Are you wondering what “The Most Important Tip When Using a Bread Machine” could be?
If you haven’t been doing this already, the quality of the bread you get out of a bread machine will start to improve immediately.
Your bread machine has no brain. It may have a timer and a thermostat, but your bread maker can’t think for itself.
Are you disappointed in your bread machine?
A lot of people buy a bread machine hoping it will magically make the perfect loaf of fresh yeast bread with the press of a button. You might get lucky, and it happens.
If you use the right recipe, the humidity is the same as wherever the recipe-developer resides, you measured your flour in the same way the recipe-developer did, and the room temperature where your bread machine sits is the same as theirs, then you have a good chance of experiencing success. Whew!
However, making bread is an art, not an exact science. Sometimes you will make adjustments based on the environment, the ingredients you use, and the finished product you desire.
Knowing when-what-and-how-much requires experience, a sixth sense, and sometimes, good luck.
So, what is the most important thing you should do when using a bread maker?
Are you are using your bread machine as a mix-knead-rise appliance (like I do), or do you want your bread machine to do everything? Either way, my advice is to open the lid and check the consistency of the dough inside.
Do this 5-10 minutes after starting the machine and then again after the bread maker has been kneading 5-10 minutes. If you walk by 15 or 20 minutes into the cycle, open the lid and peek to see if all is well.
The only time you do not want to open the cover is in the middle of the proofing period. You don’t want to let heat escape, thus prolonging the rising time.
How will I know when my bread dough is just right?
The goal is for the dough to stick to the side, then pull away cleanly as it kneads.
The dough in the video below is the perfect consistency for the average loaf of yeast bread. It’s pliable, shiny, smooth, and not too sticky.
Is the dough too dry?
Does it refuse to form a ball, or does it make a ball that slaps loudly against the side of the pan? Add a tablespoon of liquid, give it a chance to mix up for a couple of minutes, and check again. Keep doing this until the dough looks right.
Is the dough too wet?
Does it look gooey and sticky? Add a tablespoon of flour at a time, watching until you see the dough stick to the sides and then pull away cleanly. Allow a couple of minutes to incorporate the flour before adding any more.
Remember, some doughs need to be quite wet, like a brioche or ciabatta. If you are a beginner, avoid those kinds of recipes until you have dependable success with a simple loaf.
p.s. If you are new to the bread machine world and want to increase your chances of success, I suggest you start with a bread machine mix from the grocery store. Alternatively, use a basic recipe from the manual that came with your bread maker.
Or, try using one of my bread machine recipes formulated for using a bread machine as I do. Check out my recipe index for loads of possibilities.
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