How to make bread in a bread machine

8 August 2013

Homemade garlic and herb bread.

Bread is part of our daily lives here. I make it most days and sometimes we buy a good rye loaf from our German baker. I'm happy to say though that I make good rye bread, so the loaf we buy from them at six dollars is only purchased when, for one reason or another, it can't be made at home. Very early on in my simple life I wanted to bake bread instead of buy it. It is possible to buy good bread but it's expensive and supermarket bread contains so many additives, I don't think it's worth eating. The following is a typical ingredient list for Australian packaged white or wholemeal supermarket bread:

  • Wheat Flour, Water, Baker's Yeast, Vinegar, Iodised Salt, Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Soy Flour, Emulsifiers (481, 472e, 471), Vitamins (Thiamin, Folate). 

So one of the first things I taught myself how to do was to bake our bread. It took about three months to get a loaf that I was happy with every day. I tried many recipes, reworked, adjusted and finally had a recipe that gave consistent good results.  I've kept tweaking it over the years and I'm happy to share that recipe with you. I know many are learning how to bake for the first time and others struggle, as I did, to get a decent loaf. Bread and soap making are the two subjects I'm asked about most at my library talks. Try this recipe and if it doesn't work, try it again the following day. If it works the second time, it just means you missed something the first time. The amounts must be accurate and you need a warm temperature in the kitchen to proof the dough.

This loaf can be made in a bread machine or completely by hand. I use the machine to knead the dough when I'm busy. One thing a machine is good at is kneading, and the machine keeps a steady warm temperature so that the dough rises well. When all that is done, I take the dough out of the machine and bake the loaf in the oven. The how to guide to making bread by hand is in this early post from 2007. Little has changed, except the recipe. I've developed this new simpler recipe that makes a good loaf, even for beginners. 

This bread contains gluten. I never make gluten-free bread. Gluten is one of the proteins in wheat flour. To make this bread successfully, you need to develop the gluten. That just means it must be kneaded for a long time. The machine will take over an hour to knead and proof the dough. If you do it by hand, you must knead vigorously for at least ten minutes. 

You need fresh ingredients for bread to rise. Use fresh flour and fresh yeast, not those that have been sitting at the back of the cupboard for six months.

  • Approx. 300 mls/10oz warm water - start off with 280mls/9.5oz water, and add more if the dough needs it. Make sure the water isn't too hot. It will kill the yeast.
  • 2 teaspoons dried/instant yeast *
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional) this helps the yeast to activate
  • 400 grams of high protein/baker's flour - it can be white, wholemeal, grain or rye. The only difference this will make to the recipe is the amount of water the different flours will need.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
If you've had problems in the past getting bread to rise, use a heaped teaspoon of bread improver to the above recipe and see if that makes a difference. 

* I never use any other type of yeast so please don't ask me about fresh yeast. I don't know.

Before loading the bread machine, add 280mls/9.5oz warm water to a cup and add the yeast and sugar. Stir it until it's dissolved. Give the yeast five minutes to activate and if the mixture looks milky or bubbly, the yeast has activated. There is a photo of this in the 2007 link. If the yeast doesn't activate, wait another five minutes. If it still hasn't activated, it must be dead/old yeast. You'll have to buy a fresh batch before you make bread.

Load the flour and salt into the machine then add the yeast water. Turn the machine on to the dough setting and let it start mixing. Keep an eye on it because you'll probably have to add more water. Let the dry ingredients mix and the add the rest of the water if it needs it. You may even have to add more water. It will depend on the weather and the type of flour you use. You're aiming to make the dough moist but not really sticky. When the dough starts the kneading process, it should turn into a nice smooth dough.

Last week's bread.
Uncut and cut.
Shaping the dough. You roll it into a spiral.
Last week's garlic bread.
I forgot to take a photo before I cut it. Oops.
This is the shaped loaf in the bread tin, sitting in the bread machine to rise.

When the dough cycle has finished. Take the dough out, shape it and put it in your bread tin. Let it sit with a clean tea towel over the top to almost double in size. If you kitchen is cold, you may want to do this by placing the bread tin into the top of the bread machine while it's still turned on. The warmth of the machine will help the dough rise (see above).  When the dough has risen, just before you put it in the oven, add seeds, polenta, oats or whatever you want to add, slash the top with a VERY sharp knife and put the loaf into a very hot oven - 220C/430F. Five minutes after it's in, turn the oven down to 200C/390F. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until the loaf is golden and cooked.

Turn the loaf out onto a cake rack to cool.

I made this no knead Dan Lepard's Movida loaf for the first time yesterday but it wasn't a great success. I think I added too much water. The resulting loaf couldn't be cooked free form so I added it to a bread tin for baking. The bread itself was fine but I think I still prefer my loaf above because I have two periods when I load the bread machine and then get it ready for the oven and don't have to worry about coming back in ten minutes when I'm busy doing something else.

If you've had trouble in the past with your baking, I hope you try this recipe and tell me how it goes for you.  Happy baking everyone!

I APOLOGISE! I read the first lot of 13 comments, highlighted them all to publish them but then clicked the wrong button and deleted instead. I'm sorry to everyone who commented. I invite you to add your comment again if you have the time.