A bread maker has different cycles and settings to help you bake the desired bread. It’s an appliance that makes baking bread easy, but sometimes choosing the proper cycle and setting can be confusing. Knowing the correct cycles and settings for the type of bread you want is essential when using your baking machine.
Fast2eat Bread Recipes show you which setting to use, but if you’re not using one of the Fast2eat recipes or your recipe doesn’t tell you which cycle to use, this post can help. It explains the most common bread machine cycles and settings for your convenience.
French (or “European” or “Crisp”) cycle setting
Use your bread maker’s “French setting” for crispy and light bread. This setting works well for different types of bread made the European way, not just French bread. The timing on this setting is longer than the “Basic” setting, which allows the yeast to rise and create a better texture. The longer time produces a chewy inner crumb and a heartier crust like French and Italian bread. Check if your bread maker has that option, and choose a dark crust.
If you don’t have a “French” setting, you can use the “Basic” setting and choose a dark crust.
However, for better results, use it just if you do not have this “French setting.”
Crisp (“French”) loaf
French country bread recipes are usually made without fat or sugar and do not have eggs or milk. This bread has a crispier crust and a lighter texture than white bread.
You can use the Quick/Rapid setting for some recipes. However, you need to use Instant yeast and add more of it based on this table for the Rapid option.
If you don’t add more yeast, the bread may come out shorter and denser.
Crisp (“French”) bread recipes
Adapting for the “dough setting.”
The French cycle typically follows these steps:
The bread maker preheats for a few minutes to ensure the ingredients reach the perfect temperature, allowing the yeast to perform optimally. It also allows heavy grains and flours to absorb liquid before softening and expanding for better gluten development. It usually lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. During this phase, no movement occurs in the bread pan, so the machine will be quiet.
The “knead 1” cycle distributes and moistens the yeast during the mixing. It also moisturizes the gluten in the flour by the liquids, and all the ingredients become evenly distributed. During this phase, the paddle will rotate slowly, blending the dough properly and turning for a few minutes. If the blade were turning more vigorously at this point, flour would fly up against the lid and over the sides onto the heating element. Lumps and unincorporated bits of flour may be in the corners of the bread pan. This is normal. They will be incorporated during the “knead 2“cycle. The viewing window may fog up. This is normal and will dissipate later in the cycle.
Scrape down the sides
I often look at the dough during the “Knead 1” cycle and scrape down the sides if there is a lot of flour in the corners of the pan.
The ‘knead 2’ cycle thoroughly mixes the ingredients, distributes the yeast, and strengthens the moistened gluten strands to a springy elasticity. A dough ball will form. It is a continuation of the mixing process. During the “Knead 2” cycle, the blade rotates quickly and alternates clockwise and counterclockwise directions. It has an action that simulates hand kneading. The action of the mechanical kneading produces more friction than kneading by hand, very slightly warming the dough. As the dough is worked, the flour particles absorb the liquid, and the dough becomes more compact. If you look inside the machine, the dough ball will clear the pan’s sides and look small compared to the pan’s volume. The top surface will be smooth.
Checking the ball dough
Humidity, the way the flour is measured and the moisture content of the flour affects dough consistency. For this reason, you may wish to check the dough approximately 5 minutes into the “Knead 2” cycle.
I cannot stress this enough to avoid surprises!!! Follow the method described in check the dough ball.
On many machines, a signal, such as a beep, is late in the kneading process. So you can add ingredients such as raisins, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, chopped candied fruit, and seeds just in time to have them mixed lightly into the dough. This way, the extras are not overmixed or pulverized during the vigorous blade action of the kneading cycle of the “setting.”
Some machines with the “Automatic Fruit and Nut Dispenser” don’t have a beep and will automatically release their contents 8-10 minutes before the “knead 2 “cycle ends, regardless of whether it has been loaded.
Some machines have a separate “setting,” usually called “Fruit and Nut,” “Raisin Mode,” or “Mix Bread setting,” especially used for recipes that require the addition of those ingredients.
Rising 1 and 2
Rising, also known as proofing, is a period of rest that allows the gluten to become smooth and elastic through fermentation. It is essential to the flavour of the bread. During this cycle, no movement occurs in the bread pan, and a remarkable transformation occurs; a firm, heavy dough ball changes into a puffy mass that increases in size. The temperature inside the machine is about 27-34°C/80-93°F during the rising cycles. This rising cycle is where time is cut for the “Rapid/Quick yeat bread” and “One-hour” settings.
Usually, on the “Rise 1,” the dough ball will expand slightly. The dough will look moister during this rising period than it did during the kneading. Often, it is sticky, but it absorbs this extra moisture during the “Rise 2.”
In the “Rise 2,” it can increase as much as two or three times in bulk.
The “Rise 1” and “Rise 2” are separated by a “punch down.” The bread maker kneads the dough again, punching it down to remove air bubbles. It helps to develop the gluten in the dough, resulting in a more evenly risen loaf.
Shape (second punch down)
The second deflation (shape) occurs at 80% through the total rising time, separating “Rise 2” and “Rise 3”. The “Shape” lasts a few seconds longer than the first “punch down.” This process involves pushing down on the dough to release air bubbles and then shaping it into a desired form to create a more consistent bread texture and crumb structure.
The dough will reach its total rising capacity in “Rise 3”. After the “Shape,” no more kneading is required, as it would reactivate the gluten strands and give the dough an undesirable tight tension. A relaxed dough can rise smoothly and efficiently. No movement occurs in the bread pan, and the temperature during the “Rise 3” is about 38°C/100°F. The “Rise 3” is the final rise before the bread is baked. As the dough rises, it takes the shape of the bread pan. At the end of the “Rise 3,” the risen dough usually fills the entire bread pan to just under the rim.
Don’t worry if the dough is still somewhat low in the pan as this rise nears its end. The dough will rise considerably during baking.
However, if the dough rises higher than the bread pan, open the lid and use your fingers to deflate it gently. Or pierce the top with a skewer or toothpick and let it deflate gently. It will lower slightly, preventing it from baking over the top of the pan, collapsing, or spilling onto the heating element. Take notes and, next time, reduce the amount of the ingredients in the recipe.
The “Bake” cycle regulates the baking time and temperature according to the individual recipe, and no movement occurs in the bread pan. Baking times vary according to the loaf size and choice of setting. The proper temperature provides the heat necessary for the best oven spring. The “Basic” setting bakes in the middle range. The “Sweet setting” is the lowest, and the “French” is the highest.
When the cycle finishes, the bread pan, handle, paddle, and machine can be very hot.
Be careful and use potholders.
Choose the right setting to get the bread texture, colour, and flavour you want. Some commonly found setting options in a bread machine include:
- Basic (or Standard or White)
- Sweet (or Fruit & Nut)
- Whole wheat (or Whole Grain or Basic Wheat)
- French (or European or Crisp)
- Quick bake (or Quick or Quick yeast or Rapid or Turbo)
- ExpressBake™ (or One hour or Fast Bake)
- Cake (or Quick bread or Batter bread)
- Dough (or Bread Dough or Rise or Manual setting)
- Pizza dough
- Pasta dough
Note: Refer to your owner’s manual for your specific machine cycles.
Bread machine settings and cycles are easy to use once you are acquainted with your bread machine.
The most common bread machine cycles and settings explained above should help you get started, even if you don’t have your manual on hand.
This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread”
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.
Have you made a Fast2eat Recipe? I love seeing your take on my recipe!