Smaller Bread Machine Loaves


Bread is perishable.

  • It dries out;
  • It becomes stale;
  • 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.

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

The Constraints

The size of the pan is an upper limit on the size of the loaf, and also sets a lower limit. Bread machine loaves, comparing to baking pans for ovens:

Flour Bread MachineOven PanOven Pan Volume
Oven Pan Volume
2 cupsSmall or 1 pound
3 cupsMedium or 1.5 pound1 pound 8 x 4 x 2½ inches
20½ x 10 x 6½ cm
1333 cubic cm.
4 cupsLarge or 2 pound2 pound 9 x 5 x 2 3/4 inches
23 x 13 x 7 cm
2093 cubic cm.
XL, 2.5 or 3 pound

The bread machine identity the volume of the pans. 1.5 lb. machines were common. Large is a common size; XL machines are 2.5 or 3 lb. Some large and extra large machines have control settings (programs or “courses”) and/or recipes for medium loaves. 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.

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 mass shorter and narrower than the pan. The dough ball kneaded by a bread machine is usually near the middle of the pan at the end of the knead. In a bread machine, the dough needs to flow around the kneading paddle or paddles.

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 reasonably uniformly. 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.

Medium loaves in large pans

A large or 2.5 lb. XL machine will bake a medium (1.5 lb.) loaf in the normal bake programs. Adjusting a recipe for a large loaf to a medium loaf seems simple, mathematically. Use 3/4 of each ingredient. There are some qualifications. The ratio 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.

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

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 can make the dough too elastic. In a multigrain loaf, moderate amounts of gluten are effective.

Some doughs produce symettrical but short loaves that do reach one or both ends of the pan. These 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.

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/fermenation phase. This depends on the pan and the machine. A long horizonal pan with two paddles (e.g. Zojirushi) is more likely to bake a medium loaf that slopes or has one regular end and one end with with irregular corners.

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

Smaller Loaves

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.

A recipe can be adjusted to make medium or smaller loaves in large pans. As noted, 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.

Flour, water, yeast and salt have to be reduced in same proportion; other ingredients should be reduced proportionately too. 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. recipe can be scaled to medium and baked in 2 lb. machine. I have done this with two 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 (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.

In both machines, it was better to try for 80% of a medium recipe or more. 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.

For the large (i.e. 2 pound loaf) horizonal pan in the Zojirushi, I find that 85% of medium almost alrways produces a loaf that fills the pan from side to side. In that machine with the style of pan, the simple goal is a medium loaf. This can be done with a “medium” recipe or by scaling down a large loaf recipe to medium. If the results are not pleasing, the math can be changed to scale to 110% of medium


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:

Old Active
Active DryActive DryActive DryInstantInstantInstant
tsptsp.US oz.Gramstsp.US oz.Grams
3 (1 Tablespoon)
1 "old" packet
1 packet, after 2005

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 50% and 33% sodium:

Tsp. (fraction)Tsp. (decimal)Grams

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.

US Units
Water {content}/%Brand; notes
*Food Facts label value
Wheat Flours
Bread Flour (USA) or
All Purpose (Canada)
1 cup
139 g. | 5 oz.drag-scooped, typical;
Rogers Foods Unbleached
[BC Brand]
Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup
139 g.
(120 g.*)
drag-scooped, typical;
Rogers Whole Grain WW
/whole-wheat-flour-hard-red-spring-fine-grind/">Anita's Organic Mill
Durum blend for flatbreads
1 cup139 g.
120 g.*
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 flour1 cup120 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
(Chickpea Flour)
1 cup120 g. Teja
Millet1/3 cups
(2.27 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp
59 g.

22.1 g.
Bulgur1 cup140 g.typical
Wheat Bran1 cup45 g.
58 g.
Rogers, per label
USDA Survey
Bob's Red Mill
Cracked Wheat1 cup140 g.typical
Cracked Wheat1 cup124 g.Teja
Rolled oats1 cup80 g.
Dry, Soluble
Vital Wheat Gluten1 cup120 g.typical
Vital Wheat Gluten1 Tbsp.7.5 g.
Sugar, white
1 Tbsp.12 g,
Sugar, brown1 cup
1 tbsp.
224 g.
14 g.
Nonfat/Skim Milk Powder1 cup
1 Tbsp.
96 g.
6 g.
Buttermilk Powder1 tsp.3 g.
Instant Potato Flakes1 Tbsp. 4 g.Idahoan
Salt & Leaveners
(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"6.5 g. | .25 oz.
(2.25 tsp.)
Older recipes 2.5 tsp.
Baking Powder1 tsp.4 g.
Baking Soda1 tsp.4.6 g.
Water1 cup237 g.237 g. - 100%
Skim Milk1 cup245 g.
223 g. - 91%
1% Milk1 cup244 g.219 g. - 90%
2% Milk1 cup244 g.
218 g. - 89%
Whole Milk1 cup244 g.

215 g. - 88%
Buttermilk1 cup245 g.

215 g. - 88%
Evaporated milk1 cup256 g.
203 g. - 79%
Butter1 Tbsp.14 g.
2 g. - 14%
Egg, large157 g.
36 g. - 63%Canada standard
Molasses1 Tbsp.21 g.
4.5 g. - 21%
Honey1 Tbsp.20 g.
4 g. - 20%
Maple Syrup1 Tbsp.20 g.
6.5 g. - 33%

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