the order recommended for your machine.
Check the crust setting
Not all bread maker machines have a crust setting. If yours does, experiment with the setting that works best for you. On my machine, dark is the best option to use.
Yum — Fresh Bread
I’ve made many mistakes with my bread over the years, but if a loaf doesn’t rise properly then it’s usually because I haven’t followed my own tips.
Farm Recipes on Time of my Life
Food is such a part of farming culture. The first thing you’re likely to hear when you walk into our house is “have a cuppa.”
Apart from fresh bread, I’ve got some go-to recipes for keeping my farmer and guests well fed. Cheese scones are another perfect accompaniment to soup, or a quick snack to whip up when your farmer suddenly turns up with guests in tow.