Can you tell which loaf was baked in a bread machine?
Images: Courtesy of Salad in a Jar
I‘ve said it before, but in case you are a new or disillusioned bread machine owner who has not found my blog yet, please keep reading.
I almost never bake bread in my bread machine. Make no mistake! I love my bread machines (yes, I have several), but I use them for mixing and kneading only.
Wanna know why? After all, isn’t that what a bread machine is supposedly made for? Check out the pictures, and I think you’ll see my point.
Left: Baked in a bread machine. Right: Mixed in a bread machine, baked in conventional oven.
1. The shape is weird when baked in a bread machine. I much prefer the way my loaf looks when I form the dough myself (after the dough cycle completes) and place it into a traditional bread pan.
See how the corners and bottom edges are rounded on the left? A bread machine pan is designed that way so no flour will be left behind during the kneading process. The result is a rounded lump of a loaf that doesn’t resemble anything for sale in a fine bakery.
Left: Baked in bread machine. Right: Mixed in bread machine but baked in a conventional oven.
2. Observe the holey texture of the crust on the side of the loaf baked in a bread machine. This results in a tough crust–-not a tender one like the bread on the right.
Left: Baked in a bread machine. Right: Mixed in a bread machine but baked in a conventional oven.
3. Then there are the holes in the bottom where the blades were. Some people have told me they take the bread dough out of the machine, remove the blades, and put the dough back into the bread machine pan before allowing the dough to rise again and bake inside the machine. But you still end up with holes, albeit smaller ones. If I’m going to that much trouble, I just throw the dough into a traditional loaf pan and bake it up right.
Left: Baked in a bread machine. Right: Mixed in a bread machine but backed in a conventional oven.
4. The crust is too thick and hard when bread is baked in a bread machine. See the picture above. If your kids don’t like the crust on bread from the grocery store, they surely won’t like the crust on bread from your bread machine. It’s also a dead giveaway that you baked your bread in a machine.
Also, compare the texture of the two slices above. It’s subtle, but I think the texture of the bread on the right is slightly more homogeneous and pleasing than the bread on the left.
5. You lose control over the timing when you allow the bread machine to bake your bread. I don’t have a picture of this, but it can be the most important reason of all not to bake in your bread machine.
Because yeast is a living organism, it can be a little unpredictable depending on the ingredients in your recipe and the ambient temperature.The timer built into the machine doesn’t make allowances for this. The machine will automatically kick into the bake cycle whether your dough is risen the proper amount or not. If the dough has not risen enough because it’s the dead of winter and your kitchen is cold or the machine is sitting in a drafty place, you may end up with a small, heavy loaf. If it’s the middle of the summer in Texas or your recipe calls for a lot of sugar, the dough may rise too quickly resulting in a finished loaf with a big dip in the middle. What a disappointment!
Using whole grains can be especially problematic because the rising time usually takes longer. Some machines have a special whole-wheat cycle but again, it is automatic and may not work for your particular recipe. In case you are now wondering why you even need a bread machine, I highly recommend them for convenience and unmatched kneading ability.
See related posts on my blog.
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