Assemble Your Ingredients: If bread-baking seems like a mystery or a complex scientific process, a bread machine can take out a lot of the guesswork. Even seasoned bakers can’t argue with the fact that today’s bread machines make loaves that are just as good as those you could create from scratch.
If you’re still nervous about getting started, follow these easy steps to attempt your first loaf. Every bread machine is different, so read your instruction manual first.
Incidentally, although making bread in a bread-machine requires little work on your part, it does take a good amount of time. Machines and bread types vary, but most bread recipes take around 3 hours.
This recipe makes a 1.5-pound loaf of basic white bread. First, remove the bread pan from the machine and position the kneading paddle as indicated in your instruction manual.
Assemble your ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
3 1/4 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add Wet Ingredients: Measure your wet ingredients into the pan. The liquid ingredients should always go first so that they are separated from the yeast (which you’ll be adding last). The yeast will start to activate once it comes in contact with the liquid ingredients, and especially if you’re going to use the timer to delay the start of your bread-making cycle, you don’t want this to happen yet.
Add the Salt: Add the salt, if the recipe calls for it. Since salt will kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact, it’s best to add the salt to the liquid ingredients, before the rest of the dry ingredients.
Add Remaining Dry Ingredients: Add the remaining dry ingredients. Here, we’ve added the sugar, the nonfat dry milk powder, and the bread flour. Then, use your finger or a spoon to make a small indentation on top of the dry ingredients, being careful not to make it so deep that it reaches the wet ingredients underneath.
Add the Yeast: Pour the yeast into the indentation. This method keeps the yeast from prematurely activating until it’s time to knead them together.
Set the Machine: Return the bread pan into the bread machine, securing it in place according to your user manual’s instructions. Then set your machine for the proper settings. Press “Start” to begin the process.
Monitor the Machine’s Progress: The machine will start mixing the ingredients, then kneading the dough. At first, the dough will look shaggy, but as it’s kneaded, it will start forming into a smooth ball, as shown. Try to avoid opening the lid of the breadmaker—the machine is heated to the optimal temperature for the yeast to multiply and the dough to rise. Most machines have a control panel that will indicate what stage the bread-making process is at, whether it’s kneading, first rise, second rise, or baking.
Remove the Finished Loaf: When your bread machine beeps to indicate your bread is done, put your oven mitts on and remove the bread pan from the machine. Take the loaf out of the pan immediately by turning the pan upside down and shaking it until the loaf becomes unstuck. Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. If the kneading paddle sticks inside the loaf, you can carefully remove it with a plastic or silicone spatula.