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This article is part of “Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread Using a Bread Maker.”

Everybody knows that I love to bake homemade bread from scratch. Using a bread machine couldn’t be easier, and it makes some fantastic bread! A bread machine combines convenience with flexibility. If you enjoy a fresh loaf of bread, but don’t have the time or space to bake from scratch, a bread machine is for you.

If you have never baked homemade bread before and find the instructions a wee bit intimidating, I encourage you to try it. It may seem intimidating at first, and the various steps take a bit of time to learn, but overall, it is truly easy.

The simplest way to learn how to bake bread is to follow a basic recipe. Try Fast2eat Bread Recipes (much more to be published – keep checking); they are foolproof 😉 really easy and the bread delicious.

Troubleshooting bread-making difficulty

This isn’t about making baking scary! It’s all part of the learning process. Although Fast2eat Bread Recipes are foolproof 😉 difficulties may happen; therefore, let’s talk about common Bread Machine difficulties with possible solutions.

Even though Bread is one of the simplest, oldest foods on earth, it also takes a lot of finesse and practice before you can make it confidently and well.

Loaf size & shape

The sides of the bread collapse, and the bottom of the bread is damp

There are several possible solutions:

  • The bread may have been left in the bread pan too long after baking. Remove the bread from the pan sooner and allow it to cool
  • Try using more flour (a tsp. at a time), or less yeast (1/4 tsp. at a time), or less water or liquid (a tsp. at a time)
  • This could also be the result of forgetting to add salt to the recipe

Collapsed while baking

  • Maybe caused by baking at high altitude – Adjust high altitude baking by reducing:
    • yeast by ¼ teaspoon
    • liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp. at a time)
  • Use a thermometer to measure the liquid temperature accurately
  • Use less liquid – Reduce liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp. at a time)
  • Increase the amount of salt – Use the recommended amount
  • Too much yeast was added – Use the recommended amount
  • During periods of warm weather with high humidity, use less water and cooler water

Top and sides cave-in

  • Too much liquid – Reduce liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp. at a time)
  • Too much yeast – Use the recommended amount

Rose too much

Try using less yeast (1/4 tsp. less at a time).

This could also result from forgetting to add salt to the recipe or forgetting to put the kneading blade into the baking pan.

Uneven, shorter on one end

Dough too dry, preventing even rise in the bread pan – Increase liquid by 1-2 teaspoons.

Did not rise enough

There are several possible solutions.

Try using less flour (a tsp. less at a time), more yeast (1/4 tsp. more at a time), or less water (a tsp. less at a time).

This could also be the result of:

  • forgetting to add salt to the recipe
  • using old flour or the wrong kind of flour for the recipe
  • Using flour with low gluten content (Substitute only part of the bread flour for rye flour, whole wheat flour, or other whole grain flour; use bread flour instead of All-purpose flour.)
  • using old yeast – Check the yeast activity
  • using water that is too hot – except otherwise noted in the recipes and for ExpressBake® cycle setting, recipes use lukewarm (27-32°C/80-90°F) liquids, all other ingredients at room temperature
  • Measuring errors – check the recipe

Short and dense

  • Use high protein bread flour – Certain flours, such as whole wheat and rye, create heavier products than white flour. Wheat bread will be shorter than white bread due to less gluten-forming protein in whole-wheat flour. Add 1/2 tablespoon of Vital Wheat Gluten to each cup of Whole Wheat Flour to make it lighter and to prevent the bread collapses during the baking period due to less gluten-forming protein in whole-wheat flour
  • Not enough liquid – Check consistency of dough after 5-15 minutes (25-35 for whole wheat cycle) into the kneading time. If the dough is too dry, add liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time
  • Sugar omitted or not enough added – Assemble ingredients as listed in the recipe
  • A wrong type of flour used – Do not use all-purpose flour
  • Not enough yeast used or too old – Measure the amount recommended and check the freshness date on the package and Check the yeast activity
  • A wrong type of yeast used – Use fast-rising or bread machine yeast. Do not use compressed yeast or Baking Powder

No rising/Flat

  • Yeast omitted – Assemble ingredients as listed in the recipe
  • Yeast too old – Check the expiration date and Check the yeast activity
  • Liquid too hot – Use lukewarm (27-32°C/80-90°F) liquids
  • Too much salt added – Use amount recommended in the recipe
  • Sugar or another sweetener (honey, molasses,…) omitted – Assemble ingredients as listed in the recipe

Loaf texture

Floured top

This is usually a result of using too much flour or not enough water. Try using less flour (a tsp. less at a time), or try using more water (1/4 tsp. more at a time).

Flour on side

During the kneading cycle, open the machine and use a rubber spatula to push flour off the pan’s sides.

Heavy, dense and thick texture

  • Too much flour – Measure accurately, levelling off the measuring cup or try using less flour (a tsp. at a time)
  • Not enough yeast – Add the recommended amount of yeast or more yeast (1/4 tsp. at a time)
  • Not enough sugar – Add recommended amount or more sugar (1/4 tsp. at a time) 
  • This could also be the result of using old flour or the wrong type of flour for the recipe

Gnarly or knotted top, not smooth

  • Not enough liquid – Increase liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp. at a time)
  • Too much flour – Measure flour accurately, levelling off measuring cup

Raw, not baked through in the center (doughy center)

  • Try using more flour (a tsp more at a time)
  • Too much liquid – Reduce liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp less at a time)
  • Do not lift the lid too often during baking
  • Power outage during operation – If the power goes out during operation for longer than 5 minutes, the bread maker will remain off when the power is restored. Remove the unbaked loaf from the bread pan and start over with fresh ingredients. Or use the Bake cycle
  • Forgot to put knead blade in the bread pan – Always make sure the kneading blade is on the shaft in the bottom of the bread pan before adding ingredients
  • Check the yeast activity
  • The bread machine may be malfunctioning; check the user’s manual
  • Unplug the cord from the outlet and allow the bread maker to cool down for 10 to 20 minutes with the cover open and the pan removed. Plug the cord back in the outlet, add bread pan and start the machine in the BAKE cycle

Large mushroom top

  • Reduce the amount of water (a tsp less at a time)
  • Reduce the amount of yeast (a tsp less at a time)

Open, coarse or holey texture

This is usually the result of

  • Salt omitted – Assemble ingredients as listed in the recipe or Increase the amount of salt
  • Too much yeast – Add the recommended amount of yeast
  • Too much liquid – Reduce liquid by 1-2 teaspoons (a tsp less at a time)

Doesn’t slice well, very sticky

  • Sliced while too hot – Allow bread to cool on rack at least 15 minutes before slicing to release steam
  • Not using a proper knife – Use a good bread knife or electric knife

Crust and colour thickness

Too brown (dark crust) or too thick

This is usually the result of adding too much sugar to the recipe. Try using less sugar (1 Tbsp. at a time).

Bread machine cycles can be picked to control crust colour and crispiness. Sweet bread cycle is intended for bread with a higher fat or sugar content, or recipes that call for eggs or cheese. The baking temperature is lower to prevent a burned or dark crust, which can be caused by these ingredients.

You can also try selecting a lighter crust colour selection. If your machine does not have this feature, remove the loaf a few minutes before baking is normally completed.

Burned

The bread maker is malfunctioning – See Warranty page for service information.

Not brown enough/Unbrowned top

This is usually the result of repeatedly lifting the bread machine’s lid or leaving the lid open while the bread is baking. Be sure the lid is shut while the breadmaker is in operation.

You can also try

  • selecting a darker crust colour selection
  • Increase the amount of sugar or fat by half the amount recommended in case of Not enough sugar or fat
  • Select a smaller size recipe
  • If the machine has an all-glass top, the tent outside of the dome with foil

The crust is too thick

Remove bread from the machine immediately after the bake cycle is completed.

Taste

Rancid taste

Check the whole grain ingredients. Whole grain flours, wheat germ and similar ingredients should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. They spoil rapidly when left at room temperature and can give your bread a rancid taste. Flours are not subject to the same type of spoilage and can be kept at room temperature.

Bread maker problems

Knead blade cannot be removed

Add warm water to the bread pan and allow the kneading blade to soak before removing it. Follow the cleaning instructions. You may need to twist the knead blade slightly after soaking to loosen.

Do NOT immerse the bread pan in water.

Bread sticks to bread pan/difficult to shake out

It can happen over prolonged use.

  • Wipe the inside of the bread pan, from the ribs down with vegetable oil or solid shortening
  • Or add 1 tsp. vegetable oil to the liquid in the bread pan before adding dry ingredients
  • Do NOT use a vegetable spray as sticking can worsen.
  • Or, let the bread sit in the bread pan for 10 minutes before shaking out.
  • A replacement bread pan may be ordered. See Warranty section

Bread maker mechanics

Ingredients not mixed

  • After programming the control panel, did not start the machine- press the “START/STOP” button to turn on.
  • Forgot to put knead blade in bread pan – Always make sure the kneading blade is on the shaft in the bottom of the bread pan before adding ingredients.

Burning odour noted during operation

  • Ingredients spilled inside the machine – Be careful not to spill ingredients when adding to the bread pan as they will burn on the heating unit and cause smoke
  • Bread pan leaks – Replacement bread pan may be ordered. See Warranty section
  • Exceeding capacity of bread pan – Do not use more ingredients than recommended in the recipe and always measure accurately

If you have a power outage during use or the machine unplugged by mistake for longer than 5 minutes. How can I save the bread?

If there is a brief power interruption of less than 5 minutes, the program position is stored in memory, and the machine will resume when the power is restored.

If the power goes out while you are using your bread maker, the display will go blank.

When the power comes back on, you should do the following:

  • If the machine still does not start, hold down the “Start/Stop” button a second time for 3 seconds. Continue to unplug and replug the machine and hold down the “Start/Stop” button until the display returns to the cycle time before the power outage.
  • If the display does not return to the time set before the outage, unplug the bread maker and then plug it back in.
  • If the machine is in the knead cycle, reprogram to the same bread setting and turn the machine back on.
  • If the machine is in a rising cycle – wait until it rises and use the bake cycle OR preheat the conventional oven to 177°C/350°F. Carefully remove the bread pan from the machine and bake on the rack in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  • If the machine is in the bake cycle – use the bake cycle.
  • If the power goes out for more than 20 minutes – start from scratch with a new loaf.

Alert sounds, the display shows “H H H” / E:00 / E:01, and the machine cannot be turned on.

Bread maker too hot to make consecutive loaves. After a baking cycle, the bread maker will not operate until it has cooled down. If you wish to make another bread right away, please unplug the cord from the outlet and allow the bread maker to cool down for 10 to 20 minutes with the cover open and the pan removed. Plug the cord back in the outlet, add bread pan and start the machine.

Alert sounds

  • At the pressing of any button that allows function selection. If the button doesn’t beep, that function choice is not available
  • During the second kneading cycle of the “BASIC,” WHOLE WHEAT,” and “SWEET” programs to signal that the cereals, fruit, nuts or other ingredients can be added
  • When the end of the program is reached
  • During the warming phase at the end of the baking procedure, the alert sounds several times

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* (“Long-term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. However, the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.” Source: http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1892)

Also check:


Read bread-making further information in my book:


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