If you are unhappy with the way that your bread turns out, then you may need to make a few adjustments to your baking process. Some of the most common issues include holes or rips in the dough, floury spots on the crust, and loaves that are either too spongy or too dry.
You can avoid these issues by taking the time to learn the secrets to using a bread machine. With the following tips, you will be able to make a great loaf of bread every time.
Add Liquid Ingredients Before the Dry Ingredients
The first tip is to add liquid ingredients to your bread machine before adding the dry ingredients. If your recipe calls for water, you should use hot water. Butter should be melted or softened in a microwave.
If your recipe has cold ingredients, such as eggs, you should allow the ingredients to reach room temperature before placing them in your bread machine.
Taking the time to add the ingredients in this order will help bring the ingredients together. This keeps the dough from ending up with chunks of flour.
So, start with the liquid. This includes milk or water. Next, add eggs, oil, or butter. Then, add your salts and sugars. This is followed by the flour and then the yeast.
Remember to Check on Your Dough
You should not be afraid to open the lid of your bread machine during the kneading cycle. Check on the dough to ensure it is not too soft or too dry. Stick your finger into the dough to determine if you need to add more water or flour.
The ingredients should form into an elastic ball. If this ball is too dry, you can add a little bit of warm water. Add one tablespoon at a time. If the ball is too soft, you can add a little more flour.
Do Not Use a Delayed Timer with Fresh Ingredients
If your recipe requires milk, cheese, eggs, or other fresh ingredients, you should not use a delayed timer. Leaving these ingredients in a room temperature environment could result in the growth of bacteria. You should leave these ingredients at room temperature.
Prevent Your Bread from Becoming Spongy
After baking your bread, if the loaf is spongy, then your dough probably did not rise properly. The next time that you prepare a loaf of bread, try adding a little more yeast.
Prevent Your Dough from Collapsing
When your dough rises and then collapses, you may end up with a loaf that contains a lot of craters. This holey bread can be avoided by using a little less yeast or water.
Use the Correct Ratio of Salt to Flour
Typically, the perfect ratio of salt to flour is half a teaspoon of salt for every cup of flour. If the recipe that you are preparing requires less salt, then consider increasing the amount that you add. Using less salt can make your bread taste bland.
Use Non-Iodized Salt
While using too little salt can result in a bland taste, you should be careful with the amount of salt that you include. You want just the right amount.
Salt is a natural yeast inhibitor. Using iodized salt can limit the yeast activity. You may end up with dough that does not rise properly. The iodine slows down the process. Use non-iodized salt, such as coarse salt or sea salt. If you continue to have trouble getting your bread to fully rise, then scale back the amount of salt that you use.
Do Not Over Mold the Dough
Before baking your bread, you should check the dough. If it is not shaped properly, you can use your hands to mold it into the right shape. But, you should avoid over-molding the dough.
If you handle the dough too roughly, you run the risk of ending up with a small, tough loaf of bread. Be gentle when handling your dough.
Wait to shape the dough until it is almost done rising. You do not want to attempt and mold the dough too early. Typically, it will take about 35 minutes for the dough to rise enough before you can mold it. The total time needed for the dough to completely rise will vary based on the recipe that you use, but the average time is about one hour.
Add Flour with Your Extra Ingredients
When adding nuts, raisins, or any extra ingredients to your bread, you can add a teaspoon of flour. This extra flour will help to open the dough and allow the extra ingredients to thoroughly mix into the dough.
Use Instant Active Dry Yeast
There are quite a few different types of yeast available at the grocery store. You should use instant active dry yeast. Generally, you will use 1 teaspoon of yeast for every cup of flour called for in the recipe.
If your recipe requires more than 3 cups of flour, you should stick to 3 teaspoons of yeast. When making a large loaf of bread, sticking to 3 teaspoons of yeast will help your dough rise properly.
Use Oil to Keep Your Dough from Becoming Too Tough
Using a small amount of oil can help your dough from becoming too tough. Generally, you will use flour on your work surface. This excess flour can cause your dough to become too tough.
If you are folding your dough outside of the bread machine, then instead of using extra flour, you should use a small amount of oil. Oiling your work surface is a great trick for creating a perfect loaf of bread.
Do Not Be Afraid to Experiment with Recipes
You should not be afraid to experiment with the recipes that you try. The more you bake, the better you will get at learning how to tweak recipes to suit your tastes. Make note of any changes or substitutions that you use.
Using a bread machine is not a complicated process. You add the necessary ingredients and your bread machine pretty much does the rest. Though, there are additional steps that you can take to create a better loaf. Remember these secrets the next time you bake a loaf of bread.