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BS: Bread maker problems

Jess A 12 Feb 09 - 11:10 AM
John MacKenzie 12 Feb 09 - 11:12 AM
Jess A 12 Feb 09 - 11:23 AM
Stilly River Sage 12 Feb 09 - 11:34 AM
Megan L 12 Feb 09 - 11:36 AM
Stilly River Sage 12 Feb 09 - 11:46 AM
peregrina 12 Feb 09 - 11:54 AM
Sooz 12 Feb 09 - 12:28 PM
Jean(eanjay) 12 Feb 09 - 12:30 PM
Janie 12 Feb 09 - 01:06 PM
Spleen Cringe 12 Feb 09 - 01:18 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Feb 09 - 07:10 PM
CarolC 12 Feb 09 - 11:44 PM
Jess A 13 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM
Wolfhound person 14 Feb 09 - 05:06 AM
Helen 14 Feb 09 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 14 Feb 09 - 08:38 AM
Stilly River Sage 14 Feb 09 - 11:53 AM
Jess A 14 Feb 09 - 01:04 PM
CarolC 14 Feb 09 - 01:12 PM
Janie 14 Feb 09 - 03:52 PM
Stilly River Sage 14 Feb 09 - 05:28 PM
CarolC 14 Feb 09 - 07:01 PM
Marilyn 15 Feb 09 - 10:30 AM
Sooz 15 Feb 09 - 12:42 PM
richd 15 Feb 09 - 01:24 PM
CarolC 15 Feb 09 - 03:52 PM
richd 15 Feb 09 - 04:33 PM
Stilly River Sage 15 Feb 09 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,richd 15 Feb 09 - 06:20 PM
CarolC 16 Feb 09 - 12:14 AM
Stilly River Sage 16 Feb 09 - 12:27 AM
Marilyn 16 Feb 09 - 04:20 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Feb 09 - 02:47 PM
richd 16 Feb 09 - 03:38 PM
CarolC 16 Feb 09 - 05:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Feb 09 - 08:30 PM
Stilly River Sage 16 Feb 09 - 10:01 PM
Jess A 17 Feb 09 - 05:55 AM
GUEST 17 Feb 09 - 06:34 AM
GUEST,richd 17 Feb 09 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 17 Feb 09 - 07:40 AM
Desert Dancer 17 Feb 09 - 11:21 PM
richd 18 Feb 09 - 03:13 AM
peregrina 18 Feb 09 - 03:32 AM
Raggytash 18 Feb 09 - 03:44 AM
richd 18 Feb 09 - 04:04 AM
JohnB 18 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM
Penny S. 19 Feb 09 - 07:46 AM
Stilly River Sage 19 Feb 09 - 10:28 AM
Dazbo 19 Feb 09 - 10:47 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 20 Feb 09 - 07:44 AM
Jess A 24 Feb 09 - 09:55 AM
Stilly River Sage 24 Feb 09 - 10:47 PM
Jess A 25 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM
JohnB 26 Feb 09 - 10:12 AM
Stilly River Sage 26 Feb 09 - 04:59 PM
Amos 26 Feb 09 - 05:41 PM
CarolC 26 Feb 09 - 05:56 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Feb 09 - 11:41 PM
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Subject: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:10 AM

Hiya - I'm hoping for some advice on using my bread maker. Have searched through other old threads on the subject of breadmakers but haven't found anything that quite answers my question...

I've been following the recipes that came with my bread maker religiously and the bread always comes out a little bit cakey - with an almost scone-like texture & flavour. I've so far tried the wholemeal and white recipes and they both seem to have the same sort of problems. The recipes are fairly basic - flour, water, yeast, oil, a little salt, some dried milk powder and some sugar. I've also tried missing out the milk, on the advice of my brother in law who said it solved his cakey-texture problems, but that didn't seem to make much difference to me. I'm contemplating missing out some of the sugar too but presume I need to leave at least a bit in order to feed the yeast. Or is it ny yeast that is teh problem? (I'm using the dried stuff that UK supermarkets sell especially for breadmakers...)

Has anybody else succesfully solved this type of problem? All advice gratefully received...

thanks,
Jess


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:12 AM

Take your pick!


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:23 AM

thanks John. I had googled fairly extensively but hadn't found this one...

was hoping it would have a helpful hint labelled 'how to make bread that isn't cakey' or similar and it didn't really talk about it, but it does seem to have lots of simple brown bread recipes which I shall have an experiment with.


yum


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:34 AM

As with computer troubleshooting, we need some specs.

What make of machine, what settings are you trying to use, and what size loaf are you hoping to come out with?

I've been baking bread all my life, I grew up in a family where mom made 9 loaves of bread every nine days. Somehow that number just worked out--and they went in the freezer to be pulled out at the rate of one-per-day for a family of six.

Anyway, many years ago now my father told me about this new bread machine kitchen gadget of his and asked for a good bread recipe. I sent him my favorite recipe, and he sent me a bread machine. I thought it seemed pretty silly, but have since realized that it is a labor saver. I make my bread recipe in this machine, always on a manual setting, so after it does all of the work I take the dough out, shape it, and put it in a regular loaf pan to rise and bake. This step makes a big difference in the consistency of the loaf and how long it lasts.

So, if you can tell us about your maker (what shape loaf, what size are you making, and what is the recipe you are using) then I can probably recommend some adjustments in the mix or modifications in the method.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Megan L
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:36 AM

Measure measure measure most folks make that mistake when they start you really do have to measure out the ingredients carefully.

Good luck when it comes right the bread is delicious and soooooo adictive :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:46 AM

Whole wheat (brown?) bread doesn't have the gluten that white bread does. If you're using whole wheat then you still need some white flour in there. I use 1 cup of whole wheat with three cups of white in my everyday bread that I mix on the white bread setting. But if you're using more or all whole wheat then you need a LOT more kneading and to possibly add some gluten.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: peregrina
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:54 AM

A guess--are you using (UK) STRONG flour rather than merely 'plain'?

One thing to try -- there are some premixes of things like special organic malted/seed flour for breadmakers. I've had excellent results with thos.

And Lakeland store has some premixed flour packs for different types of bread just the size for standard breadmakers. They work well in my experience, though of course one might prefer more organic & self-chosen in the long run.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Sooz
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 12:28 PM

Only for rich people!


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 12:30 PM

Sounds dry, perhaps a bit more water.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Janie
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 01:06 PM

Are you using bread flour or all-purpose flour?


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 01:18 PM

I never have a bad loaf, using half-and-half Doves Farm white bread flour and wholemeal bread flour on the wholemeal setting (500g total). I also use their yeast (1 tsp) along with sea salt (1.5 tsp), dark muscovado sugar (1 tbsp) and unsalted butter (25g). Oh, and 350 mls of water. I sometimes add seeds. My machine (a Panasonic) is one where the yeast goes in first, then the dry ingredients, then the butter (or olive oil!), then the water. The result is enough to make you weep with pleasure...


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 07:10 PM

We still need to know what kind of machine, what settings, what kind of recipe, what kind of flour, etc., before we can really do any troubleshooting. Right now we're just shooting in the dark.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:44 PM

This is the recipe I use, and when I make it, it's not cakey. Put the ingredients in the bucket in the order they appear in the recipe...

1 1/3 cups water

2 tablespoons butter, margarine, or oil

3 tablespoons gluten (put in the bottom of a two cup measure)

enough whole wheat flour to fill the two cup measure the rest of the way (ww flour and gluten goes in all together... it's helpful to mix them together a bit before putting in the bucket)

1 cup oatmeal or rolled oats

1/2 cup all purpose white flour

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

I use the whole wheat and light crust settings on my machine.


It's a little bit more crumbly with the oatmeal, but I really like what the oatmeal does to the moisture and texture. But if that's too crumbly, substitute whole wheat flour for the oatmeal.

The gluten is important, because it acts as a binder to keep it from being too cakey.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM

Thanks everybody! I'm at work at the moment so can't check what make it is or the specific recipe or the specific makes of flour - will check when I get home and reply then!


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 05:06 AM

I've found it's the amount of liquid which is most critical. I usually make 1/2 and 1/2 wholemeal and brown bread flour (UK supermarket brands - usually Asda or Tesco or Sainsbury's.)

I use Quick yeast from Lakeland Limited not supermarket yeast - I had trouble with that at first. I also add an egg.

I use the rapid setting on a Panasonic and it's been fine for about 7 years - unless I forget an ingredient when I'm not awake or something.

Paws


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Helen
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:47 AM

On one of the threads here, or on a recipe thread somewhere, I found the one piece of advice which made a big difference to the texture of the bread in my bread machine. The advice was from a professional baker.

All the recipes in the books which come with machines with timers are based around, e.g. setting it up the night before so you can put the timer on and have fresh bread when you wake up. This is why the dried yeast is just thrown in with all the other ingredients.

If you are not using the timer, then while you are organising the dry ingredients use about half a cup of the milk or water, heat it to lukewarm - not hot - then dissolve about half a teaspoon of sugar or honey in it. Then stir in the recommended amount of dried yeast. Let it stand in a warm place until it gets frothy and then pour it into the dry ingredients in the bread bucket as the last ingredient. To keep it warm I put some hot but not boiling water in a dish and set the cup into that. Too hot and it can kill the yeast.

Make sure you adjust the total amount of milk or water and sugar, to take into account the amounts you use for the yeast.

If you are using the timer this probably won't work at all because by the time the breadmaker starts the yeast will have sunk.

But after I started doing this my bread has consistently turned out well.

P.S. For my favourite recipe I start frying a medium to large onion to golden brown colour and add it to the dough, while it is still mixing in the first stage but after it has all mixed together into a ball, i.e. just before the machine stops mixing and starts the rising process. The recipe uses a teaspoon of sugar but I use the half teaspoon in the yeast/milk mix only. If you didn't tell people it had onion in it they probably wouldn't pick it. It has a slightly sweet flavour but is not savoury. Yummy with just butter on it.

Helen


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 08:38 AM

Have you EVER made bread successfuly before?

Contact your local "Field Service Office" or the "Home Economics" department at the university near you. It could very well be your local water.

A friend while living in Holland...and who was a successful US bread maker....cursed the "cheap Dutch flour"... in reality it was the local water supply...I do not recall if she added a smidge of vinegar or baking soda to resolve the problem. She did NOT use a bread machine.

For more information on water and bread try:

http://www.gftc.ca/articles/2001/baker08.cfm

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 11:53 AM

There are two distinctly different types of bread machine operations.

My bread machines are the opposite of Carol's. The maker calls for putting yeast in first, then flour, sugar, salt, oil, and finally, water. Don't stir it around. The flour will keep the yeast dry until the machine starts, if you're using a timer.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 01:04 PM

Thanks for all the advice so far! A bit more info from my side:

The machine I'm using is a Morphy Richards Fastbake breadmaker, which makes 1.5lb or 2 lb loaves in a rectangular tin with a single paddle in the bottom. I've tried the basic white bead and wholemeal bread recipes, and measured everything very carefully, added ingredients in the order they told me (water first, yeast last), and in both cases the bread always comes out a bit cakey. It rises ok and does not seem overly dry or moist, but the texture just isn't quite right - it is crumbly in a cakey way rather than springy like bread bought from a bakery.
I've also tried some substitution - using the wholemeal recipe but substituting varying proportions of the wholemal flour with white flour. Most recently I also tried leaving out the milk powder but none of these have helped. Certainly more white flour = a lighter loaf, but the texture is still cakey.

I have on occasion also used packet mixes where you just add water, and these are much more succesful, which does make me think that it is the recipe that is the problem, not the machine, water, or altitude... but those packet mixes are expensive.

The recipes I'm using are:
basic white bread (1.5lb)
1 1/8 cup luke warm water
2 1/2 tbsp skim milk powder
2 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 1/4 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 cups strong white bread flour
1 1/4 tsp fast action yeast

wholewheat bread (1.5lb)
1 1/8 cup luke warm water
1 1/2 tbsp skim milk powder
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 cups strong wholemeal bread flour
1 1/4 tsp fast action yeast
optional crushed 100mg vitamin Ctablet - I've never added this because I don't have any!

the other thing with both these recipes is that the bread tastes quite sweet - and compared with the recipes that John sent links to right at the beginning of this thread it does seem that they have a lot of sugar. Not sure if that could be part of the problem...

Not sure which makes of flour I've used in the past but I've always bought it from the supermarket and it has always been labelled as bread flour and suitable for breadmakers etc. I think I've usually chosen the ones labelled 'strong' since that is what my recipes say I should use.

Sounds so far like maybe I should try a different recipe, and/or try adding gluten, and/or try mixing my yeast with the water & sugar before I start... lots of experimenting! If any of you experienced breadmaker users could advise which of these might be most likely to help, I'll try that first.

Many thanks!
Jess


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 01:12 PM

Definitely adding gluten, since that's what gives bread a spongy texture. Some experimentation will probably be needed, though, because too much gluten will make the bread tough. The recipe I posted above might be a good place to start, though. I use flour that hasn't got any added ingredients besides the wheat. I don't know if that makes any difference or not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Janie
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 03:52 PM

Is "strong" flour what we call bread flour here in the States? (higher in gluten than all-purpose flour.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 05:28 PM

I suspect "strong" flour is high gluten bread flour. In which case it will rise all over the place already, and be out of control if you add more gluten.

My first thoughts are that that is you don't have enough yeast and you have too much liquid for that much flour. My rule of thumb is 1/3 cup per cup of flour. The water, with the oil, makes it too wet. Try it with an even cup of water, and use 2 to 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast.

With a recipe acting up in a new device, your best bet is to make bread without the bread machine to see if the equipment is the problem.

My standard recipe, I make a couple of times a week, is for a three pound loaf:

2 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (use 1 tsp if using regular flour)
~1 Tablespoon olive oil (I don't measure, I just pour a little in)
1 1/3 cup water

For those not using a bread machine, go through the usual bread steps (one way is to mix the yeast into 1/2 of the dry flour, add all of the liquid and beat it for a couple of minutes, then add the flour and the rest of the ingredients). Let it rise once, punch it down, shape it, put it in a greased bread pan and let it rise again, then bake in a standard oven at 375 for about 40-45 minutes. I use a convection oven, so I bake it at about 350 for only 25 minutes and it is perfect.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:01 PM

If the flour being used is high in gluten, and considering the recipes being used, the only thing I can imagine is that the particular bread machine that is being used doesn't knead the dough long enough, and therefore doesn't work the gluten as much as what is needed for a spongy bread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Marilyn
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 10:30 AM

I have made my own bread for over 40 years and only relatively recently bought a bread machine. I found that, without exception, the recipes that come with the machine make awful bread, nowhere near as good as my own hand-made. I almost got rid of the machine but instead I tried using the machine with my old recipe.
Result: nearly as good as hand-made bread.

The recipe is:
1lb strong bread flour (I like Dove's Farm)
half a pint of warm water
1oz of lard (you could use olive oil but the texture isn't quite as good)
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1 dessertspoon sugar (needed by the yeast)
1 teaspoon dried yeast (ordinary not fast-acting type)

I use the setting for a larger loaf (note: NOT the setting for 1lb of flour because it doesn't cook it for long enough) and the bread is very nearly as good as hand-made.

Don't know if it will work for you but it could be worth a try.
N.B. I'm in the UK so strong bread flour means flour with a high gluten content. I never add extra gluten.

I always used to use fresh yeast, not dried and it definitely does make better bread but I can't buy it locally any more.

Good Luck,
Marilyn


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Sooz
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 12:42 PM

Ask at the bakery counter in Tesco - they will give you some! (It is company policy for some reason.)
You are right, fresh yeast makes much better bread - and so much quicker too. Can't use it in a bread maker though, as the timings will be all wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: richd
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 01:24 PM

It comes out cakey because if you add oil, milk eggs etc it is a cake. Chuck the bread machine and make proper bread. All you need is yeast, water, salt and flour. If you do sourdough you don't even need the yeast it and knead it yourself and leave it to rise. Knock it back and put it on a baking tray or in a loaf tin. Cook it unitil it's risen and brown. Eat, and it'll be the best bread you've ever had. You'll understand why breads called 'the staff of life'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 03:52 PM

I put a couple of table spoons of oil in mine and it comes out spongy rather than cakey.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: richd
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 04:33 PM

Fat softens the crumb and makes it less chewy- look at foccacia. Milk has the same effect, and also makes a slightly sweeter taste but a bit more subtle than adding sugar. Me, I like a chewy texture so only use fat and milk for kids' bread. Long fermentation, that's the secret. Gives a crust second to none.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 05:00 PM

The yeast in dough benefits from some sugar and the salt keeps it from rising too much.

When I make pizza crust I use 3 cups bread flour (sometimes I reduce the flour by 1/4 cup and use that much corn meal instead), 2 1/2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, I pour in a little olive oil, maybe 1 Tbs, and I add garlic powder (2 - 3 tsp) and dry oregano (~ 1 Tbs). It takes about 1 cup of water for that dough. And I roll it out on corn meal instead of flour.

I have the machine do the mixing and kneading part.

When making bread I never leave any dough in the machine to bake--the shape is wrong and it dries out the loaf too much.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 06:20 PM

I must admit I've never used a bread machine since I stopped working in a bakery. I like mixing and kneading. Haven't been impressed with the home machine baked bread I've had at friends houses, all had the same texture and basic taste. Yes,salt does 'tighten' the dough, but I like that wild open texture(!). There are some Italian breads that use no salt at all, there's one from Prado I believe, but that kind of dough contains little yeast and is fermented for a long time. That makes an intersting piza dough. very open and you can really taste the topping. HMMMM...bread machine problems...they are machines that's the problems.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 12:14 AM

I've sorted out the problem of the shape and the crust on our machine bread. Immediately after the dough is shaken down (punched down) the second time, I take out the paddle, and I press the dough down with my fists until it's mostly flat on top. This gives it a perfect size and shape for sandwiches and toast, and there isn't a gaping hole in the bread from the paddle. I fixed the problem of the loaf drying out by putting it on the light crust setting, and making sure I take it out of the machine as soon as it beeps to tell me it's finished.

My bread from the machine has a perfect shape and it's a lot more moist and spongy than bread I bake in the oven. I should mention that our bread machine's bucket is rectangular as seen from the top rather than square, unlike a lot of other bread makers. This gives us a fairly normal shaped loaf, although it's not quite as long as most store bought bread. This picture shows the shape of the bucket. With the old machine I would just use the machine for the mixing, kneading, and rising, and I would bake it in the oven.

The bread machine I had before this one had the stupidly shaped bucket and it also produced a dry bread, so I think the type of machine probably makes a big difference along with the crust setting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 12:27 AM

The Wellbuilt bread machine I have comes out with a round loaf, tall and round. And it dries out way-fast in that shape. That's why I only use it on "manual," and once the dough is done being kneaded, it comes out of the bread machine and I put it in a regular bread pan.

I have a recipe for a baguette (sp?) of French bread that has to rise for a long time because it uses only about 1 tsp of yeast. It needs to rise on a stretched out dish towel, as I recall. It tastes wonderful, but it is something you have to pay attention to off and on all afternoon.

I sometime make a simple loaf, I think the recipe says it's Italian, that isn't in a pan at all, it is just a beautiful mound on a flat baking pan.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Marilyn
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 04:20 AM

Sooz: thanks for the tip about buying fresh yeast in Tesco. I'll ask next time I shop there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 02:47 PM

Surprised no one has mentioned either barometric pressure or humidity.

At 7000 feet altitude, water boils at 199.3 F or 92.94 C., not the 212F or 100C at sealevel.
Use a high altitude cookbook, or follow the advice in the net. Not very complete, but try this link for a start: High altitude baking

Having lived in Santa Fe (7000 feet altitude) and the northern New Mexico-Colorado area, we took care to adjust recipes for low boiling points. Not only water, but other ingredients must be adjusted.

Up above someone suggested adding a little more liquid. Where humidity is low we put a little pan of water in the oven alongside the pan with the food being baked. Not sure how to handle this with a bread-making machine.

Humidity- When the air is damp, flour, sugar, etc. absorb moisture; when the air is dry, these substances lose moisture to the air (Extremes would be Charleston and Death Valley).


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: richd
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 03:38 PM

Wow, I'd never thought of altitude! Normal differences in humidity is just a little more or less water, that's why method and feel is so important with bread, rather than exact recipies. White French bread is very difficult, you really need an oven that runs hot and that you can get a blast of steam into to expand the dough and give a crackling crust. Anyone any experience with wood fired outdoor ovens? I've been planning one for years, but have never got around to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 05:01 PM

One the subject of moisture and humidity, I think one of the reasons the bread from my machine is so moist as compared to when I bake in the oven is because the machine holds humidity and moisture in it while the bread is being made, making the humidity level in the room irrelevant. I definitely prefer the bread that comes out of my machine to what I can bake in the oven.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 08:30 PM

My all-time-favorite bread comes out of the outdoor ovens (hornos) in the Indian pueblos. They are conical, and constructed of thick adobe mud.
A hot fire is built and allowed to burn to hot coals. The floor of the horno is raked out, leaving some hot coals around the margin. The dough is inserted with a flat shovel and the entrance blocked.

The Ukrainian settlers in western Canada used a similar oven, but rectangular, and inside the house. On cold nights the family, wrapped in blankets, slept atop the oven. Also damn good bread.

Both the Indians and Ukrainians, however, now mostly use the kitchen range.

There is a pizza chain (CA, HI) that bakes their pizza in commercial ovens of this type.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 10:01 PM

The original poster is from the UK. Does anyone there live at a high enough elevation to have to worry about that?

Not to dismiss the remarks, but it didn't come up in this context. Now, if he had mentioned that he lived in Denver, CO, or Quito, Ecuador, or even Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it might have come up. :)

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:55 AM

out of interest, I just looked it up and my house is 320ft above sea level, so I don't think altitude is an issue!

btw I'm a she not a he :)

thanks for all your ongoing help everybody! I didn't have time last night to try a loaf with a different recipe as I was making a birthday present for my nephew instead, but I'll report back when I do!


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 06:34 AM

Yup, you're right. I live in Wales- high enough for Britain, but nothing compaired with serious mountains- only about 1000 foot. Which is why I'd never thought of altitude as a factor. I've asked a friend who lives in the Tyrol and he says it is a factor, although he bakes Rye based breads. Atmospheric humidity may be a factor- it is very wet here, but this would be much less important than the quality of the flour- soft wholemeal absorbing much more water than a hard white. Different wholmeals also absorb very different ammouts of water- although recipes will try and give quantities based on an average, there can still be up to 15% difference. Thanks for the info on wood fired ovens. Were they baking yeasted breads or flat breads?


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: GUEST,richd
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 06:36 AM

Sorry, that was me at 6.34- posting from daughters computer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 07:40 AM

Glutten is certainly a key part. In the states the best bread flour is "King Arthur" which is an employee owned enterprise.

For your situation add one teaspoon of vinegar to one batch.

To a different batch add one teaspoon of baking soda

This should indicate if it is the PH of the water giving you fits with the gluttenous creation.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 11:21 PM

The King Arthur Flour folks have a lot of useful information online (as well as having a fascinating catalog...):

Bread machine basics
Bread machine & ingredients
Introduction to bread machines

and more generically: Bread troubleshooting

from their Baking tips & primers index page

to say nothing of recipes:
Bread machine breads - baked in machine
Bread machine breads - baked out of the machine

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: richd
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:13 AM

Wow, that's a good site. Those King Arthur people seem into bread. Good advice too, especially the bit about checking how the dough is developing. This means that you can change the mix depending on what you find- thus taking account of the kind of variations in flour hardness, water absorbancy, yeast and so on. Still don't think I buy a bread machine though, I like the kneading and don't find it much effort. Soon as I finish here and on the KIng Arthur site I'm off to start a batch of wheat and oatgrain bread. Anyone want to talk about unleavened or flatbreads? Happy baking.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: peregrina
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:32 AM

Do you store the flour in an airtight container?


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Raggytash
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:44 AM

Increase the amount of yeast, this will make your bread a lot lighter, I use at least half as much again as the recipes indicate for precisely this reason


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: richd
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:04 AM

Adding more yeast can make the bread drier and it doesn't keep so well. It can also give a pronounced yeasty taste, which some people like. You could leave it to ferment longer at temperature, or use harder flour, which will trap more gas and the dough will thus rise higher and be more 'holey'.

If you keep flour in bulk or for any length of time keep it in an airtight container, it can pick up smells from other food and go off, especially the oils in wholemeal flour.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: JohnB
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM

We only had two problems with our breadmaker and we used it for years.
1/ It walked off the counter one day in the middle of the kneading cycle. Broke the top off completely.
2/ The kneading/mixing bar attachment on the bottom of the container corroded through and fell off.
It did make good bread though, we since got out of bread and lost a lot of weight, JessA can afford the gain though.
My other old breadmaker, who at one stage made bread three times a week, got Rheumatoid Arthritis and couldn't do the kneading any more.
I still keep her around though.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Penny S.
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 07:46 AM

I initially had a problem with the bread being close-grained at the bottom and with too large bubbles at the top.
The company advised using half a vit C tablet, and cutting the salt amount. I actually use a vit C based dough improver now which has other natural additives as well, and that has improved the texture.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 10:28 AM

Bread like that has too much water.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Dazbo
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 10:47 AM

Hi Jess,

I found that varying quanintities of the ingredients from the recipe helped fine tune the bread. If the packet bread works it's not the machine that's the problem.

Yours isn't a problem I've had but I'm guessing that you need a bit more water. I've also found that doubling the length of the kneading helps the bread rise better. So play around a bit and experiment.

My machine I do 540g of strong flour (usually a mixture of white and malt/wholemeal flour about 3:1), 320ml of water, a generous dollop of olive oil, half a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of yeast (I buy the a big packet Dove's Farm), not the 7g sachets) two tablespoons white sugar, and it comes out fine.

Darren


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 07:44 AM

The only problem that I have had with my cheapo machine bought at Asda some years ago is to do with the central bearing for the paddle. Over time it has developed enough wear and slack to allow the water (which you put in first in this machine) to start to leak out. It means that you can't put it on timer but have to start it off as soon as all the ingredients are in to minimise any water loss!
I suppose that I shall have to have a second repair session on it soon, I've already done one bodging job on it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:55 AM

Well, I've now made a loaf with my modified recipe as per Stilly River Sage's suggestions plus looking at the other recipes people have posted or linked to in this thread, and am pleased to report that they helped a lot! I also discovered that my other half didn't really like the bread I was making because it tasted too sweet, so I reduced the amount of sugar a lot and also reduced the salt a bit to compensate.

I'm going to experiment a bit more (I think I may use a bit more yeast and will add some vitamin C too) to see if I can get it to be a bit more springy, but when I've come up with a 'final' recipe I'll post it here in case it is ever any use to other people.

thank you! I knew I needed to try varying the amounts of ingredients but felt I had too many variables and not enough prior experience of breadmaking to know what to change first... your collective advice has made a big difference!


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 10:47 PM

That's good news! And there is every reason to keep experimenting in the kitchen, even when you perfect this particular recipe.

I made a loaf late this afternoon, and I think my current batch of yeast is a little old, or shocked somehow. I'm going to replace it. It takes longer for a loaf to rise to the right height, longer than it typically should. But this afternoon's loaf was part of dinner and we happily had a couple of slices each with our chicken and broccoli.

You can get away with very simple meals if you serve the freshest home-cooked elements. :)

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Jess A
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM

for some reason I've always been a bit nervous with experimenting with baking. Which is crazy really because I'm a pretty confident & experimental cook for everything else, and am perfectly happy with modifying or adapting recipes or just making them up on the spot...

I think it is because with baking you can't taste as you go along and add extra things, so it always feels like I have to get it right first time or risk it all going wrong and having to throw it away and start again... plus I've never baked much apart from the odd birthday cake so I haven't got much experience to fall back on...

now I just need to persuade my other half, who is actually doing 95% of the cooking in our house at the moment, to start making bread too :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: JohnB
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 10:12 AM

Just tell him that they use Yeast in Beermaking too Jess and you should be half way there.
We used to start off ALL recipes with half to a quarter of the Salt called for.
JohnB.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 04:59 PM

It's not like it is a huge dollar investment in a few cups of flour, a little yeast, salt, sugar, water, and maybe a special ingredient or two.

Live dangerously! ;-D

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:41 PM

How much does bread cost when you are using a home bread-making machine (not including the amortization of the machine itself)?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: CarolC
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:56 PM

My guess would be less than fifty cents per loaf unless people put exotic ingredients in their bread. Our bread machine paid for itself very quickly in savings on the cost of bread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bread maker problems
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 11:41 PM

I haven't worried about the cost, whether higher or lower--the bread is so much better it's worth it, even if it comes out costing more. But I think Carol is probably pretty close on the math. I buy bread flour in bulk (I keep 5 pounds in a canister and the rest is wrapped in plastic and stored in the freezer) and I buy yeast in bulk, so it really is quite low. Whole wheat flour is expensive, especially the good brands, but my recipe uses only 1 cup per loaf. Turbinado sugar is $1.50 a pound bulk, and how much does a dollop of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt cost? Very little.

SRS


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