Bread Machine Artisan Bread?

Reasons a bread machine cannot be used, in the baking programs, to bake artisan bread:

  1. Gluten. The autolyze (a rest after mixing before kneading) and other rests during kneading allows gluten to form in a less structured way that produces the more open crumb of French bread and artisan loaves.
  2. Fermentation. Artisan loaves involve pre-ferments, delayed or cool fermentation, or bacterial fermentation for flavour. A pre-ferment or started (sponge, biga, poolish, pre-ferment, pate fermentee, sourdough, mother, chef, levain) introduces yeast or bacteria and enhances flavour.This also contributes to the irregular crumb.
  3. Shapes. A bread machine bakes in a pan. Rustic, country hearth loaves are shaped as round boules or oval batards (or torpedos), and baked on a deck, without a pan.
  4. Heat. Artisan loaves tend to have firm or even crisp/crunchy crusts. There is no direct temperature control or temperature reading on a bread machine.  A bread machine creates enough heat to bake a dark crust but cannot reach the temperature that bakes crunchy crusts

A bread machine can become a mixer (and a proofing box) on a dough cycle. A dough cycle will have an initial rest or preheat phase many machines (e.g. my Panasonic SD-YD250 had it on all dough cycles except pizza dough). Every machine will reliably mix the ingredients at a slow speed and move up to higher speed to work the dough.  There is some control of time.  For instance to avoid the more intensive mixing – just stop it when it is mixed.  And a pause after slow mixing can be made (to autolyse before more intensive mixing, or to add something), until the end of the phase. A few machines have a pause function, controlled by a button.  Most machines have a power interrupt that restarts the machine at the point in the cycle it stopped after short power outage.  This allows a pause of several minutes by unplugging the machine. The machine must be plugged back in, within the time limit or it goes back to the start of the cycle. There are no options to slow down the mixing or change the time – just stop when you want to stop mixing, and rest or work the the dough.

Dough cycles have a rest phase and a rise phase allowing the dough to ferment in machine, and stop.  The user has options after on when to remove the dough after mixing, and other options:

  • the end of mixing
  • the end of the rise
  • after the end of the cycle for added bulk fermentation time
  • put the dough in the fridge to slow down fermentation
  • knock it down, knead by hand;
  • additional fermentation – a second rise before shaping the loaf

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (pp. 196-297) offers advice and several recipes/formulas for artisan loaves, using the dough cycle to mix.  At some points, the machine must be paused to prolong the ferment. Many machines can’t be paused, or only paused for short periods. A user may have to stop a machine after mixing and some kneading and set aside the dough and continue kneading after a long delay. A bread machine does not have a continue kneading program. A user will need to deal with additional kneading. shaping, benching and baking in an oven.

Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook has a recipe for French whole wheat artisan loaf using a dough program at p. 206. I used {Whole Wheat} Dough program. BLBMC advises a knock down, additional fermentation/rise after the dough cycle.  The steps after the dough is out of the machi3ne are shaping a torpedo loaf, final proof, scoring the loaf and baking at 400 F for 32-48 minutes:

  • 347 g. (2.5 cups) whole wheat flour
  • .5 cup spelt flour
  • {4.3 g. (.75 tsp)} salt [BLBMC 1.5 tsp]
  • {3.1 g. (1 tsp)} instant yeast [BLBMC 4 tsp]
  • 1 5/16 cups (1.25 + 1 tbsp) buttermilk
  • .5 cup water

The loaf looks like a loaf of rye bread – it has a dark crust.  The crust is soft, as might be expected with whole wheat.  It has a sticky crumb that leaves a residue on the bread knife, like an artisan OEM product sold in the local Thifty’s over the last two years before fall 2018.  The crumb is not as darkly coloured as 100%  whole wheat recipes which use dark brown sugar or molasses and oil – and not as dense.


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