Bread Machine Recipes

Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000) (BLBMC) is a comprehensive resource.  It suggested that a bread machine could mix dough for almost any kind of bread.  This understates difficulties in designing bread machines and writing formulas for bread machines:

  • the processes of mixing ingredients, working dough and baking dough in a bakery or at home steps involve doing something until a result it observed (the dough is mixed and supple; it has risen, or is ready to bench or bake);
  • a machine works 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 work with some doughs, and not others;
  • machines are different;
  • a recipe writer cannot test every recipe in every machine.

BLBMC treated all bread machines (it listed 18 customer service numbers for manufacturers of machines on the market at the time) as equivalent, with a  warning to “Take Stock of Your Machine”.

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook has text sections, sidebars, and short detail sections on many advanced bread making topics and bread machine topics. The table of contents and the index don’t locate all of them. For instance:

  • 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. 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. 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;
  • 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;
  • 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 the meeting of bread machines and home 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.

BLBMC recipes have ingredient lists for 1.5 lb. and 2 lb. loaves. A medium loaf usually uses 3 cups of flour.  The white bread recipes go from 1 cup to 1 and 1/4 cups water for 3 cups of flour – hydration rates from 65 to 71%. Whole wheat and multigrain recipes have a little more fluid and higher hydration rates. There is a section with 5 recipes for one pound loaves.

The author is clear about the importance of measurement of ingredients.  She has a good section on common failure.

She uses home cooking conventions in her recipes including measuring out ingredients by volume. Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook recipe are consistent with other recipes on amounts of flour and water and other ingredients (milk powder, butter, oil, sugar or honey etc., seeds etc).  Her recipes are consistent with recipes for loaves baked in ovens, and for bread machine loaves.  When rye flour is used the recipes are 1 and 1/8 cups of water for 2 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of rye flour.  Adjustments of hydration are necessary in a small and precise machine.

Her recipes for a medium loaf of 100% whole wheat bread on p. 124 is  4 cups of flour with 1.5 cups fluid.  Panasonic’s recipe chart in my Panasonic SD-YD250 manual calls that 2 pound loaf – large.

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. 

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%.

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 from home bakers (perhaps from anyone who isn’t a high value customer).

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. 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% – a high B%;
  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% – a high B%;
  3. Panasonic suggests .33 tsp per cup of flour.  Panasonic’s recipes for medium loaves call for 1 tsp of yeast for a medium loaf. (For reasons known best to Panasonic, the hydration rates are the same):
    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. This rises like French Bread;
    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 This produces a compact brown loaf.

In several online converters: 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. It was worth testing 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. The conversion rate of 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.

Hensperger favours the use of vital wheat gluten (gluten flour or added gluten) in formulas for many breads baked in the machine.  Manufacturers don’t mention it in their manuals and recipe books. This additive changes the balance of the loaf and the performance of the dough (flow and rise); the effect may be different according to the machine.

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