Yes, you can definitely use a bread machine to make your bread at home.
It always makes me smile when people come along to one of my bread making courses and then sheepishly ask what I think about bread machines. Most expect me to throw my hands up in horror at the thought. However, I think bread machines are a great invention. If using a bread machine helps you to eat good bread, that is made with good ingredients, then that is brilliant.
Our whole ethos here at Veg Patch Kitchen Cookery School is to show you how easy it can be make bread at home. If a bread machine makes it more likely that you will do that, then please do go out and buy a bread machine.
First, though I would like you to take the time to watch my two videos on YouTube. Making Bread The Easy Way Part 1 and Part 2 show you a really easy way to make bread and fit it into your busy daily routine. If you remain unconvinced after watching these videos then by all means get a bread machine.
Top tips for using a bread machine
Make sure you use the right yeast
The best yeast to use when using a bread machine is the one labelled Easy Bake/ Instant/ Quick or Fast Action. This type of yeast can be added either first or last (kept separate from the salt) and will easily dissolve into the dough when the machine starts to mix. Don’t use the yeast called Active Dried Yeast. This yeast has a larger particle size than Easy Bake (aka Fast Action or Instant) yeast. Because of this, Active Dried yeast needs to be dissolved in water before adding to the rest of the ingredients. This isn’t always possible or logical when using a bread machine. So, make sure you are using a yeast that is labelled Easy Bake, Fast Action or Instant. Take a look at my video that explains all about yeast for more information.
If you want to use fresh yeast then make sure that you start the bread machine straight away. Don’t use the timer function when using fresh yeast. If you delay the start, then the fresh yeast may start to work and will run out of energy before it bakes.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
To begin with follow the manufacturer’s instructions until you get used to how the machine works and then you can start to experiment.
Remember to keep the salt and yeast separate
Salt will kill the yeast if left in prolonged contact. This will result in a very flat loaf. The manufacturer’s instructions will usually instruct you to add the yeast or salt first, then the other last. This is to make sure that there can’t be prolonged contact.
Use the machine to mix and knead your dough only
Bread machines will mix, knead, rise and bake your dough. However, try letting your machine do the mixing and kneading part. Then shape the dough yourself and bake it in your oven. Using a bread machine can save you time and effort (although, honestly my method takes very little time and hardly any effort). But by shaping it yourself you can shape your loaf as a tin, a plait, a bloomer etc. This will allow you more variety and the ability to make more interesting bread. My mum uses a bread machine to mix and develop her dough and then she shapes it as a tin loaf and bakes it in her oven. The reason she does this is because otherwise you get the hole of the mixing paddle through your baked loaf. This hole can be very annoying of you want to make sandwiches.
Use ingredients that you are happy with
One of the great benefits of making your own bread is that you know exactly what ingredients you are using. Most of the bread I make uses just four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt. Bread made in a bread machine is no different. For some reason most of the recipes that accompany bread machines ask for dried milk powder. Using milk powder will soften your loaf and delay staling but your bread doesn’t need it. If you don’t want to add milk powder it isn’t necessary.
Want to learn more about making great bread at home?
If you use a bread machine but want to learn just how easy it can be make bread without one I can help. My Bread Made Easy online Masterclass shows you, step by step, how to make a variety of delicious breads at home.
Come and join us at our cookery school in Ironbridge. We have a range of bread and pastry courses that are designed to take you from novice to keen baker.