Bread Machine Tips
Whether you "do the dough cycle" or let your bread machine bake your bread, there are some tips that hold true for all bread machine recipes. In fact, most regular bread recipes can be converted for use in the bread machine if you keep the following in mind:
- Use the right yeast. The yeast that works best in the bread machine, in terms of the timing and the way it's mixed with the other ingredients without being dissolved first, is called "bread machine yeast" or rapid-rise yeast.
- Use the yeast in time. Check the date on your yeast packet or bottle to make sure it hasn't expired. Some bread experts suggest keeping your yeast in the refrigerator between uses -- but then you have to remember to bring it to room temperature before adding it to the bread machine.
- Use the right amount of yeast. You'll need about 1/2 teaspoon yeast for each cup of flour.
- Store the yeast properly. Before the jar or packet is opened, store it in a cool, dry place in the pantry or in the refrigerator. Once opened, keep the yeast in a sealed container in the back of the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
- Room temperature is the rule. You want all the liquids (and the yeast) added to the bread machine to be around room temperature. That's because yeast likes to grow in a warm environment. You can use the microwave to gently warm milk straight from the refrigerator, if need be.
- Dry milk or wet milk? Some bread machine recipes call for dry milk and water. But if you're going to start your bread machine right away instead of using a timer, you can replace the water with milk or buttermilk and delete the powdered milk.
- Use the right size machine. Some bread machines make 1-pound loaves, some 1 1/2 pound loaves, and some can handle 2-pound loaves. Make sure your bread machine isn't too small for the amount of dough you're mixing. Generally, 1-pound loaf machines can handle up to 2 3/4 cups of flour and 7/8 cups of liquid, The larger machines can accommodate 3 to 4 cups of flour and 1 to 1 1/3 cups of liquid.
- Follow the 50% whole-wheat rule. In almost every bread machine recipe I make, I use half whole-wheat flour and half white flour. This way, the bread (or roll) is still somewhat light and airy but has more fiber and nutrients than if I'd used all white flour.
- Take a peek. After letting the bread machine mix the ingredients for a while and form the dough, peek in to make sure the dough is slightly sticky, but not wet. You may need to add a teaspoon or two more liquid or flour to achieve this state.
Favorite Healthy Bread Machine Recipes
After being a happy bread machine owner for about a decade now, I've collected quite an assortment of favorite healthy bread machine recipes. Here are just a few of them.