Bread Machine

Bread machines came on the market  about 1986, and became popular outside Japan by the late 1990s.  Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000) was a comprehensive resource.  It listed 18 customer service numbers for manufacturers of machines on the market at the time.  It treats machines as equivalent, with a  warning to “Take Stock of Your Machine”. This understates the fact that some machines process some formulas differently.

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.

The Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine has an extra large vertical rectangle pan, and settings for medium, large and extra large loaves. I had unacceptable results with  recipes from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook when I first used this 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 started to monitor trial loaves. I peeked under the lid to see what happened in the rise phase – especially the last part after the machine knocked down the dough.  The dough relaxed and flowed to fill the bottom of the pan.   I made manual interventions a few times – 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.

I found a method to adjust BLBMC formulas for white, whole wheat, rye, and combined flour (multigrain) for a modern Panasonic bread machine.  This may be useful for any formulas requiring 2 tsp of yeast for a medium loaf (a formula with 3 cups or 15 oz. flour +/- by weight):

FirstIgnore the amount of "bread machine yeast" in a formula in the book
Second, calculateUse half the amount in the recipe for SAF instant dry yeast (usually about 2 tsp. for a medium loaf)
Third, checkUsually the correct amount of instant dry yeast the amount the Panasonic manual specifies for corresponding loaves e.g. 1 tsp for medium loaf

I  relearned what I knew about bread flour and Canadian standards for all purpose flour, and a few other things that I will list at the end.

I confirmed again that low sodium baking works at 50% reduction. It doesn’t affect the process or hurt flavour.  The method 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. The adjustments should be made on amount of salt in a formula but the amount of yeast in a BLBMC formula that has been adjusted by the method above. Then reduce salt and reduce yeast by the same percentage. Depending on the recipe source:

  • For a Panasonic recipe I cut yeast and salt equally;
  • For a BLBMC recipe I make my adjustment for yeast amount above first, then I cut yeast and salt equally. The effect is that when  I use 50% of the recipe amount of salt I use 25% of the BLBMC recipe amount of yeast.

A bread machine is an oven and a mixer. It has a heating element nd 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.  This may be true for customers looking for fast results. 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 combined times for bulk fermentation and proofing in making bread in many bakeries.

The first phase of every  bread 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.

Making dough and baking bread are a unified process.  A commercial baker works at scale with labour saving technology, with some control over parts of the process – how long to mix, knead, rest, bake and control over temperature. A home baker works at smaller scale, but with control of time and oven controls.  A home baker working dough for a couple of loaves may arrest an overly active fermentation by knocking down the dough and getting it in the oven. A bread machine works on one loaf.  Timing and sequence are programmed.  A bread machine cycle cannot be reprogrammed; the parts of a cycle can’t be paused or extended.

The Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine has an extra large vertical rectangle pan.  With some recipes the dough can gather at one end of the pan and top of the loaf will slope.  This happens with a dough that does not relax enough and flow in the last rise. The inside measurements  of the pan 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 up to 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid.  The final rise of the dough should stop below the top of the pan – the bread will spring when the heat comes on.  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 – the machine has about 6 cm. from the top of the pan to the underside of the lid, allowing room for vertical spring; but there should be air circulation for hot air to bake the top crust.

A medium loaf baked on a basic cycle has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water or fluid. 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 depends on the loaf. With white flour, from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan would be less than 75% of the height of the side walls of the pan or about 10 cm; to the top of the domed top of the loaf, for a 3 cup recipe on the basic cycle, 11-12 cm is reasonable and more is tall. Rye bread is denser. Height affects how I store and slice the loaf, and a sign that a loaf that lacks strength and structure.
Height changes with:

  • type of flour e.g. rye flour does not rise as well as wheat flour;
  • a small increase in flour (an extra quarter cup of flour) or
  • a long cycle, e.g. French Loaf.  French Bread has a nice carmelized crust and a sweet soft crumb, but comes out in a large rectangular block.  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 sidebars, and short detail sections. The table of contents and the index don’t locate all of them. 

  • p. 15 ingredient measurement; p. 18 converting volume to weight for flour and sugar;
  • pp. 13-14 yeast. Hensperger suggests two alternatives for each recipe:
    • SAF instant dried yeast (SAF Red),
    • 25% – 33% more bread machine yeast than instant dry yeast.  For instance, for Dakota Bread, BLBMC says 2 tsp SAF or 2.5 tsp bread machine. (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”).
  • 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. 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,
  • 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. 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
    • 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;

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook 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. Neither break a recipe down to a baker’s percentage.  This gets tricky for small batches down to single loaf batches, and is too technical for a machine manual or home recipe book.

Bread and bread machine recipe books for the American market, including The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, say the home baker should use bread flour to bake white bread, and as the white flour in any recipe that calls for some white flour.   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, and I aam not sure what a retail Canadian White Bread flour may be – except that it has more protein than most recipes anticipate. The weight – the real amount of flour in a cup by volume depends on how the cup is scooped or filled.  Most recipes go by volume so the measurement of flour introduces discrepancies with a recipe.  Measure by weight is more exact – but a recipe in cups has to be converted and converting volume to weight is fuzzy. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook suggests 1 cup of bread flour or whole wheat converts at 5 oz.  Panasonic suggests measuring flour by weight at the conversion rate of 1 cup = 4.9 oz.  Reinhart say 4.5 oz.  I

Scales in ounces go down to 1/8 oz, but not necessarily to decimal fractions.  Metric kitchen scales go to the nearest gram.  Conversions of 1 cup to oz./g.

  • 4.875 oz. = 138 g.
  • 4.9 oz. = 139 g.
  • 5.0 oz. = 141 g.

Other flour has less gluten-producing protein. Rye flour for instance. King Arthur says its Light Rye flour has 7% and its Dark Rye has 10%.  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. Rye flour weighs about 3 3/4 oz. (106 g.) per cup.

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.  The manufacturers don’t, according to what home bakers say on Web, respond to inquiries.  

Hensperger prefers SAF instant yeast. The Panasonic manual (2013) implies all dry yeasts are equivalent, to be added dry with the dry ingredients or through the yeast dispenser. There is a 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 amount of yeast 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 of flour.  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.

In several online converters: 1 cup, (48 tsp (US)) instant dry yeast = 136 grams; therefore 1 tsp = 2.8 g. My average for 15 samples of 1 tsp of SAF Red was 2.8 g. It was worth testing this because most recipes are by volume.  It possible to test because instant yeast has a sandy texture and doesn’t pack down like flour

Salt can be measured by volume with measuring spoons, but should be used carefully with level measurements. It is better to go by weight at the conversion rate of 1 teaspoon of table salt to 6 grams. This is the teaspoon that the recipe writer will have assumed. It was worth testing the salt you use to make sure. It possible to test because salt is granular; necessary because table salt is not all the same – some is pretty finely ground and more dense.

Hensperger favours the use of vital wheat gluten (gluten flour or added gluten). Panasonic doesn’t discuss added gluten. The protein in Canadian all purpose white flour or American Bread flour produces enough gluten to get a stretchy and tacky dough in baking white bread.  Whole wheat is high gluten too, but is believed not to rise as well as bread made with white flour. Whole wheat needs to be worked differently, and is just different. Panasonic’s recipes have the same flour to yeast measurements for whole wheat and wheat flour loaves; the difference is the machine cycle:

  • Basic bake cycle: 4 hours, with 2 hours or more rest;
  • Bake whole wheat cycle: 5 hours, with 2 hours 30 minutes;
  • For the 2 hour “bake rapid” cycle and the 3 hour “whole wheat bake rapid” cycles Panasonic suggests 1 additional tsp of yeast.

Panasonic has bake sandwich cycles and sandwich bread recipes.  The cycles are the same as the basic cycles, lacking the use of the loaf size command setting.  Formulas for white sandwich and whole wheat sandwich are medium loaves in basic white and 100% whole wheat recipe

I tracked medium recipes,  3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of liquid (exceptions noted) for a period in June, July and August 2018.  I identify the recipes by short names.  There is table at the end of this post with a key and more infomation about the formulas. In the loaves in the test table below:

  I identify the recipes by short names.  There is table at the end of this post with a key and more infomation about the formulas. In the loaves in the test table below:

  • Wheat flour, by Rogers, a Canadian mill:
    • All-Purpose flour;
    • Bread Flour for White Bread;
    • Whole Wheat flour;
    • Whole Wheat Bread Flour. A blend of Whole Wheat and white flour, and added gluten;
    • Flour measured in cups; or in oz. 1 cup = 4.875 (4 7/8) oz.;
  • Rye Flour:
    • In one trial, Nunnweiler Organic Dark (I had a bag in the fridge);
    • Rogers Dark Rye
  • Fluid amount is the main fluid in the recipe – usually water, in cups;
  •  Yeast
    • in tsp; in some trials  in grams;
    • Trials 1-6 Fleishmann’s Quick-Rise; others SAF Red Instant dry.
  • Salt
    • in grams. (For table salt 1 tsp = 6 grams);
    • the % of the salt in the published recipe;
  • Cm is
    • a rough measurement or estimate of the height of the loaf;
    • ^ gassed and rose to top of the pan or ballooned
    • / sloping top;
    • * a manual step to deflate the dough.
tsp or g.
Salt g.Cm
1Country French2.25 Bread
.5 whole wheat
1.2521.254.5 [51%]^
2Country French2.25 AP
.5 whole wheat
1.2521.254.5 [51%}11
3Dakota2.25 Bread
.5 whole wheat
1.2521.1257.5 [83%] ^
4Dakota2.25 AP
.5 whole wheat
1.2511 [50%]9 [100%]10*
5Basic White3 AP1.2501 [100%]10.5 [116%]10
6Country French2.25 AP
.75 whole wheat [105%]10*
7White Whole3.25 wWhB1.2511.1259.10 [101%]14*
8White Whole3.25 wWhB1.250.8759.15 [102%] 14
9Whole Wheat3 whole wheatWW1.250.5 [50%]6.9 [76%]10
10White Whole3.25 wWhB1.250.55.25 [58%]14
11White Whole3.25 wWhB1.250.3754.5 [50%]14
123 Seed3 wWhB1.250.53.1 [50%]11
133 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP
1.250.5 3.0 [50%]8
143 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP [50%]12
153 Seed1.5 whole wheat
1.5 AP [50%]10
16Country French2.25 AP
.75 whole wheat
1.25.375.54.5 [50%]13
17FS Whole Wh2 AP
1 whole wheat 3.0 [50%]12.5
18FS Whole Wh9.75 oz. AP
4.875 oz. whole wheat g.3.05 [51%]11.5 /
19Buttermilk WhWh7.375 oz. AP
7.375 oz whole wheat
* Buttermilk
1.5.5 tsp 4 [44%]11 //
20Buttermilk WhWh7.3 oz. AP
7.3 oz. whole wheat
* Buttermilk
1.0 tsp1.52 g. 4.1 [45%]11
21Irish Brown9.7 oz. whole wheat
4.875 oz. AP
1.251.5 tsp1.49 g. 4.45 [45%]13 /
22Whole Wheat14.6 oz. whole wheatWW1.25.75 tsp1.42 g. 4.52 [50%]11
23Sc Light Rye9.0 oz AP
1.125 cups rye
1.125 +
.125 oil
1.5 tsp1.42 g4.51 [50%]11 /
24Bohemian Black8.5 oz. AP
1 cup dark rye
.25 cups wheat germ
B1.125 +
3 tbsp melted butter,
I tbsp espresso drip
1.5 tsp1.51 g.4.52 [50%]9 /
25Buttermilk WhWh207 g. AP
207 g. whole wheat
1.5 tsp1.40 g.4.50 [50%]

Lessons learned while adapting BLBMC formulas for this Panasonic model:

Panasonic SD-YD250Space to make a big French loaf from 3 cups of white flour. Capable mixer kneads the dough. Does well with whole wheat. Versatile, well designed. Quality machine.
Bread Lover's Bread Machine CookbookExcellent reference. Most recipes for bread baked in the machine have to be adjusted for Panasonic machines.
Instant dry yeastA bread machine needs instant dry yeast - instant, quick-rise or bread machine; active dry works but I am not going to experiment when I have something working well with instant and a good supply.
SAF Instant Dry YeastLeSaffre SAF-Instant dry yeast, SAF Red is excellent.
Yeast amounts; Panasonic machineFor this machine, a teaspoon of yeast is enough for a medium loaf. For 50% sodium in this machine, half a teaspoon of yeast is usually enough for a medium loaf;
Yeast measurementA little bit does a lot. Check the recipe and the math. Accurate measurement - level, measuring spoons or a scale. Conversion 1 tsp = 2.8 g.
SaltA little bit does a lot. I use a kitchen scale that measures down to .1 grams, and convert. 1 tsp (table salt) to 6 g.
Bread FlourThis usually means the American kind. Canadian all purpose flour is the perfect replacement.
Added Gluten; White flourDoes not contribute in a white loaf formula or a formula where bread flour is over 40 % of the flour in a multigrain formula on basic bake cycle.
Bread Flour - CanadianNot necessary; it complicates baking in a Panasonic machine.
Whole Wheat FlourPerishable - requires to be stored cool or refrigerated. Requires a different whole wheat bake cycle to rise and bake.
Added Gluten; whole wheat flourIsn't needed for whole wheat on whole wheat bake cycle.
Whole Wheat Bread FlourA blend of white flour, whole wheat flour and added gluten. Rogers doesn'tdisclose the ratio; from rise and spring, I guess 55 or 60% white flour.
Added Gluten; generalMay be useful in formulas using non-wheat low protein flour. It does not have to be added by the tablespoon
Rye breadRye does not rise.
White Whole Wheat FlourA specialty flour, by King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill. 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. I couldn't find it locally, and used whole wheat bread flour which turned out well in that formula.
General BakingBakers percentage and formulas are useful tools in planning a loaf. Measuring ingredients by weight is useful

The formulas or recipes by name and source: 

Short NameSourceFull NameNotesFurther
Basic WhitePanasonicBasic White LoafBasic White Loaf
Country FrenchBLBMC p. 200Chuck Williams's Country French70% white flour in the style of country breads.
Pain de campagne, with whole wheat (not rye) flour.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma recipe for La Cloche device
DakotaBLBMC p. 119Dakota BreadBeth Hensperger blog: Dakota Bread
Whole WheatPanasonic100 % Whole WheatWhole Wheat cycle; 100 % Whole Wheat
White WholeBLBMC p. 127White Whole WheatWhite Whole Wheat flour is a specialty flour.
BLBMC used 3.25 cups.
1.5 lb. loaf recipe uses 3 cups of flour
3 SeedBLBMC p. 116Three Seed Whole Wheat Bread1.5 cups whole wheat; 1.5 cups white flour
FS Whole WhBLBMC p. 118Flax Seed Whole Wheat Bread1 cup whole wheat; 2 cups white flourNearly exact adaptation
Buttermilk WhWhBLBMC p. 108Buttermilk Whole Wheat Bread1.5 cups whole wheat, 1.5 cups white flour.
1.125 cups buttermilk; Plus other
Irish BrownBLBMC p. 117Irish Potato Brown BeeadWhole Wheat cycle;
2 cup whole wheat, 1 cup bread; potato flakes
Sc. Light RyeBLBMC p, 134Scandinavian Light Rye1.875 cups bread
1.125 cups rye
Bohemian BlackBLBMC p. 138Bohemian Black Bread1.75 cups bread flour, 1 cup dark rye, .25 cups wheat bran.

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