Smaller Bread Machine Loaves

Why? Is it possible?

The main reason for baking smaller loaves is to have fresh bread and avoid spoilage.

A 2 lb. or 2.5 lb. machine will bake a 1.5 lb. loaf. The ingredients for a 1.5 lb. loaf produce 75% of the dough in a 2 lb. recipe. The dough will only overflow the pan if overleavened. The machine will bake the dough in the normal bake programs. A medium loaf baked in machine with a large pan may slope. Some doughs do not flow to the length of the pan and bake with one cubic end and one messy end.

A 1 lb. dough ball is too small to fill the base of a large or extra large pan. A true “small” loaf recipe (half of a 4 cup/2 lb./large loaf recipe or 2/3 of a 3 cup/1.5 lb. medium recipe) baked in large pan will be edible and palatable, but it will bake in odd shapes.

The way to mix a loaf smaller than medium is to scale down the amount of ingredients. It is possible to scale a medium loaf up in a large pan, but I do not want to make loaves that big.

The pan influences the loaf – some shapes are hard to handle, store and slice. A medium or large loaf baked in a horizontal pan resembles a loaf baked in a 2 pound oven pan. In another pan that loaf will be shorter, wider and higher. Bread machine loaves, comparing to the descriptions of baking pans for ovens:

Flour Bread MachineBread MachineOven PanOven Pan Volume
US/Imperial
Oven Pan Volume
Metric
2 cupsSmall1 pound
3 cupsMedium1.5 pound1 pound 8 x 4 x 2½ inches
20½ x 10 x 6½ cm
1333 cubic cm.
4 cupsLarge2 pound2 pound 9 x 5 x 2 3/4 inches
23 x 13 x 7 cm
2093 cubic cm.
XL2.5 pound

There are 1 lb. bread machines, including Zojirushi models and Panasonic models – not necessarily available in USA or Canada. 1.5 lb. machines were common; 2 lbs. is a common size; some are 2.5 or 3 lb. Some large and extra large machines have control settings (progams) or recipes for medium loaves.

The Dough Ball

The ingredients, mixed and kneaded, form a ball. Dough has to be elastic to hold up as the dough ferments and rises. Elasticity is the reason that bread machine bake programs can’t produce the shapes and crust of country/artisan loaves. The dough for a loaf baked in the oven is shaped into a mass shorter and narrower than the pan. The dough ball is usually in the middle of the pan at the end of the knead. The dough flows as it rises; the dough ball slumps horizontally. The dough for medium and small loaves will reach the side walls, but not necessarily the ends by the end of the rise. The loaf will flow and rise or spring for the first 20 – 30 minutes of baking. A medium loaf should reach the ends, but may not push into the corners. Most bread machine recipes make dough viscous and extensible enough to flow in the bottom of the pan and rise reasonably uniformly. The dough will gather at one end of the pan. When a dough ball at one end of the pan fails to flow enough, the loaf rises more at that end and bakes into a sloping loaf in a bake program in a bread machine. It leads to loaves that slope along the top in a medium loaf. This effect occurs in machines with rectangular and horizontal pans, and more pronounced with small loaves in horizontal pans.

Machines

Panasonic SD-YD250:

  • owned and used 2016-2020
  • 2.5 lb. “extra” large pan
  • tall vertical rectangle pan, single paddle dead centre, bottom of pan;
  • 550 watt motor that runs for 50-60% of the time in a 25 minute +/- mixing phase on a medium loaf setting;
  • 550 watt element, about 1 cm below the bottom of the pan. A small loaf develops hot spots around the base of the pan but is not burned;
  • 266 square cm. pan: 19 cm (7.5 inches) by 14 cm (5.5 inches);
  • 1 paddle, central:
    • 6 cm long, radially;
    • 2.6 cm high, rising to a fin 5 cm tall;
  • The paddle is deep in the loaf, but a small loaf rises and springs to a height of 7.5 cm or more, and clears the paddle;
  • Control settings (programs), and recipes for medium, large and extra-large
  • No custom programs;
  • No Pause button; Power interrupt by unplugging – 10 minutes to resume cycle.

Zojirushi Virtuoso 2 lb. machine in 2020. :

  • Owned and used 2020>
  • 2 lb. large pan (similiar to other Zojirushi 2 lb. machines – Virtuoso Plus, Home Bakery Supreme)
  • horizontal pan, dual paddles on the long axis,
  • 100 watt motor;
  • 286 square cm. pan: 22 cm (9 inches) by 13 cm (5 inches);
  • 2 paddles 11 cm apart. Each is 5.5 cm off centre along the long axis, down the centre. Each paddle is:
    • 6 cm. long,
    • 1.2 cm high – 2.9 cm high at a fin;
  • Two elements:
    • 600 watt main element, about 1 cm below the bottom of the pan; 
    • 40 watt lid heater;
  • No control settings (programs) for medium or small loaves. The manuals have a few recipes for medium loaves to be baked using the programs for large loaves;
  • No Pause button. Pause knead by raising lid.

The medium loaf baked in the Panasonic could not be stored in a 10″ x 14″ plastic storage bag. It was too fat. The longer Zojirushi loaf fits into such a bag without jamming and tearing the bag. Plastic bags are used by bakeries and grocers for sliced bread which has a thin soft crust. Plastic bags keep loaves from drying out although they do not prevent mould or keep bread from going stale A bread machine loaf does not need the same wrapping, but needs some protection. Metal breadboxes with loose doors and lids are convenient but too loose too keep bread from drying out. I don’t want a new ceramic bread storage container, an accessory suggested on some sites. An article published at thespruceeats.com makes some sensible suggestions, unfortunately tending toward reorganizing or making over the kitchen.

I have alternatives. I have some a metal tin with lid – it was a container for potato chips as sold in the 1950s and early 1960s. My mother used it to store flour, rolled oats and sugar. Old cookie tins are too small, but this might hold a loaf or two. I have a Tupperware 23 cup (5.5 liter) plastic box with a hinged sealed lid. I think it was a factory production container for bread machine loaves. There are plastic food storage boxes on the market that will hold a loaf of bread. These have to a regularly washed to remove crumbs and prevent mould.

Scale & Conversion

The first step to adjusting a recipe is get a scale by reference to total flour; by recipe size (volume); e.g. 3 cups (medium) to 2 (small): 2/3. In both machines it was better to try for 80 8or 5% of a medium recipe. This will flow across the bottom of the pan and produce a reasonable size loaf with most recipes. For the horizonal pan in the Zojirushi, I find that 85% of medium produces a loave that fills the pan from size to side, and is not too tall. It may not reach both ends.

Almost all home baking recipes list all ingredients by volume. Many bread machine recipes do too. Measurement of flour, water, yeast and salt by volume is imprecise. The most precise way to scale is by weight. I weigh flour and water in a bowl or measuring cup; I reset the scale to zero after putting the empty measuring vessel on the scale. A scale that goes to 1 gram is precise enough for flour and water. The volume measurements of salt and yeast for small loaves are fractions of a teaspoon. I use a scale that goes to 0.1 grams. Converting a recipe from volume to weight and scaling from volume is possible, with careful calculation.

For yeast, I refer to my own conversion chart, which compares the volume of active dry yeast and instant dry yeast and converts either to weight in grams:

Active tspInstant tspGrams
2.56
25.6
2.255.4
24.8
1.751.54.2
1.53.6
1.253
12.8
1.862.4
.752.1
.51.4
.51.2
.25.6

Recipes almost always refer to ordinary table salt, which is 5.7 grams per teaspoon. I refer to my own conversions or use a calculator. I have been writing recipes with 33% sodium:

Tsp. (fraction)Tsp. (decimal)Grams
1/8.7
1/4.251.4
3/82.1
1/2.52.8
5/83.6
3/4.754.3
7/85
115.7

Seeds and herbs should be adjusted in proportion to the flour. I don’t measured down to the gram. Oils, sugar and and sweet fluids should be adjusted too, without trying to weigh them. It is worth being aware of water in milk, eggs, honey, maple syrup, molasses, and other syrup of sugar and other ingredients dissolved or suspended in water. Conversion factors are not always easy to find; and sources may disgree or only apply to some varieties of an ingredient, or to a brand of a commodity. I have a list, also found in the post Measuring & Conversion.

IngredientVolume
US Units
Metric | US Weight
Water contentBrand; notes
*Food Facts label value, not checked
Wheat Flours
Bread Flour (USA) or
All Purpose White
Flour (Canada)
1 cup139 g. | 5 oz.drag-scooped, typical;
Rogers Foods Unbleached
[BC Brand]
Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup139 g.
(120 g.*)
drag-scooped, typical;
Rogers Whole Grain WW
/whole-wheat-flour-hard-red-spring-fine-grind/">Anita's Organic Mill
Atta
Durum blend for flatbreads
1 cup139 g.
120 g.*
drag-scooped
Golden Temple
Spelt Flour1 cup120 g. | 4.2 oz.*typical
Spelt Flour1 cup118 g.True Grain Organic SG, sifted (BC brand)
Other flour & Meal
Rye flour120 g. | 4.2 oz.nominal/typical &
Anita's Organic Mill
Dark Rye Flour1 cup124 g.
(nominal 120 g.)
Rogers Dark Rye
Buckwheat Flour1 cup130 g. Nunweiler's
Besan
(Chickpea Flour)
1 cup92 g. Teja
Bulgur1 cup140 g.typical
Cracked Wheat1 cup140 g.typical
Cracked Wheat1 cup124 g.Teja
Dry, Soluble
Vital Wheat Gluten1 cup120 g.typical
Vital Wheat Gluten1 tbsp.7.5 g.
Sugar, white
granulated
1 tbsp.12 g,
Sugar, brown1tbsp.14 g.
Nonfat/Skim Milk Powder1 cup96 g.
Nonfat/Skim Milk Powder1 tbsp.6 g.
Buttermilk Powder1 tsp.3 g.
Instant Potato Flakes1 tbsp. 4 g.Idahoan
Salt & Yeast
(Table) Salt1 tsp5.7 g. Regular; not fine grain
Instant Dry Yeast1 tsp2.8 g.
Active Dry Yeast1 tsp2.4 g.
Active Dry Yeast1 "packet"7 g. | .25 oz.
(2.25 tsp.)
Older recipes 2.5 tsp.
Water
Water1 cup237 g.
Skim Milk1 cup245 g.
223 g.
1 % Milk1 cup244 g.219 g.
2 % Milk1 cup244 g.
218 g.
Whole Milk1 cup244 g.

215 g.
Buttermilk1 cup245 g.

215 g.
Evaporated milk1 cup256 g.
203 g.
Butter1 tbsp.14 g.
2 g.
Egg, large157 g.
36 g.Canada standard
average
Molasses1 tbsp.21 g.
4.5 g.
Honey1 tbsp.20 g.
4 g.
Maple Syrup1 tbsp.20 g.
6.5 g.

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