Preview: 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. Don’t miss the Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread recipe at the end.
The “automatic-ness” of a bread machine can mess up a loaf when you try to bake it in a bread machine. Maybe we’ve all expected too much. After all, a bread machine operates on a timer, not a brain.
Make bread with the DOUGH cycle only, then take control over 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.)
Be sure to read to the end to get the recipe for Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread as pictured below. It’s one of my best bread recipes.
No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. You can still make the bread either by hand or with a stand mixer. See the recipe notes.
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:
If you would prefer your bread with the crust and appearance of the bread on the right in the picture below instead of the crust on the left, only use the DOUGH cycle of your machine. Then you will shape the dough by hand, give it a second rise, and bake it in your conventional oven.
Keep reading for the specifics.
Making the dough in a bread machine:
What follows are general instructions for making the dough for any bread machine recipe on the DOUGH cycle.
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.
What size pan should I use?
Deciding the size of loaf pan you want to use is crucial to the end result.
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 rise 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 with a pan you already have.)
Your bread dough should roughly fill the loaf pan half full.
If it’s a dense recipe with lots of seeds, whole grains, or whole-grain flour, it won’t rise as high so you could use a slightly smaller 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/flour kind of spray such as Baker’s Joy for easy release. Or coat the pan with olive oil.
Proofing the dough after it’s shaped:
THE SECOND RISE IS CRUCIAL!
Don’t leave it out. It determines the final size and texture along with developing the best flavor from the yeast.
Just to clarify: The first rise happened inside the bread machine on the DOUGH cycle after the kneading process.
When you pull the dough out of the machine after the DOUGH cycle ends, you are taking control of the rest of the process. This includes shaping and a second rise before baking.
How do I set up my bread for the second rising time?
First, shape the dough into whatever shape you want.
Place the loaf pan or rolls in a warm place to rise. My favorite way to create a warm environment is to boil a cup of water in a microwave for 5 minutes. Leave it in there and place the covered dough next to it inside the closed and steamy microwave.
DO NOT TURN ON THE MICROWAVE WITH THE DOUGH INSIDE.
How long does my bread dough take to rise after I shape it?
For most, recipes, you want the dough to almost double in size. 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. 45 minutes to an hour is a good place to start for a loaf, whether in a pan or freeform.
Ambient temperature and the ingredients in the dough will play a part in how fast bread dough rises. These factors are variable. When you control it yourself, you can get it right every single time.
Caution: Don’t go by the clock! Go by careful observation as described below.
The dough should rise to about one inch above the top of the pan. If it proofs too much, the power of the yeast is exhausted. Your loaf may fall or have a big hole in the middle.
Unfortunately, you may not realize your error until you slice into 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 doesn’t bounce back.
What if my dough already rose too high on the second rise?
If you know that 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 it rise again, but this time watch closely.
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.
Baking bread machine dough in the oven:
Preheating your oven is crucial to get the best rise and the nicest 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 recipe with similar recipes that weren’t designed for a bread maker. Look at how long they bake and at what temperature to point you in the right direction.
Enriched doughs (contain eggs, butter, and milk) are usually baked at 350-375˚ F.
A light-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 basically water, flour, salt, and maybe a small amount of sugar.
What if my bread is getting too dark on top but the bread is not baked in the middle?
Some loaves may take more time or need to be covered half-way through the baking time. A piece of aluminum f
Next time, move the bread to a lower rack in the oven. Every oven has its own personality. Worth trying.
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.
A kitchen secret for new bread bakers:
If you are a bread-making beginner, 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.
This particular loaf is a perfect sandwich bread because the flavors are rather unassertive and won’t compete with sandwich ingredients. Nevertheless, it’s more interesting and nutritious than a plain white loaf.
To freeze, slice it first, then double wrap it.