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Bread Maker vs. Oven: How to Get the Best Crust

Preview: Bread Maker vs. Oven–Many people are unhappy with bread made in a bread machine because they don’t like the crust. Here’s my solution.

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.

Don’t worry. You didn’t make a mistake by buying a bread maker.

I’ll show you why I use a bread maker to mix and knead bread and an oven to bake bread. Check out the pictures below. I think you’ll understand.

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

Bread Machine vs Oven: 5 reasons why the oven is better for actually baking bread.

#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 holey 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

The holes in the bottom where the blades were are ugly and not nice to eat.

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 in my oven. If you don’t happen to have an oven, here are some ideas for shaping your bread and putting it back in the pan that you may find helpful.

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.

Why is the crust on my bread machine bread so hard? Consider the way to get a crispy crust when you bake bread in the oven is to make sure the oven is good and hot before you bake.

A bread machine has no way to preheat itself. The bread will start to bake as soon as the machine starts to heat up. In general, this leads to bread with a crust akin to cardboard.

#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 unpredictable depending on the ingredients in your recipe and the ambient temperature. The timer built into the machine doesn’t make allowances for this. The machine will automatically kick into the bake cycle whether your dough rises the proper amount or not.

bread machine crash course sign-up

How baking your bread machine in the oven will help you avoid these two problems:

1. My bread machine loaf is small, dense, 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 causing you to end up with a small and 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.

2. My bread machine loaf has a big dip in the middle.

  • If it’s the middle of the summer in Texas, your recipe calls for a lot of sugar, or the dough is too wet and sticky, the dough may rise too quickly. The result is often 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. When you bake in your oven, you decide when is the best time to start baking your loaf.

Is a bread machine worth it? Yes! Keep reading.

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

Hope to see you again soon!
Paula

Margit Szallos-Farkas

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

All the above happens because you don't have a Panasonic bread machine. My whole wheat bread is amazing, well risen, well baked, thin, crispy crust at the bottom and top, only one paddle, no hole, just a thin line. What is the point in investing in a machine for kneading? Plus where is the convenience of the timer? I sincerely recommend Panasonic!

Paula

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Hi Margit, Point well taken. I've never used a Panasonic machine. For me, I prefer to have more control over the shape, the timing, and the temperature. If the bread suits you, then keep doing what you're doing. If you make one of my recipes and do it all in your machine, I would love to see some pictures. Thanks so much for writing.

Elvisinflorida

Thursday 25th of February 2021

Thrift stores and yard sales are a good place to pick up a bread machine, often under $10. Because of all of the negatives stated, people get disenchanted with them after trying them a few times. So usually they are in good working condition. But, always check the bottom of the pan to see that the paddle is there. It's small and removable so it is sometimes missing.

Paula

Thursday 25th of February 2021

Hey Elvis,

You are so right about used bread machines. Love your tip about checking for the paddle. Never thought about that.

Al

Monday 22nd of February 2021

My oven has a proofing setting. I think it’s about 90. Will this help the proofing or is it too war,? Can I use parchment paper in the bread pan?

Paula

Monday 22nd of February 2021

Hi Al,

Is the proofing setting adjustable? Mine is, so I was wondering. I would prefer not quite so warm, but 90˚F is OK. The longer your dough takes to proof, the better the flavor. You might try turning it on for a little while, then turn it off with your bread still in there if the dough seems to be rising too fast.

Yes, you can use parchment in a bread pan. That's a great idea if your pan is not non-stick.

Judeann Williams

Friday 19th of February 2021

When do you take the dough out of the machine to put in your bread pan? And what temperature do you bake the bread and approximately how long. Thank you! Judeann

Paula

Saturday 20th of February 2021

Hi Judeann,

Check out this post. I think it will answer all your questions. Let me know if you still aren't sure after you read it.

David

Tuesday 26th of January 2021

Ovens are quite a rarity here in Hong Kong, so is space. A bread machine is a great compromise for me. :)

Paula

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Hi David,

I've heard that. Did you know that you can remove your dough from the bread machine before the final rise, take out the paddle(s), shape it and put it back in the bread machine pan for the final rise and bake. Makes a prettier loaf with smaller holes in the bottom.