5 Reasons Why I Use a Bread Machine

loaf of bread by machine

You may have noticed most of the yeast bread recipes on this blog are written for a bread machine. Not only do I love how easily it makes bread, apparently, I don’t need to knead. The alleged therapeutic advantages of using my own two hands to work the dough are wasted on me.  My impatience rarely allows it and my penchant for quality bread demands the consistency of a bread machine.

If you prefer the traditional, hands-on approach, I’m not trying to convert you.  Keep doing it.

To those of you who are curious about bread machines or already have a machine but rarely use it, this post is for you.

Just so you know, I don’t work for any bread machine companies or receive any perks for talking about them.

I have been making bread since I was a teenager in 4-H back on the farm in Indiana. In the beginning, I made my mom’s famous butterhorn rolls by hand but when she got a Kitchen Aid, we were thankful to be able to mix bread dough in a big, honkin’ stand mixer. When bread machines were invented, I wasted no time learning how to use one and have been in love with them ever since.  It is an absolute workhorse in my kitchen.

Please note:   I ALMOST NEVER BAKE BREAD IN MY MACHINE because…

  • I’m not fond of strangely shaped bread and/or an unsightly hole in the bottom where the blade inserted.
  • The crust is too often thick and tough.
  • More often than not, I want dinner rolls or some kind of specialty shape so actually baking in a bread machine is not a choice.

5 Reasons I  Would Rather Use a Bread Machine.

1. Simple assembly. Simple clean-up.

ingredients in bread machine pan

Dump all ingredients in at once. No need to dissolve the yeast.   Close the lid keeping the flour mess inside. Only one pan and one blade to clean.

2. Less hands-on time.

unsliced comparison pic

Hands On Time:   20 minutes +             vs.                            5 minutes

 

3. Bread rises higher and texture is finer. (See post by King Arthur Flour for similar experiment and results)

sweet  milk bread slices

Left: Mixed and Kneaded by Hand            Right: Mixed and Kneaded in a Bread Machine

4. Minimal attention required.

unrisen dough in bread machine pan

Dough after mixing and kneading; before rising. Look Ma! No hands.

No need to change blades or mixing speeds. No need to grease a bowl, find a cover or look for a warm place for the proofing stage because the bread machine takes care of it automatically. A peek or two under the lid about 5-10 minutes into the dough cycle is all that’s necessary. For this reason alone, I prefer a bread machine over a stand mixer although a Kitchen Aid will do a nice job once you get the hang of it.

risen dough in bread machine pan

Bread dough after proofing (rising), ready to be shaped.

5. Bread machines have useful timers.

pizza-post-pic-640x428.jpg

My Favorite Pizza Dough works great in a bread machine.

I can do cool things like having My Favorite Pizza Dough ready to roll out when I walk in the door from a long day at work. I often throw ingredients for My Favorite Dinner Rolls into the bread machine pan before church and come home 2-3 hours later to risen dough ready to form in the shape of my choice.

favorite dinner rolls.jpg

My Favorite Dinner Rolls turn out perfect every time.

To me, kneading bread dough by hand is like riding a horse to work.   A horse is fun and a delight for the senses but it’s more trouble and takes longer.  A certain level of physical fitness and skill is required and it’s a little scary for some of us.

On the other hand, a bread machine is like driving a car. If you need to arrive quickly and on schedule (and look good doing it), most people would choose  the speed and reliability of a car. Likewise, when you want homemade bread you can count on to be ready at meal time with good texture, height, and flavor, use a bread machine to mix and knead the dough.

If you’ve tried a bread machine without success, consider that bread-making is a skill which usually improves with practice.  Expect some failures in the beginning. However, I predict fewer fails with a bread machine than mixing by hand.

If your next question is, “Which one should I buy?”, stay tuned. I plan to address the subject in an upcoming post.

If you already have a bread machine collecting dust, get it out and try the recipe for the bread shown in the comparison pictures above. It’s our absolute favorite for a sandwich or munching loaf and it makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The secret ingredient is sweetened condensed milk.  Whether you make it in a bread machine or knead by hand, leftovers are perfect for French toast or bread pudding.

sweet milk bread-pb and J squared

Sweet Milk White Bread

Sweet Milk White Bread
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Ingredients
  • 7 ounces water
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups(+) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
Instructions
  1. Add ingredients to bread pan in order listed. Start with 3 cups flour.
  2. Select Dough Cycle and start. Raise lid and check dough after about 5-10 minutes. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, if necessary, until dough reaches correct consistency. It should come together in a ball that sticks to side of pan, then pulls away. If dough thumps against the side of pan, add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. If dough is thin enough to level out, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time till dough starts to form a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Remove dough from pan at the end of the dough cycle and place on lightly floured board. Roll into rectangle. Roll up and tuck ends to fit into greased 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. Let rise till dough is 1 inch above top edge of pan in the middle.
  4. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes. Interior should reach 190 degrees. Place a foil tent over bread half-way through baking to protect from over-browning. Allow to cool 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely. Best if you wait at least two hours before slicing so loaf will hold its shape without squishing with the pressure of a knife.

 

P.S. Now you see why I eat Salad in a Jar almost every day for lunch.  If only a bread machine could remove calories….

RELATED POSTS:

Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana Sill July 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

Hi, this is my first time trying to make a bread, I LOVE homemade bread, but I never learned how to do, so I want to try your recipe, but I have a Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine, and I coulnd’t figure out each one is the dough cicle that you mention, when I choose the dough basic bread and I press the start, the machine went to rest mode and show a time of 2:20hr, so I choose the pizza dough then started to knead, but I didn’t think would work so I just decide to make the whole thing on the machine, but I like to bake in the oven too. I don’t know if I was able to explain well, but let me know if you can help. Thanks!

Reply

Paula July 14, 2012 at 6:21 am

Hi Jana,

I looked at your manual on line.  http://service.us.panasonic.com/OPERMANPDF/SDYD250.PDF
Go to page 11 and it explains how to do the dough option. I think the pizza dough you started with would work just fine.  Your machine should start to knead and continue until dough is smooth and elastic. Then it should rest so the dough can rise. When cycle is done, machine will usually beep several times. Remove the dough and roll it out how you want. Let it rise again and bake. 

Bread-making is so easy with a bread machine but it still takes a little practice. Keep after it and write back if you still have questions.

Reply

Lynne December 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I’m with you–never did get the warm fuzzies most say you feel when you hand knead dough. I LOVE your site! Found it when I Googled Thumbprint Cookies with Icing.

Reply

Paula December 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Thanks Lynne, Great to hear from you.

Reply

Lyn January 10, 2013 at 11:27 am

Paula
Is there a way to change the amount of the Sweet Milk bread
to make it into a 13 in pullman pan with lid I love this bread and have made about 20 loaves so far with my machine and cook in my oven. Love it love it. But it rise so much and its hard to fit in to my husband sandwich container. He insists on this bread for his sandwich at work. I have tried it in my pan and it just to small then.
Lyn

Reply

Paula January 10, 2013 at 11:46 am

Hi Lyn,
First of all, have you tried it as is? Perhaps not enough dough for a 13-inch pan. The problem is going to come with the capacity of your bread machine. The limit on mine is a recipe with about 4 cups of flour but many are limited to 3 cups. Go beyond the recommended amount and your dough won’t be kneaded very well. You could either use a large stand mixer to make a larger recipe (more trouble than a bread machine) or buy a smaller pullman pan, maybe one that is 9 inches instead of 13 inches. That would be my suggestion.

So glad you husband is enjoying this recipe. I’ve been playing around with it lately and adding things like fruit and nuts. So-o-o-o good!

Reply

Lyn January 11, 2013 at 7:52 am

I did try the recipe in the pan, it would only fill the pan about 1/2 full after rising 60-70 minutes, now don’t laugh but I turn the pan on end the dough side down, I put the lid on and put my small cast iron skillet in the oven and bake it tilted. It came out great except the one end of the bread. I then took 1-1/2 of you recipe and did it that way. It came out beatitful. I wish I could post a picture of it. My bread machine is for 1 to 2-1/2 loaf so it did mix up beautiful. I haven’t tryed a piece yet but I will in a few minutes. This is my third bread macine, I could never get bread right so I always gave them away. I saw your recipe and bought a new one, and have doing it since November. I’m so glad I did. The pan is new also, so the bread coming out right the first time is wonderful. Thank you

Reply

Keith T March 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

Can I say that making bread the traditional way is easy as walking. I found a no fat recipe which I use which is lovely. Mixing the dough is done in a bowl by adding the flour to the activated yeast in water a cupful at a time until the dough becomes nice and silky. Knead in the bowl the usual way and then clean out the bowl, wipe some oil around it, put the bread dough back and cover it with a warm damp tea-towel to prove/double its bulk for around an hour. When it is ready, knock back the dough, form it and put it into the bread tin for the second rise. I brush milk over the top to get a glaze on the crust and in an electric oven (not fan assisted) which I have placed a tray of boiling water so that it is nice and steamy, I place the bread tin on the centre tray and bake until golden brown at 220 f. When it taps hollow it is done. Turn out the bread onto a cooling tray and don’t pick at the crust…lol. Simple. Who needs a machine!

Reply

Paula March 17, 2013 at 7:18 am

Hi Keith,
Thanks for writing. Sounds like you’ve got a good recipe and a system that works for you. Enjoy!

Reply

Keith T March 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

Thanks, Paula.

There may be a difference in the time it takes to make the hands-on method, and I have heard the machine method gives a better second rise, but at the end of the day, if one is happy with the way a bake has gone that’s all that matters I guess. I am not knocking the machine method mind you. Friends of mine have the machine and get fantastic results. It’s all to do with having fun at the end of the day and getting a great product. Great article by the way. (Y)

Reply

Debbie April 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I am a bit confused about how to do the bread in both the machine and the oven. When do I take it out of the machine? I thought handling the bread was bad? Do you mind walking me through it step by step? I just used my machine for the first time today and it was also the first time ever making bread at all!

Reply

Paula April 5, 2013 at 7:15 am

Hi Debbie,
I think this post might help you. What recipe did you use? I recommend you use one of mine–it will take you through the process step by step. I wish you were my neighbor so I could walk next door and help. :-( pr

Reply

somasunthar April 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

wow… it was a genuine comparison
i was weighing options whether to buy a bread making machine or not !
after reading this i ordered it
Happy Bread making :-)
and thank you paula :-)

Reply

Paula April 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm

You’re welcome Soma. Hope you enjoy it. Did you read all my posts about using a bread machine? I hope you find them helpful, too.

Reply

Danielle May 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hi, what machine are you using in the picture? I have a Cuisinart currently, but I’m definitely in the market for a new machine. This one just doesn’t perform at the level that I’ve expected from machines that I have used in the past.

Reply

Amaechi sylvanus May 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thanks for posting, i will never forget the joy i have when i woke to see my freshly bake bread programmed to bake before breakfast by my zijorushi bb- pac 20 bread machine! Thanks, let me bookmark for further reading!

Reply

Michelle August 29, 2013 at 9:12 am

Well, this post might be several years old…..but I am SO HAPPY I found it!! I made the sweet milk bread (dough in the bread machine and then baked in the oven). WOW…I couldn’t believe how commercial-like this bread was. My daughter was just diagnosed with a soy and egg allergy and so I am baking all of our own breads and this was the first bread of this type that I tried….there is no reason to find another! I did wait the two hours to cut into the bread and I could believe how well it cut. My husband was thoroughly impressed. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes too.

Reply

Fiddler September 1, 2013 at 9:58 am

This is just about the only white bread I make anymore–it is sooo good! However, my wife is lactose intolerant so I had to adapt the recipe. I tried to figure out how much sugar there was in a half cup of sweetened condensed milk and at first I way overestimated. I now use 1/4 cup of sugar and 11 ounces of Lactaid milk (whole is best but 2% also works well) as a substitute for the sweetened condensed milk and water and it turns out great. Now my wife can eat this bread without worry and it tastes just about the same as the original. I also discovered that if I put one long cut in the top of the bread before baking, it bakes much more evenly. Hope that is helpful to others who are lactose intolerant.

Reply

Paula September 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

Thanks for writing, Fiddler. Great information for people who are lactose-intolerant.

Reply

Alison October 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Hi Paula,

I have a Breville bread machine and I love it. But I am new to bread making so I was looking for a recipe that I could use all the time. I tried the recipe in the manuel but it came out dry. I was looking at the recipe listed hear (Sweet White Bread). I was looking for something simpler. Do you have one that you can share?

Reply

Paula October 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi Alison,
You can look through all my recipes here. The Sweet White Bread is extremely popular and I highly recommend it.

Reply

Peg November 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hey Paula,
I love my new Zojirushi Bread Machine along with my Hitachi that I’ve had for years. I have baked Sweet Milk Bread several times. My husband & I love the bread for sandwiches, as a dinner bread, and for breakfast with butter & jelly, honey or Sorghum Syrup Molasses. I even just got through making some today. I am planning on making the dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. The best rolls I have ever had. I love making pizza with the pizza dough recipe. So so so good! I am so glad I found your blog. I just can’t say enough about how good all the bread recipes that I’ve cooked have been. Thank you!!!!

Reply

Peg November 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Paula,
I wanted to tell you that I have a Utility garage in one end of my Kitchen Cabinet with a slide up door. I had a Coffee pot in it at one time. I moved everything out of it & now it is my bread making cabinet. I placed a canister of King Arthur bread flour and a jar of Bread Machine Yeast in there. I have a liquid measure, a dry measure (old Pampered Chef measuring cups that slide for whatever amount you want and a tablespoon one that does the same). I made a pint flour shaker jar like yours, a 1/2 pint sugar jar and a salt shaker in there. I didn’t like going from one end of the kitchen to the other, due to physical reasons, so this has worked out perfect for me. I still have to retrieve refrigerated items, but this has made it so much easier. I was dreading having to gather up all this stuff, so now I don’t have to dread it. My bread machines are next to this cabinet on a roll around cart. I have a basket to hold the smaller items and all I have to do now is lift my basket up out of the cabinet along with my bread & yeast. I am now “on a roll” (so to speak). Makes it all so handy when I get ready to make all your delicious bread recipes.

Reply

Michelle November 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

I have never tried making pizza dough in the bread maker. I usually by the dough from the grocery store to make my own pizzas at home. Do you have any pizza dough recipes that you recommend for a first time maker?

Reply

Paula December 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hi Michelle,
Check my recipe index and you’ll find my favorite pizza dough recipe.

Reply

Lewin December 27, 2013 at 4:04 am

Great points Paula, Ive used a bread machine for over a decade now and would never turn back! Mainly for pizza dough, but sky is the limit with bread machines which is why they are a great investment!

Reply

Paula December 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Agreed! :-)

Reply

Ashlee January 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

I am new to my bread machine. I made a box mix earlier in the week to test it out, while it turned out ok I was really hoping for a bread I could slice and make sandwiches with. I’m hoping this is the recipe I am looking for! I have a 4×8.5 loaf pan will this work? Seems like it will be a small slice of bread though? Perfect my kids really, just making sure I have the right pan, I typically use this for banana bread.

Reply

Paula January 6, 2014 at 7:00 am

Hi Ashlee, Check out this post. For a bread recipe using 3 cups of flour, I use a pan that measures 9 x 4 inches. It’s absolutely perfect in my experience. It holds 8 cups of water when filled to the top if you want to compare to your loaf pan. Have fun with your new machine.

Reply

Abert Adams July 1, 2014 at 9:48 am

I have been making my own bread for several years. I am onto my third bread machine. I make my own bread because it is a lot more tastier than store bought bread. I make enormous efforts to make bread that rises and looks fluffy like the one shown ( Sweet Milk White Bread ). Unfortunately , since I have been making bread in the bread machine and then putting the dough into a bread pan and baking it in the oven , I have very very rarely succeeded in getting a loaf that rises like yours. 80% of mine only rise to between half and 65% of the height of yours . On very rare occasions ( and I mean very rare ) do they rise like yours. My wife and son really love the bread I make ( when it rises successfully ). The vast majority of the time it only rises about half of what it should. It doing so it is kinda heavy but still has a good taste but is not fluffy.

I am going to try your Sweet White Bread and will let you know on the results.

Albert Adams

Reply

Ellen Williams July 13, 2014 at 2:21 am

Do you have any tips for getting a loaf out of the bread machine easily. I seem to be getting worse and it is sticking
Thanks

Reply

Paula July 13, 2014 at 6:58 am

Ellen, I don’t bake bread in my machine–only use it to mix the dough and knead it. See this post. So I’m not an expert on this problem. Don’t use it to bake bread in anymore. That is my only suggestion. All non-stick surfaces seem to go AWOL eventually. Sorry I don’t have a better answer.

Reply

Ashwin July 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Hi Ellen,

I posted a comment and then noticed your question.

Here is how I care for my bread machine – Paula is right – non-stick surfaces will go AWOL unless you use a very gentle cleaning agent and a soft surface to clean it with. It needs a couple of hours soaking and then very gentle cleaning.

Once you have it cleaned, then when the bread finishes baking, and you have taken the pan out of the machine, hold the pan with both hands (I have oven mitts which are shaped like gloves). Then gently rock the bread out of that pan (push gently, then push a bit more vigorously and repeat). The bread will work its way out of the pan. Sometimes some bread makers will instruct you to twist the kneading devices at the bottom to free the bottom of the bread loaf to help with this process.

Treat your bread machine like a baby, and it will last for years, even with a non-stick coating – and you can bake in it as well (my last one lasted for 7 years before we upgraded).

Regards,

Ashwin

Reply

Ashwin July 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Hi Paula,

I don’t represent any company – I’m just a guy who loves to bake. I’ll leave my two cent comments.

I like your recipes. You have a good website, but your recipes mainly use the bread machine only to knead and proof the dough. You’ve already commented on this – that a bread machine has issues actually baking the bread. However, your reasons to not bake the bread in the machine are a bit dated. I had the same issues with my previous bread makers such as the oddly shaped loaf and the iffy crust consistency. I think they are making better machines nowadays though.

I make bread at least once a week in my latest machine and it turns out very soft (for those recipes which soft is required), or otherwise. The loaf does not come strangely shaped – but this is based on which machine you buy (essentially, you get what you pay for). The hole in the bottom – that part does happen – but as long as the bread is baked properly, one can overlook that little part. Also, your reason of less-cleanup is actually a better reason why one *should* bake the bread in the machine rather than make another dish to clean. Not baking in the bread maker also takes the entire process a lot longer – to take it out, shape it, etc. Leaving it in there gets one to the end-result far quicker.

For special breads like pizza dough, foccacia and/or rolls, it makes sense to use the bread machine only for kneading/proofing. For making regular bread though, newer bread machines will make a proper-sized and shaped loaf faster and with a lot less effort and dishes.

Regards,

Ashwin

Reply

Melissa November 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I am SO happy I found this!!!! My first two loaves from “the machine” were horrible. Dry and burned!!!! I used your machine to oven method and I had the PERFECT LOAF!!!! God bless you for posting and sharing with the world! Love it!!!!

Reply

Xena December 12, 2014 at 12:59 am

Hi Paula, will these ingredient measurements work if I want to use just the bread machine for the entire process including the baking? Can i just dump and set and forget? I do love baking but I love my bread maker because I can programme and not spend time at it

Reply

Paula December 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

Xena,
They might. It depends on so many factors, e.g. brand of bread machine, humidity, type and brand of flour, temperature in the room, etc. But you might get lucky and get a decent loaf of bread. Most of my recipes were originally written to be baked in a bread machine but because of the variability of the aforementioned factors, I find it much more reliable to bake the bread in my oven. I want perfection in exchange for all those calories.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: