Smaller Bread Machine Loaves

Table of Contents


The main reasons for baking smaller loaves are to have fresh bread, and avoid spoilage. Bread is perishable:

  • It dries out;
  • It becomes stale; and
  • It is vulnerable to animal pests and microorganisms including mould. Animal pests may contaminate the bread with body parts, eggs, larva, bodily fluids and micro-organisms. Mould is a colony of microorganisms that chemically alters the bread – it can effectively poison the bread.


Pan Size

Bread machines identity the size (volume) of the pans by reference to the capacity of the pan to hold a baked loave. 1.5 lb. machines were common. Large is a common size; XL machines are 2.5 or 3 lb. The size of the pan is an upper limit on the size of the loaf. Pans are expected to hold the dough and allow the dough to expand outward and upward as the dough flows and rises and to expand upward when the loaf “springs” when the dough is heated. Dough can be cut and shaped for a normal baking pan, but differently for a longer narrow pan to bake a Pullman loaf. Oven pans walls may be lower than the top of the loaf. Pan size sets a limit on baking – a minimum amount of dough is required to fill the pan and expand. The pan influences the loaf – some shapes are hard to handle, store and slice.

There are 1 lb. bread machines, including Zojirushi and Panasonic models. These not necessarily available in USA or Canada, or reasonably priced. They are not really practical, in my opinion.

Bread machine loaves, comparing to the baking pans manufactured and marketed to home bakers for baking loaves in ovens:

Flour Bread Machine Sizee.g.Area, space/
Oven PanOven Pan Area, space
US (Imperial)/Metric
Volume (Metric)
2 cupsSmall – 1 pound
3 cupsMedium – 1.5 pound1 pound 8 x 4 x 2½ inches
20½ x 10 x 6½ cm. (1333 cm³).
4 cupsLarge – 2 poundZojirushi
BB-aaa20 models
horizontal pans
2 Paddles
22 x 13 x 13 cm
3,718 cm³.
2 pound 9 x 5 x 2 ¾ inches
23 x 13 x 7 cm. (2093 cm³).
XL – 2.5 or 3 poundPanasonic

The size of the bread machine pan, in the sense of capacity, does not necessarily determine the shape of the loaf:

  • A large horizontal bread machine pan is nearly as long as large oven pan, and slightly wider. It can bake a loaf that closely resembles a loaf baked in a large pan in an oven. Large loaves in other machines will shape up differently.
  • Some large and extra large machines have control settings (programs or “courses”) and/or recipes for medium loaves.

A medium loaf baked in a horizontal pan resembles a loaf baked in a 2 pound oven pan- but not as “tall”. In another bread machine pan that loaf will be shorter, wider and higher.

Dough Ball

The ingredients, mixed and kneaded, form a ball. Dough has to be elastic to hold up as the dough ferments and rises. Bread machine bake programs can’t produce the shapes and crust of country/artisan loaves. The dough for a loaf is shaped into a dough ball shorter and narrower than the pan. In a bread machine, the dough ball must remain in contact with the paddle or paddles, and the bottom and sides of the pan to be kneaded, in the same way that the dough in a stand mixer contacts the kneading hook or arm and the mixing bowl.

A bread machine needs a minimum amount of flour, and the proportionate amount of water to mix and form a dough ball that will be kneaded in that machine. The dough ball kneaded by a bread machine is usuallyattached to the paddle (a paddle if the machine has two) at the end of kneading.

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. Workable bread machine recipes should make the dough viscous and extensible enough to flow in the bottom of the pan and rise and spring reasonably uniformly. The size and weight of the dough ball is a factor. A medium dough ball weights over 650 grams, about 75% of the size and weight of a “large” (800 gram) ball usually can flow and rise in a large pan and bake into a reasonable medium loaf. The surface area of the bottom of the dough ball will adhere to the bottom of the pan; the side of the ball will touch and adhere to the sides most of the time. The kneading motion stretches the dough. The machine applies force to the paddle. The force on the paddle stretchs the dough ball adhering to the pan. The motion develops gluten, which will trap carbon dioxide when the yeast ferment starch or the leavening agent reacts to the wet dough, and inflate or “rise” the dough.

The dough for a medium loaf will only overflow a large pan by expanding upward too much. This happens if dough ball is too large or the dough is overleavened. (Too much yeast for the dough, which depends on the machine, salt, and the amounts of flour and water, or too much chemical leavening agent.)

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.

Medium loaves


A large or 2.5 lb. XL machine will mix, knead, and bake a medium (1.5 lb.) loaf in the normal baking programs.

A medium loaf baked in a machine with a large pan may slope when the dough ball was located at one end of the pan after the kneading phases, or the knockdowns during the rise/fermentation phase. A long horizontal pan with two paddles (e.g. Zojirushi) may bake a medium loaf that slopes or has one regular end and one end with with irregular corners. But, a small dough may not flow into all corners of a large or extra-large pan


Adjusting a recipe for a large loaf to a medium loaf is mathematically simple. Use ¾ of each ingredient. There are some qualifications. This works if the source recipe lists the ingredients needed for bread machine loaf and is clear about ingredient amounts, kneading and time. A recipe for a hand kneaded loaf or a stand mixer loaf may need some extra water or flour, and will be affected by how fast the flour has been hydrated and how long the dough is kneaded.

Flour, water, yeast and salt have to be reduced in same proportion; other ingredients should be reduced proportionately too. There is rule of thumb to balance salt and yeast. It is necessary also to adjust yeast for the brand and model of bread machine.

A simple way is to scale by reference to total flour; by recipe size (volume). The ingredients for a 1.5 lb. loaf produce 75% of the dough in a 2 lb. recipe. A large (2 lb.) loaf recipe can be scaled to medium (1.5 lb.) and baked in 2 lb. machine. I have done this with two machines with large pans:

Doughs that flow across the bottom of the pan and rise will bake into loaves as long and wide as the pan – a large pan is made to bake shapely large loaves. The medium doughs that flowed best were hydrated at over 65%, enriched with sugar and fat, and had gluten. Bread flour has enough gluten, but a lean loaf will be compact. Adding vital wheat gluten to whole wheat flour helps to give the loaf structure, but makes the dough elastic. In a multigrain loaf, moderate amounts of gluten are effective.

Some doughs produce symmetrical but short loaves that do reach one or both ends of the pan. These doughs are too small or dry to flow the length of the pan, or the dough ball settles but will not flow into all corners of the pan.

Where a medium recipe produces funny loaves in a large pan, it is possible to alter the medium recipe to get a dough that will flow to fill the pan. I considered increasing flour, but concentrated on adding tiny amounts of yeast, water and sugar to relax the dough and increase fermentation.

My Machines

This are my large 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 BB-PAC20 Virtuoso:

  • Owned and used 2020>
  • 2 lb. large pan (similar 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.

In both machines, it was better to try for a medium recipe. 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.

Smaller Loaves

For the large (i.e. 2 pound loaf) horizontal pan in the Zojirushi, I find that a medium (1.5 lb.) recipe produces a loaf that fills the pan from side to side. In that machine with the horizontal pan, the simple goal is a medium loaf. Scaling to smaller loaves involves some calculation and experiments with salt, yeast and water.


Almost all home baking recipes list all ingredients by volume. Many bread machine recipes do too.

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 reliably 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 yeast and converts either to weight in grams:

Some medium loaves begin to look funny. These problems increase when a user attempts to make loaves smaller than medium in large or extra large pan machines. Scaling down to a 1 lb. does not work well with large pan machines. 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.

I have been writing recipes with 50%. Salt affects the strength, rise and flow of the dough, the texture of the bread, and flavour. A 50% reduction is noticeable but the bread is still bread; it is workable and palatable.

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.

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 disagree or only apply to some varieties of an ingredient, or to a brand of a commodity. I have a list, as discussed in the post Measuring & Conversion.


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