For Perfect Loaves Every Time
* USE GOOD QUALITY HARD WHEAT FLOUR THAT HAS AT LEAST 12 GRAMS OF PROTEIN PER
CUP. (I like King Arthur)
* USE FRESH, QUICK DISSOLVING ACTIVE YEAST SUCH AS RED STAR.
* OPEN THE MACHINE AND CHECK THE DOUGH DURING THE FIRST 5 - 10 MINUTES OF THE
FIRST KNEADING CYCLE !!! Even if your manual says not to do it. Flour
acts as a sponge absorbing moisture on wet days and becoming dehydrated
during dry weather. You'll have to adjust for fluctuating humidity and
barometric pressure by adding small amounts of flour or liquid to the dough.
So, you've never made bread before. How do you know how much to add? If
the dough looks sticky and wet, is sticking to the bottom and sides of the
pan, then sprinkle in flour, a tablespoon at a time (you may need up to an
extra 1/2 cup) while the machine is kneading, until you have a smooth, firm
ball of dough. If the mixture is dry and corrugated looking or the dough
won't hold together then sprinkle in additional liquid, a little at a time,
until the dough is smooth and pliable and forms a cohesive ball. If you've
wandered away from your machine only to return to find a wet messy glob or a
dry desert thumping around in the machine, press STOP (you can do this at any
time - except if the machine has gone into the bake cycle), add a small
amount of flour or liquid and press START. Stick around and make additional
adjustments, if necessary, until the dough looks right.
You've never baked before - how can you tell if the dough looks right? Go
to the stop. Buy frozen dough, let it defrost according to the package
directions. Place it on a lightly floured surface and play with it until
you are familiar with the consistency. This is what you're aiming for in
the bread machine.
I have found that when you are either making dough, or placing the
ingredients in the machine to make bread at that time, you can add either the
liquids first or the dry ingredients first. The major exception to this is
the old DAK (no longer made) where the yeast must be placed in the bread pan
first in a position farthest away from the kneading blade. When programming
ahead make sure to place any dried fruits away from contact with wet
ingredients as they will absorb those liquids and throw off the recipe.
Extra kneads and extra rise times all contribute to the depth of flavor,
character of the crumb and general personality of a loaf of bread. One of
the reasons I dislike rapid rise yeast and rapid cycles on the bread machines
is that the dough really requires the entire life span of the yeast to become
the amazing miracle that is bread. If you are partial to whole grain breads
and are winding up with lower loaves than you wish, then try a double knead
cycle: place the ingredients in the machine and program for DOUGH or MANUAL.
At the end of the final knead reprogram the machine for BREAD (of Whole
Wheat) and press start. You've given the dough an extra work-out to develop
the gluten - that will result in a higher loaf. For an even higher loaf
you can (if your machine permits) program for a longer rise time, or simply
remove the dough from the pan after the final rise cycle (but before baking)
transfer it to a bread pan and allow it to raise in a warm place until
doubled in bulk. Then bake it in the oven.
Sweet doughs with lots of butter and eggs, also respond well to a second long
rise in a cool place. I remove my brioche from the machine after the DOUGH
cycle is complete. I place it in a large freezer strength zip lock bag and
refrigerate it overnight. Then I place it back in the machine (my Zojirushi
has flexible programming), program for 2nd rise and bake. If you can't
program your machine this way you can place the dough in a bread pan after
you remove it from the machine, give it a long, refrigerated rise, and then
bake it in the oven. Even non-wheat and non-sweet doughs can benefit from
this extra rise.
Hope this helps...Lora Brody