How to Cook with a Bread Maker

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Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-baked bread? But who has time to bake a loaf from start to finish? Bread makers can save the day, literally, for busy bread lovers by doing the mixing, kneading, proofing and baking for you, all in a single nonstick container that serves as mixing bowl and loaf pan. Modern bread makers are available with settings for different types of dough, including loaves you can finish in the oven. You can even make coffee cakes and jam in a bread maker.

The Basics of Baking Bread

  • When making bread in a bread maker, it’s important to place the recipe’s ingredients into the canister in the order directed in your bread maker’s manual. The typical order is liquids first, then the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and place the yeast in last. Set the bread maker to the basic, or standard, bread setting and the medium, or normal, baking cycle. To make a sweet or dessert bread, add ingredients like fruit, chocolate chips, nuts and extra sugar after the first kneading cycle.

Start in the Bread Maker, Finish in the Oven

  • You can use a bread maker to do everything but bake if you want pizza dough, focaccia bread, pitas and baguettes, or if you simply want a finished loaf without a hole in the bottom caused by the machine’s paddle. After the ingredients have been placed in the bread maker and kneaded on the dough setting for five to 10 minutes, roll the dough into a ball and place it in a greased mixing bowl, cover, and set aside to rise. After the dough has risen, it can be rolled out into the desired shape and baked in the oven according to recipe instructions.

Make a Coffee Cake

  • Use your bread maker to cook a coffee cake using the same settings and basic steps as used for baking bread. Liquid ingredients including room-temperature sour cream, warm water, oil and a room-temperature egg go into the canister with bread flour, sugar and salt in the order instructed in the owner’s manual. Add the active dry yeast to a well in the dry ingredients. Set the bread machine on the basic, or standard, bread setting and the normal, or medium, baking cycle. Add raisins, chopped nuts and candied fruit five minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle. Make an icing for the coffee cake by thoroughly mixing together powered sugar, vanilla extract and butter; drizzle it on the coffee cake after it has cooled to room temperature.

Cook Jams in a Jiffy

  • Many bread makers have a setting for making jams that can also be used for preserves, marmalades and jellies. Cooking jams in a bread maker with a jam setting is a simple process of combining sugar, pectin, lemon juice and your choice of fruits such as strawberries, peaches, apricots, blueberries or a combination of fruits in a mixing bowl, then transferring the mixture to the bread machine’s canister. Set the bread maker on the jam setting, and scrape the sides of the canister at five and 10 minutes into the cycle. When the cycle is finished, pour the jam into clean jars, allow it to cool, then cover with a lid. Refrigerate the jam for four to six weeks.

Tips for Cooking with a Bread Maker

  • Use bread flour, not all-purpose flour, and quick or active dry yeast when making dough in a bread maker. Bread flour has more gluten, which lets the dough rise and stretch in a bread maker. If you use an all-purpose flour, use less liquid. Ingredients should be allowed to come to room temperature, unless the recipe instructs otherwise. Liquids shouldn’t be more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit or you will kill the yeast, which will cause the dough to not rise.

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