I have a DAK/Welbuilt breadmaker which usually works really well.
Trouble is that I like "normal" rectangular loaves. Fortunately,
I have a pretty easy solution. I cook the bread in my convection/
microwave oven. Actually, I only use the convection setting on
the oven and I am sure that a variant of my technique would work
using a conventional oven.
I use the breadmaker to make the dough. I modify the recipe to
use 4 cups of flour. (This gives me just the right amount of
dough to put into two medium size bread pans.) I let it run through the
first mix/knead cycle, the first rise cycle, and the second knead
cycle. I also make sure that the consistency is right. Sometimes
I sprinkle in some extra flour so that the dough is not stickey.
When the dough is ready, I flour the countertop and then dump the
dough onto the counter. I cut the dough in half, form two fat tubes
the length of the bread pan and place them in the pans which I have
previously sprayed with Pam. I tuck them into the convection oven
and set the oven to run at 100 degrees for 45 minutes or so and
then to run at 450 for 20 minutes. The result is homebaked bread
that looks like it was made by your grandmother rather than your
There are some good variations on this approach. One is using a larger
pan to make a 3 cup loaf. Another is actually checking the bread after
it has risen in the convection oven to make sure that it has risen
enough. A third is letting it rise at 150 degrees for 20 minutes. I
think this might eventually kill the yeast, but apparently, they run
their little yeast hearts out before they expire. This is also a good
way to make a loaf quickly. In fact you can shorten the first rise
cycle once the bread seems to have risen enough. When you want it to
start the second kneading, just press the clear button and start it
over. (You will be taking the bread out of the machine as soon as it
stops kneading anyway, so it doesn't matter if the machine "thinks" it
is doing a first kneading when it is really doing a second one.) Don't
forget to shut the machine off (press clear) when you are done. Left
alone, the machine will try to continue baking.
One other suggestion has to do with wiping flour off your counter top.
Never use your sponge when there is a lot of flour. Use a paper towel
instead. Whenever I try to use the sponge, I end up with a big glob
of paste with a sponge in the middle of it - which does not want to