Sneak Peek: If you’ve been curious about making dough in a bread machine and baking it in the oven, this post will tell you how to do it and why it’s a good idea.
Click here if you are looking for the Oatmeal Sunflower Seed Bread Recipe that used to be part of this post.
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The “automatic-ness” of a bread machine can mess up a loaf when you try to bake it in a bread machine. But maybe we’ve all expected too much. After all, a bread machine operates on a timer, not a brain.
My solution is to make bread with the DOUGH cycle only; then you control the shaping, second rise, and baking. Master this skill, and you will produce a good loaf of bread almost every time. (Nothing connected with living yeast organisms is 100% predictable.)
Why you will fall in love with the DOUGH cycle on your bread machine:
How to avoid a too-dark and tough crust on your bread:
Check out the first picture at the top of this post. If you prefer the crust on the right instead of the left, use the DOUGH cycle. Then, shape the dough by hand, give it a second rise, and bake it in your conventional oven. If you’re not picky, you may prefer to take your chances and bake in the bread machine. And that’s fine. However, if you make my recipes, I will give you the specifics for my method inside the recipe.
Making the dough in a bread machine:
These are general instructions for making the dough for any bread machine recipe on the DOUGH cycle.
Dump all ingredients into the bread machine pan. Add the liquids first, then dry ingredients. Flour and yeast go in last. Next, select the “DOUGH” cycle.
The dough should stick to the side of the pan, then pull away cleanly while going through the kneading process. See this post about the most important thing you should do when making bread in a bread machine for further instructions.
After the kneading stops, the machine will go quiet. This is the proofing stage. The manual that came with your bread machine may say there are two rising times. Those two are equal to the first rise you would normally allow when making bread by hand or with a mixer.
After the dough cycle finishes and the dough has doubled in size, remove it to a floured surface for shaping. (If the dough has not doubled, leave it in the bread machine until it does.)
How to shape bread machine dough into a loaf you can bake in the oven:
At this point, you can shape the dough however you wish. The following picture shows how to make a standard loaf.
The short side should be about one inch longer than your loaf pan. Begin rolling the dough into a cylinder, starting with the short side closest to you. Take care that there is no excess flour. Pinch the seams together. Tuck the ends toward the seam and pinch.
What size pan should I use?
Deciding the size of the loaf pan you should use is crucial to the appearance of your baked loaf.
Too small, and your bread will rise out of the pan. Too large, and your bread will appear squatty or like it wasn’t allowed to proof long enough.
For a recipe with 3 cups of flour (360 grams), my favorite size is 9 x 5 inches when measured on the bottom. (It will hold 8 cups of water if you want to compare it with a pan you already have.)
Your bread dough should roughly fill the loaf pan half full.
If your recipe contains a lot of seeds, whole grains, or whole-grain flour, it won’t rise as high. So instead, use a slightly smaller pan like an 8½ x 4½-inch bread pan.
If it’s a high-rising light and fluffy loaf, you might want to use a larger pan.
If the only pans you have are too small, cut the dough into portions and make rolls, a free-form loaf, or a second mini-loaf with the extra dough.
Coat the pan with a vegetable oil and flour combination spray such as Baker’s Joy for easy release. Or coat the pan with olive oil.
Still not sure what pan you should use?
Use a 9x4x4-inch Pullman pan with tall sides. It will hold a high-rising loaf or a low-riser and look good because the sides are straight up, not angled out. Many people use this pan for sandwich bread because it makes a square-shaped slice of bread.
Place the dough into the pan with the seam side down. Use your hands to press the dough down and make it level from one end to the other.
Proofing the dough after it’s shaped
1. The second rise is crucial.
Please don’t leave it out. It determines the final size and texture, along with developing the best flavor from the yeast.
To clarify: The first rise happened inside the bread machine on the DOUGH cycle after the kneading process. (Your machine may say that there are two rises during the DOUGH cycle. Those two are equal to one rise that you would allow when making the bread by hand.)
When you pull the dough out of the machine after the DOUGH cycle ends, you are taking control of the rest of the process. That means you will shape the loaf and let it rise one more time before baking.
2. How do I set up my bread for the second rising time?
First, shape the dough into whatever shape you want. See the instructions above. Then, cover the loaf with a tea towel.
Place the loaf pan or rolls in a warm place to rise. My favorite way to create a cozy environment is to boil a cup of water in a microwave for 5 minutes. Leave the hot water in the oven and place the covered dough next to it inside the microwave.
DO NOT TURN ON THE MICROWAVE WITH THE DOUGH INSIDE.
3. How long does my bread dough take to rise after I shape it?
For most recipes, the dough should almost double in volume. Thirty minutes may be all you need for dinner rolls. If the room is on the chilly side, it could take 45-60 minutes.
Loaves usually take longer to rise than rolls. Forty-five minutes is a good place to start for a loaf, whether in a pan or freeform.
Ambient temperature, humidity, and the ingredients are variable factors that will affect how fast bread dough rises. When you control the timing of the rise yourself, you can get it right every single time.
Caution: Don’t go by the clock! Go by careful observation as described below.
Keep your dough covered at all times so it won’t dry out. A cheap shower cap works great in many cases.
The dough should peek over the edge or rise to about one inch above the top of the pan. If it rises too much, the yeast exhausts itself. As a result, your loaf may fall or have a big hole in the middle.
Unfortunately, you may not realize your error until you slice the baked loaf.
How can I tell if the dough has risen enough in the pan?
If the dough doesn’t rise enough, your bread will be compact and smaller than it should be. Use a gentle finger to press on the side of the bread. It should leave a dent that slowly springs back–but not entirely.
What if my dough already rose too high on the second rise?
If you know your loaf has risen too much (maybe you forgot about it), dump the dough out of the pan onto a floured surface. Push it down, knead a couple of times and reshape it. Let the dough rise again, but this time watch closely.
There are no guarantees this will work, but it’s better than baking a loaf that produces an overly yeasty flavor, a poor texture, or collapses in the middle.
If you are using the right size pan, your loaf is ready to bake when the dough peeks above the top of the pan about one inch.
Baking bread machine dough in the oven:
Preheating your oven is crucial to get the best rise and the most excellent crust. It’s best to start the oven 25-30 minutes before you think your bread will be ready to bake.
How do I determine the oven temperature and cooking time I should use?
Beginners may find it helpful to compare their bread machine recipes with similar recipes not designed for a bread maker. Look at how long they bake and at what temperature to point you in the right direction.
A rustic or open-textured loaf like a ciabatta, French bread, or a simple sourdough will do better in a hotter oven somewhere in the range of 400-425˚F. The higher temperature works best when the recipe is simply water, flour, salt, and perhaps a small amount of fat and sugar.
Enriched bread should bake at a lower temperature, 350-375˚F. Enriched bread contains milk, eggs, sugar, juices, or other ingredients that produce a softer, tighter crumb.
TIP: After making more sourdough loaves than I can count, I’ve learned that bread bakes better if you preheat the oven 50 degrees hotter than you want to bake your bread. Then, turn the oven temperature back to the specified number as you put your bread in the oven to bake.
What if my bread is getting too dark on top but the bread isn’t yet baked in the middle?
Some loaves may take more time or need to be covered halfway through the baking time. If necessary, a piece of aluminum f
All these details will require your attention the first time you try it, but once you make a recipe two or three times, you’ll figure it out.
Why beginning bread bakers need a thermometer:
If you are a beginning bread-baker, I can’t stress how helpful it is to buy a quick-read thermometer with a probe:
- When you put the probe into the middle of the bread, it should read 190˚-200˚F for enriched doughs (or pretty close) when it’s baked all the way through.
- For a basic flour-salt-and-yeast loaf, the internal temperature should be 200-210˚F.
Sunflower Seed and Oatmeal Loaf--mixed and kneaded in a bread machine, then baked in a conventional oven.
After the bread comes out of the oven:
How do I cool the bread?
- Leave your hot loaf in the pan to cool for about 15 minutes. Failure to do this may cause the sides to cave in, especially with a light-textured loaf.
- Then, use a thin knife to make sure the bread is not sticking to the pan. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack.
How soon can I cut a loaf of home-baked bread?
- The answer to this question depends on the loaf and how hungry you are. Most loaves need at least 30 minutes to an hour to cool. Some heavy loaves containing whole grains may need 2-3 hours.
- If you cut into them too early, you risk squashing them. Since they are still baking for a little while after you remove them from the oven, they can be gummy or crumbly.
- Rolls cool much faster. Also, you don’t usually slice them. However, they can still be gummy and squishy if you don’t wait at least 5-10 minutes.
How do I store homemade bread?
- Remember that most homemade bread has no preservatives like store-bought bread. It’s usually better the day you bake it.
- Whatever you don’t eat right away, store in a plastic bag or possibly, a bread box. The reason I say “possibly” is that they vary in functionality. Some reportedly work better than others.
- I don’t recommend storing baked homemade bread in the refrigerator. It’s too humid.
- To freeze bread, slice it first, then double wrap. It’s best to use it within a month.
If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula