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Five mistakes you are making with your bread machine

Baking bread has never been more popular. Even my formerly carbophobiac boyfriend has adopted a nightly oven session. (I have no complaints about being served warm cinnamon rolls while binge-watching Netflix in the evening.) And if you’ve had a bread machine collecting dust for years, you might be tempted to use it to whip up some freshly baked carbohydrate goodness. After all, the promise of fresh, crusty loaves that can be set and forgotten appeals to even those who do not bake. 

However, the first few times you use your bread machine, the outcome may be unexpected. Whether you accidentally bake a dense loaf that doesn’t rise or an oddly shaped lump, here are some of the most common bread machine mistakes and how to correct them. 

Setting It and Forgetting It 

I get it; the appeal of a bread machine is that you don’t have to fuss with your loaf. It is enticing to be able to toss in the ingredients and return three hours later to find flawless results. However, failure to inspect the bread along the way may lead to the omission of crucial errors. The brand of flour you use and the altitude where you live can affect the recipe’s outcome, so you cannot rely on formulas without doing research. 

Worrying about opening the bread machine during the baking cycle is unnecessary. Unlike when using a pressure cooker, you will not interrupt the process or risk exploding parts; it is essential. Check the ratio of the wet-to-dry ingredients approximately 10 minutes into the dough-kneading cycle. If your dough appears too wet or dry after five minutes of kneading, add additional flour or water in increments of one teaspoon until it forms a cohesive, smooth ball around the blade. An overly wet loaf will result in an aquatic center, while an excessively dry loaf will produce a small, dense brick. 

Not Considering the Ambient Temperature 

The temperature and humidity of the kitchen can have a significant impact on the final loaf. If it is cold or drafty, it may take longer for your dough to rise correctly. The bread machine operates on a timer, so it cannot detect if your loaf has not doubled in size within the allotted time. It will proceed to the next cycle stage, resulting in a dense, small loaf that lacks flavor because the yeast has not fully developed. 

The dough may rise too quickly in a hot or humid environment, resulting in a significant depression in the center. 

Not Reforming the Bread 

If you’ve ever baked a loaf of bread with a “ski slope”-shaped top, this is likely where you went wrong. Yes, this is another example of when to check on your bread while it is baking. 

Before the final rise (also known as the proofing stage), remove the lid and ensure that the dough is evenly filling the pan. If it does not resemble a loaf, remove the dough, reshape it, and return it to the pan so that it is evenly distributed from end to end. Determining when the final rise will occur requires a bit of calculation. In the manual of most bread machines, each stage’s duration is specified in minutes. Prepare for picture-perfect, warm, crusty bread by starting a timer and being prepared to intervene just before the final rise. 

Failure to Weigh Your Flour 

When baking bread, it is crucial to use precise measurements. Have you followed a bread machine recipe to the letter only to receive a disappointing loaf? You may have accidentally used the incorrect amount of flour. Instead of using cups to measure flour, it is much more accurate to use a scale. Not all recipes include weight measurements for flour, but a quick internet search will yield many that do. Using a scale to measure flour eliminates the need for constant adjusting, checking, and trial-and-error methods. 

Making Substitutions 

Different flours have different absorption rates, so substituting all-purpose flour for whole grain flour or another alternative is not always 1:1. Use a recipe that calls for the flour you have on hand until you become familiar with how different flours behave. For instance, whole wheat flour, for example, does not rise as high as white flour, but adding vital wheat gluten will boost your dough. 

If you decide to substitute honey or maple syrup for granulated sugar (because honey wheat bread is always a good idea), remember that these ingredients must be counted as a liquid to maintain the correct ratio of dry to wet ingredients. The same holds for substituting applesauce for butter or any of the other numerous substitutions available. It’s enjoyable to experiment with different ingredients, but in the beginning, stick to recipes that call for the same ingredients to prevent a flat loaf. 

Bread Machine Baking Tips & Troubleshooting 

Each kitchen and each baker is unique. Utilize these valuable tips & troubleshooting guides to help you navigate baking with yeast. This manual offers advice on traditional bread baking, bread machine baking, and gluten-free baking. 

A Few Words Concerning Your Ingredients… 

  • It is essential to use fresh, high-quality ingredients when baking bread to ensure its success. 
  • Check the “Best if Used by” and expiration dates on your yeast and other ingredient packages. Once containers have been opened, storage instructions for the contents must be followed. Don’t forget that you’re dealing with perishable items. 
  • Yeast is a living organism that loses activity as time passes. If your yeast has been sitting around for a while or if you are unsure of its activity, it is best to test it before using it. Refer to the Yeast Activity Test for instructions. 
  • Bring the remaining ingredients to room temperature before beginning, unless the recipe specifies otherwise. 
  • Before beginning, measure all ingredients to ensure that the correct amounts are used and that all ingredients are prepared. 
  • Each kitchen and each baker are unique. Always take notes because different variables may influence the outcome every time you bake. It is common to experience trial and error before achieving perfection, especially when using a recipe for the first time. 

Common bread machine mistakes

The crust is too dense: 

  • Immediately remove the bread from the machine after the baking cycle has concluded. 

The bread collapses in the oven: 

  • Utilize a thermometer to precisely measure the temperature of the liquid. 
  • Use less liquid. 
  • To increase the salt content, 
  • Excessive yeast was added. 
  • During warm, high-humidity weather, use less and cooler water. 

Bread does not rise. 

  •  Verify the recipe. 
  • Utilizing low gluten content flour (substitute rye flour, whole wheat flour, or other whole grain flour for only a portion of the bread flour; use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.) 
  • Keep liquids at 80 degrees Fahrenheit and all other ingredients at room temperature. 
  • Examine the activity of yeast. 

The loaf is short and dense: 

  • Check the dough’s consistency after five minutes of kneading. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of liquid. 
  • Utilize protein-rich bread flour. 
  • Certain flours, including whole wheat and rye, produce denser goods than white flour. 

Bread has coarse texture: 

  •  Reduce the volume of liquid. 
  • Increase the amount of salt until the bread’s center is doughy. 

 Bread has doughy center: 

  • Reduce the volume of liquid. 
  • Examine yeast activity. 
  • The bread machine could be malfunctioning; consult the manual. 

Unbrowned top: 

  • Increase the sugar content. 
  • Choose a smaller recipe size. 
  • If the machine has a glass dome, tent the exterior with aluminum foil. 

Large mushroom top: 

  • Reduce the quantity of water 
  • Reduce the amount of yeast flour on the loaf’s sides. 

Flour on side of loaf 

  • During the kneading cycle, open the machine and use a rubber spatula to scrape flour from the pan’s sides. 

Crust too dark 

  •  Try a setting with a lighter crust color. If your machine lacks this feature, remove the loaf from the oven a few minutes before normal completion. It is possible that too much sugar was used. 

Rancid taste 

  • Check the ingredients for whole grains. Whole grain flour, wheat germ, and similar ingredients must be refrigerated or frozen. They spoil quickly at room temperature and can impart a rancid flavor to your bread. Flour is not susceptible to the same type of deterioration and may be stored at room temperature. 

Bread machine Tips 

While bread machines provide freshly baked bread at the touch of a button, some individuals have baked more “hockey pucks” and “mushroom loaves” than they would like to admit. Listed below are some bread machine baking tips you may find useful. 

  •  Follow the instructions for adding and layering ingredients as specified by the manufacturer. 
  • Use 80°F water or liquids. 
  • Always use fresh ingredients, and always store dry ingredients at room temperature. 
  • Utilize bread flour because it is stronger than other wheat flour and can withstand the actions of the bread machine better, resulting in bread with a better volume and texture. 
  • Active Dry Yeast: Use 3/4 tsp per cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; Active Dry Yeast is not recommended for one-hour or express cycle bread machines. 
  • Instant Yeast – Use 1/2 tsp for each cup of flour in your recipe for regular cycle bread machines; if using a one-hour or express cycle bread machine, yeast amounts must be doubled or tripled; Suggested liquid temperatures vary with machines—consult your machine’s manufacturer. 
  • If you are uncertain about the freshness of your yeast, you can test its activity before using it. Refer to our Freshness Test for Yeast section for instructions. 
  • Never expose yeast directly to salt or sugar, as this will inhibit its activity. Create a shallow pocket in the top of the flour with the back of a spoon and place the yeast inside. 
  • The dough consistency is affected by humidity, the method of measuring flour, and the flour’s moisture content. After 5 to 10 minutes of the KNEAD cycle, open the bread machine’s lid. The dough should be in a soft, tacky ball at this point. If the dough is dry and stiff, add liquid (80°F), 1/2 to 1 tablespoon; if the dough is too wet and sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. 
  • Before packaging, flour is sieved numerous times. It settles and compacts during transport. Using a whisk, whisk the flour into the bag or container to aerate it. It is essential not to dip the measuring cup into the flour; instead, lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup. To add more flour, avoid tapping or shaking the cup. Using a flat edge, remove the excess flour from the measuring cup to level with the rim. This method ensures accurate measurement. 
  • When using margarine or butter, cut it into small pieces to ensure proper incorporation with the other ingredients. 
  • Utilize a plastic spatula to assist with loaf removal. 
  • Use a wooden spoon handle to remove the kneading paddle from the hot loaf of bread. 


A bread machine combines versatility and convenience. A bread machine is ideal for you if you enjoy fresh bread but lack the time or space to bake it from scratch. For those with dietary restrictions, it is simple to create unique recipes. 

The cycles of a bread machine allow you to optimize the bread’s characteristics. Each process has a predetermined duration and temperature to maximize dough performance. Typically, the rise and bake time for a whole wheat cycle is longer. Refer to the owner’s manual for specific machine cycles. 

You can select cycles on a bread machine to control the color and crispness of the crust. Choose a light cycle if you prefer a tender and fluffy crust. Choose a darker process for a crispier, darker crust. Choose a light crust cycle if your bread recipe contains many grains or sweeteners, which can cause it to be brown quickly. 

Use yeast in any cycle of your bread machine. For Active Dry Yeast, use three-quarters of a teaspoon of yeast per cup of flour. Active dry yeast is not recommended for one hour or less of bread machine cycles. Use 1/2 teaspoon of yeast for each cup of flour. For one-hour bread machine cycles, yeast quantities must be doubled or tripled; liquid temperatures suggested by machines vary. 

Too much flour and not enough water can cause crumbly bread – people often do this if the dough is too sticky, and they add more flour rather than kneading through it. Other culprits can be overproving or not kneading enough – the things you need to do to get a good structure. 

Boost the fluffiness of your bread by using a dough enhancer like Vital Wheat Gluten. All it takes is a small amount of dough enhancer per loaf to create a much lighter and fluffier result. 

Adding 2 tablespoons instant dry milk powder per loaf of bread will help your bread rise higher, stay soft, and hold the moisture longer. That means it won’t get stale as quickly. Dry milk powder creates a more golden-brown crust and improves nutrition, too. 

Adding 2 tablespoons instant dry milk powder per loaf of bread will help your bread rise higher, stay soft, and hold the moisture longer. That means it won’t get stale as quickly. Dry milk powder creates a more golden-brown crust and improves nutrition, too. 

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