How to Use a Bread Machine | Helpful Bread Machine Instructions & Directions

how to use a bread machine

Bread machines are small countertop appliances that have simplified baking bread. Not only are they convenient, but bread machines remove the time-consuming process of kneading that is required of traditional bread making.

Using a bread machine involves the following basic steps – placing the bread pan and paddle into the machine and loading the pan up with flour, water, and other ingredients required to make bread.

Once all necessary ingredients have been placed inside the bread machine, close the lid and pick your preferred setting.

If you’re looking for a more detailed overview of how to use a bread machine and its different uses, then continue reading below. .

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1. Get to Know Your Bread Maker

Bread makers have three major components: the bread pan, the bread paddle (sometimes called the blades), and the body.

The bread pan is where the flour, salt, water, oil, and other ingredients will be added. The paddle is responsible for mixing the ingredients and the bread maker body contains the heating and electronic mechanisms. 

How many cups of water and how much flour is added will depend upon the size of your bread maker. Typically, a bread maker that holds 10 cups of water will make 1-1.5 pounds of bread. A bread maker that holds 12 cups of water will be able to produce 2 pounds of bread.

Most home-use bread makers have a total capacity of 10 cups of water.

2. Load Bread Maker with Ingredients 

Once you’ve determined how much water your bread maker can hold, put the bread pan and paddle in place and add the necessary ingredients. For a standard 1-1.5 pound loaf of bread, most recipes will call for the following:

  • 1.25 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1.5 tablespoons of active dry yeast

Ingredients like brown sugar, oats, lard, bacon fat, oils, and even some fruits can be used for added flavor.

3. Close Lid and Pick Setting

After the ingredients have been loaded, close the lid and make sure the bread maker is plugged in. Once turned on, the machine will supply you with different setting options, the most common being:

  • Basic
  • Whole wheat
  • Rapid
  • Sweet
  • White bread

Along with what type of bread you would like, most bread makers will also allow you to choose a crust setting. Common crust settings include:

  • Light 
  • Medium
  • Dark

If you like the crust darker and more crispy, Dark is the best choice. If you prefer a lighter crust with a more standard bread consistency, light or medium or better.

All bread makers come with a Dough Only setting. This option is good for when you want to mix, knead, and rise dough but not bake it. The Dough Only setting is most commonly used when making pizza dough, rolls, and similar items. The best bread machines have separate settings for pizza dough, donuts, and other items.

4. Press Start

When all desired settings have been chosen, it’s time to press start. The start button will cause the paddles to spin, mixing and kneading the dough. Once properly kneaded, the paddles will stop, allowing the bread to rise and bake.

Depending on the setting chosen, some cycles can take longer than others to complete. When the basic cycle is chosen, the process generally goes as follows:

  • The dough is kneaded for 5 minutes
  • The dough is left to rest for 5 minutes
  • The dough is kneaded for another 15-20 minutes
  • The dough is left to rest and rise for 35-40 minutes
  • The dough is punched down to remove air pockets
  • The dough is left to rise for another 60-75 minutes
  • The dough begins to bake for 50-55 minutes

What Should You Know Before Using a Bread Machine?

Compared to traditional methods of baking bread, bread machines have several advantages. First off, they are much less labor-intensive as all the kneading and mixing is done by the machine and not by hand.

Moreover, bread machines can be set to a timer, meaning they can be loaded in the morning and programmed to begin the baking process later on. This option is great for those who want fresh bread when they come home from work. Alternatively, the bread machine can be loaded at night and set to begin baking in the early morning, giving you fresh hot bread when you wake up.

While buying bread at the store may appear cheap, it can add up over time. By contrast, a bread machine can help you save money as once the initial investment is done, the necessary ingredients can be purchased cheaply.

Lastly, bread machines are versatile and, as we will see, can be used to make a wide array of items.

bread maker uses

What Are the Stages of Using A Bread Machine

The stages of using a bread machine can be broken down into three general phases: Loading, Baking, and Cleaning.

Loading Phase: During the loading phase, the bread pan is filled with the required ingredients, typically water, flour, yeast, butter, and sugar. Additional ingredients may also be added at this point.

Baking Phase: The baking phase involves choosing the flour/crust settings and pressing start. If you plan on setting the bread machine to a timer, this would be the time to set it up. The average bread machine will take over three hours to complete the baking phase.

Cleaning Phase: When the baking phase is over, the newly baked bread should slide out of the bread pan fairly easily. At this stage, simply clean the pan and blades. While some bread pans are dishwasher friendly, most come with a non-stick coating that may wash off in the dishwasher.

Do the Bread Machine Types Affect the Usage Stages?

No, bread machine types do not affect the usage stages. Regardless of what type of bread machine is used, the usage stages are identical. 

There are two main bread machine types prospective buyers should be aware of, vertical and horizontal bread machines.

Vertical Bread Machines: The most common type of bread machine. Only one mixing paddle is used.

Horizontal Bread Machines: Bread machines that use two kneading paddles are almost always made with a horizontal design. These types of machines make bread similar to what you would find in a bakery.

Is Using A Bread Machine for Homemade Bread Better Than Using A Standup Mixer?

Yes, using a bread machine for homemade bread is better than using a standup mixer because of its convenience.

With stand-up mixers, once the dough has been mixed, it still has to be transferred into a baking tray and eventually into the oven. With bread machines, the process isn’t necessary and is entirely hands-off. By contrast, baking bread in the oven required removing the baking tray and allowing the dough to sit.

The one minor downside to using the bread machine is it is limited in the amount of bread that can be made in one batch.

Is using a Bread Machine for White Bread Better Than Using a Baking Oven?

Neither the bread machine or baking oven is better for making white bread.   When it comes to bread machine vs baking oven, both have their own set of pros and cons.

For example, baking ovens produce bread that is noticeably lighter and fluffier compared to bread machines. Additionally, because of the increased size, baking ovens can produce nearly 5x more bread at once. 

Baking bread in an oven takes longer and can be more complicated as no pre-set options for different bread types are available. Moreover, baking bread in an oven usually requires the baker to hand knead the dough, which can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

Bread machines are much less time-consuming and don’t require any manual kneading. However, because of the way the dough is processed and baked, bread made with bread machines is much more condensed and compressed.

Is a Commercial Bread Machine Better Than a Home Bread Machine for Baking Bread

No, a commercial bread machine is not better than a home bread machine for baking bread in terms of the bread quality.. The major difference between the two appliances is their size and bread-making capacity.   Commercial bread machines can produce 5x more bread than the average home bread machine. 

Commercial bread makers are commonly used in grocery stores, restaurants, and some commercial models and have the capacity to produce multiple times more bread than home models.

Commercial bread making machine

How to Use a Bread Machine for Other Uses Besides Baking Loaves

Besides baking bread, bread machines can be used in a variety of ways. Popular bread machine uses include making vegetables/fruit butter, casseroles, pizza dough, tomato sauce, cakes, and more.

However, not all bread machine models come with the proper preset functions required to make these items. 

How to Use a Bread Machine As a Donut Maker?

To use a bread machine as a donut maker you’ll need a yeast dough, light and fluffy donuts can be made in the bread machine by following a few simple steps.

  1. Place 1.5 cups of milk and half of a beaten egg into the bread pan. Give the items a quick mix and add 2 cups of flour, .25 cups of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of dry active yeast, and 1 teaspoon of salt.*
  2. Select the dough only setting and press start
  3. When the dough cycle has completed, remove the dough to a floured surface and hand knead a few times to remove any air bubbles
  4. Cut the dough into 16-20 pieces and cover with a damp towel. Let dough sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Mold the cut pieces into round disc-shaped clumps and use a small dough cutter to create a hole in the center. Let the dough sit for another 35 minutes.
  6. Heat oil in a frying pan or deep fryer. Once hot, place the hollowed-out dough discs into the hot oil and fry until the outside is golden brown (about 3 minutes each).
  7. Remove cooked doughnuts and let them rest on a paper towel to cool down.

* All ingredient amounts are based on a 10 cup bread machine.

How to Use a Bread Machine as a Muffin Maker

Making muffins in the bread machine follows a similar process as the one outlined above and can be down undergoing the following steps:

  1. Place 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons of sugar, .5 cups of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 4 cups of all-purpose flour into the bread pan. 
  2. If your machine has a cookie dough setting, pick that. If not, select the standard dough setting that all bread machines come equipped with.
  3. Once the processing phase is over, remove the dough from the bread machine and place it into a muffin cookie sheet. At this stage, extra ingredients like chocolate chips or berries can be added.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once preheated, place the rack into the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

How to Use a Bread Machine As a Pizza Maker

To use a bread machine as a pizza maker, you’ll need 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, a standard home bread machine can make enough dough for two 12 inch pizzas.

  1. Combine 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast. Once mixed, add to the bread pan.
  2. If the bread machine has a pizza dough pre-set, choose that. If not, the standard dough setting will be fine.
  3. Once the cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a floured surface. Punch the dough down to remove air pockets and divide the dough mass into two. 
  4. Turn each half into a ball. Cover each ball with a kitchen towel and let it rise until it’s about double the original size.
  5. Roll out as desired.


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