Bread Machine Artisan Bread?

A bread machine cannot produce the shapes associated with rustic, country hearth, or “artisan” bread.  These loaves are shaped as round boules or oval batards (or torpedos), and baked on a deck, without a pan. A bread machine bakes a loaf in a pan. Artisan loaves tend to have firm or even crisp/crunchy crusts. There is no direct temperature control or temperature reading on a bread machine.  A bread machine creates enough heat to bake a dark crust but cannot reach the temperature that bakes crunchy crusts.

A bread machine can become a mixer (and a proofing box) on a dough cycle. This saves labour. But a bread machine doesn’t have the alternative functionality that mixers offer.

The bread machine makes dough on a cycle.  A dough cycle will have an initial rest or preheat phase many machines (e.g. my Panasonic SD-YD250 has it on all dough cycles except pizza dough). Every machine will reliably mix the ingredients at a slow speed and move up to higher speed to work the dough.  There is some control of time.  For instance to avoid the more intensive mixing – just stop it when it is mixed.  And a pause after slow mixing can be made (to autolyse before more intensive mixing, or to add something), until the end of the phase. A few machines have a pause function, controlled by a button.  Most machines have a power interrupt that restarts the machine at the point in the cycle it stopped after short power outage.  This allows a pause of several minutes by unplugging the machine. The machine must be plugged back in, within the time limit or it goes back to the start of the cycle.

There are no options to slow down the mixing or change the time – just stop when you want to stop mixing, and rest or work the the dough.

Some breads use a fermented “starter” to introduce yeast and bacteria (sourdough, mother, chef, levain) or to enhance flavour (sponge, biga, poolish, pre-ferment, pate fermentee). Adding a starter during mixing means lifting the lid and/or taking out the pan, and putting it in manually.

Dough cycles have a rest phase and a rise phase allowing the dough to ferment in machine, and stop.  The user has options after on when to remove the dough after mixing, and other options:

  • the end of mixing
  • the end of the rise
  • after the end of the cycle for added bulk fermentation time
  • put the dough in the fridge to slow down fermentation
  • knock it down, knead by hand;
  • additional fermentation – a second rise before shaping the loaf

The user ultimately shapes it, let it rise and puts it into the oven in pans, on a baking sheet or in or on a ceramic sheet or apparatus (e.g. pizza stone) at whatever temperature the user wants.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook offers advice and several recipes/formulas for artisan loaves, using the dough cycle to mix dough at pages 196-297.  At some points, the machine must be paused to prolong the ferment This advice but has to be adjusted for the machine.  For instance many machines can’t be paused

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook was a French whole wheat artisan loaf at p. 206. I used {Whole Wheat} Dough cyle. BLBMC advises a knock down, additional fermentation/rise after the dough cycle.  These steps are superflous with a machine with a long rise phase and a knockdown in the rise phase.

The steps after the dough is out of the machine are shaping a torpedo loaf, final proof, scoring the loaf and baking at 400 F for 32-48 minutes:

  • 347 g. (2.5 cups) whole wheat flour
  • .5 cup spelt flour
  • {4.3 g. (.75 tsp)} salt [BLBMC 1.5 tsp]
  • {2.8 g. (1 tsp)} instant yeast [BLBMC 4 tsp]
  • 1 5/16 cups (1.25 + 1 tbsp) buttermilk
  • .5 cup water

The loaf looks like a loaf of rye bread – it has a dark crust.  The crust is soft, as might be expected with whole wheat.  It has a sticky crumb that leaves a residue on the bread knife, like an artisan OEM product sold in the local Thifty’s over the last two years before fall 2018.  The crumb is not as darkly coloured as 100%  whole wheat recipes which use dark brown sugar or molasses and oil – and not as dense.

Light Rye – Bread Machine

A bread machine can make a light rye. Light rye breads are soft  breads made with wheat flour, with rye flour or rye meal for flavour and texture, or light rye flour. Also, there are (retail/craft/home) rustic rye and rye sourdough styles. Light rye bread may be made in pans, but also baked in a torpedo shape.

Authentic pumpernickel is outside the capabilities of bread machines. There are retail/craft/home formulas for a rustic style with rye flour, e.g.  King Arthur Classic Pumpernickel baked in an oven. 

Rye bread has been baked with caraway seeds so often that consumers associate the flavour of caraway with the flavour of rye. Caraway is related to cumin, fennel, anise, carrots, celery and parsley. Some varieties are known as Persian cumin. It has been used as a cooking herb or spice since the time of the Roman Empire. It is a major spice in Central European cooking and in the nations beside the Baltic and was adopted in Germany, the Nordic countries and England. Caraway seeds were/are used to make flavoured breads with white flour in Central European recipes. Cumin and caraway are the spice in Kamijnekaas – the spiced Dutch cheeses Leiden Kaas and spiced Gouda. Caraway is a strong flavouring, and may overwhelm other flavours in rye bread. Other flavouring agents: fennel and anise seeds, dried orange peel, orange zest and orange oil for flavour in varying amounts and combinations. There are dark or sour light rye styles (retail/craft/home/bread machine) with wheat flour, rye flour and cocoa or ground coffee for dark colour,vinegar or sour cream for acidity corn meal, oatmeal or sunflower seeds for texture.

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook has recipes for light rye breads (at pp. 133-143, 313) with 25% – 35% rye flour by weight. This is manageable in a bread machine for most recipes and machines.

Panasonic’s manual asserts rye flour leads to dense bread when used to replace other flour, and warns that mixing rye flour might overload the motor.  I bake light rye bread in a Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine. The machine’s cycles are programmed to knead for a longer time than a rye bread needs. The dough starts to release water and gets sloppy.

Rye flour has less of the proteins that build gluten than wheat flour.  It has pentosans which absorb water early in mixing but release it after periods of intensive mixing. The dough seems dry and elastic – it holds it shape and is slow to relax. According to Daniel DiMuzio’s Bread Baking, An Arisan’s Perspective (p. 51), bakers with control of speed and time would use a short period of slow mixing for dough with significant amounts of rye flour, and little faster intensive mixing DiMuzio notes (p. 216) that dough for deli-style light rye (80% white/20% rye) would be hydrated at 68% and mixed slowly: in a stand mixer, 3 minutes slow to blend ingredients and 3 minutes on second speed. This would be a custom cycle in a bread machine with the option of programming a custom cycle. With my machine, I could turn off the machine after slow mix and a few minutes of knead/mix and let it rise and finish it on the counter and in the oven; or in the machine:

  • let it sit, knock it down once with a spatula, let it “bench” rise and
  • plug it in and set to bake “cake”.

I get a good loaf on a basic bake cycle without resorting to those hacks.

Rogers Foods mills Dark Rye Flour is available locally, and priced as a staple instead of a luxury good.  Rogers does not directly publish a volume to mass conversion. The food facts label indicates 1 cup = 120 grams = 4.2 oz.  Food Facts for Dark Rye flours from other mills are consistent.  120 grams is in the range of published values, which is confusing and wide.  Online Conversion’s converter and Aqua-Calc converter dark rye flour said 1 cup of dark rye flour = 4.5 oz. = 128 g.   The rest of the range:

  • BLBMC; Reinhardt’s Bread Bakers Apprentice – no factor stated
  • Bakery Network conversion chart – 1 cup “rye flour” = 4 oz. = 113 g.
  • Aqua-Calc converter light rye flour (or medium rye flour) – 1 cup = 102 g = 3.6 oz.
  • The Traditional Oven’s  converter – 1 cup = 102 g. = 3.6 oz.  light rye?
  • King Arthur Flour’s Ingredient Conversion chart – 1 cup = 3.625 oz.  light rye?

Bread with Caraway and Onions. There is a white bread recipe in the Panasonic manual that evokes rye bread with a touch of rye flour, and caraway seeds. Panasonic has not published it online. It is nearly identical to Panasonic’s Basic White Bread. For a medium loaf, add 1/8 cup rye flour, 2 tsp caraway seeds, and 1/8 cups chopped onions. The linked recipe is for Panasonic machines and normal (i.e. not reduced) sodium.

Scandinavian Light Rye – a BLBMC recipe.

 Medium   @ 75% of medium
BLBMC50% sodium
50% sodiumB%50% sodium
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2.5 tsp1.25 tsp. | .625 tspn | 1.8 g.n | 1.3 g.
White Flour1.875 cups261 g.66196 g.
Dark Rye Flour1.125 cups135 g.34101 g.
TFW396 g.100
Brown Sugar2 tbsp1.5 tbsp
Caraway Seed1.5 tbsp1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp
1.5 tsp.75 tsp
4.3 g.3.2 g.
Gluten1 tsp.0
Oil1.5 tbsp1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp
Water1.125 cups266 g.67200 g.

Swedish Rye Bread – a BLBMC recipe.

 Medium Loaf   @ 75% of medium
BLBMC50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium
VolumeWeightB %
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2 tsp1 tsp. | .5 tsp
n | 1.4 g.n | 1.1 g.
White Flour2 cups278 g.65209 g.
Dark Rye FlourMedium Rye1.25 cups150 g.35113 g.
TFW428 g.100
Fennel Seed2 tsp1.5 tsp
Dried Orange Peel1.5 tsp1 + 1/8 tsp
Salt1.25 tsp.625 tsp3.6 g.2.7 g.
Gluten4 tsp.
Oil1.5 tbsp1 + 1/8 tbsp =
1 tbsp + 3/8 tsp
Honey3 tbsp2.25 tbsp =
2 tbsp + 3/4 tsp
Water1.25 cups295 g.69221 g.

Steamed Rice

Steamed rice is rice cooked in water. It is not fried first (as with some pilaf, biryani, Mexican styles) or cooked as a risotto, paella, rice pudding, congee or other flavoured rice dish.  Cooked rice can used in a dish, as an accompaniment to other dishes, fried or processed further, or added to other dishes e.g. Nasi Goreng is preparation of fried cooked white rice.

Steaming is an absorption preparation.  Salt is optional; it is added for taste. Steamed rice can be cooked in a pot or cooking vessel over a heat source, or in a rice cooker appliance. Pressure cookers and pressure multi-cooker appliances (most multi-cookers are basically electric pressure cookers – e.g. Instant Pot) can do steamed rice. The slow cooker can cook rice in a soup or stew. It does not do well with plain rice where the goal is fluffy grains.

Rinsing brown rice is pointless – the grain is still coated with bran. The editors and authors of Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen have a theory about rinsing white rice: concept 30 in The Science of Good Cooking (2012). Their aphorism is “Rinsing (Not Soaking) Makes Rice Fluffy). CI/ATK publishes summaries of its test kitchen tests. Rinsing removes rice flour and talc and helps to keep it from getting sticky. Rinsing is normal for White Basmati but uncommon with long grain white rice grown in the Southern USA, and with short grain rices. Rinsing is not useful for short grain rice that is supposed to be creamy (for risotto) or sticky (for sushi and other Asian dishes). Or with with Spanish Bomba or other paella varieties. Soaking rice before cooking is not useful. It is recommended by some sources, but it is not useful.

It is possible to put rice in ample boiling water and strain it like pasta. Some cookbooks promote this; many suggest this as an option among other methods.

Sri Owen, in The Rice Book (1993), said that steaming rice in a vessel on a heat source can be a 2 step process.  First, rice is simmered in a measured amount of water in an uncovered pot at the boiling point until the rice has absorbed the water. The second step is “finishing”; Owen describes 4 ways:

  • Cover the vessel and leaving it on very low heat to steam the rice internally, taking it off the heat and leaving it covered;
  • Moving the rice into a collander and steaming the rice suspended in another vessel over boiling water.   This is basically parcooking the rice and put it in a steamer or collander, recommended by Jamie Oliver;
  • Moving the rice into a casserole, covering it and baking in an oven;
  • Moving the rice into a microwaving vessel, covering with the usual wrap or cover, and a few minutes in a microwave oven.

Owen pointed out that a rice cooker was a good tool; she did not write about presssure cookers or multi-cookers.

The conventional method of steaming rice is a slow simmer at the point that water steams. It is simpler than the two step processes above, and allows the cook to deal with other tasks once the temperature has been brought down to a simmer. It requires a pot that disperses the heat evenly, a tight lid to hold in the steam, and control of heat and time.

Put rice in a meaured amount of water, bring the water to a boil,  cover the pot, reduce the heat, simmer. Leave it covered and set a timer. Remove from heat and rest off heat, covered for 10-15 minutes. Set the timer for the final rest.

The cooking time can be from 12 to 20 minutes. The method works within a range of rice/water ratios and times. The results may be more or less fluffy, absorbent or sticky.  The rice recipe at What’s Cooking America has a table of rice to water ratio and cooking times for several kinds of rice. The instructions at that site for cooking white rice are a bit contradictory.  There is a concise article by Fine Cooking magazine and some videos and notes at the Kitchn site. The normally stated ratio of long grain white rice to water is 1 cup of dry rice to 1.5 to 1.75  cups of water.  CI/ATK recommend the low end of this range. 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice is too much water for Basmati rice. It may be suitable for pilafs of other long grained white rice.

Package directions for the standard varieties such as long grain white rice tend to go high on water; many recipes do. This will lead to soggy overcooked rice.

Steaming can be performed in a pressure cooker. Laura Pazzaglia calls for 3 cups of water for 1.5 cups of long grain white rice in the print version of Hip Pressure Cooking! This is soggy; there is a mistake in that recipe! Her table on her web page states a reasonable 1.5 cups of water per cup of long grain white rice. When the water boils, the lid is locked and the pot is brought to high pressure, and the cooking time on high pressure is 3 minutes. Then rest off heat 10 minutes or more without releasing the pressure (i.e. do not use the release mechanism); let the pressure drop as the pot cools.

I normally use a normal pot on a stove for white rice. The pressure cooker is not actually that much faster or more convenient.

White Basmati Rice, a long grain aromatic rice originating from Northern India, Pakistan and Nepal can be cooked by the slow simmer method. Refer to: article from the Guardian; Madhur Jaffry recipe from the Telegraph. I like the rice fluffy and go light on the water:

  • 2.33 cups of water to 2 cups of rice, simmering 23 minutes, or
  • 2 cups of water to 1.5 cups of rice, simmering 20 minutes . 

White Basmati  rice can be cooked in a pressure cooker at the ratio of 1 cup rice to 1.25 cups water. As with other long grain white rice, I normally use a normal pot on the stove.

All rice delivers carbohydrates, a source of glucose, an essential nutrient. Rice is normally milled to remove the husk or bran and germ, leaving the white kernel of endosperm with the carbs. White rice can be cooked quickly, saving time and fuel/energy.

Brown or whole rice has been dried, but the bran has been left. It is heat treated to keep the oils in the bran turning the rice rancid. Roger Own, in his essay “A Rice Landscape”, published in Sri Owen’s The Rice Book (1993) wrote: “… brown rice always costs more because there is less demand for it, and because the bran … milled off … would have been sold separately.”

The demand for brown rice has been increasing because it has become perceived as a healthy whole food, and because restaurant chefs and food writers have developed palatable preparations and liberated healthy foods from the ideas that eating should be directed to the hope of healthful longevity, a that tasty food must be unhealthy. Brown rice has more micronutrients and fiber than white rice. 

Steaming brown rice takes a longer cooking time – 40 minutes or so. Many recipes suggest 2 cups of water to one cup of brown rice. CI/ATK suggests 1.5 cups of rice in 2.33 cups of water. Sri Owen suggests that white and brown rice should have the same amount of water for some techniques.

In a pressure cooker, Laura Pazzaglia calls for 2.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups of long grain brown rice in the print version of Hip Pressure Cooking which is a bit soggy. She calls for 2.5 cups of water for 2 cups of long grain brown rice in her recipe in the recipe book that ships with an Instant Pot (in the table on her web page she recommends 1 cup of rice to 1.25 cups of water); cooking time 18 minutes with a stovetop pressure cooker or 22 minutes with an electric. Rest off heat 10 minutes or more without releasing the pressure; let the pressure drop naturally as the pot cools, and release the pressure valve then.

Yeast – Panasonic Bread Machine

Bread baked in the Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine does not need as much yeast as recipes other than the Panasonic manual say:

  • The machine will bake an extra large (2.5 lb) loaf that may take more than 4 cups of flour. The yeast dispenser does not hold much more that a tablespoon;
  • Panasonic’s  recipes (in the manual; see its online recipe resource pages) call for half the amount of yeast in typical recipes:
    • 1 tsp (instead of 2 tsp or more ) for 3 cups of flour for a medium loaf;
    • 1.5 tsp. for 4.375 cups of flour for extra large loaves;
  • Medium loaves  based on The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (“BLBMC”) and other recipe resources filled the  pan, and had airy, weak crumb; some ballooned or cratered/collapsed/imploded.

Panasonic’s recipes for medium loaves, both with bread flour and whole wheat flour, on the bake sandwich cycle, call for 1 tsp of yeast. These recipes have identical hydration rates – the flour and water weights are identical.  In each formula the yeast is 2.8 g to 417 g; in baker percentage (B%) 0.7%. Panasonic’s  “bake sandwich” cycle selects for medium loaves – it locks out the use of the loaf size command setting.  The recipes in the manual for white sandwich and whole wheat sandwich bread on bake sandwich cycle are identical to the formulas for medium loaves in the basic white and 100% whole wheat recipes. For the 2 hour “bake rapid” cycle and the 3 hour “whole wheat bake rapid” cycles, Panasonic suggests 2 tsp of yeast.

Panasonic’s engineers worked the mix, knead and rise phases to work that way. Set for medium loaves, basic bake and whole wheat cycles, the machine mixes for 3 minutes, kneads for 20-30 minutes and rests to rise for nearly two hours.

I prefer low sodium bread. The principle is to reduce yeast by the same percentage as salt as suggested in BLBMC at p. 290 and by the Please Don’t Pass the Salt bread page

I monitored recipes in June-August, 2018. I peeked under the lid to see what happened – including the last part of the rise phase after the machine knocked down the dough.  I made manual interventions a few times – I ran a silicon spatula between the dough and the pan 5-10 minutes just before the start of baking to gently deflate the loaf. (Using a spatula risks marring the no-stick surface of the pan. Silicon spatulas are safer.)

I adjusted yeast in BLBMC formulas for white, whole wheat, and combined flour (multigrain), and formulas requiring 2 tsp  yeast for a medium loaf (a formula with 3 cups or 15 oz. flour +/- by weight). This approach resolved the inflation problem and produced loaves that were not inflated:

  • Ignore the amount of “bread machine yeast” in a formula in the BLBMC – (BLBMC has different amounts of SAF instant dry yeast and any other “bread machine yeast”);
  • Weigh yeast and know the correct conversion factor. I use a factor: 1 tsp of instant yeast weighs 2.8 grams;
  • Weigh salt and know the correct conversion factor, I assume a recipe refers to conventionally ground table salt; 1 tsp weighs 5.7 grams;
  • Use half the amount in the recipe for SAF instant dry yeast in a BLBMC formula (instant or “bread machine” dry yeast in other formulas not specifically written for a Panasonic machine).

For low sodium I cut yeast and salt equally.  For 50% sodium I just halve them. Then I make a “Panasonic” adjustment for yeast by halving it. When  I use 50% of a BLBMC recipe amount of salt, I use 25% of the BLBMC recipe amount of yeast.

The recipes and my notes for that round of tests are in a separate post.

SD-YD250 Bread Machine

panasonic bread maker sizes

Reviews at Everyday Sandwich and Make Bread at Home describe and illustrate the Panasonic SD-YD250.  It has loaf size settings for medium (1.5 lb), large (2 lb) and extra large (2.5 lb) loaves baked in an extra large vertical rectangle pan. Large loaves are shapes like a tall pan loaf. Extra large loaves are long when laid down, and relatively wide and tall, compared to other loaf shapes.

Like more expensive Panasonic 2.5 lb loaf machines – the SD-RD250 and the SD-YR2500 – it has settings for medium, large and extra large loaves but not for small loaves. The SD-YD250 seems to have the motor, drive train, non-stick pan and heating element of the newer, higher priced models.

The SD-YD250 can bake daily or sandwich bread, whether with white flour or whole wheat, as well as I can bake those loaves in conventional baking pans in an oven. It can bake light rye bread (a mixture of white flour and rye flour), and other multigrain loaves.

The pan coating releases the loaf easily at the end of the bake cycle but the paddle stays on the shaft in the pan.  (Removing the paddle from the pan can be done after the pan cools after taking the loaf from pan.  It works better before the bits of crumb around the end of the shaft dry out and bond the paddle to the shaft.)

The inside measurements  of the pan are 19 cm (7.5 inches) long by 14 cm (5.5 inches) wide in the pan’s normal operating configuration when it is vertical. Any loaf will be or should be 19 cm x 14 cm.   The pan is 14.5 cm (5.7 inches) bottom to top. In a Panasonic extra large pan, a 2.5 lb. recipe of 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid would bake a loaf over 14.5 cm “long”, 19 cm “high”, and 14 cm “wide”.

There is no viewing window in the lid; this is not a drawback. The yeast dispensing compartment is a rare feature. The way to keep yeast away from the water before the mixing phase starts in this machine which takes dry ingredients first at the bottom of the pan is to put yeast first, before the flour. The dispenser has drawbacks. The dropper – a little button – has to be jiggled to make sure it is seated before filling the compartment.

A medium loaf baked on a basic cycle has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water or fluid. This dough is hydrated at 71%.  It could be baked in a 1.5 pound bread pan (about 2,600 cubic centimeters) – perhaps filling it.
A 1.5 pound conventional oven pan is 25 cm (10 inches) long, 13 cm (5 inches) wide and (about) 8 cm deep.

With white flour on the basic bake cycle, the height of  medium loaf from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan would be around 75% of the height of the Panasonic extra large pan: about 9 cm at the side of the pan. To the top of the domed top of the loaf, 11-12 cm is reasonable; more is tall.  Height changes with:

  • type of flour (e.g. rye flour does not rise as well as wheat flour); or a small change in the amount of flour (1/4 cup), water, salt or yeast; or
  • cycle, e.g. French Bake – the bread rises and is less dense – more space for the same mass.

Height affects how I store and slice the loaf, and can be a sign that a loaf lacks structure.

This machine’s program assumes the use want primarily to bake bread leavened with yeast. There is no cycle to mix and make bread leavened with other methods (e.b. baking powder), and no gluten free setting. Breads that are mixed but not kneaded can be mixed outside the machine, and baked on a bake-only cycle.

There are two kinds of cycle, “bake” and “dough”.  Each cycle has three phases; a bake cycle has the fourth one:

  • (Initial) Rest – the ingredients come to a common temperature. The heating element, as far as I can tell is used for short intervals but not enough to heat the outside of the machine;
  • Knead – a two part phase. 1. Mix the ingredients together, hydrates the flour; 2. Knead to work the proteins in the flour into gluten;
  • Rise – fermentation. 2 hours in basic bake cycle. The heating element is deployed to keep yeast at a good temperature (the dough may heat up on its own) on a cooler day. The mixer drive is deployed for knockdowns in this phase;
  • Bake – the heating element bakes the bread.

The motor has two speeds: off and on.  Mixing involves turning the power on and off in short intervals.  Mixing, for a medium loaf, on any cycle, is under 5 minutes:

  • 30 seconds – 40 pulses: 1/2 second on, 1/4 second off;
  • 120 seconds – 120 pulses: 3/4 quarter second on, 1/4 second off;
  • 30 seconds on;
  • The yeast dispenser drops yeast;
  • 35 second pause.
  • 60 seconds – 10 pulses: 4 seconds on, 2 seconds off.

The mixing forms a ball of dough centered on the paddle.

To knead the dough, the machine pushes it around the pan. The dough sticks to the sides of the pan, and is stretched until it snaps away. This is similiar to the operation of a stand mixer, with programmed pauses. This involves longer intervals with the motor on.

This machine has a long warm rise. In this phase, it uses the motor for short intervals twice. This deflates or knocks down the dough. In basic bake cycle there are 2 sets of about 15 slow turns  at – 2:00 and – 1:40 on the countdown timer. After the second knock down (which is 50 minutes before baking phase)  the dough should relax and flow to fill the bottom of the pan and rise again. In the first part of the bake phase, the dough should spring. A tenacious dough holds its ball shape for a long time. It may gather at one end of the pan.  The result is that the top of the baked loaf slopes. This happens with some dough in this kind of pan.  There is a hydration zone.  A tenacious dough may not flow.  A wet dough may balloon or collapse.

It supports low sodium baking, as any bread machine does. If the salt is reduced, the yeast should be reduced by the same proportion.

This model uses less yeast than other machines. It kneads hard and gives the dough a long rise with a bit of heat to keep the dough at the right temperature to ferment. It deflating the dough softly in short knock-downs. It need only about half as much as another machine. This means, with many or most recipes, for 50% sodium, I am using half the salt and one quarter of the yeast.


Beth Hensperger’s baking books published by Chronicle Books, such as Bread (1988) were sound and useful book about home baking, which rode the currents of liberation from industrially processed bread, the recovery of whole grain baking, and inception artisan baking. Her Bread Bible (1999) earned the 2000 James Beard Foundation award for a cookbook in the Baking & Dessert category. I have a copy – a Kindle version. Her books before 1999 contain useful advice on basic technique. They refer mainly to active dry yeast and sometimes to yeast cakes (wet raw yeast) and skim over the introduction of the various kinds of instant yeast. She had a chapter on bread machines in the Bread Bible.

She must have been working on The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (2000) (BLBMC) for Harvard Common Press as the Bread Bible was being published and sent to market. The BLBMC preceded Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker and other title in that series. Ms. Hensperger suggested that bread machines were a new way of doing an old thing. The BLBMC explains the technology , as it was at the time, and explains the use a bread machine to make the range of breads that might be purchased from a commercial bakery operation.

The BLBMC implies that its recipes should work in any bread machine. It treated all bread machines (it listed 18 manufacturers in the market at the time) as equivalent, with a  warning to “Take Stock of Your Machine”. This oversells the capabilities of bread machines and undersells the complexities of adapting the knowledge of bakers for a consumer appliance:

  • Baking involves doing something until a result it observed (the dough is mixed and supple; it has risen, or is ready to bench or bake);
  • Some steps cannot be described to a novice without pictures and videos. A baker with some experience might know how a “shaggy” dough (whole wheat dough that has been mixed to the point that the ingredient including water have been blended and the flour has absorbed the water and can be kneaded to develop gluten and left to rise may be described as shaggy) differs from a dry dough that needs more water;
  • Machines work in simple steps, without feedback.  The designer can program combinations of steps that should produce results with some combinations of ingredients if the machine is loaded properly;
  • Machines are not all the same; some machines work with some doughs, and not others;
  • The book did not anticipate technological and market changes including the developments in growing and preserving instant dry yeast and changes in machine mixing.

I had a problem with BLBMC recipes in a Panasonic SD-YD250, which I solved. There are differences in bread machines, particularly in their programmed cycles and times.

While Ms. Hensperger is clear about the importance of measurement of ingredients for bread machines, she uses home cooking conventions in her recipes including measuring out ingredients by volume.

BLBMC recipes have ingredient lists for “medium” 1.5 lb. and “large” 2 lb. loaves. A medium loaf usually uses 3 cups of flour – white, whole wheat and multigrain. The BLBMC recipes are consistent with other bread machine recipes and with conventional oven recipes. There are outliers; e.g. the recipe for a “medium” loaf of 100% whole wheat bread on p. 124 is 4 cups of flour with 1.5 cups fluid.  That is a 2 lb. loaf. “Tecate Ranch Whole Wheat” at p. 126 is a more workable 100% whole wheat loaf.

Like other bread and bread machine recipe books for the American market, the BLBMC says bread flour should be the white flour in bread recipes.   Ms. Hensperger describes bread flour as having 12.7 % protein. White bread flour in the USA has 11.5-13.5 % gluten-producing protein. All purpose white flour in the USA has 9.5-11.5 %.  Canadian all purpose flour is milled from hard red wheat, and has the same protein content as USA bread flour (Canadian Millers’ technical standards are not necessarily reflected in retail packaging). Canadian all purpose is fine for bread.

Ms. Hensperger favours the use of vital wheat gluten (gluten flour; added gluten) in formulas for many breads baked in the machine.  She suggested added gluten in almost every formula for bread baked in the machine up to 1 tsp of added gluten per cup, less gluten for bread flour. Added gluten changes the balance of the loaf and the performance of the dough (flow and rise); the effect may be different according to the machine. Adding gluten doesn’t improve white flour breads made with high gluten bread (Canadian AP flour. It doesn’t seem to help if the machine has well planned whole wheat cycle for whole grain breads.

Ms. Hensperger described the varieties of dry yeast as: 1. active dry yeast; 2. fast acting or instant dried yeast; 3. quick-rise (rapid-rise) yeast; 4. bread machine yeast.  There are few functional differences between 2, 3 and 4. Instant yeast, under any of its names, is the choice for bread machines.  Ms Hensperger prefers SAF instant yeast to the point that she says it is more potent. She suggests two alternatives for each recipe:

  1. SAF instant dried yeast (SAF Red),
  2. 25% – 33% more bread machine yeast than SAF instant dry yeast.  For instance, for Dakota Bread, BLBMC says 2 tsp SAF or 2.5 tsp bread machine*.

SAF makes a good product but its superiority may be debated. (*Ms. Hensperger has moved away from this  approach. In a version of the recipe for Dakota Bread in 2015 on her blog she said 2 tsp “bread machine yeast”).

The range of views about  the amount of yeast:

  1. For a 1.5 lb. loaf, Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook calls for 2 tsp instant dry yeast  or more and 1-1.5 tsp. salt for 3 cups of flour. This  is in the range of recipes in other books at the time, and of many recipes published on the web. It is .67 tsp instant dry yeast, or more, per cup of flour. This is 1.9 g. yeast per about 140 g. of wheat flour; the B% is 1.4%;
  2. Manufacturers of instant, rapid/quick rise and bread machine yeasts recommend .5 tsp yeast for each cup of flour for bread machines: Red Star Quick-Rise; Bakipan Fast Action and Bread Machine; SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise and  Bread Machine. Fleishmann’s  recipes on its web pages imply the same amounts of its instant Quick-Rise (Rapid-Rise) or its Bread Machine product, or more. This is 1.4 g. yeast per about 140 g. of wheat flour; the B% is 1%;
  3. Panasonic suggests .33 tsp of dry yeast per cup of flour -which works in Panasonic machines.

Ms. Hensperger covers conversion from volume to weight for flour but not for yeast and salt.

Several online converters report: 1 cup, (48 tsp (US)) instant dry yeast = 136 grams; 1 tsp = 2.8 g. My average for 15 samples of 1 tsp of SAF Red was 2.8 g. Instant yeast has a sandy texture and doesn’t pack down like flour. I was able to scoop a few dozen samples, weigh them on a scale and verify the weight of a teaspoon of instant yeast.

Salt can be measured by volume with measuring spoons, but should be used carefully with level measurements. It is better to go by weight. The conversion rate is 1 teaspoon of table salt to 5.7 grams – the teaspoon that the recipe writer will have assumed.  Table salt is not all the same – some is pretty finely ground and more dense.

It is a useful book. It has worthwhile sections on bread machine operation and (pp. 38-39) on common failures. It has sections, sidebars, and detail sections on bread making and bread machine topics. The table of contents and the index don’t locate all of them.

  • p. 12 flour, and
    • pp. 46-47 white flour from wheat,
    • pp. 62-63 whole wheat and non-wheat grain flour,
    • p. 125 proteins in flour,
    • pp. 106-107 whole wheat flour,
    • pp. 133-135 rye flour.
    • p. 140 diy milling of whole grain flour,
    • pp. 150-152 non-wheat specialty flour,
    • p. 193 organic flour
  • pp. 13-14 yeast;
  • p. 13, p. 59 vital wheat gluten;
  • p. 15, p. 290 Salt
    • is not used as a seasoning or flavour agent;
    • should not be exposed to the water and the yeast before the machine mixes the ingredients;
    • can be reduced if yeast is reduced by the same proportion.
  • p. 15 ingredient measurement;
  • p. 18 converting volume to weight for flour and sugar;
  • pp. 69-72 6 “sampler” recipes for one pound loaves;
  • p. 76 eggs;
  • p. 168 dough enhancers;
  • pp. 170, 172 gluten free ingredients;
  • pp. 182-183 baking with whole grains, and preparing whole grain;
  • pp. 197-198 using the machine to mix and knead dough for baking in an oven, and using artisanal baking methods:
    • starters and pre-ferments,
    • shaping loaves
    • baking stones, tiles and ceramic containers (and cloches);
  • p. 233 olive oil;
  • p. 354 the shapes of bread machine pans.

The sections on using a bread machine to mix and knead dough for baking in an oven, and artisanal baking methods are informative, but a bread machine is a labour saving tool, and not a replacement for the tools and method of artisinal baking.

Bread Machines

Bread baked at home, whether in a machine or a conventional oven can be better than many retail offerings available in grocery markets.  A home baker can bake for dietary goals e.g. low sodium.  A drawback: home baked loaves have a shorter shelf life.

Bread machines came on the market about 1986, and became popular outside Japan by the late 1990s.  My first bread machine was a Black & Decker B1561. I replaced it with a Panasonic  SD-YD250 in 2016.

There are well informed and thoughtful reviews on the Web – buried under superficial reviews with thoughtful SEO. Comprehensive comparative reviews are rare; comparative reviews are usually gateways to marketing sites. Consumer Reports may never have done breadmakers or bread machines. Culinary magazines tend to snip and snipe. The reviews at are throrough and informative, but the site is not comprehensive. The New York Times affiliate Wirecutter site tackled the subject periodically (eg. 2019), but only covers a few machines.

A good machine can be had for under $100.00. A more expensive machine may have more features, but many features are low value buttons and pre-programmed settings. A bread machine has a heating element, a motor, and a pan mounted to the frame. The pan serves as mixing bowl, proofing box, and baking pan . The bowl has a paddle shaped mixing device (it may be called a dough hook or kneader) connected to the power train by a shaft in sealed bearings at the bottom of the pan. Even the best built machines do not necessarily withstand the strains of being used 2 or three times a week for more than a few years.

A professional baker works with technology with hundred of kilograms of flour and water, with some control over parts of the process – how long to mix, rest, bake and control over temperature. A home baker works at a smaller scale, with control of time and oven controls, and may have machines to mix dough or store it while it rises.  A home baker may put the loaves in bread pans or shape the dough by hand before baking it in the oven. A home baker needs space, several vessels or machines to mix and rest dough, baking pans and an oven. Bread machine makes one loaf at a time. One pan to wash. Modern machines have durable no-stick coatings.

Bread machines are described by reference to the baked loaf as small (1 lb.), medium (1.5 lb.), large (2 lb.) and extra large (2.5 or 3 lb.) (a 1 pound loaf would be regular in a bakery; 1.5 pounds would be large) . These terms to describe the volume capacity of the pan.  Typically, a small loaf made of wheat flour would have 2 cups of flour; a medium loaf 3 cups, and a large loaf 4 cups. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000) calls bread machine pans tall, vertical rectangle, and horizontal.  The tall pan has one paddle in the middle at the bottom, and may be square or oval.  A machine that makes small and medium loaves will have a “tall” pan.  A machine that makes large loaves will be vertical rectangle or horizontal.  A machine that make extra large loaves – e.g. Panasonic 250 or 2500 models; Breville Custom Loaf XL – is probably vertical rectangle.

A bread machine does not bake quite as hot as kitchen oven; any machine puts out enough heat to bake the dough completely without burning the crust. The pan shape dictates the shape of the loaf. Most machines that bake 1.5 or 2 pound loaves have a “tall” vertical pan. This loaf is manageable it can be bagged and handled. Machines with horizontal pans roduce loaves shaped like bread produced in a bakery. These pans have to have two paddles and complex drive trains. There are machines that bake 2.5 and 3 pound loaves. These loaves may be the right amount to feed a family – but they will make the consumer to handle this bread differently than bread purchased from a bakery or a store.

In bread machines, as in industrial bakeries, the product depends on the recipe, the process and accurate measurement. Beth Hensperger in the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, consistently with other baking books, list ingredients by volume but suggests weighing ingredients.

A user selects a baking program or “cycle”. A basic cycle could be from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the machine. Some reviewers say a long cycle is a drawback – for customers looking for fast results. But a long cycle may bake a better loaf more consistently.

Most cycles assume and require the use of high protein wheat flour and yeast to biologically ferment dough. High protein white flour (bread flour or Canadian All Purpose flour) and regular grind whole wheat flour (coarse ground is available) are similar in density, weight, starch and protein but form gluten, ferment, rise and bake differently. Whole wheat flour has bran and wheat germ. In traditional baking, it has to be mixed longer to distribute fluid and ensure hydration. There are different approaches to kneading, with some favouring less and others more. The BLBMC and some sources assume that a whole wheat bake cycle involves a longer kneading time and a longer rise. Total “kneading” time is a confusing indicator. Kneading is a succession of stop and go operations of the motor and drive train. Some machines work the dough hard, in short bursts.

Most bread machines have cycles for basic baking (white flour) and whole wheat baking, and dough cycles that omit the final baking phase. Many machines have a cycle manufacturers call Bake (Rapid), Turbo, Quick Bake, Rapid, etc. for fast fermentation. Most machines have a cycle that bakes or mixes and bakes batter.  This may be called “bake cake” but is appropriate for bread leavened with baking powder or baking soda.

Gluten free settings get some space on the packages. Gluten free bread is mixed but not kneaded (kneading develops gluten from protein in flour made from wheat and a few other grains); it is leavened with chemical leaven e.g. baking powder. Some machines have settings that mix ingredients and bakes. This can be called Quick Bread and would be use for corn bread and other loaves that are not knead. Some machines have a Cake setting that bakes a wet mix. That’s what gluten free bread machine baking means. The best bread machine(s) for gluten free bread: a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a baking pan and an oven.

The machine will count down minutes and seconds to the conclusion of the cycle in the timer display, but the display will probably not provide other indications of the machine’s progress. Many bread machines appear to sit and do nothing for a half hour or an hour after being started in a rest phase. Some machines may use the heating element for a few seconds at a time, to create a warm temperature, to warm the ingredients to a common temperature.

The first active phase is mixing and/or “kneading”, about 20-30 minutes or more. The ingredients have to be mixed into dough and then worked to develop gluten. A home baker mixes before kneading – manually mixing flour, water and other ingredients in a bowl before moving it or using a mechanical method (dough hook in stand mixer) to stretch and folding it on itself, pushing it and repeating the motion for several minutes. A professional baker will probably use a mechanical mixer; many home bakers may have one. A mechanical mixer or stand mixer uses mixing arms, a paddle or a spiral dough hook in a circular or elleptical motion. A mixer is controlled manually, and has a range of speeds.  With a stand mixer, the baker uses a slow speed to mix the ingredients and then mixes at a higher speed to knead. The bread machine has changes from rapid short pulses to longer runs, broken by short pauses. The BLBMC calls initial slow mixing Knead 1 and mix/knead Knead 2. The initial mix is only a couple minutes long. There may be a pause between these parts of the phase. The machine will not identify these steps on the machine display.

If the user has not loaded the machine properly, the dough will be wrong after the initial mix. It has to be wet – enough, but not too wet.  A dry dough will not, knead, flow and rise.  A wet dough may collapse. A dough may be saved by the addition of water or flour during the initial mix and before the knead/mix starts – or ruined by an excessive or untimely intervention. Ideally, the machine should be paused and then allowed to return to mixing. Stopping and restarting the machine will go back to the start of the initial rest. It will eventually get back to mixing, but time will be lost, gluten will have started to form, and some fermentation will have occurred.

Some machines have a pause function on the panel; some can be paused by pulling the plug and using the power interrupt. The machine will resume where it stopped – if it has that feature!

The designers will have set the program for what they regard as optimum handling of white flour in the “basic” cycles and whole wheat flour in the whole wheat cycles. Some machine allow users to create custom settings (e.g. the Breville BBM800XL and a few Zojirushi models).  

Professional bakers with industrial mixers may use 10-15 minutes of “intensive mixing” – the mechanical mixing of yeasted white flour dough dominant in professional bakeries for French loaves until Raymond Calvel devised the hybid style in the 1960s. Intensive mixing develops gluten in white flour rapidly. Home bakers with stand mixers use slower speeds due to limitations of machinery (see the stand mixer review by America’s Test Kitchen in print and YouTube) or to use a hybrid, modified or improved mixing method.

The dough ferments in the rise phase.  The gluten relaxes and flows to fill the pan and take the shape of the pan. The yeast ferments the starch which produces gas that is trapped in little gluten balloons, which makes the dough rise. A baker divides dough and puts in oven pans. Two hours in a bread machine is short compared to the rise/rests in some artisinal baking techniques, but compares to the combined times for bulk fermentation and proofing in making bread in many bakeries.

The heating element is switched on for a bake phase in a bake cycle; there are dough cycles that stop after mixing or rising.  The dough springs into space above the dough when the baking element is turned on. The machine powers the element. The designer expects the machine to reach the right temperature with that element heating the air inside that space – there is no direct temperature control setting in most machines.

Bread machines produce good results with white flour and whole wheat flour – baked loaves, and pizza and flatbread doughs.


The idea of a low sodium diet is to consume less salt. There are many sources of information. Sources may  promote a fad or a personal theory. Buyer beware. These resources are scientific and fact based:

Salt can be avoided or reduced. A product label will identify sodium in almost anything that has been packaged.

Continue reading

Measuring, Conversion

Bread recipes for the home baker usually list ingredients by volume: cups, tablespoons etc.  A recipe for a 1 lb. loaf of bread requires 2 cups of white bread flour or whole wheat flour.  I like to measure by weight – particularly when loading a bread machine. My notes, for the ingredients I use:

US Units
metric | US units
Fluid Weight
metric | US units
Bread Flour (USA)1 cup139 g. |White, high protein;
Canadian All Purpose;
All Purpose Flour (USA)1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour1 cup139 g. |Rogers
Dark Rye Flour1 cup120 g. | 4.2 oz.Rogers
(Table) Salt1 tsp5.7 g. |Regular; not fine grain
Instant Dry Yeast1 tsp2.8 g. |
Active Dry Yeast1 tsp2.4 g. |
Active Dry Yeast1 packet7 g. | .25 oz.Older recipes 2.5 tsp.
Modern 2.25 tsp
Water1 cup237 g. |
Skim Milk1 cup245 g. |223 g. |
1 % Milk1 cup244 g. |219 g. |
2 % Milk1 cup244 g. |218 g. |
Whole Milk1 cup244 g. |215 g. |
Buttermilk1 cup245 g. |215 g. |

Many recipes round flour and water to the nearest quarter cup. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000; by Beth Hensperger) goes to the nearest 1/8 cup.  Usually, recipes refer to a standard measuring cup. A US cup is .87 of an Imperial (U.K., many other English speaking countries) cup.  An Imperial cup is 1.2 US cups.  A metric cup is a quarter liter (250 millilitres) which is .88 Imperial cups or 1.06 US cups.

Small measurement errors can affect the loaf.  If the recipe rounded the wrong way, being precise may lead to an unsatifactory outcome.Errors in conversion factors and mistakes in arithmetic – even in putting numbers into a calculator can lead to the extra tablespoon of water (15 ml = 15 g.) that changes the dough and the loaf. Measuring by weight is more exact. It is the standard for commercial baking. Converting volume to weight is fuzzy.

Books for home bakers may refer to baker percentage (B %), a method of managing the production of bread. For instance Peter Reinhardt devotes pages 40-45 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to this topic. It is a tool taught to professional bakers, and addressed in texts such as Daniel T. DiMuzio’s Bread Baking; An Artisan’s Perspective. For the baker-manager, it is a calculation to scale inputs to create 2, 10, 100 or 1,000 consistent loaves of bread. The assumptions are consistency of ingredients, equipment, energy, working space, and time.  For managing production, every ingredient is put into the formula.  The formula can be used to build dashboard indicator of the use of a bakery.  It is as precise as it needs to be, for how it is used. B % is explained:

Flour is the ground product of grains, including flour and meal. In B %, all flour is counted to determine Total flour weight, even when flours differ in density and protein content. It is conventional to express the relative amounts of flour as a percentage of the total flour weight (e.g. 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat; or 90% bread flour and 10% rye flour). A baker manager may count all dry ingredients. A home baker may not need to count seeds, sugar and other small quantity ingredients.

The weight of every other ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the Total flour weight. The fluid percentage is called the hydration rate, a scale of how wet, sticky and messy the dough is. Conventionally, only the main fluid counts for the hydration rate: water or milk.

Flour has plant proteins and starch. Water and protein make dough sticky and stretchy. Starch feeds yeast – some is fermented. Starch is the carbohydrate in bread – the thing that makes it food.

The amount of flour in a cup depends on how the cup is scooped or filled.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook suggests 1 cup of bread flour or whole wheat flour converts at 5 oz.  Reinhart (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and other books) says 4.5 oz.; he measures loosely scooped bread flour scooped in a scoop and poured into the measuring cup. Flour scooped with a measuring cup is lightly packed, and weighs in at 4 and 7/8 oz. (4.875) or 4.9 oz. There is a range of weights for a cup of bread flour – milled high protein wheat flour:

  • 4.875 (4 and 7/8) oz. = 138 g.
  • 4.9 oz. = 139 g
  • 5 oz. = 141 g.

I weigh white bread flour (Canadian All Purpose) and whole wheat flour at 139 g. per cup in a recipe. Scales in ounces go down to 1/8 oz, but not necessarily to decimal fractions.  Metric kitchen scales go to the nearest gram. That is close enough for flour.

The volume to mass conversion for other flours varies. Millers have conversions for their products – e.g.  King Arthur. There are generic conversion calculators and tables but these have to used with care.

A cup of water, USA standard is 236.6 grams (in the metric system one milliliter of water is one gram). (An Imperial cup of water converts to 284 grams. A metric cup of water is 250 grams.)

Too much water is cited by BLBMC and others as a source of some kinds of failure – weak and sunken loaves.  Too much is in relation to the amount of flour that is being hydrated, and the mixing or kneading action of the machine. An extra 30 grams (1/8 cup = 2 tbsp.) of water into 3 cups of flour means a wet sloppy dough.  The goal is tenacious and somewhat elastic (i.e. that pulls back to its original size and shape) dough that is also extensible – it relaxes.  Too much water can make the gluten too slack.

Milk is nearly all water. Butter has water. Maple syrup, honey and other syrups have some water. Eggs have water. ingredients that contain water are not necessarily counted directly – it involves conversions and extra math. Wet ingredients that contain water may be noted to see if a dough has a higher real hydration rate than a simple calculation implies.

Water content of baking ingredients can be calculated by referring the USDA Food Composition Databases. For a Canadian product, the Canadian Nutrient File may have the value. Using the databases takes some practice. Not all of the water reported in the data is released from the source ingredient and incorporated into dough. It may be necessary to use a teaspoon or two more water to get the hydration right (for 2 cups of flour in bread machine).

A cup of fluid cow’s milk is 244-245 grams according to USDA averages. Whole milk should be 3.25% butter fat. 2% milk, 1% milk, and non-fat (or skim) milk are reduced fat milk products. In grams, the water/total weights, per cup:

  • Skim 223/245
  • 1% 219/244
  • 2% 218/244
  • Whole 215/244
  • Buttermilk (whole) 215/245

1 + 1/4 cups of skim milk has 1 + 3/16 cups (1 cup + 3 tbsp) of water.

The home baker’s trick is reduce water in a recipe by 1/4 cup for 1 cup of honey, when honey is used to replace sugar. The average for honey in the US and Canada is 17 g water per 100 g of honey.

A typical pure maple syrup for sale in the US or Canada is 32 grams of water per 100 grams of syrup.

A large egg, in the Canadian egg grading system is about 57 g.  A large egg contributes 40 g. to hydration – nearly 3/16 of a cup of water.

Yeast means yeast organisms that have been commercially grown, preserved, packaged, and distributed as a leavening agent. Commercial yeasts changed. Most grocery stores carry active dry yeast and smaller grained dry yeast: instant dry yeast, quick-rise/rapid-rise yeasts, and “bread machine” yeast. Cakes and blocks of fresh yeast are rare, and not usually mentioned in home baking recipes.

Recipes may refer to active dry yeast by volume measuring spoons; or by packets. Active dry yeast was and is still sold in foil packets containing .25 oz. of yeast. This was a tablespoon at one time. Active dry yeast became somewhat denser and finer grained. A packet of modern active dry yeast is about 2.25 teaspoons, but is still .25 oz. = 7 grams.

A 7 gram/.25 oz. packet of modern active dry yeast is equivalent to 5.6 grams of instant dry yeast. Volume to weight conversion is simple if a recipe refers to instant dry yeast or equivalent small grain yeast. 1 tsp = 2.8 g.

Salt is a chemical control on yeast. Recipes that say salt always refer to ordinary table salt. Some table salts are fine-grained and denser. Kosher salt has large crystals and it less dense. A baker measuring by volume should be aware of the differences, but these differences do not affect measurement by weight. 1 tsp of ordinary table salt = 5.7 g.

Yeast and salt should be measured to .1 gram, which requires a small high precision scale. Much more expensive than measuring spoons, but important. Some brick and mortar retail stores have high precision scales – for instance Canadian Tire has a Starfrit scale.


There was a shift from wet yeast to active dry yeast to dry instant yeast throught the 20th century. Recipes written before 2000 may refer to active dry yeast or even to wet yeast “cakes”. Industrial formulas were based on weight and baker’s percentage. Recipes for home bakers used volume measurements.

The differences between active dry yeast and  others dry yeasts: the particles of active dry yeast are larger, and coated in dead yeast cells killed in the drying process.  Active dry yeast has to activated with hot (not boiling) water. Instant dry yeast grains are smaller. It activates on contact with the water in a recipe, and almost never needs to be activated or prehydrated to propogate.  See All About Dried Yeast, What is Bread Machine Yeast, the King Arthur flour Ingredient Guide, the King Arthur web article All About Yeast, and the King Arthur blog post “Which Yeast to Use”. See also  Commercial Yeast in Fresh Loaf Baker’s Handbook, and What’s the Difference between Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast. For the history of baking yeast, and the ways it has been presented, Lesaffre’s Explore Yeast pages are informative.  A leading baking industry paper on instant dry yeast: Lallemande’s Update, Volume 2 # 9.

Instant yeasts, once they activate, ferment and propogate, pick up speed and hit a peak. Some compressed and active dry yeasts have a second peak – home wine makers and home beer makers encounter this with their yeasts which have a vigorous first fermentation and a secondary fermentation. Bakers may time their  bulk fermentation and final proof to take advantage of each. I found a graph on SAF Instant dry yeast gas production (with the Cyrillic text and the red line for SAF in the post by Mariana January 2, 2018 in the forum Difference in Yeast Brands). I have not found comparison graphs for other instant dry yeasts.

Some yeasts are called quick-rise/rapid-rise yeast. These names refer to the a way of preparing the product – chemical coating of the individual grains. The varieties of product are tried and coated differently. Commercially, instant dry yeast is diffent than some rapid/quick-rise products. See: Yeast: Dry vs. Rapid-Rise and the thread “Fast Active Fleishmann’s vs. SAF Instant” (about pizza dough). The equivalences are debated in forums like Instant Yeast vs. Fleishmann’s Rapid-Rise.

Some yeasts are labelled as bread machine yeast. The proliferation of types and names arose because manufacturers use different techniques and marketing terms.The manufacturers do not explain how rapid/quick-rise products are made, or how bread machine yeast is different from the rapid/quick-rise products. Bakipan, for instance, says that its “Fast Rising Instant Yeast [is] … cake yeast in a semi-dormant state. The drying process in its manufacture reduces moisture content, giving it a longer shelf life than cake yeast while retaining optimum activity. … Bakipan® Fast Rising Instant Yeast is a fast-acting yeast that can shorten the rise times for traditional baking …” Specifications and methods are not noted on the packaging or published widely – perhaps only for some customers.  The manufacturers don’t, according to what home bakers say on the Web, respond to inquiries from home bakers.

Books on artisinal bread baking do not distinguish quick-rise/rapid-rise yeast from instant dry yeast: e.g.: Peter Reinhart, Crust and Crumb (Ten Speed Press, 1998); Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Ten Speed Press, 2001); Peter Reinhart, Artisan Bread Every Day (Ten Speed Press, 2009); Robert DiMuzio, Bread Baking; An Artisan’s Perspective (Wiley, 2010). Reinhart said that instant dried yeast can be substituted for compressed fresh and active dry yeast for home bread baking – it is good enough for artisanal recipe uses. He came to accept that instant dry yeast should be rehydrated for artisanal breads in Artisan Bread Every Day  at p. 13 (although fermentation should be slowed down with refrigeration). The accepted ratio to substitute instant for active dry  in oven baking is 1 tsp of instant dry for 1.25 tsp active dry.

Instant dry yeasts , rapid/quick-rise yeasts, and bread machine yeasts vary in some way but are equivalent for bread machines.

Some recipe and baking books suggest letting the yeast and ingredients warm to room temperature. Some  sources suggest that keeping yeast cold, including dried yeast, slows it down. Reinhart noted that instant yeast is potent but slow to awake in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice at p. 32. refrigeration preserves the product.