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.
Taking care of your bread maker
The bread maker has certainly revolutionized life in the kitchen. It’s no longer necessary to do the hard work to get that lovely smell of fresh bread all around your house. However, it has made things so easy for us that we sometimes forget to take proper care of it.
Routine maintenance is actually fairly simple and should be done frequently. Maybe that’s why we’re sometimes tempted to neglect it. In fact, routine cleaning of the machine should occur after each new loaf is baked.
Are you making sure your bread machine is functioning at its best?
Eventually, you’ll get in the habit of performing this maintenance and have your bread machine for years and years.
Here are some basic steps to routinely do to keep your bread machine baking at its best.
Always read your instruction manual.
The first step is always to read the manual.
Your bread machine should have come with a manual with basic recipes, tips, safety instructions and recommendations for regular maintenance. If you didn’t receive a manual or can’t find it, you can probably download a manual from the manufacturer’s website on the Internet.
Every bread machine model is slightly different, so make sure you follow any particular guidelines shown in the instructions.
Take the time to read it and try to follow the instructions. It can be a little boring to read the fine print but preventing any issues is much easier than fixing them in the future.
Keep your bread maker clean at all times. Careful cleaning after each use will keep your bread machine running smoothly.
Also, make sure the machine has completely cooled and unplugged before doing any cleaning or maintenance.
Do NOT put the bread maker in water or a dishwasher. Most bread pans are NOT dishwasher safe. This is due to the bearing on the underside of the pan that requires some lubrication. However, several brands market their pans and removable parts as dishwasher safe. Surely this will damage the finish of the pan and the other parts. I would recommend taking the time to wash the pans and pieces with mild dish soap, rinse and dry very well. If there is a faint unnoticed scratch on the non-stick coating surface, the heat, moisture, and detergent in a dishwasher will secure its demise.
WARNING: Do NOT use benzene, scrubbing brushes or chemical cleaners as these will damage the machine. Use only a mild, non-abrasive cleanser to clean the bread maker. Never use anything abrasive to clean the inside of your machine. This can scratch it, which makes it less attractive it will make clean up next time harder because there will be many more little pits and scratches for the stuff to get in to and stick to.
Do NOT use metal utensils with the bread maker. This will damage the non-stick pan and other parts.
Drying all pieces of the bread machine is imperative to avoid rust.
Soaking parts of the bread making machine for more than 30 minutes is not recommended. Excessive soaking will cause rust and corrosion of bread maker parts.
Cleaning inside of the bread machine oven
The first step is to unplug the bread machine and let it cool. When you have finished baking for the day and the bread maker has cooled.
Make sure the machine is unplugged.
When the machine is cool, and unplugged remove the baking pan from the bread maker. Then, take the time to look at the bottom of your bread machine when the pan is removed and take a quick moment to brush or dab up the crumbs and leftover flour from the bottom of the machine. Because there are heating elements in your bread machine, these “bread-bits” continue to bake and re-bake with every new loaf. Over time, they will burn and affect your machine’s performance and give a burnt smell to your freshly baked loaf.
Avoid these ending up as burnt scraps by ensuring you remove them all before using your machine again. The easiest way to do this is by using your vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to (carefully) remove most of it. You can then carefully wipe out anything that’s left and stuck on breadcrumbs from the bottom of the machine by wiping them away with a paper towel or a slightly damp, non-abrasive cleaning cloth. Be gentle around the element. Carefully remove all of the debris.
To avoid damage to the heating element, do NOT pour water into the oven cavity. The most important thing to avoid is getting the gears of your bread machine wet. Just make sure that you never pour water or any liquids directly into the bottom of the machine when cleaning it. The bread pan can contain liquids like water and milk, but the machine’s bottom is NOT designed for liquids of any kind. These gears operate the kneading blade, and getting them wet can seriously damage the operation of your bread machine.
Do NOT bend the heating element, which is located on the inside of the bread maker.
Cleaning the top or sides of the machine
If a loaf has risen too high and baked to the top or sides of the machine, remove the pan and leave your machine open and let the stuck-on dough dry. It will then come off quite easily. For any that don’t come off, dampen a paper towel, stick in over the doughy area and allow the dough to soften and then wipe it away. Carefully wipe off the glass top with glass cleaner and a non-abrasive moist cloth or use a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to remove baked-on lumps of bread dough. Rinse or wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Be careful not to scratch the interior, or it may become a catching-point for ingredients in the future. You should also avoid using chemicals like bleach or other harsh chemicals. Soap and water is your best bet.
Cleaning the bread machine body
A damp cloth can be used to clean the outside of the machine.
Don’t worry if the colour of the bread pan changes over time. The colour change results from steam and other moisture and does not affect the machine’s performance.
Cleaning the baking pan
The baking pan (also called bread pan basket or bucket) is where the dough gets mixed and baked.
The baking pan and the kneading blade are the parts that come in contact with the bread dough.
When you clean the bread pan by hand, avoid using anything abrasive. Most bread maker pans and parts have a non-stick surface. The non-stick surface does not cut out the need for clean-up but makes it easier. Teflon coating and abrasives can erode the finish. The non-stick coating is very susceptible to breaking down if not cared for properly.
You must use some soft utensils, such as wood or silicone if you need help removing your delicious creation from the non-stick pan. Once there is a scratch, the pan coating will start to deteriorate. You certainly don’t want to feed your family bits of chemical as it flakes off the pan into your delicious bread. Replace it immediately.
Use a damp cloth, sponge or plastic scrubber to wipe the inside of the baking pan. Fill the basket with warm soapy water using a mild dish detergent but do NOT let it sit and soak for more than 30 minutes.
- Absolutely avoid non-stick cooking spray on your non-stick pan. The pan will develop a gummy mess that is difficult to remove without damaging the pan. It can also ruin the non-stick aspect of the pan altogether.
- Do NOT immerse the bread pan in water. Naturally, you should also avoid using a dishwasher, no matter how tempting! Instead, fill the main compartment with warm soapy water and let sit (no more than 30 minutes) before cleaning.
- Do not use any abrasive cleaning materials, as the non-stick coating will be damaged otherwise.
- Never use a metal spatula to any remove excess dough. Opt for plastic or silicone to prevent damage. You can finish the job by giving the pan a final run through with a warm wet cloth.
Caring for the kneading blade
The bread machine Kneading Blade (also called Kneading Paddle) is what kneads the dough. Take good care of it.
The bread kneading blade is one of the most important elements in any bread machine.
Cleaning the kneading blade is important. Is your bread no longer rising like it used to? The problem could be your kneading blade. Make sure you clean it properly after every loaf you make.
Most machines offer removable kneading blades. The outer surface, with its non-stick finish, will clean up easily.
A common lament with bread kneading blades tends to either come off in a baked loaf or stick to the kneading blade-spindle at the bottom of the pan. Personally, I prefer it when the kneading blade comes off in the loaf. It’s easy to remove, and I usually clean it by hand. I’ve resisted the urge to add a little vegetable oil to the spindle to make it easier to remove the kneading blade. Over time the oil will burn and thicken, which could cause the kneading blade to become stuck-fast. Just remember to clean the kneading blades and the spindles after each loaf. If the kneading blades become stuck, add hot water to the pan for 30 minutes and carefully try to remove the kneading blade.
Remove any dough from under the kneading blade. It is important to check inside the kneading blade to make sure it is clean. Soaking it in soapy water for a few minutes will make the job much easier. Get rid of the small bits of bread stuck between parts by using a cleaning brush instead of a sponge. If this doesn’t work, try using a toothpick. It’s much more effective, and it will ensure that your bread machine continues mixing the dough properly.
Dry the kneading blade.
Assemble the parts of the bread machine after cleaning
Assemble the parts of the bread machine, so it is ready for the next use.
Once you have washed the removable parts and cleaned inside, please leave the machine open to dry completely. Allow the moisture from baking and cleaning to thoroughly dissipate.
Ensure your pan and kneading blades are completely dry before returning them to the bread maker and closing the cover. This will help prevent rust from developing, which may cause problems with the mechanics. Rust is difficult to manage in this warm, damp food environment once it begins. This simple habit of letting everything dry completely will help extend the life of your machine.
Storing your bread machine
Make sure the machine is clean and dry before storing it.
Store the bread maker with the lid closed.
Do not place heavy objects on the lid.
Remove the kneading blade and place it inside the bread pan.
Store the bread making machine in a cool, dry place.
Storing the bread-making machine safely in a cabinet, cupboard or pantry will cut down on countertop clutter and ensure increased protection.
Hopefully, these cleaning tips for your bread machine have been useful. The trick is to clean little and often; we recommend doing this after every single use. Remember that prevention is better than cure, so make sure you give your bread machine the Tender Loving Care it needs, and your household will be enjoying delicious bread for years to come!
* (“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)
- Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread Using a Bread Maker
- Fast2eat Bread Recipes
Read bread-making further information in my book:
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