Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Secrets On Using The Bread Machine

Posted by: "Sharon" saltywood8@yahoo.com saltywood8
Date: Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:48 pm (PDT)

Secrets On Using The Bread Machine

1. My machine has a regular dough cycle and a quick dough cycle. I
usually use the quick dough cycle. It also has a rise after mixing the
dough. After the rise has completed, I remove the dough from the

Follow the instructions for your machine regarding order of loading
ingredients. The important thing is to keep the yeast away from the
liquid and the salt until the bread-making begins; this is especially
important when the machine won't start mixing the dough for several hours.
I follow the liquids-first-then-dry method, but instead of putting the
sugar and salt on top of the flour, I add them to the liquid. I
recommend placing ingredients in the pan in the following order:
. Liquid (milk, water)
. Eggs, oils, melted or softened butter
. Salt, sugars (including honey, molasses)
. Dried milk
. Dried orange or lemon peel
. Dried herbs, dried flavorings, seeds
. Whole wheat flour
. Bread flour or all-purpose flour
. Yeast

2. Adding Ingredients:
Water - I usually start out by adding fairly hot water (120
degrees) and find that by the time I have added all the ingredients,
the water has cooled to the proper temperature.

(Do not do this if you are using
a delayed heating cycle.)

Butter - Melt butter or margarine in the microwave before adding it
to the machine.

Eggs - I bring my eggs to room temperature by placing them in a cup
of really warm water for several minutes before adding.

Refrigerated Ingredients - Heat anything taken from the
refrigerator (milk, buttermilk, cottage cheese, etc.) in the microwave
until it is warm to the touch, about 1 minute.

Salt - Use only non-iodized salt (iodine attacks the yeast
activity, slowing down the first fermentation). Salt is a yeast inhibitor and
it is best to add it so it is not touching the yeast. If you are having
trouble with short loaves, try cutting back on the salt (sometimes this
solves the problem).

Other Ingredients - Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel or zest, as
well as cinnamon and alcohol, will have a retarding effect. Too much
will stop the yeast activity completely. Cinnamon has a direct effect on
the yeast activity and in large quantities it will stop fermentation
completely. Keep high percentages of cinnamon out of the dough itself and
it in the fillings where it can have only a limited effect on the yeast

Vital Gluten - Add 1 teaspoon of vital gluten per cup of whole
grain flour in your recipes. This will produce a taller loaf. If you find
the loaves are still short, increase by adding and extra teaspoon until
you get the results you desire (be sure to note the amounts on the

Flour - For most breads, you should use bread flour. It has a
higher protein content, which forms more gluten during kneading.
If you use all-purpose flour, the bread doesn't rise as high,
but it certainly rises. The bread is denser and not as fluffy.

Yeast - I use Red Star Instant Active Dry Yeast in all my breads. I
use 1 teaspoon of instant yeast per cup of flour. If the recipe calls
for over 3 cups of flour, I still use only 3 teaspoons. This gives me a
taller and well-textured loaf. Sometimes, if the day is warm and humid,
I cut back 1/2 teaspoon to prevent over proofing. The rapid dough cycle
is the only cycle I use on my bread machine. For more information on
different types of yeast, click HERE.

3. The most important hint or tip! Learn to read your dough. Don't
be afraid to open the lid to check how your dough is doing. It should
form a nice elastic ball. If you think the dough is too moist, add flour
a tablespoon at a time. The same is true if the dough is looking dry
and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time). If you can't judge
your dough by looking, stick your finger in and feel the dough. It
should be slightly tacky to the touch.

4. Another secret is not to flour the surface on which you form the
dough. Instead, lightly oil the work surface to prevent the dough from
sticking. It is often the case that one uses too much flour on the work
surface and, since dough that has risen will not accept any more flour,
the excess flour used on the work surface just toughens the bread. I
spray lightly in one spot and use my hands to spread it over the entire
work surface. It's a sure bet that oiling your work surface will produce
wonderful rolls and loaves of bread.

To oil the surface, you can either use oil or a nonstick cooking
spray. If you wish, flavored oils may also be used, provided they are
compatible with your bread. The nonstick cooking sprays should be used
carefully, since it is easy to spray them unevenly. I have achieved better
results with Mazola spray or Veelene spray than I have with PAM. I also
use the Gold-n-sweet spray from Price Bluc/Costco with good results.

5. I knead the dough just a little on the sprayed surface and form
into a oval, cover with a cotton towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.
This is an important step to let the dough rest after turning it out of
the bread pan. This is called "benching" and it allows the dough to
relax, making it easier to handle and shape.

The type and size of towel used to cover the dough is also
important. Be sure it is large enough to cover your entire dough or you
will have a "crust" form and the dough will no longer rise.
Use a large cotton towel with a smooth surface.

Do not use a terry towel (it will stick to
the dough and flatten the loaf). An even worse consequence is that
you might end up with a bread studded with bits of terry loops.

6. Handle dough gently. Over molding could cause breaking of the
surface tension and will result in a smaller finished loaf. After
resting, turn dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Then fold dough
into shape you want. Place on a jelly roll pan dusted with cornmeal
or the new "Silpat" (this is what I now use - wonderful!).

Cover and place in a
warm spot to rise, approximately 20 minutes. It is often difficult to
determine when hand-shaped dough has risen enough, so test it by pushing
on the dough with your finger (if it springs back up and hesitates, it
has risen sufficiently).

7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (this is the temperature I use in a
regular oven for all bread). After rising, slash the bread with a very
sharp knife, razor blade, or a lame (a lame is a sharp blade that gets
under the dough as you cut, giving you just the right shape for
expansion). Brush or spray the top of the bread with cold water (keeps
the dough wet so that it won't form a crust from the heat of the oven,
thus allowing the bread to get a good "oven spring: during the first 5
minutes of baking) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned.
(A good check is to use an instant meat thermometer to test your bread.
The temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees. I do this all
the time).

8. Another secret to give your bread the professional bakery look
is to use a cornstarch glaze. I keep this mixture in my refrigerator to
use on all the bread I bake.

Cornstarch Glaze:
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a small saucepan, with a small whisk, stir together water and
cornstarch. Heat mixture to a gentle boil. Stir, reduce heat, until
mixture thickens and is translucent. Cool. Brush on loaf about 10 minutes
before baking is finished and again 3 minutes before bread is completely

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