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5 Surprising Reasons I Don’t Bake Bread in My Bread Machine (But I Use It All the Time)

Are you unhappy with bread that comes out of a bread machine?  Me, too! Here are 5 Surprising Reasons I Don’t Bake Bread in My Bread Machine, but I use my bread machine all the time. Hoping I can change your mind.

bread machine | product comparison to handmade| oatmeal sunflower seed recipe, how to use
The bread on the left was baked in a bread machine. The loaf on the right was mixed and kneaded in a bread machine but baked in a conventional oven.

In case you are a new or disillusioned bread machine owner who is just now finding this blog, this post is for you!

I rarely bake bread in my bread machine. Make no mistake! I love my bread machines, (yes, I have several), but I use them for mixing and kneading only.

Wanna know why?

After all, isn’t that why people buy bread machines?

Check out the pictures, and I think you’ll see my point.

comparing loaves baked in a bread machine and a conventional oven

Five Reasons Not To Bake Bread in a Bread Machine

#1

The shape is weird when baked in a bread machine.

I much prefer the way my loaf looks when I form the dough myself (after the dough cycle completes) and place it into a traditional bread pan.

See how the corners and bottom edges are rounded on the left? A bread machine pan is designed that way so no flour will be left behind during the kneading process. The result is a rounded lump of a loaf. Not pretty.

comparing crust texture

#2

Observe the hole-y texture of the crust on the side of the loaf baked in a bread machine.

Bread machines often produce a tough crust — not a tender one like the bread on the right as seen in the picture above.

holes in bottom of bread machine loaf

#3

Then there are the holes in the bottom where the blades were.

Some people have told me they take the bread dough out of the machine, and remove the blades. Then they put the dough back into the bread machine pan before allowing the dough to rise again and bake inside the machine.

Unfortunately, you still end up with holes, albeit smaller ones. If I’m going to that much trouble, I just throw the dough into a traditional loaf pan and let it bake right.

comparing the internal texture of slices of bread baked in conventional oven and a bread machine

#4

The crust is too thick and hard when you bake bread in a bread machine.

See the third picture above. If your kids don’t like the crust on bread from the grocery store, they surely won’t like the crust on bread from your bread machine. It’s also a dead giveaway that you baked your bread in a bread machine.

Also, compare the texture of the two slices above. I think the texture of the bread on the right is slightly more homogeneous and pleasing than the bread on the left.

#5

You lose control over the timing when you allow the bread machine to bake your bread.

I don’t have a picture of this, but it can be the most important reason of all not to bake in your bread machine.

Because yeast is a living organism, it can be a little unpredictable depending on the ingredients in your recipe and the ambient temperature. The timer built into the machine doesn’t make allowances for this. Sometimes, the machine will automatically kick into the bake cycle whether your dough rises the proper amount or not.

Why is my bread machine loaf small and heavy?

  • The bread machine started baking the loaf before it proofed or doubled in size. Maybe it’s the dead of winter and your kitchen is cold. Or maybe the machine is sitting in a drafty place. you may end up with a small, heavy loaf.
  • Using whole grains can be especially problematic when the rising time takes longer than usual.  Some machines have a special whole wheat cycle, but again, it is automatic and may not work with your particular recipe.

Why does my bread machine loaf have a big dip in the middle?

  • If it’s the middle of the summer in Texas or your recipe calls for a lot of sugar, the dough may rise too quickly resulting in a finished loaf with a big dip in the middle. What a disappointment!
  • Some recipes, such as Sweet-Milk Soft White Bread are designed to rise higher. Unfortunately, your bread machine may not get the message.

p.s. Are you wondering why you even need a bread machine? I highly recommend them for convenience and unmatched kneading ability. See the related posts below.

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Joe Manfredini

Saturday 6th of June 2020

Hi Paula; We are new to this. Have a Williams & Sonoma bread machine. Bought 25lbs of Palouse Brand "Hard Red winter Wheat" Whole berries, I have an old but very good hand grinder. (I go through 3 grinds to get it fine flour.) We have only made it totally in the machine (will try your way soon) but find the bread is loose and crumbly—falls apart—even when we use half recipe with bread flour. Any suggestions for using hand ground flour? Ways to make it a better sandwich material? (Tastes great, though.) Thank you. Joe

Paula

Sunday 7th of June 2020

Hi Joe,

Sounds like you should have some really fresh-tasting bread. But I have more questions. What recipe are you using? Was it designed for a bread machine? How much total flour are you using? Is it possible that it's more than the recommended maximum for your machine? I suspect the machine is not kneading the flour well enough to work up some good gluten. Does it have a whole wheat cycle? Have you tried soaking the berries before you grind them? I have a Cracked Wheat Berry Bread Recipe that requires a soaking. Does the crumbly bread rise very high? Have you tried adding any Vital Wheat Gluten? That might help. I have reached out to my sister who grinds her own flour. If she has some different advice, I'll let you know.

Katie A

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Thanks for this article. Very informative with out all the blogger fluff is appreciated.

Kerryanne R

Tuesday 10th of March 2020

Thank you so much for this post! I too love my bread machine but take issue with all the things you listed. I guess I knew I could use the Dough setting but assumed that was only for things like rolls and bagels. You have opened up a whole new world for me!

Paula

Tuesday 10th of March 2020

Fantastic! Thanks for writing. You made my day.

Stacey Keniston

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Paula, I could not agree more!!! I’ve been making all of our bread for nine years. I began after I found a loaf of bread my daughter left behind, when she moved out. It was 5 months old, Pepperidge Farm, oatmeal, wrapped up tight, in a cabinet in the basement apartment. There was NO MOLD on the bread! I leave it right there, now in my sewing room, and check it now and then. It still looks like it did nine years ago! My college professor(with the 25 year old Twinkie) said, “Things that rot support life, if it doesn’t rot, don’t eat it!” Words to live by. I must toot my horn a little more, I only use white flour a few times a year. 95% whole grain for us, heart problems in hubby’s history.

Laraine

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

I quite agree a bread making machine is useful only for mixing and then rising the bread. That's what I use mine for too. (The pan sticks now anyway, the machine is so old). It slams the dough around for the best part of 40 minutes. In total it takes an hour and a half to mix and do the first rising. Then I just have to punch it down again and get it ready for the bread pan, then set it to rise again, and finally cook it. Nothing kneads dough as good as a bread machine does. The things I hate about bread baked in a breadmaker are: the hole it leaves in the bottom, which means a lot of waste; the fact that the top of the bread is not well browned; the top not being well browned makes the loaf very hard to slice. Virtually impossible, to be honest.

Paula

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

Yes, Laraine. Sounds like we are of one mind about the use of bread machines. Great kneading machine--better than my hands, but not a good oven.