The best bread machines coupled with our tips, tricks & hacks make baking brilliant bread at home quick & easy. Plus, it’s super satisfying.
Freshly baked bread tastes so much better than a shop-bought loaf. And you know exactly what goes into it. Preservatives, colouring & stabilises can all be avoided. It’s super easy to pop the ingredients into the pan, set the timer, and wake to the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread.
That said, whether you’re a first-time baker or a seasoned pro, most of us have turned out the occasional disappointing loaf. Or have you ever wondered why one tastes better than another?
If you don’t have time to scour the forums, read all the reviews and listen to pro bakers, here are the tips, tricks and hacks that make it easy to bake the perfect bread machine loaf, every time.
Bread Machine Tips & Tricks
#1. Use High-Quality Ingredients
The quality of your ingredients plays a significant role in the taste and texture of your bread. High-quality strong flour, fresh yeast, and filtered water enhance your baking. Organic ingredients will also make a difference, although can be expensive. It’s definitely worth avoiding additives or preservatives.
#2. Measure Accurately
Bread-making is a science (even for artisan bread!). Accurate measurements are crucial for success. Forget cups and volume estimates, go for digital kitchen scales. They’re precise and easy to use. This will ensure that your bread comes out consistently every time.
#3. Add Ingredients in the Right Order
Bread machines have different cycles for resting, kneading, rising, and baking. Follow the recipe in your bread machine manual to add ingredients in the correct order.
Want to know why this is important? All bread machines use flour to separate the yeast from the liquids until precisely the right moment.
Panasonic recommends the yeast goes in first followed by the flour & other dry ingredients. With the oil & water going on top. Other manufacturers prefer the reverse, with liquids going in first.
Also worth noting is that if you’re looking to buy a new machine, take a look at the Verum Best Buy bread maker – it has a dedicated yeast dispenser which pretty much guarantees consistent & superior breadmaking.
#4. Add All the Ingredients
Most bread machine mistakes & disasters occur because of a missing ingredient. Much frustration in our test kitchen!
#5. Experiment with Different Flours
Most bread machines can handle a variety of flours, including whole wheat, rye, and spelt. Experiment with different types of flour to create different flavours and textures in your bread. You can even mix different types of flour to create your own unique blend.
#6. Adjust the Liquid Content
The amount of liquid in your bread recipe is critical for achieving the perfect texture. Too much liquid will result in a dense, soggy bread, while too little will result in a dry, crumbly loaf. Adjust the liquid content according to the type of flour and other ingredients you’re using. (There’s more information on how to do this in the ‘hacks’ below)
#7. Add Flavorings and Fillings
Bread machines are great for making simple, basic bread, but you can also add additional ingredients to make something special. Try adding herbs, spices, nuts, dried fruit and seeds for flavour and texture.
#8. Use the Delay Timer
Many bread machines have a delay timer, which allows you to set the machine to start baking at a later time. This is great for people who want to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning or have bread ready for a specific time.
#9. Use the Dough Cycle
The dough cycle on your bread machine is great for making pizza, rolls, and other baked goods. Simply add all the ingredients to the machine, select the dough cycle, and let the machine do the work. Once the dough is ready, you can shape it and bake it in the oven – yum!
#10. Store Bread Properly
Once your bread has cooled, it’s important to store it properly to keep it fresh. A plastic bag inside a bread bin or airtight container is best. Avoid the fridge, it will dry out your bread and make it stale.
The alternative is to slice your loaf, bag it and pop it in the freezer.
#11. Clean Your Bread Machine Regularly
To ensure that your bread machine continues to work properly, it’s important to clean it regularly. Remove any crumbs or debris from the machine after each use. Refer to your bread machine manual for specific cleaning instructions.
Bread Machine Hacks & Pro Tips
#12. Open the Lid
A few bread machines have a window allowing you to peer inside. While this is ok, what’s better is to open the lid and take a proper look.
Do this early (10 to 15 minutes) in the kneading phase and give the dough a prod. If it sticks to your finger, it’s too wet – add a little more flour. Alternatively, if it looks too dry add a little water.
#13. Hate the hole in your loaf?
Once your loaf has finished kneading, open the lid, lift out the dough & remove the paddle. Then simply pop the dough back into the pan and close the lid – no more holes!
#13. Reshape Your Loaf
At the same time as you remove the paddle, make sure the dough sits evenly in the pan. This will give you a perfectly proportioned, even loaf, every time.
#14. Use Your Phone
Set a phone alarm to sync with the bread machine timer. This means you can remove your loaf immediately after it’s finished baking. We’ve found the Panasonic alert is especially quiet & easy to miss.
Phone alerts are also useful if you want to open the lid to check consistency, paddle removal or adjust dough distribution!
Pop your loaf on a wire rack to cool. However, if your kitchen is a little chilly, it may cool too quickly resulting in a wrinkly top crust – not good! One option is to let it cool inside your oven, which should be set to around 40°C with the door slightly ajar.
The best bread machines bake delicious bread without fuss. Follow these tips, tricks & hacks and you’ll get the most out of your machine and most importantly, wonderful home-baked bread.