Ben: re your Hitachi problems: !st, are you checking the dough after the
first few minutes of the knead cycle and correcting for water or flour? If
so and you know that the dough looks right, then try this experiment: measure
out the dry ingredients for two of the same recipes (white bread is the
easiest and cheapest) - one into the bread machine and one into a plastic
bag. Measure the liquids - one into the machine and one into a bowl. Set
aside the stuff in the plastic bag and bowl. Start the machine and program
for dough or manual. At the end of the time, check to see if the bread has
risen properly. If it hasn't then there is a problem with your ingredients.
If it has,then remove the dough and place it in a bread pan, cover it and
let it rise, then bake it in the oven. Next, place the 2nd set of
ingredients in the machine. Program for bake. If the finished bread is a
hockey puck, then your thermostat is broken. Time to trade in your machine
(try a Zojirushi next time - I'm still abusing my first one of 5 years - it's
never let me down).