Smaller Bread Machine Loaves

Bread machine loaves, comparing to the conventional language of oven technology:

Bread Machine Flour (approx.) Oven PanOven PanOven Pan
Small1 pound2 cups
Medium1.5 pound3 cups1 pound 8 x 4 x 2½ inches
(20½ x 10 x 6½ cm.)
1333 cubic cm.
Large2 pound4 cups2 pound 9 x 5 x 2 3/4 inches
(23 x 13 x 7 cm.)
2093 cubic cm.
Extra lg.2.5 lb.

There are 1 lb. bread machines on the market, including Zojirushi models and Panasonic models – not necessarily available in USA or Canada but; available on Amazon (some expensive).  1.5 lb. machines were common; 2 lbs. is a common size; some are 2.5 or 3 lb. Some large and extra large machines have settings for medium loaves:

  • Panasonic bread machines with “2.5 lb.” pans, such as the SD-YD250 have control settings and recipes for medium, large and extra-large;
  • Zojirushi’s “2 lb.” pan machines do not have settings for medium or small loaves. The manuals have a few recipes for medium loaves.

The ingredients for a medium or small loaf will always fit in a large horizontal pan or an extra large vertical rectangle pan. They only overflow the pan if overleavened.

The amount of dough determines the size of the loaf and influences shape. The ingredients, mixed and kneaded, form a ball. The dough for a loaf baked in the oven is shaped into a mass shorter and narrower than the pan. The dough has to flow and rise and spring.

A bread machine recipe for the bake program should produce a viscous and extensible dough that flows and rises. Most bread machine recipes make dow are is extenible enough to flow in the bottom of the pan and rise reasonably uniformly. The dough will gather at one end of the pan – its only rarely centered in a one paddle machine or two paddle machine. When a dough ball at one end of the pan fails to flow enough, the loaf rises more at that end and bakes into a sloping loaf in a bake program in a bread machine. Elasticity s is a reason that bread machine bake programs can’t produce the shapes and crust of country/artisan loaves. It leads to loaves that slope along the top in a medium loaf. This effect occurs in all machines that have a base that is longer than it is wide. This effect is more pronounced with small loaves.

I made medium and small loaves in a Panasonic SD-YD250, the machine I owned and used 2016-2020. I started to scale loave for small loaves with that machine:

  • tall vertical rectangle pan, single paddle dead centre, bottom of pan;
  • 550 watt motor, and runs for 50-60% of the time in a 25 minute +/- mixing phase on a medium loaf setting;
  • 266 square cm. pan: 19 cm (7.5 inches) by 14 cm (5.5 inches);
  • 1 paddle, central:
    • 6 cm long, radially;
    • 2.6 cm high, rising to a fin 5 cm tall;
  • The paddle is deep in the loaf, but a small loaf rises and springs to a height of 7.5 cm or more, and clears the paddle;
  • No custom cycles;
  • No Pause button; Power interrupt by unplugging – 10 minutes to resume cycle;
  • 550 watt element, about 1 cm below the bottom of the pan. A small loaf develops hot spots around the base of the pan but is not burned.

I got a Zojirushi Virtuoso 2 lb. machine in 2020. (it is similiar to other Zojirushi post-2016 2 lb. machines – Virtuoso Plus, Home Bakery Supreme). I began with medium loaves:

  • horizontal pan, dual paddles on the long axis,
  • 100 watt motor;
  • 286 square cm. pan: 22 cm (9 inches) by 13 cm (5 inches);
  • 2 paddles 11 cm apart. Each is 5.5 cm off centre along the long axis,done the centre. Each paddle is:
    • 6 cm. long,
    • 1.2 cm high – 2.9 cm high at a fin;
  • No Pause button. Pause knead by raising lid
  • Two elements:
    • 600 watt main element, about 1 cm below the bottom of the pan; 
    • 40 watt lid heater;

The dough ball is usually in the middle of the pan at the end of the knead. The dough ball slumps horizontally as it rises. The dough for medium and small loaves will reach the side walls, but not necessarily the ends by the end of the rise. The loaf will flow and rise or spring for the first 20 – 30 minutes of baking. A medium loaf should reach the ends, but may not push into the corners.

It is possible to use a bread machine to mix or bake a smaller loaf by scaling down the amount of ingredients. The first step to adjusting a recipe is get a scale by reference to total flour; by recipe size (volume); e.g. 3 cups (medium) to 2 (small): 2/3. A 1 lb. dough ball is too small to fill the base of a large or extra large pan. For bread flour loaves, a loaf that is 75% of a 1.5 lb. recipe works out. For loaves made of mixed flours, 80% of a 1.5 lb. recipe seems to work out. A small loaf will often have some oddities of shape – not that the loaves are not edible and palatable. The Panasonic, with small base area was shorter and wider, and made a shorter, wider and taller loaf.

Almost all home baking recipes list all ingredients by volume. Many bread machine recipes do too. Scaling from volume is possible, with careful calculation and measurement. The most precise way to scale is by weight. 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 and water.

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. I have a list, found in the post Measuring & Conversion.

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. For yeast, I refer to my own conversion chart, which compares the volume of active dry yeast and instant dry yeast and converts either to weight in grams:

Active dry
Instant dry

Recipes almost always refer to ordinary table salt, which is 5.7 grams per teaspoon. I refer to my own conversions or use a calculator:

Tsp. (fraction)Tsp. (decimal)Grams

Seeds and herbs should be adjusted in proportion to the flour. I don’t measured down to the gram. Oils, sugar and and sweet fluids should be adjusted too, without trying to weigh them. It is worth being aware of water in honey, maple syrup, molasses, eggs and different kinds of milk.

I have published some bread machine recipes in tables. I bake for low sodium – at 50% salt, with yeast adjusted for salt. Recipes that call for 2 tsp of active dry yeast for a medium loaf failed in the Panasonic SD-YD250 machine.  I allow for adjustment of yeast for a range of machines.

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