When you think of making bread, your mind will think of the whole process of mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, letting the dough rise, and finally baking it. Baking bread by hand requires meticulous observation of the bread as it rises and bakes, and it can be a time-consuming process.
With a bread machine, all of your problems are solved. You get bread in a short amount of time, and all you have to do is throw some ingredients into the machine. The bread comes out uniformly shaped, fluffy, and perfectly textured.
Bread machines, though, can be tricky to use. Many have various different settings and ways to bake the bread and it can get pretty confusing. So, how does a bread machine work?
Bread machines are all different. Some have settings for making jam, some don’t. Some have a way to make the bread gluten-free, while others only have the function of making a basic bread. It all depends on the brand of the machine as well as the cost of it.
As you can see with a quick search for bread machines on amazon.com, prices range from less than $50, to over $300 (take a look at our favorite ones). As such, there are different ways in which to use a bread machine. I can give you the basic instructions, but it really depends on the make of your machine.
Before you learn how to use a bread machine, learn why you need one.
Setting up Your Bread Machine
To get started, remove the bread pan from the bread machine by twisting slightly while lifting up. Make sure your machine isn’t near any hot or wet surfaces.
Fit the kneading blade into the middle of your bread pan if it’s not already there, and make sure it’s locked in (you’ll be able to tell as soon as it fits in place).
Adding Your Ingredients
Add all of your liquid ingredients into your bread pan first (unless your specific machine instructions express otherwise, in which case reverse the order of adding the ingredients). Distribute the flour evenly across the liquid, making sure to cover all of the liquid completely.
Add the remaining dry ingredients, but note that when using salt, sugar, butter, or oil, place them in opposite corners of the bread pan so they’re not touching. Make an indent into the center of the flour and add the yeast.
Get Ready to Bake
Place the bread pan filled with the ingredients into the bread machine, twisting it until it locks in. Close the lid of the bread pan.
Start Your Bread Machine
Plug your bread machine in and turn it on. Set your machine to the setting you desire (or as the recipe instructs), meaning choose the size of the loaf, the color, and the general way of baking the bread. Press start, and leave the bread machine to do what it does best!
Adding Extra Ingredients
If you need to add fruit, nuts, or any extra ingredients to your loaf, do so towards the end of the kneading process (or whenever your machine beeps to let you know it’s time to add the ingredients; some bread machines have dispensers that distribute the food for you).
Getting Your Bread
Now’s the time to get your perfect, warm loaf! The machine will beep to let you know the bread has finished baking. Press stop. Using some sort of heat protector, remove your bread pan from the machine using the handle, and tip it upside-down onto a cooling rack, releasing the bread from the pan.
If the kneading blade is still in your bread, remove it carefully from the bottom. Cool the bread, and let the machine cool down before cleaning. Enjoy your delicious loaf!
Some bread machines have options other than simply baking bread. If your bread machine has a jam function, simply follow the instructions for using the bread machine, adding equal parts of fruit and sugar, and set your program to jam. Store in sterilized jars.
For the cake setting, follow the same directions as the bread, except choose the “cake” program. Same follows for other extra functions.
What Do All of Your Settings Mean?
Time Display- shows the time remaining for your bread to bake. You can also use the arrows on your machine to control when you want it to start making your bread (for example, you can set it so it starts baking your bread 3 hours after you press “start”).
Crust color- this control lets you choose how well you want your bread baked- light, golden crust, darker crust.
Warming function- this allows your bread to stay warm after it’s been baked. For most machines, they will only keep your bread warm for a couple hours.
Loaf size- lets you determine the size of your loaf and whether you want it to be small, medium, or large.
Basic function- used for simple loaves.
Rapid- bakes your bread faster, which can be convenient but may also leave you with a less-risen loaf.
Whole wheat- used for whole wheat loaves, it lets the bread rise for a longer time.
Bake- allows you to simply bake pre-made bread doughs or batters.
Gluten-free- used for making gluten-free bread loaves.
Rye- used for making rye breads, and requires a special kneading blade.
Bread machines are simple to use, especially once you’re comfortable adjusting the settings to your liking. Good luck using your bread machine!
Have a yeast allergy, learn how to make yeast-free bread.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.