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What Does a Bread Machine Do and Why Do You Need One?

Preview: If you are asking yourself what a bread machine does and why you might need one, I am here to tell you why I love mine and have used them for years.

Have you ever eaten bread made and baked in a bread machine? Were you impressed? If not, let me encourage you to take another look.

I LOVE mine and I think you will, too. Keep reading to find out more.

What does a bread machine do?

A bread machine enables one to dump all the ingredients into the machine, press a button, and theoretically, walk away. Three and a half hours later, you can come back to bread that is baked and ready to eat.

Does that sound too good to be true?

In my opinion, yes. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Despite all the misshapen loaves, door stops, and hard crusts, there is a way to use a bread machine that makes it useful.

bread dough beside bread machine--Reasons Why I'm in Love With My Bread Maker Machine

How I use a bread machine to get dependable results every time:

Use the DOUGH cycle for mixing, kneading, and the first rise. Remove dough, shape it, let it rise again, and finally, bake the bread in a conventional oven.

You may or may not have noticed most of the yeast bread recipes on this blog are written for a bread machine. Not only do I love how easy it makes bread, but apparently, I don’t need to knead with my own hands.

Bread Machine Secrets

Are the benefits of making bread by hand overrated?

Probably not. If that’s what you prefer, my hat’s off to you. Please invite me over when your bread comes out of the oven and I’ll help you eat it.

Nevertheless, the alleged therapeutic advantages of using my own two hands to work the dough are wasted on me.

My impatience rarely allows it, and my penchant for quality bread demands the consistency of a bread machine.

Nonetheless, if you love making bread by hand or even with a stand mixer, far be it from me to try to talk you out of whatever works for you.

On the other hand

When you want homemade bread you can count on to be ready at mealtime, try using a bread machine to mix and knead the dough. With practice, you can expect good texture, height, and superb flavor.

Did you notice I didn’t say “bake” the bread in your bread machine in the last paragraph?

Three reasons why I don’t care for bread “baked” in a bread maker:

  1. I’m not fond of strangely shaped bread and/or the unsightly hole left in the bottom of the loaf where the blade was inserted.
  2. The crust is often thick and tough.
  3. Usually, I want dinner rolls or some kind of specialty shape so actually baking in a bread machine is not even a choice.

So here we go…

5 reasons why you might need a bread machine:

#1

Simple assembly. Simple clean-up.

First, dump all ingredients in at once. No need to dissolve the yeast. Then, close the lid keeping the flour mess inside. The result? Only one pan and one blade to clean.

unmixed ingredients in bread machine pan

#2

Less hands-on time.

 unsliced bread--one mixed by hand and other mixed in bread machine; comparison pic
Hands-on time:  20 minutes +             vs.                  Hands-on time: 5 minutes

3.

Bread rises higher and texture is finer.

Take a look at the Condensed Milk Bread on the right below.

comparison of bread kneaded by hand and bread kneaded in a bread machine
Left: Mixed and Kneaded by Hand            Right: Mixed and Kneaded in a Bread Machine                                                                               M

4.

Minimal attention to the process is required.

dough mixed in bread maker machine pan
Dough after mixing and kneading; before rising. Look Ma! No hands.

For this reason alone, I prefer a bread machine over a stand mixer although a Kitchen Aid will do a nice job once you get the hang of it.

Changing mixing speeds and blades are a non-issue with a bread machine.

Furthermore, you will no longer need to grease a bowl, find a cover, or look for a warm place for the proofing stage.

The bread machine takes care of the mixing automatically. A peek or two under the lid about 5-10 minutes into the dough cycle is all that’s necessary.

risen dough in bread maker machine pan
Bread dough after proofing (rising), ready to be shaped.

5.

Bread machines have useful timers.

pizza dough made in a bread machine
My Favorite Pizza Dough works great in a bread machine.

You can do cool things like having My Favorite Pizza Dough ready to roll out when you walk in the door from a long day at work.

Another example…

I often throw ingredients for My Favorite Dinner Rolls into the bread machine pan before church. Upon arriving home 2-3 hours later, the risen dough is ready to form into the shape of my choice.

soft dinner rolls
Dinner Rolls mixed and kneaded in a bread maker

FAQ about bread machines:

The times I tried to make bread in a bread machine, it turned out like a brick. Who needs it?

Using the automatic cycle on a bread machine from start to finish is fraught with pitfalls. Although you might get lucky and it works, often it doesn’t. I don’t care for the odds so I choose to take more control.

Which bread machine should I buy?

Check out this post about choosing a machine: Choosing the Right Bread Machine.

I already have a bread machine but I need some good recipes. What do you recommend?

You’ll find over 50 recipes designed to be mixed up in a bread machine from this website alone.

What do you recommend if I have no oven and need to bake my bread inside the machine?

First, read this post for lots of general tips about using a bread machine. I would start out with this recipe for Sweet-Milk White Bread. It’s a winner. If you prefer something more substantial try this recipe for Cracked Wheat Berry Bread.


White bread made in the bread machine
Sweet-Milk Soft White Bread makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at saladinajar.com.

Hope to see you again soon!
Paula

More posts about bread machines:


Sandra Petersen

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Hi Paula. I have just bought my very first bread maker, not being sure if Id like it and it would end up as another dusty object in the back of the pantry, I ended up getting the smallest one I could while still going for a known and well respected brand. I settled on a Kenwood BMM-13, as I am a Kenwood fan. It came with 19 recipes yay I thought and the pics I saw on the box (I did buy online - I live remote) were of all kinds of yummy breads BUT it seems there are no programmes or recipes for the sweeter types of bread and one of the must haves for my husband is banana bread. I do not have a reliable oven - hence one of the reasons I wanted a breadmaker, so baking in an oven is not an option that is available to me. You wouldnt happen to have some recipes that I could possibly use to make banana bread or even cinnamon or ginger bread? I have registered for your course and am enjoying it and have already learn alot from you. I only got it this past Saturday and have already made 3 loaves of bread and am very happy with the bread it makes. I just want to be able to make other types of breads as well. I really hope you can help me with this. Have a great day. Sandra

Paula

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Hi Sandra,

So nice to hear from you. Congratulations on your new bread machine.

I specialize in yeast bread recipes. I don't have any quick bread recipes on my website, but a quick Google search should turn up quite a few. Here is one you can bake in your bread machine. https://breaddad.com/bread-machine-banana-bread/

As you may have figured out, I don't bake bread in my machine very often for various reasons. But most of my recipes will work using the mix-knead-proof-bake cycles on a bread machine.

One thing to watch out for is the size of the recipe. Do you know what the maximum amount of flour is for your machine? Check the few recipes that came with the machine. Whatever most of them call for is probably the limit. I'm guessing that would be 2-2½ cups. Going over the recommended amount could overheat the motor or damage your machine.

I hope I've answered your questions. Feel free to write back anytime.

Leslie Davidson

Saturday 20th of February 2021

I have just bought a Panasonic ZB2502. Apart from one initial disaster the bread is superb. I made a Honey and sunflower loaf that was perfect. It seems to me that breadmaking is similar to a religion. I always warm the pan prior to putting the ingredients in and I use the yeast dispenser. Do not open the lid during the baking cycle. I will try your method of dough making and baking in the oven with a bowl of boiled water on the bottom shelf.

Paula

Saturday 20th of February 2021

Hi Leslie,

I haven't thought about breadmaking as being similar to a religion. Interesting. Sounds like you've got a good system that works for you. Can't argue with success. Thanks so much for writing.

Annette Williamson

Monday 15th of February 2021

I am on my third Cuisinart bread machine. Regardless of the weather, I get a great high loaf every time. A combo of whole wheat and white bread flour, an oatmeal loaf and raisin bread are our favourites. Buns are great as is the pizza dough and you can’t beat the smell of fresh bread baking. If you haven’t tried a bread maker, you are really missing out on a treat.

Paula

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Hi Annette,

Thanks for adding this comment to the conversation. Better than any advertisement. I couldn't agree with you more.

Dianne

Monday 5th of October 2020

I tried the Sweet-Milk bread machine recipe and it is awesome. It's the best bread machine recipe I have ever made and I also remove it from the bread machine after it is mixed and put it in a loaf pan to let rise then bake it

Paula

Monday 5th of October 2020

Glad you liked it, Dianne. I agree it's one of the best white bread recipes I've ever made.

Dianne

Monday 5th of October 2020

This can be number 7 about bread machines. I found out by accident that you should ALWAYS run hot water in your bread machine pan and let sit for 10 minutes then dump out and proceed with your bread recipe. Even in summer the pan gets chilled and your bread may not rise as it should if you are letting it bake in the bread machine.

Paula

Monday 5th of October 2020

Hi Diane, I never thought about this since I don't bake bread in my machine. But I can totally see what you're talking about and you are absolutely right. Good thing to remember when you are letting the bread bake in a bread machine. A lot of machines these days have a pre-heat cycle that helps with this.