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How to Make Bread – Simple, Delicious Recipes for Your Bread Machine

Nothing beats the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread, but making it from scratch can be tricky. Now all the laborious mixing, kneading, proving and baking can be done by your bread machine. All you need to do is to weigh out a few simple ingredients and let the machine do the work, creating loaves with maximum flavour and minimum fuss.

The benefits of home-baked bread are obvious. Not only do you get warm and fresh bread from your machine, you know exactly what’s in it – no additives or preservatives, only wholesome ingredients in a loaf created to suit your personal preferences.

This article takes you through the basic techniques and demystifies all that is essential to making good bread.

Choosing the right bread programmes

The recipes in this article have been tested in a variety of bread machines from different manufacturers and should suit all machines, but you should always read through the instruction manual which comes with your model, as programmes do vary from machine to machine and a few may require ingredients to be added in a different order to that given here. It’s important to choose the right programme to produce a perfect loaf of bread as the lengths of kneading, rising and baking times vary to suit the type of flour and other ingredients that you are using.

Simple White Loaf

This straightforward recipe produces a perfect, well-risen loaf. Inside, it is soft and light with an open texture, while the golden crust is finished with a very light dusting of flour. This makes an excellent starting point if you are new to bread machine baking.

Makes a 750g loaf

Ingredients:

325ml water

2 tbsp sunflower oil

500g plus 1 tsp strong white bread flour

1¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp fast-action dried yeast

Quantities for a large (900g) loaf

390ml water

2 tbsp sunflower oil

600g plus 1 tsp strong white

bread flour

1½ tsp salt

4 tsp caster sugar

1½ tsp fast-action dried yeast.

Quantities for a small (450g) loaf

195ml water

1 tbsp sunflower oil

300g plus ½ tsp strong white bread flour

¾ tsp salt

2 tsp caster sugar

¾ tsp fast-action dried yeast

  1. Lift the bread pan out of the bread machine and fit the kneading blade. Pour in the water, then add the oil, followed by the 500g flour.
  2. Put the salt and sugar in separate corners of the pan, then make a shallow dip in the middle of the flour and add the yeast.
  3. Fit the pan into the bread machine, shut the lid and set to the basic white setting with a crust of your choice. Press start.
  4. After baking, lift the pan out of the machine using oven gloves. Carefully shake out the loaf to remove it from the pan, then transfer to a wire rack, standing the loaf on its base.
  5. Lightly dust the top with the remaining 1 tsp flour while the loaf is hot. Leave to cool.

Baker’s tip:

If preferred, you can brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with the flour just before baking starts. Alternatively, leave the crust plain and unfloured.

Traditional Wholemeal Bread

This wholemeal loaf has a fairly heavy and close texture. Made from the complete wheat kernel, wholemeal flour makes a more nutritious and fuller-flavoured bread than white, but the extra bran hinders rising, so a little more yeast is needed for good results.

Makes a 800g loaf

Ingredients:

350ml water

2 tbsp sunflower oil

500g strong wholemeal bread flour

1½ tsp salt

1 tbsp light soft brown

sugar

1½ tsp fast-action dried

yeast

Quantities for a large (950g) loaf

420ml water

2 tbsp sunflower oil

600g strong wholemeal bread flour

1½ tsp salt

4 tsp light soft brown sugar

1¾ tsp fast-action dried yeast

Quantities for a small (475g) loaf

210ml water

1 tbsp sunflower oil

300g strong wholemeal

bread flour

¾ tsp salt

2 tsp light soft brown sugar

¾ tsp fast-action dried yeast

  1. Lift the bread pan out of the bread machine and fit the kneading blade. Pour in the water, then add the oil, followed by the flour.
  2. Put the salt and sugar in separate corners of the pan, then make a shallow dip in the middle of the flour and add the yeast.
  3. Fit the pan into the bread machine, shut the lid and set to the wholewheat setting with a crust of your choice. Press start.
  4. After baking, lift the pan out of the machine using oven gloves. Carefully shake out the loaf to remove it from the pan, then transfer to a wire rack, standing the loaf on its base. Leave to cool.

Baker’s tip:

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is often added to wholemeal bread mixes to improve the volume of the loaf. Fast-action dried yeast usually contains this, but you may add a little extra to improve results. Try adding 1⁄4 tsp vitamin C powder or 1⁄2 finely crushed vitamin C tablet to the flour. Alternatively, use 1–2 tsp commercial dough improver.