Bread Machine

Recipes from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000) had worked, for the most part, in my old bread machine. Bread machine manufacturers and recipe writers discuss  small (1 lb.), medium (1.5 lb.), large (2 lb.) and extra large (2.5 lb.) loaves.   The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook recipes have ingredient lists for 1.5 lb. and 2 lb. loaves. I had adapted some 1.5 lb. medium loaf recipes for low salt, reducing yeast by the same percentage as salt as suggested by Hensperger at p. 290 and by the Please Don’t Pass the Salt bread page.

I had unacceptable results with  recipes from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook in my Panasonic machine.  Medium loaves  filled the extra large pan, and had airy, weak crumb; some ballooned or cratered/collapsed/imploded. Most of these had great crust, and other good qualitities.

I peeked under the lid to see what happened in the rise phase cycle – especially the last part after the machine knocked down the dough.  The dough relaxed and flowed to fill the bottom of the pan.   A baker working one small amount of dough in a kitchen may arrest an overly active fermentation by knocking down the dough and getting it in the oven. A bread machine cycle cannot be reprogramed or altered; the parts of a cycle can’t be paused or extended.  I made manual interventions – I ran a silicon spatula between the dough and the pan 5-10 minutes before the end of the rise and the start of baking to deflate the dough. This intervention shouldn’t be a part of using a bread machine.

A recipe can be adjusted in two stages. First (Canadian) adjustments for a Hensperger recipe in a Panasonic SD-YD250:

  1. Substitution when an American recipe says “bread flour” – use Canadian AP Flour.  (I do not use Canadian bread flour; for another machine, if you know it works in your machine …);
  2. Use half the amount in the Hensperger recipe for SAF instant dry yeast; (Ignore the amount of “bread machine yeast” in the book ). This should get yeast to 1 tsp. +/- as the Panasonic manual specifies for corresponding loaves;
  3. (Optional) Use added gluten in proportion to whole wheat or non-wheat flour,

Then low sodium adjustments,:

  1. Reduce salt.  50% doesn’t affect a machine recipe or hurt flavour (except if your palate is tuned to ambient salt in the food supply);
  2. Reduce the yeast by the same percentage;
  3. (Optional) Add gluten.

For a Panasonic recipe, I cut yeast and salt to 50%.  For a Hensperger recipe I cut salt to 50% and yeast to 25%.

A bread machine is an oven and a mixer. It has a heating element like slow cookers,  roaster ovens and toaster ovens, and a motor to drive a kneading device. It has a double purpose pan – baking pan and mixing bowl – mounted to the frame. The mixing paddle is connected to the power train by a shaft housed in sealed bearings at the bottom of the pan. Most machines have distinct cycles for baking dough leavened with yeast including a basic cycle, and a fast cycle manufacturers call Bake (Rapid), Turbo, Quick Bake, Rapid, etc. quick-rise baking. Some have additional cycles for whole wheat flour bread. Hensperger noted that a basic cycle could be from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the machine. Some manufacturers see a short cycle as a selling point. Some critics say a long cycle is a drawback.  A long cycle, with a long rise, will bake a better loaf. A 2 hour rise phase in a bread machine is short compared to the rise in some artisinal baking techniques, but compares to the time for bulk fermentation and proofing in making bread in many factories and bakeries.

The first phase of every baking machine cycle is mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough.  The dough gathers into a ball around the kneading paddle.  The machine pushes the ball around the inside of the pan, squeezing and stretching it.    The motor and drive train do their work in the kneading phase. After the kneading phase the dough rests in the rise phase. The quality and performance of the motor and drive train matter.  Other design elements matter – the pan coating has to hold the dough and let go as the machine throws the dough ball around the pan. When the dough ball gathers, a 3 cup ball may be about 7 cm. high (At that point it is centered on the paddle and does not slump into the sides of the pan.) In the basic cycle in my machine, the machine kneads for 20 minutes, rests for 3 minutes, kneads for 3 more minutes.  It rests for 2 hours in basic cycle with 2 bursts of about 15 turns of the kneading paddle to knock down the dough at -2:00 and -1:40 on the countdown timer.  This is 70 minutes and 50 minutes before baking.

The Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine has an extra large vertical rectangular pan, and settings for medium, large and extra large loaves.   A 2.5 lb. loaf recipe would use 3.75 to 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid.  The sides of an extra large baked loaf would some up  almost to the top of the pan.  In proportion to the ingredients, a medium 1.5 lb. loaf should rise and spring to about 70% of the height of the  pan.  I have made loaves like that. The height affects how I can store and slice the loaf.  A tall loaf may be expected in a recipe with a lot of flour and water (and the high rise of an airy French Bread, from 3 cups of white flour).  Or it can mean an excessive rise and pan spring for a medium loaf recipe.

French Bread from a bread machine will have a nice carmelized crust and a sweet soft crumb, but comes out in a large rectangular block that is hard to handle and slice.  There is a reason that commercial bakers shape French Bread into batards and baguettes.

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook is like a text book – explaining the why and the how of baking bread in a bread machine. It has text sections and sidebars explaining

  • p. 15 measurement;
  • pp. 13-14 yeast:
    • SAF instant dried yeast (SAF Red),
    • Two alternatives for each recipe, (1) SAF instant dry yeast  or (2) any “bread machine” yeast. Generally,  25% – 33% more bread machine yeast than instant dry yeast. (2.5 tsp instead of 2; 2 tsp instead of 1.5);
  • p. 13, p. 59 vital wheat gluten. Suggests up to 1 tsp of added gluten per cup, less gluten for bread flour;
  • p. 12 flour, and
    • pp. 46-47 white flour from wheat,
    • pp. 106-107 whole wheat flour,
    • p. 140 diy milling of whole grain flour
    • pp. 150-152 non-wheat specialty flour.
    • p. 193 organic flour,
    • p. 125 proteins in flour,
    • p. 18 tables converting volume to weight for flour and sugar (not salt or yeast);
  • pp. 62-63 whole wheat and non-wheat grain flour;
  • 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
    • starters and pre-ferments,
    • shaping loaves
    • baking stones, tiles and ceramic containers (and cloches)
  • p. 76 eggs;
  • p. 233 olive oil
  • p. 168 dough enhancers,
  • pp. 170, 172 gluten free ingredients;
  • 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.

Hensperger and the Panasonic manual are consistent with each other and with other recipes on flour and water and other ingredients (milk powder, butter, oil, sugar or honey etc., seeds etc.  Bread and bread machine recipe books for the American market say that bread flour is required to bake white bread  The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook approach calls for bread flour (where it calls for white flour), added gluten, and ample leavening.  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.  Measuring flour affects results. A cup by volume weighs more or less, depending on how the cup is scooped or filled.  Flour can be weighed, but most recipes go by volume, without a standard way of converting volume to weight.

There are several views about how much yeast, and what kind.

  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
  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;
  3. Panasonic manual – .33 tsp dry yeast per cup.

My machine manual (2013) implies all dry yeasts are equivalent, to be added dry with the dry ingredients or through the yeast dispenser on a machine with that feature. Panasonic’s basic bake cycles are 4 hours, with 2 hours or more rest.  The bake whole wheat cycle is 5 hours and the rest phase of bake whole wheat is 30 minutes longer. Panasonic’s recipes for medium loaves call for  1 tsp of yeast for a medium loaf:

  1. Basic White Bread – basic bake cycle, 3 cups bread flour, 1.25 cups of water, 1.5 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of yeast;
  2. 100% Whole Wheat – bake whole wheat cycle, 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1.25 cups of water, 1.5 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of yeast.

For the 2 hour “bake rapid” cycle and the 3 hour “whole wheat bake rapid” cycles Panasonic suggests 1 additional tsp of yeast.

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.  Instant yeast, under any of its names, is the choice for bread machines.  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. When activated, it provides ultimate baking activity in all yeast dough, low sugar to highly sweetened breads. Bakipan® Fast Rising Instant Yeast is a fast-acting yeast that can shorten the rise times for traditional baking …” Specifications and methods are omitted from marketing claims – they might as well be trade secrets.

I tracked medium/1.5 lb recipes:

  • Panasonic Basic White Loaf,
  • Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (p. 200) Chuck Williams’s Country French. A lean white bread, 70% white flour in the style of country breads – French Bread with a shadow of whole wheat. Pain de campagne, simplified.  An adaptation of recipe by Williams Sonoma for the ceramic La Cloche device. ;
  • Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook  (p. 119) Dakota Bread; 2 tsp of SAF instant;  published in Beth Hensperger’s blog in 2015 Dakota Bread said 2 tsp “bread machine yeast”;
  • Panasonic 100% Whole Wheat,
  • Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook  (p. 127)  White Whole Wheat(White Whole Wheat flour is a specialty flour.)  Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook used 3.25 cups of flour. A 1.5 lb. bread machine loaf recipe on the Web is nearly identical but uses 3 cups of flour;
  • Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (p. 116) 3 Seed Whole Wheat Bread.  1.5 cups Bread flour and 1.5 Whole Wheat.

The inside measurements  of the pan in my Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine are 19 cm (7.5 inches) side to side, 14 cm (5.5 inches) front to back, 14.5 cm (5.7 inches) bottom to top.  The machine has settings for medium, large and extra large loaves.   A 2.5 lb. loaf recipe would use 3.75 to 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid.  The sides of the baked loaf would some up  almost to the top of the pan.  The middle of the top would form a dome. A medium loaf baked on a basic cycle has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water. This would make a loaf baked in an oven in a loaf pan 22 cm (8 or 8.5 inches) long, 11 cm (4.5 inches) wide, (11 cm) and 7 cm (2.25 inches) high). An oven-baked loaf is as long and wide as the pan. The top of loaf is a long dome, a bit higher than the sides and ends of the pan.  The 1.5 lb. loaf in this bread machine pan should be 7.5 inches (19 cm) by 5.5 inches (14 cm).  Height, from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan would be 9 cm; to the top of the domed top of the loaf:

  • For a 3 cup recipe 10-11 would be normal on the basic cycles (an extra quarter cup of flour could make a taller loaf);
  • 14 is tall, unless the recipe is a large loaf recipe or on a long cycle, e.g. French Loaf.

The ingredients:

  • White Flour: Rogers Bread Flour for White Bread or Rogers (Canadian) All-Purpose flour;
  • Whole Wheat flour: Rogers Whole Wheat Flour;
  • Rogers Whole Wheat Bread Flour. A blend of Whole Wheat and Canadian White All purpose, plus some added gluten;

The recipe portions of flour, water, gluten,  yeast for the medium loaf (some ingredients that were varied in the test; these are not recipes!):

NameFlour (cups)WaterGluten
Salt tsp|g
Basic White Loaf3 B011.5|9
Country French2.25 B
.75 whole wheat
Dakota2.5 B
.5 whole wheat
White Whole Wheat3.25 WWW321.5|9
100% Whole Wheat3 whole wheat011.5|9
3 Seed1.5 B
1.5 whole wheat

In the loaves below:

  • Yeast in tsp. is the amount used. also the % of the published recipe. 1-6 Fleishmann’s Quick-Rise); all others SAF Red Instant dry.
  • Salt in grams. (For table salt 1 tsp = 6 grams); also the % of the salt in the published recipe.
  • Cm is a rough measurement or estimate of the height of the loaf. An asterisk means a manual step to deflate the dough.
#RecipeFlourWaterGluten YeastSalt (g)Cmnotes
1CWCF2.25 Bread
.5 whole wheat
r.21.25 [71%]4.5 [51%]Gassed
2CWCF2.25 AP
.5 whole wheat
r.21.25 [71%]4.5 [51%}Good
3Dakota2.25 Bread
.5 whole wheat
r.21.125 [56%]7.5 [83%] Gassed
4Dakota2.25 AP
.5 whole wheat
r.11 [50%]9 [100%]10*Excellent
5White Loaf3 APr.01 [100%]10.5 [116%]10Excellent
6CWCF2.25 AP
.75 whole wheat
r..251.25 [71%]9.28 [105%]10*Excellent
7WWW3.25 wWhBr.11.125 [56%]9.10 [101%]14*Very Good
8WWW3.25 wWhBr.0.875 [44%]9.15 [102%] 14Good
9100% WW3 whole wheatr.0.5 [50%]6.9 [76%]10Very Good
10WWW3.25 wWhBr.0.5 [25%5.25 [58%]14Good
11WWW3.25 wWhBr.0.375 [19%]4.5 [50%]14Very Good
123 Seed3 wWhBr.0.5 [25%]3.1 [50%]11Excellent
133 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP
r.0.5 [25%]3.0 [50%]8flat
143 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP
r.1.5.625 [31%]3.0 [50%]12Good but ...
153 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP
r.1.125.5 [25%]3.0 [50%]10Good; a bit dense
16CWCF2.25 AP
.75 whole wheat
r..375.5 [29%]4.5 [50%]13Very good but ...

The protein in Canadian all purpose white flour produces enough gluten to get a stretchy and tacky ( sticky but not too sticky) dough in baking white bread.   I would not add gluten to a bread machine recipe that uses 67% or more white flour ( I am using Canadian all purpose, made with hard red wheat – rich in protein).  I add gluten to recipes requiring 50% or more whole wheat or non-wheat flour.  1 tsp gluten per cup of whole wheat leads to more rise and spring than I want.

Rogers Whole Wheat Bread flour worked in recipes for a 50-50 blend of Whole Wheat and White flour.  It is a useful product to make 50% whole wheat sandwich bread in a bread machine, without having to buy and store individual flours. It can be substitued for White Whole Wheat flour, a specialty flour, is produced by King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill in the US.   I couldn’t find it locally. Hensperger says (p. 125) it has the same protein as US bread flour. King Arthur says it can be substituted for Whole Wheat Flour and for some white flour. Bread machine recipes are based on the King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat oven baked recipe.


  • A bread machine needs instant dry yeast – instant, quick-rise or bread machine;  active dry works but I am not going to experiment;
  • SAF Instant dry yeast is a good product; Hensperger’s claims that it is better than other instant yeast is hard to justify;
  • Storage, handling are important;
  • A little bit does a lot. Check the recipe and check the math. Set a check level and stop and think before exceeding it. For this machine,
    • a teaspoon of yeast is enough for a medium white loaf;
    • For 50% sodium half a teaspoon of yeast is usually enough for a medium loaf;
  • Accurate measurement – level, not heaping measuring spoons or a precise scale and a reliable conversion factor:
    • online converter: 1 cup, (48 tsp (US))= 136 grams; 1 tsp = 2.8 g.
    • Reinhart: 1 tsp. = .11 oz = 3.1 g.
    • my average for xx samples of 1 tsp is nn g. (tba)

Salt can be measured by volume with level measurements, with measuring spoons. I use a kitchen scale that meaures down to .1 grams and use the conversion: 1 teaspoon of table salt weighs 6 grams per teaspoon.  Putting in 7 grams of salt for a teaspoon is too much if the recipe or formula is refers to table salt that weighs 6 grams per teaspoon






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