Small Bread Machine Loaves

Home baked bread loses its appeal after a couple of days. Making small loaves is a way to make enough – without toasting the last several slices, or freezing part of a fresh loaf.

A small recipe, in bread machine terms, is a 1 pound loaf made with 2 cups of flour. There are 1 lb machines on the market including Zojirushi models (expensive), and some Panasonic models (expensive; not available in USA or Canada; available on Amazon).  Some large and extra large machines have settings for small loaves. The smallest loaf setting in the Panasonic bread machines with “extra large” (2.5 lb) pans, such as my SD-YD250, is medium – a 1.5 lb. loaf made with 3 cups of flour. 

It is possible to use the a bread machine to mix dough for a small loaf on a dough cycle, with a recipe/formula. It is also possible to load the machine with ingredients for a smaller loaf and bake the loave in the machine. Either way, the recipe formula is scaled down.

Overmixing is a risk in principle with a scaled down loaf. The mixing process can stretch the dough too much or too often, and break the gluten strands. An overmixed dough cannot hold the gases, and will not rise.  Intensive mixing may affect a loaf with effects short of the complete failure caused by overmixing. Food processors can mix dough, although a food processor might only handle 3 cups of flour, and may only have one speed – very fast.  The mixing time may be less than a minute.  Some food processors have a dough speed and/or special blade to mix dough. The risk of overmixing dough in a food processor is well recognized.  A variety of mixers are available to the home baker. A home stand mixer can handle several cups of flour, at low-medium speed settings.  The power output of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a 5 quart bowl may be 325 watts.  A Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine may output 400 watts into its dough hook in its stand mixer configuration. Larger models may output 800 watts.  They have to be used at the right settings and for a short time. The Panasonic SD-YD250 has a 550 watt motor, and runs for 50- 60% of the time in a 25 minute +/- mixing phase on a medium loaf setting.  The heating element, rated at 550 watts, is outside the pan, around the bottom about 1 cm above the bottom. Heat is applied for intervals.  A small loaf develops hot spots around the base of the pan but is not burned.

The area of the rectangular pan is 266 square centimeters: 19 cm (7.5 inches) by 14 cm (5.5 inches). A small recipe would fill the pan to a depth of less than 3 cm. The Panasonic kneader paddle is 6 cm long, radially.  It is 2.6 cm high, rising to a fin 5 cm tall. The dough ball may not touch the sides of the pan, but centrifugal force stretches the dough away from the paddle. The edge of the ball sticks to the pan, and snaps away.  The machine can knead a small recipe.

Baking the scaled down loaf in the bigger machine is possible, but gets interesting. A small loaf should rise and spring to a height of 7.5 cm or more, above the top of the kneader, and flow enough. If dough does not flow, the loaf will be irregular.  Flow depends on hydration, on how the gluten relaxes, and the mass of the ball. Even a medium recipe may not flow enough – which usually means one end of the loaf is taller.

Small loaves get lost in the big pan; they may bake in odd shapes. When the dough ball for a small loaf rests at one “end” of the pan, and ball may settle at one end, flow to fill the pan in the 14 cm dimension, but not 19 cm dimension.  It may bake at that one end of the pan.  It is properly baked – just short. 

An off-center ball can be centered to avoid a sloping loaf.  The best time is right after the last knockdown (in a Panasonic SD-YD250 about 50 minutes before baking starts. A pause to extend the rise helps to get a little more pan flow. If the machine has a power interrupt but not a pause function (like mine) the machine cycle can be paused  by unplugging the machine.  It has to be plugged in within a time limit (for my machine, 10 minutes) to resume where it stopped.  This may have be repeated.  Other ways to extend the rise longer are to stop or shut down the cycle and:

  • leave the dough in the machine pan to rise, and start the machine later on the Cake or Bake only cycle;
  • put the dough in a conventional pan, let it rise, and put it in the kitchen oven.

The first step is get a scale by reference to total flour; by recipe size (volume); e.g. 3 cups (medium) to 2 (small): 2/3. I can’t scale to less than 75 percent or 80 percent of medium in a machine with a rectangular pan. Leaving aside recipes for the French bread cycle and dough cycles, 2 cups of flour does not make a large enough dough ball. Perhaps 2/3 would work in machines with medium or large “tall” pans.

Scaling from volume is possible, with careful calculation and measurement. Such as – 2/3 of 1.25 (1 and 1/4) cups of water is .8375 cups; a cup is 16 tbsp or 48 tsp.  Three quarters of cup plus 1 tablespoon is 13/16 – .8125.  Three quarters of cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp is 40/48 – .8333.

The most precise way to scale is by weight. As almost all home recipes list ingredients by volume, working by weight means finding conversion factors. Conversion factors are not always easy to find, and sources may disgree or only apply to some varieties of an ingredient, or to a brand of a commodity.

Flour, water, salt and yeast must be weighed carefully. I weigh flour and water in a bowl or measuring cup; I reset the scale to zero after putting the empty measuring vessel on the scale. A scale that goes to 1 gram is precise enough for flour. The volume measurements of salt and yeast for small loaves are fractions of a teaspoon.  I use a scale that goes to 0.1 grams.

Seeds and herbs should be scaled, but don’t have to be measured down to the gram. Oils, sugar and and sweet fluids should be scaled but don’t have to be measured to the gram. It is worth being aware of water in honey, maple syrop, molasses, eggs and different kinds of milk.

I don’t trust recipes that call for 2 tsp of yeast for a medium loaf to work in this machine.  I bake for low sodium. My tables scale at 50% salt, with yeast adjusted for salt. I also adjust yeast for this machine in two ways.

French Bread Cycle

Panasonic’s French Bread.  A 3 cup recipe makes an extra large loaf by volume. The French Bread cycle has a long initial rest, a short mixing phase, a long rise and 10% longer baking time. Bakers shape lean, wet white dough into batards and baguettes which hold up and slice better. I have scaled to 2/3 and 1/2 of 3 cups (2 cups and 1.5 cups of flour). The 1.5 cup version produces a loaf that is as “tall” and “wide” as bakery French Bread but 19 cm “long” – a short blunt batard:

 "Medium" Loaf   @ 67%@ 50%
Panasonic Manual50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium
IngredientWeight g.B%
Instant Yeast
? standard | Panasonic
2 tsp. | 1 tsp.n. | .5 tspn | 1.4 g..3n | 1 g.n | .7 g.
White flour3 cups3 cups417 100278209
Butter1 tbsp.67 tbsp = 2 tsp.5 tbsp
Salt1.5 tsp.75 tsp4.312.82.2
Water1.3125 (1 + 5/16) cups31074207155

Basic Cycle

Beth Hensperger’s Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (p. 48) Country White”. This is a sandwich loaf:

IngredientMedium   @ 75% Medium
BLBMC50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium
WeightB %
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2 tsp.1 tsp. | .5 tsp.n | 1.4 g.n | 1 g.
Bread Flour \ TFW3 cups417 g.100313 g.
Instant Potato Flakes1.5 tbsp.1 tbsp + .5 tsp
Skim Milk Powder3 tbsp.2 tbsp + .75 tsp
Sugar1 tbsp.2.25 tsp.
Salt1.5 tsp.75 tsp4.3 g.3.2 g.
Gluten1 tbsp.0
Canola or Olive
1 tbsp.2.25 tsp.
Water1.33 cups315 g.236 g.

Beth Hensperger’s Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (p. 200) “Chuck Williams Country French”. This is a rustic French bread. The dough may have to be watched and centered to get a symetrical loaf. This loaf does well if mixed on a dough cycle and and baked in a loaf pan or shaped and baked on a pizza stone or baking tile.

 MediumMediumMedium @ 75% of medium
BLBMC50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
1 3/4 tsp7/8 tsp | 7/16 tsp
n | .9 g.n | .68 g.
White Flour2.25 cups313 g75235 g.
Whole Wheat.75 cups104 g2578 g.
TFW417 g100
Salt1.5 tsp.75 tsp4.3 g13.2 g.
Water1.25 cups1 + 3/16 cups
(1 cup + 3 tbsp)
280 g.71214 g.

Pembina Bread is based on BLBMC Country French and BLBMC Dakota Bread:

 Medium LoafMedium LoafMedium Loaf@ 75% of Medium
50% Sodium
50% Sodium
50% Sodium
DakotaWeight g.
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2 tsp |1 tsp. | .5 tspn | 1.4 g.1 g.
Whole Wheat.5 cups.625 cups
8765 g.
White Flour2.25 cups2.25 cups313 g235 g.
Bulgur.25 cups.25 cups
40 g.30 g.
Salt 1.5 tsp..75 tsp
Sunflower seeds
.25 cups.25 cups3 tbsp
Pumpkin seeds
raw, chopped
.25 cups2 tbsp.1.5 tbsp
Sesame seeds2 tsp.2 tsp1.5 tsp
Poppy seeds1.5 tsp2 tsp1.5 tsp
Flax seeds2 tsp.1.5 tsp
2 tbsp0
Canola Oil2 tbsp

Sunflower Oil2 tbsp1.5 tbsp.
Honey2 tbsp21 g.
[5 g. water]
15 g.
(1.5 tbsp)
Water1.25 cups300 g.225 g.
Total fluids305 g.

Whole Wheat Cycle

Panasonic’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread.  The Panasonic recipes are for medium, large and extra large. To do these in a Panasonic device at 50% sodium reduce salt and yeast by half. In other devices, I would start from another recipe and reduce salt and yeast. I have experimented with a small loaf at 75% of medium ingredients on the medium loaf setting in my Panasonic machine. It works, with slightly higher hydration.

 Flax Seed Whole Wheat Bread, a variant of BLBMC Flax Seed (p. 118).  Getting this recipe to work involved figuring out the difference between using milk vs water and dry milk (powder) and using honey. It also helped to tune this formula, which makes changes to the BLBMC source:

 MediumMediumMedium @ 75% of medium
BLBMC50% sodium50% sodium
50% sodium
Instant Yeast
Standard | Panasonic
2 tspn | .625 tsp

n | 1.8 g.1.3 g.
Whole Wheat1 cup2 cups
278 g.61209 g.
White Flour2 cups1 cup139 g.31104 g.
Flax mealx2 tbsp12 g.039 g.
Rolled Oatsx.25 cup25 g,0619 g.
T. Flours/strong>454 g.100
Flax Seed2 tbsp.2 tbsp.1.5 tbsp.
Poppy Seedx2 tsp.1.5 tsp,
Salt 1 tsp.5 tsp
2.8 g..622.1 g.
Gluten 1 tbsp0
Olive Oil or
[BLBMC] Canola
3 tbsp.3 tbsp.2.25 tbsp i.e.
2 tbsp + .75 tsp.
Honey3 tbsp.3 tbsp60 g.
[12 g.]
345 g. or
2.25 tbsp i.e.
2 tbsp + .75 tsp.
Skim Milk1.33 cup
(325 ml)
320 g
[290 g.]
240 g.
if Water1.125 cups
Skim Milk Powder
if Water
.25 cups
Fluid Weight302 g.67

Cornell Bread, a BLBMC recipe (p. 161).  The  BLBMC calls for one large egg for the medium loaf (and for the large loaf, for that matter). I can adjust water down – which is what I try to do:

[table “34” not found /]

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Bread, a BLBMC recipe (p. 108), is a 50% whole wheat loaf with buttermilk.

Medium@ 75% of Medium
BLBMC50% Sodium50% Sodium50% Sodium
Instant Yeast
standard | Panasonic
2 tsp1 tsp | .5 tsp.
n | 1.4 g.n | 1.1 g.
Whole Wheat1.5 cups209 g.157 g.
White Flour1.5 cups209 g.157 g.
TFW418 g.
Salt 1.5 tsp.75 tsp
4.3 g3.2 g
1.33 tbsp
Canola Oil2 tbsp1.5 tbsp
Maple Syrup2 tbsp40 g.
[13 g. fluid]
1.5 tbsp
[9 g. fluid]
Buttermilk1.125 cups275 g.
[250 g. fluid]
210 g.
(.85 cups)
Fluid total263 g.

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