Bread Baking, 2022

Table of Contents

Bread Machine Repair

Seized up

My Zojirushi Virtuoso model BB-PAC20 bread machine stopped working on June 27, 2022. The pan would not even seat on the drive connectors in the machine. One of the drive shafts was seized. The pan was already loaded with unmixed ingredients for a light rye bread. I dumped the ingredients into the bowl of my stand mixer, mixed the loaf, and baked it. I set the oven to 350 ℉. I guessed time, and kept baking until the loaf was done. It had not mixed and risen properly, but it was edible.

Victoria was on the third day of high temperatures although it was not terribly hot in July, like the summer of 2021 had been.

Replacing the Pan

The drive shafts are integral to the pan. I could not see a way to remove the shaft, the bearing and the seals. This is the same with most or all bread machines. The shaft and bearing were not available as repair parts. A user can replace the pan but service for shafts and bearings is labour intensive and requires an inventory of repair parts.

In Canada, Zojirushi sells bread machines through select retailers. On Vancouver Island, the retail distributor is a store in Duncan BC, with an online presence. The retail/online store in Duncan advertised the newer Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus, model BB-PDC20, and a replacement pan for the BB-PDC20. It does not offer to sell a replacement pan for the BB-PAC20.

Zojirushi has a Canadian service/parts agency, Beaver Creek Electronics, in Richmond Hill, Ontario (in the Greater Toronto area). Beaver Creek Electronics was selling both:

  • 8-BBP-P080 pans for the BB-PAC20 Virtuoso and
  • BX167810A-00 pans for the BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus.

It appears there are differences in the pans. I ordered the pan for the BB-PAC20 from Richmond Hill. It arrived July 5.

Warmed ingredients and warmed Dough Rising

The Zojirushi Virtuoso model uses the heating element to bake the ingredients, and also to:

  • warm the cold ingredients in a period of “rest” before the machine mixes and kneads the dough, and
  • raise the temperature in the pan to 91-95 °F (33-35 ºC) in the “rise” periods before baking when the leavening agent (yeast or chemical) is active and the dough is being inflated.

The latter can be compared to using a proofing box. a device to keep dough warmer than room temperature (during primary fermentation or proofing)

None of the bread machines on the market surveyed by Beth Hensperger in her Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (2000) were said to have worked that way. The machines on the market at that time had timers setting the “rest” times. The dough was warm and moist after kneading (the action of kneading makes dough warm). The machine kept the heat and humidity by shelter inside the pan in the machine under a lid. The possibility of heating the unmixed ingredients and dough was not mentioned in that book. The development of a proofing box function involved different control chips and switches. It is a feature on the Zojirushi Virtuoso, the Viruoso Plus, and other modern machines. I think it was a feature on my Panasonic, although it was/is not discussed in the Panasonic material. I don’t know if a heated “rest”has become common or standard. I haven’t researched this.

Timed warm fermentation is a feature when the machine is used to produce a predictable loaf in the set time. Artisan bakers extend and delay fermentation by mixing pre-ferments, and by refrigerating pre-ferments and doughs.

Loading the Bread Machine

The Zojirushi machines take fluids first, at the bottom of the pan.

I refined my routine to load ingredients that dissolve in water or suspend in water before the flour: salt, sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, milk, milk powder and butter. I began to use table salt instead of kosher salt. As I have been measuring by weight, this has not made a difference in results. Kosher salt has larger crystals and can be used to replace table salt when measured by weight. Both kinds of crystals are small enough that they dissolve in water during the rest and mix/knead phases in a bread machine. I separate the yeast by putting the yeast on top of the flour, so that it is not affected by the salt in water until the machine mixes the ingredients.

Bread machine manuals warn against using a delayed-start timer with milk products, because of the risk of spoilage. I rarely set a delayed-start timer on my bread machine.


I stopped trying to put recipes online.

I put my recipes into spread sheets that showed ingredients by weight and volume, and allowed for calculation of Bakers’ ratio, sodium content, and other details. This has allowed me to work on how much salt to use to get acceptable gluten development, and how much yeast and water are necessary to get a dough that flows, rise and springs without ballooning, collapsing or developing a dimpled or cratered top crust.


Effort and Costs

I haven’t hand mixed and kneaded, or used a stand mixer (or made no-knead bread) much since I began to make bread in a bread machine. The bread machine makes good sandwich bread, if I get the flour, water, salt and yeast right. The bread machine and pan do not require the cleaning that mixing bowls and tools require.

I had, at one time, a home kitchen Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a 7 quart bowl. I did not use it much. It is a specialty appliance, marketed as if all home cooks need one. Its main job is mixing and kneading bread dough.

I have a Bosch Compact stand mixer. Like other Bosch mixers, it is a multi-function device that powers a food processor, a blender and other powered accessories. It is smaller than the machines made by other manufacturers for American consumers. It has a 4 quart bowl, which is supposed to be big enough to mix and knead dough with 8 cups of flour – enough for two 9 inch x 5 inch loaves baked in oven baking pans. The motor is rated at 400 watts. Bosch’s larger (6.5 quart bowl, 18 cups flour capability) Universal stand mixer has been down graded by American Underwriters Laboratory from 800 watts to 500 watts.

Oven baking, summer 2022

The first hot spell ended the day the bread machine broke this happened. I only tried a few oven loaves on cool days. I found the dough rose slowly, and did not rise after I had put dough in bread pans. I wondered what was causing the results:

  • my low yeast/low salt approach,
  • my kitchen was just too cool those days,
  • I was not giving the dough time, and/or
  • I handle dough roughly.

There were several more hot days in August and early September. I avoided oven baking. I thought I would experiment in the fall and winter.

Vital Wheat Gluten

Before the pandemic, it was possible to buy vital wheat gluten (“VWG”) in grocery stores in Victoria. Some stores stocked a brand milled by Millstream Natural Foods. Others stocked Bob’s Red Mill brand Vital Wheat Gluten. I can’t find Millstream. That supplier may have ceased offering it. The stores in Victoria that used to sell Bob’s VWG no longer offer VWG; Bob’s stopped offering the product under that name. Bob’s offers “Gluten Flour” which seems to be a new name for VWG. For a few months neither version of the product was in stores in Victoria. VWG is still being milled and marketed.


Less is better

The baked bread sold in stores and bakeries is high in sodium due to the amount of salt used in baking, and due to sodium in some other baking ingredients including baking soda, baking powder, milk and powdered milk. Home baked bread is high in sodium due to the amount of salt in most recipes. Bread machine bread is high in sodium, if baked with standard recipes.

A 1.5 lb. medium bread machine recipe for lean white (“French”) bread or for white sandwich bread may specify 1.5 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. instant yeast (the yeast may be similar to 2.75 tsp of active dry yeast). Both require 417 g. bread flour (3 cups). The water requirements will be different, but in a range from 237 g. (1 cup) to 1.5 cups.

A 1.5 lb. medium bread machine recipe for a multigrain loaf with bread flour and whole wheat flour may also specify 1.5 tsp salt but the yeast may be higher than 2 tsp. instant yeast and the water and water based fluid will be higher.

A 1.5 lb medium recipe for a pure whole wheat loaf may specify 1.5 tsp. salt and 3 tsp. (1 Tbsp.) instant yeast. It may specify more than 3 cups of flour and 1.5 cups of water.

Each recipe may require or suggest a different program, and the mixing/kneading programs vary between machine brands and models. The set time for mixing/kneading, primary fermentation, bench rise and baking vary.

1.5 tsp of salt is 8.5 g. This amount will contribute 3,360 mg. of sodium to a loaf. Assuming 20 slices per loaf and 2 slices per sandwich, a sandwich will contain 336 mg. of sodium. While 336 mg. sounds ok, 4 sandwiches in a day means 1,344 mg. before counting any sodium from any other food. This makes it hard to restrict sodium consumption to

  • the daily limits advised by
    • the USDA – 2,300 mg.,
    • the WHO – 1,500 mg., or
  • follow a DASH diet with sodium limitation.

I have made bread with 50%, 33% and 25% of the salt in a standard recipe bread a few changes in crumb and the taste of the bread.

There are a few recipes for no-salt bread and no-salt bread machine bread online and in specialized recipe books.

I tried recipes for

  • a medium bread machine loaf (for a modern Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus model) that uses equal portions of whole wheat flower and bread flour with less than 1¼ tsp. active dry yeast for a 2 lb. large loaf 1converted to instant yeast, scaled to a medium loaf, and converted to metric weight 3 g., zero salt, and 1 Tbsp. of vinegar;
  • a low salt medium bread machine loaf that uses 313 g. of bread flour and rye flour, with 1/2 tsp salt and 1.5 tsp. instant yeast
  • a zero-salt medium bread machine loaf that uses bread flour and 2.16 g. (75 tsp.) instant yeast.

The zero-salt loaves worked.

The results contradict the rule of thumb I have been following for reducing salt and yeast.

I prefer low-salt bread to zero-salt.

Instant yeast

I used SAF Red instant yeast until I had used up a 454 g. (1 lb.) bag in 2021. I had tried to weigh and average 1 tsp. samples. I thought 1 tsp. SAF Red instant yeast weighed 2.8 g., but sources said the standard for instant yeast was 3.12 or 3.15 g. I purchased a small bag of instant yeast (a store brand) locally. It appeared to weigh 3.2 g. per tsp. I ordered another bag of SAF Red and tried to verify what 1 tsp. weighed to check on my recipes.

Reduction formula

The rule suggested by Beth Hensperger in the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (“BLBMC”), derived from a Bakers’ percentage weight based calculation, is to reduce salt and yeast proportionately by weight is a rule of thumb. It works with bread flour loaves, although there must be some yeast to make leavened bread. The BLBMC rule starts to produce loaves that do not flow and rise enough – the dough is not fermenting enough or is losing gas – when whole wheat flour or rye flour are used with bread flour.

I reconsidered my approach to how much yeast and water to use to balance medium loaves. It is matter of a few tenths of a gram.


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