How to modify traditional bread recipes for the bread machine

January 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’re big fans of homemade bread, but don’t always have the time (or the inclination) to stand around in the kitchen and make it.  Our workaround is to place the ingredients in the bread machine, and then set it on the dough cycle.  When it’s finished kneading, we let the dough rise to the top of the bread machine pan, then remove it from the machine, and place it in pans for a second rising.

Almost every bread recipe can be modified for the bread machine, especially if you use the dough setting, and remove the dough to bake it in your own pans and oven.  Here are a few tips for modifying a traditional bread recipe for the bread machine (and a recipe for oat bread).

  1. Place the ingredients in the bread machine mixing pan, in the order specified by your bread machine’s manufacturer.
  2. Use warm, not hot or cold, liquid ingredients (otherwise, you’ll kill the yeast).
  3. Never place the yeast next to the salt (salt inhibits the rising process).  I usually add the salt with the liquid ingredients, cover with the dry ingredients, and then top with the yeast, just to ensure an extra bit of space between the salt and the yeast.
  4. You usually don’t need to melt the butter…just cut it into small pieces, and you’ll be fine.
  5. You may need to use slightly less flour than called for in the traditional-style recipe (usually 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup less).
  6. You may need to add the flour in stages, to ensure that it is fully incorporated.
  7. Really heavy breads (i.e. Russian rye bread) don’t do well in the bread machine.  They are just too heavy for most machines to knead, so you must modify the recipe to the point where it isn’t really worth it.  But, if you really insist on trying, then try substituting a cup or two of the rye flour with white flour, for a more easily kneaded dough.

Here’s a recipe for oat bread that I made in the bread machine.  It’s a thick hearty loaf, and very flavorful.  We ate it hot with butter, but I think it would also be nice for sandwiches.

Oat bread (using the bread machine)

2 1/2 cups boiling water

2 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 cups unbleached white flour

1 package dry yeast

Place the oats, salt, and the butter in the bread machine pan.  Pour over the boiling water.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so, until the mixture is warm to the touch (not too hot).  Add the sugar and two cups of the flour.  Pour in the yeast.  Set the machine to the dough setting.  As the machine works the dough, add the remaining two cups of flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it is worked in to the dough.  Allow the machine to finish the knead cycle, letting the dough rise to the top of the pan.  Remove bread from the pan, and with greased hands (dough will be very sticky), divide into two pieces.  Place each piece in a well-oiled loaf pan.

Cover and allow the loaves to rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.  Place in a preheated 350-degree oven, and bake for 40 minutes.  Loaves will be golden, and will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes two loaves.

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