Many of our consumers call, write, or e-mail us with questions they have about using their bread machine. Here are some of their frequently asked questions. We hope the convenience of having the answers in our cookbook will be helpful to you.
Q. Why does the dough blade turn slowly and intermittently the first few minutes?
A. Most bread machines will slowly and intermittently mix ingredients the first 5 minutes of kneading. Then the blade will turn quickly and begin to knead dough into a smooth ball. If after the first 5 minutes the dough blade doesn't turn quickly, the dough is too dry. Add liquid, about a tablespoon at a time, until the blade turns quickly.
Q. Why doesn't my bread machine bake the bread?
A. The Dough program was accidentally selected. Be sure to select the correct program for making bread.
Q. Why is my loaf of baked bread soggy after I remove it from my bread machine?
A. The hot loaf of bread was not removed from the pan after being baked. The bread will steam, which will cause the bread to be soft and soggy rather than crisp and dry on the outside. To prevent this from happening, remove the loaf from the machine as soon as it is done baking. Also, warm weather, high humidity or overheated liquids all speed up yeast action, which may cause the dough to rise too fast and then collapse when the baking cycle begins. You can try using refrigerated liquids if your room temperature is over 80 degrees. Also, do not use delay cycles. You can try reducing the yeast by 1/4 teaspoon during hot, humid weather.
Q. Why does my bread machine seem to be mixing and baking bread improperly?
A. It could be that the kneading blade is not rotating smoothly. Be sure the kneading blade shaft is free of all crumbs and any baked-on dough. Also, be sure the bread machine is getting a steady supply of electricity. It is best not to have another heat-producing appliance operating from the same outlet.
Q. What is the difference between the first and second rising stages?
A. The first rising allows the dough to double in size. The dough is then "punched down" so that the gas that has formed can escape. The second rising also lets the dough rise until double in size. These two risings create a more tender, evenly textured bread.
Q. Where has the kneading blade gone?
A. It may have been baked into the bottom of the loaf of bread. Be sure to remove the blade form the loaf. After the loaf is cool, carefully remove the kneading blade using the bowl end of a plastic spoon or other plastic or wooden utensil. We recommend plastic or wood so you don't scratch the nonstick finish on the kneading blade. If you need to remove the kneading blade from a hot bread loaf, be sure to use oven mitts or wrap the loaf in a kitchen towel so you won't burn yourself.
Q. What do I do if the kneading blade is difficult to remove from the pan after baking bread?
A. Fill the pan with hot water and wait a few minutes. Pour out the water, and the blade should be easy to remove. Be sure to wash all the baked-on bread off the kneading blade and the mounting shaft inside the pan to make the kneading blade easier to remove.
Q. Why don't the baked loaves always fill up the pan?
A. Not all bread recipes will fill the bread pan, but they still will have good texture and eating quality. Some bread is naturally denser with lower volume due to whole-grain flour and other added ingredients such as nuts, fruits, and cooked grains. If your loaves are low in volume but also too dense to be good eating quality, check Let's Make a Great Bread Machine Loaf on pages 14 and 15 to determine what might be causing the problem.
Q. What can I do when the bread sticks to the pan and won't come out?
A. Rap the pan on a cutting board to loosen the loaf, and it should slide out. Don't use a knife or metal spatula to loosen the loaf because it could scratch the nonstick finish inside the pan. We also recommend washing the pan by hand rather than in the dishwasher so the finish won't be damaged.
Q. When making a dough recipe, what do you mean when you say to cover?
A. You cover the dough to keep it from getting cold or from being in a draft while it is rising. Covering the dough also prevents a thin crust from forming on the surface of the shaped bread. When raising the dough before shaping, shape the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough into a greased bowl that is large enough for the dough to double in size. Grease the top of the dough with oil, shortening, margarine or butter. Cover it with a lint-free kitchen towel. Or you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap. To cover the shaped dough, grease a piece of waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap, and place it, greased side down, on the dough. Cover with a lint-free kitchen towel.
Q. What do you mean by a warm, draft-free place to let dough rise?
A. Dough needs to be away from drafts and have a warm, not hot, environment in which to rise properly. Covering the dough will keep drafts direly off the dough and help to keep it warm. The oven or microwave is a good drat-free choice. Some people use a cupboard, closet shelf or even the top of clothes dryer. Look around your kitchen to find a good spot that works for you.
Q. When baking bread in my oven, how do I know when it is done?
A. Just because the bread is baked to a beautiful golden brown doesn't mean it is baked completely through. Tap the top of the bread, and then, using pot holders or kitchen towel, gently turn the bread over and tap the bottom it should sound hollow. If it doesn't sound hollow or you want a darker crust, return the bread to the oven for a few more minutes. If you are baking a loaf of bread, you can return the loaf to the oven by placing it directly on the oven rack.
Q. Can I use all-purpose flour for my bread machine recipes?
A. While all of these recipes have been tested with bread flour, you may use all-purpose flour in your bread machine recipes. However, the volume will be lower and the texture will be slightly different than bread made with bread flour. Bread flour gives your loaf a better structure due to the higher gluten, so bread made with all-purpose flour isn't as tolerant to additional ingredients such as fruits, grains, or vegetables.
Q. Can I use self-rising flour in my bread machine?
A. No, because the chemical leavening in self-rising flour will interfere with the yeast, and the result will not be satisfactory.
Q. How does warm, humid weather affect bread baked in a bread machine?
A. Flour absorbs and loses moisture over time. That is why it is important to store flour in an airtight container. Humidity can affect the amount of flour needed in your recipe. A humid climate may require a slightly higher amount of flour because the flour itself has absorbed moisture. In humid weather, try adding an extra tablespoon of flour for each cup of flour called for in the recipe. In areas of low humidity, try removing a tablespoon of flour from each cup of flour.
Q. How do I know if my jar of yeast is still good?
A. A method called "proofing the yeast" will determine if your yeast is still active. Fill a 1-cup glass-measuring cup with 1/2 cup warm water (between 110-115 degrees). Add 1 teaspoon sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast, and stir. Let it stand for 10 minutes at room temperature to allow it to ferment. After 10 minutes, a layer of foam should develop. If there is no or very little foam the yeast is no longer active. You will need to discard the remaining yeast and buy fresh yeast for your baking.
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