5 Surprising Reasons I Don’t Bake Bread in My Bread Machine (but I use it all the time)

bread baked in bread machine and oven

Can you tell which loaf was baked in a bread machine?

I‘ve said it before, but in case you are a new or disillusioned bread machine owner who is just now finding this blog, please keep reading.

I almost never bake bread in my bread machine.  Make no mistake! I love my bread machines, (yes, I have several) but I use them for mixing and kneading only.

Wanna know why? After all, isn’t that what a bread machine is supposedly made for? Check out the pictures, and I think you’ll see my point.

Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread-31.jpg

Left: Baked in a bread machine                   Right: Mixed in a bread machine, baked in conventional oven

1. The shape is weird when baked in a bread machine. I much prefer the way my loaf looks when I form the dough myself (after the dough cycle completes) and place it into a traditional bread pan.

See how the corners and bottom edges are rounded on the left? A bread machine pan is designed that way so no flour will be left behind during the kneading process. The result is a rounded lump of a loaf that doesn’t resemble anything for sale in a fine bakery.

 

Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread-28.jpg

Left: Baked in bread machine                             Right: Mixed in bread machine but baked in a conventional oven

2. Observe the holey texture of the crust on the side of the loaf baked in a bread machine. This results in a tough crust–not a tender one like the bread on the right.

Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread-26.jpg

Left: Baked in a bread machine                        Right: Mixed in a bread machine but baked in a conventional oven

3. Then there are the holes in the bottom where the blades were. Some people have told me they take the bread dough out of the machine, remove the blades, and put the dough back into the bread machine pan before allowing the dough to rise again and bake inside the machine. But you still end up with holes, albeit smaller ones. If I’m going to that much trouble, I just throw the dough into a traditional loaf pan and bake it up right.

Oatmeal-Sunflower Bread-36.jpg

Left: Baked in a bread machine                       Right: Mixed in a bread machine but backed in a conventional oven

4. The crust is too thick and hard when bread is baked in a bread machine. See the picture above. If your kids don’t like the crust on bread from the grocery store, they surely won’t like the crust on bread from your bread machine. It’s also a dead giveaway that you baked your bread in a machine.

Also, compare the texture of the two slices above. It’s subtle, but I think the texture of the bread on the right is slightly more homogeneous and pleasing than the bread on the left.

5. You lose control over the timing when you allow the bread machine to bake your bread. I don’t have a picture of this, but it can be the most important reason of all not to bake in your bread machine.

Because yeast is a living organism, it can be a little unpredictable depending on the ingredients in your recipe and the ambient temperature.The timer built into the machine doesn’t make allowances for this. The machine will automatically kick into the bake cycle whether your dough is risen the proper amount or not. If the dough has not risen enough because it’s the dead of winter and your kitchen is cold or the machine is sitting in a drafty place, you may end up with a small, heavy loaf. If it’s the middle of the summer in Texas or your recipe calls for a lot of sugar, the dough may rise too quickly resulting in a finished loaf with a big dip in the middle. What a disappointment!

Using whole grains can be especially problematic because the rising time usually takes longer.  Some machines have a special whole wheat cycle but again, it is automatic and may not work for your particular recipe.

Next post:  the recipe for the Oatmeal-Sunflower Sandwich Bread as seen in today’s post.

p.s. In case you are now wondering why you even need a bread machine, I highly recommend them for convenience and unmatched kneading ability. See the related posts below.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina May 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm

I have to totally agree with you. Baked in a pan is definitely best. BUT, it is nice sometimes to just stick all the things in the bread machine and return 3 hours later (I usually do that while we’re gone to church) and have fresh bread ready when we get home. That said, it IS quite annoying to have the holes in the bottom. Sometimes the blade is even stuck in the loaf of bread until we slice it out. ;)

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Marlon @MeInTheBalance May 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I’m new to bread baking and have been using my bread machine for the last few months. I’ve thought of using the machine to mix the dough and transferring it to a traditional loaf pan… Your post just encouraged me to go for it! Thanks :)

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diane May 4, 2013 at 5:25 am

wonderful pictures this is my point actually i have two bread machines only use the dough cycle get much better loaf of bread with out the hole i have been making breads for years until the bread machine came along,, use much more flour using old fashion way, for liquids i use milk,or use cooled potato water 1 c and 1 c of beer that sure makes nice soft loaf
thank you for sharing never thought about doing comparison glad you did
diane ontario canada

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Paula May 6, 2013 at 6:53 am

Hi Diane,
Looks like I will have to experiment with the potato water and beer. Interesting. I love using potatoes in my bread for the long-lasting quality they impart but have not tried using the water.

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Rhonda May 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

EXCELLENT post!! I’ve been using a bread machine for several years and just recently began doing things the way you posted. Have been MUCH happier with my results!! I recognized all of your reasons, except the last one as differences I had noticed, but I never thought that the “automatic-ness” of the bread machine could be the reason for the many inconsistent results I get – especially when baking with whole grains. Thanks especially for that extra piece of information!!!

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Paula May 7, 2013 at 9:47 am

Thanks Rhonda,
Sounds like you have come to the same conclusion I have. I don’t bake with whole grains much but it can really be dicey with a bread machine and the timing when you start playing around like so many of us like to do. Good to hear from you.

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Vickie May 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

Thank you for a great blog. I’d wondered about getting a bread machine but I’ve always had great results using my KitchenAide mixer for kneading the dough, so I put that thought aside. I don’t know anyone who has a bread machine so didn’t know about the rounded edges or holes. Thanks for the great class on breadmaking.

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Paula May 6, 2013 at 6:51 am

Vickie,
I’m glad you brought up using a Kitchen Aide. It also will do a beautiful job, especially if you are an experienced bread maker and know what the dough is supposed to look like. Also good if you are making a recipe with more than 3 cups of flour and refrigerator doughs that don’t really need to be kneaded. However, a GOOD bread machine is easier and more convenient in my book for most breads. A lot of it is what you get used to–like anything. :-). Again, thanks for writing.

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Paula May 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hi Vickie,
If you are happy with your Kitchen Aide, probably no reason to get a bread machine. I like bread machines for the convenience (my dough cycle has a timer) and the ability to proof right there in the pan. That way, I can throw all the ingredients into the machine and come back an hour and a half later and it’s ready to form into loaves or rolls. Don’t have to move or cover it to proof, and don’t have to decide if it has kneaded long enough. Kitchen Aide is a tiny bit more trouble in my opinion, but not that much. It is also good for recipes with more than 3 cups of flour–a definite limitation with a bread machine.

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Vicki W. May 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

You have inspired me again! I had given my machine to my sister to try, but after 3 years she had never used it, so I asked for it back. I haven’t gotten around to using it again, but I hope to this week and do it the way you suggest. You are such a good teacher and I so appreciate your efforts on your blog. Thank you Paula!

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Paula May 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

Thanks Vicki. Comments like yours make all the trouble worth it. Happy bread eating!

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treezah May 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

Thank you so much for this. It’s like a light went on over my head. All of the things you highlight are reasons why I don’t LOVE my bread machine. But now I can again. I’ll just think of it as a bread mixer/kneader. THanks!

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Kathy - Panini Happy May 4, 2013 at 9:38 am

Now I don’t feel quite so bad that my bread machine conked out after just 2 uses (7 years ago). :-)

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Paula May 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hi Kathy,
After just 2 uses you bread machine went out? Hope you got your money back. I personally couldn’t live without one though. Very convenient kneading machines–that’s what I call them. :-) Thanks for writing.

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The Café Sucre Farine May 5, 2013 at 8:50 am

I totally agree with you Paula, though I don’t use a bread machine any more for my dough, I hated the way the bread baked in the machine looked and tasted. It’s quite amazing seeing the difference in your photos!

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jessica w May 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I have a bread maker, and I use it to make dough for Broetchen, kolaches, breads, and anything else I can think of,but I also never bake anything in it.

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Paula May 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

Broetchen? I think I’ve missed that somehow. Gotta look it up. :-)

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jessica w May 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

Here is the recipe that I followed. http://warfieldfamily.com/2011/02/german-broetchen/

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Yvonne January 31, 2014 at 10:59 am

If memory serves me right Broetchen is the name for Kaiser rolls that are round instead of shaped from a strip of dough. I have made Kaiser rolls from my regular white bread dough that I make in my machine and the turned out great.
I have moderate arthritis and had almost quit baking bread until a friend gave me her machine that she no longer used. At first I faithfully followed the directions and baked it all of the way through even setting it to have hot bread in the morning, until I woke up to find that the dough had over flowed and I had a real mess. Then I got smart and started to do it like you do. Now, I bake at least twice a week and I will never be without a machine again. I love having it do all the work and only having one mixing pan to clean up;.
Now, if only I could find a recipe for Schnitzbrot that I can make in my marvelous machine I would be a happy camper.

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Paula February 1, 2014 at 7:04 am

Yvonne,
Have you tried my Really Crusty Rolls? Probably not the same as Broetchen but similar.

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Yvonne February 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thank you, I’m glad that you reminded me of this. This is the way that they get the great crust on Mexican bolillos and I had forgotten all about it. What I am looking for is Schnitzbrot. It is a dark, anis flavored German
fruit bread. My little German grandmother made it every Christmas and I was the only one in the family that ate it. It was wonderful. Since she was a dump cook, with all of her recipes in her head, she was never able to pass them on. She also made great big Bavarian pretzels every Saturday and I have never had any as good as hers. I strongly urge everyone to write down their recipes and give them to your children or someone you love so they are never lost as hers are.

Betty May 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I was so excited to get my first bread machine many years ago, and was then so disappointed when I pulled the first loaf out of it. I now use it only to make dough, and it does a lovely job of it. I’m looking forward to the bread recipe! :)

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diane May 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

thank you for your reply
in my bread machine i use 1/2 c beer and 1/2 c potatoe water heated together tem reaches 105 to 110 i made 2 loaves this weekend and i used 1 c beer heated only and wow did i get nice soft bread i think i should have perhaps used tbsp of instant milk powder , also add dried onion flakes and powdered garlic about tbsp each go according to taste baked in bbq about 30 minutes on indirect heat in summer time i use my natural gas bbq alot of bread, rolls, etc.. diane

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Helen May 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I had a bread machine when we lived in California, and its performance was adequate, but I was always uncomfortable at the expenditure of energy for a single loaf of bread. We moved to Colorado, and I found that whole-wheat bread baked at an elevation of 7800 feet resulted in something we could have used to pave walkways, even though I added extra white flour or pure gluten. I much prefer to mix and bake several loaves at a time, and after I developed tendinitis in my hands I gave up kneading by hand and invested in a Cuisinart stand mixer, which does a great job. So no more bread machine for me. We live in the forest and don’t need to have anything paved.

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jen June 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

hi – i just inherited a breadmaker from my grandmother, circa 1998! made a loaf of white/french bread today and it came out great, but i would like to use the machine to make the dough and then bake it in the oven for the reasons that you posted. Does it rise in the machine then i move to the loaf pan? Or do I need to transfer, let it rise in the loaf pan & then bake? I’m totally new to this whole bread making thing, but have a 4 month old & I’m eating alot of toast lately since it requires only 1 hand to eat! :)

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Paula June 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Jen,
Check out this post for the answer to your questions. Happy bread eating!

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Shana Trahan July 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

You bake in the oven even in the summer? I was actually thinking about just using my bread machine to cook the bread during the summer, that way my oven doesn’t heat up the house while I fight to keep it cool.

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Kris September 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm

This recipe smells great, it will be ready to come out of the oven in about 5 minutes. I’m using convection and doing 2 small loaves, as all i have are a couple of 3 1/2 x 8 meat loaf pans, but it seems to be working fine. Will post in an hour with results :) thanks for the recipe! My wife is super excited to taste it.
-Kris

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Paula September 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Kris,
Hope it was wonderful!

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Kris September 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Sure was! Im here to use the recipe again… My kids went silly on the stuff! I added pumpkin seeds and used whole wheat flour last time…. Awesome.
Thanks for the recipe

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Marcelle November 30, 2013 at 11:55 pm

I just got my first bread machine, its a Panasonic and has the yeast dispenser on the top. I have stopped baking my bread in the machine and doing what you suggest, baking in the oven.
Now I want to do something different :) I want to make a cinnamon raisin bread but when do you add the raisins? (I use only the dough cycle)

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Paula December 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hi Marcelle,
Most machines have a beep feature close to the end of the kneading cycle which tells you when to add dried fruits and/or nuts. But since I often miss the beep, I usually add them in by hand before I roll out the dough. Works fine.

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AMcMorri December 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Hi, I think I have the same Zojurishi bread maker you have, and I made our sandwich bread with a combo of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, but I stopped using it, because my kids didn’t like the crust. Great idea to bake it in the oven. Here are a few questions: I am new to the science of bread making. If I use the dough cycle and let it rise in the bread maker, how do I know when it has risen enough? It does beep with the dough cycle is done, but not risen enough. and once I take it out and form it in the loaf pan, does it need to rise again before baking? What do you recommend for greasing the loaf pan? Thank you!

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Paula December 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Your dough should double in size during the first rise or by the end of the dough cycle. If it is not double when the dough cycle completes, let it continue to rise. It would probably help to find a warmer place for your machine, especially in the winter. I often make bread in our laundry room as it is the warmest room in the house.

After, the first rise, gently deflate the dough, form it as you desire, and let dough rise again until nearly double, then bake in your conventional oven. I like to grease my bread pans with Bakers Joy. See this post for more complete instructions.

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justina January 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

to solve the hard thick crust, I take it out 10 mins before it finishes baking…

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Bev February 16, 2014 at 2:19 pm

At what stage of the bread machine process do I take the loaf out to put into my oven bread pan?

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Paula February 16, 2014 at 5:20 pm

See this post for more details.

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Pamela Vierling March 18, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I have a Gold Star bread machine that was given to me, I only want to use it to knead the dough. I want to use the recipes in the book, but the book doesn’t tell me at what temperature I need to set my stove or how long to bake it for.
I have never made bread by hand so I wouldn’t be able to assume at what temperature from a previous experience.
So could you possibly post temperatures for baking bread & maybe some rolls.

Thank You

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Paula March 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

Pamela, There are several variables so I can’t give you one temperature. Check out this post for more guidance.

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