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Basic Bread machine settings
What to do when your manual is missing.


The Machine and Its Parts
Bread Machines have three main parts. The machine itself is:-
 Part # 1. Set the machine on the kitchen counter and take a look at it. No matter what brand you have you should notice two things. There is a hinged lid which can be lifted and shut. There may be a window in it, and probably a small vent too. Next to the lid you should see a control panel with a few buttons and maybe a light or two if you have a fancy version.

Part # 2. When you lift it. Inside the bread machine there is a bread pan or bucket.  It may be square or rectangular shaped. There should be a handle on it, which is probably folded down so the lid will close completely. The bread bucket works as both the mixing bowl and the baking pan.

Part #3 In the center of the bread bucket will be a little bread paddle or kneading blade.  It is responsible for kneading and mixing the dough. When the dough bakes, it bakes around the kneading blade. For some bread machine this can be removed. You must remove the blade from the bottom of the loaf after the bread is baked. Newer bread machines, this blade cannot be removed.

You must have all three parts in order to make bread. The machine itself, the bread bucket, and the kneading blade. If any one of these parts is missing you must replace it. The kneading blade is the smallest part and the one most likely to be missing. It is also the least expensive to replace.

The bread bucket is removable. To take the bread bucket out of the machine,  lift up the handle and give it a good, hard yank or turn turn it left or right in some machines. Your machine may require you to pull harder or softer, depending on how it snaps in. 

In older machines where the blade can be removed. There will be a little spinning gear underneath the bread bucket. This is what turns the kneading blade. There will  also be a peg inside the bread pan that the kneading blade fits over. Place the kneading blade on its little peg and then take it off again to familiarize yourself with it. It should go on and off . Set the kneading paddle aside in a safe place so it wonít get lost.


What is Your Bread Bucket Capacity?
Next take the bread bucket out set it next to the sink. Get a measuring cup and fill it with water. Pour the water into the bread bucket. Do it again and again and again, until the bucket is full. Count how many cups of water you are adding to the bucket, until you get a total. This part is important, so measure carefully. If your bread bucket holds 10 cups of water then you can make 1-1/2 pound loaves of bread. If your bread bucket holds 12 cups or more then you can make 2 pound loaves of bread. If your bucket holds less than 10 cups then you can make 1 pound loaves of bread. When you choose a recipe it is important that you match it up to the size of the bread bucket you have.

Here is a chart for handy reference.
Bread Bucket Capacity Size of loaves you can make
Less than 10 cups 1 pound
10 cups 1 & 1-1/2 pounds
12 cups 1, 1-1/2, & 2 pounds
14 cups or more 1, 1-1/2, 2 & 2-1/2 pounds

Control Panel & Settings
On the control panel. You will probably find a Select button, a Stop/Start button, Crust Color and Timer or Arrow buttons.  The Select button and Stop/Start button are the most important ones.

Unplug your machine. Plug it back in. The machine will be on its Basic (or default) setting now. Place the bread pan and the kneading blade in position. Close the lid. Press Start. Watch what happens. It should make mechanical sounds and the kneading blade should begin to swish around at a steady pace. It goes slowly at first and then goes faster after about 10 minutes.  You can lift the lid and watch if you like. Place it back down when you are done. Lifting the lid while the machine is running doesnít hurt it but in some machine it will pause the turning. When you are ready, press the Stop/Start button to stop it. You might need to press it twice or press and hold it for about 5 seconds.

The Select button.- Close to the select button are several choices. The most common ones are White or Basic; Whole Wheat; French; Sweet; Rapid, & Dough. To set the machine to a particular cycle you have to keep pressing the Select button until it gets to the cycle you want. Sometimes each cycle is identified by a number. For instance,
White or Basic is usually 1.
Whole Wheat is 2. French is 3; and so on.

Each cycle takes a different amount of time to mix and cook the bread. On my machine the
White Bread or Basic Cycle takes 3 hours.
Whole Wheat bread takes 3 hours and 40 minutes.
French bread takes 3 hours and 50 minutes.
Sweet bread takes 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Rapid Mix takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Not all machines take the same amount of time for each setting. Some machines take 3 hours and 40 minutes for its Basic Cycle. Its Rapid Cycle is 3 hours.

Practice pushing the Select button and then pushing Start and then Stop until you are confident in your ability to select a specific setting. Remember, you cannot break the machine by pressing the buttons. If you are worried you have broken it then unplug it and plug it back in. It will automatically reset itself to the Basic setting.

Crust Settings
The crust setting is not available on all machines.  If you do see a button labeled Crust then it will have 3 settings available: Light, Medium & Dark. The default setting is medium. When you unplug the machine and then plug it back in, it will automatically set itself to the medium setting. If you prefer a light or dark crust instead then you press the Crust button to change the setting. Usually the Crust button will not work until after you select the dough cycle and before you press Start.

 The order works like this.
1. Select your bread cycle (Basic, or Whole Wheat, or whatever)
2. Select your Crust Setting. You may have to press it several times, to get the setting you prefer.
3. Select the size of your bread based on the recipe you used. 1.5 or 2 lb
4. Press the Stop/Start button.

Follow this order with your empty bread machine using different cycles and different crust settings. The crust button probably wonít work with the Dough Cycle. This is because the Dough Cycle doesnít actually bake any bread, so the color of the crust doesnít come into play. Usually the Rapid Cycle doesnít allow you to choose a crust color either, but this may not be true of all machines.

Using the Timer or Delay Cycle
This part is challenging at first, but it has great benefits. Start with an empty bread machine. Use the Select button to choose a setting like Basic or Whole Wheat. If you look at the control panel it will have the number of hours and minutes until the bread will be done.
For  example - the Basic Cycle on my machine 3 hours. The control panel will look similar to this: [ 3:00 ]. The bread will take 3 hours to mix, rise and bake. If you start the machine at noon, then the loaf will be done at 3 p.m., 3 hours later.
There should be 2 buttons on your machine with arrows on them. One arrow will point up, to increase the time on the display screen. One arrow will point down to decrease the time on the display screen. These are the buttons you will use to adjust the time on the delay cycle.

Letís say its 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, how can you get the bread machine to delay its cooking action so that the bread will be fresh cooked at 2 p.m.
First, choose your bread cycle.  The display screen will look similar to this: [ 3:00 ]. In 3 hours it will be 9 oíclock. You donít want to eat your bread at 9 a.m. though, you want to eat it several hours later at 2 p.m. You need to increase the time on the display screen so that the machine will finish baking the bread at 2 p.m., not 9 a.m.
To do this you will need to do a little calculation. How many hours are between the time you are starting (6 a.m.) and the time you want the bread to be finished baking (2 p.m.)? In this example, there are 8 hours difference. The display area looks like this [ 3:00 ], you want it to look like this [ 8:00 ]. You want the bread to be finished baking, hot and ready to eat in 8 hours, or at 2 oíclock.
Next, use the arrow buttons to increase the 3 on your display screen to an 8. Each time you press the Up-Arrow button, it will increase the time by 10 minutes. Pressing the Down-Arrow button will decrease the time by 10 minutes.  Press the Up-Arrow once. The display screen will look like this [ 3:10 ]. The bread cycle is now delayed by 10 minutes. After a ten minute delay, the machine will start  kneading, rising and baking. Press the down-arrow button next. The screen will change and go back to this [ 3:00 ].  The Up-Arrow increases the time, the Down-Arrow decreases the time. Press the Up-Arrow now, and hold it. The time should increase really fast. Keep holding it down until the display screen says [ 8:00 ]. If you go over, then use the Down-Arrow to adjust it.
Lastly, make sure your bread pan and ingredients are in the machine, close the lid and press Start. In 8 hours you will have a perfect loaf.

Summary
1. Put your ingredients in the bread pan and snap the bread pan into place.
2. Select the cycle you prefer (Basic or Whole Wheat or French or whatever).
3. Select the size of your loaf
4. Calculate out how much time before you want the loaf to be finished baking
5. Use the arrow buttons to adjust the time on the display screen to match the number of hours your figured out above.
5. Close everything up and press Start.

Example #2: Its 1 oíclock in the afternoon, and you want a nice loaf of whole wheat bread  at 5:30. Your whole wheat cycle lasts 3 hours and 40 minutes. Put the ingredients into the bread bucket and snap the bucket into the machine. Select the Whole Wheat Cycle. The display screen will look similar to this [ 3:40 ].
The bread will be done at about a quarter to 5. (1 p.m. plus 3 hours and 40 minutes is 4:40, or about a quarter to 5). You want it to be fresh, hot, and finished cooking at 5:30, which is 4-1/2 hours away. Use the arrow buttons to increase the time from [ 3:40 ] to 4 hours and 30 minutes. The display screen will look like this [ 4:30 ]. Now press the Start/Stop button, . In 4 hours and 30 minutes, it will be 5:30, and the bread will be finished baking.

A quick note about using the Timer or Delay Cycle, make sure you use a recipe that you have already tested and that you trust.  Also, make sure that you place the ingredients into the bread bucket in the correct order (see below). This means the liquid ingredients first, then the dry ones, and finally the yeast. If the yeast comes in contact with any liquids during the delay cycle, it will over work and you will have a nasty mess.


The Ingredients
There are a few basic ingredients you need to make bread in a bread machine. They are yeast, flour, salt, sugar, liquids and fats.
Yeast used in a bread machine should always be labeled ďActive DryĒ on the label. Sometimes you can buy yeast in a jar that says it is specifically for bread machines. If that is the kind that is most available to you, then it is fine to use. Packets of yeast, available in the baking aisle of the grocery store, usually hold 2-1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast. You may use one packet of yeast to replace 2 teaspoons of yeast in most bread machine recipes. The extra 1/4 teaspoon of yeast wonít make that much difference.
A quick note, I donít use rapid rise yeast. I donít think itís worth the extra cost, and the time savings is negligible once you get the hand of making bread.

Bread Flour makes better bread.  Bread flour is made from hard wheat so it has more gluten, or wheat protein, in it than regular all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat. This makes it suitable for biscuits, cakes and quick breads, which prefer soft wheat flour.  It is called all-purpose flour because it is designed to be used for all baking purposes.

Bread flour or high protein flour is made for yeast bread. If you donít have bread flour then you may use all purpose flour for most bread recipes. Your results will not be exactly the same as if you had used bread flour, but you will still have good results, and you will still get good bread. Sometimes you will need to add a tiny bit more flour to your dough if you use all-purpose flour.

Different brands of bread flour produce different textured breads. . Bread flour costs a little bit more than all-purpose flour. I consider it worth the extra cost.

Salt is a necessary ingredient in machine made bread. It regulates the rising process so that the bread dough doesnít spill over the bread bucket into the machine. It takes at least 1/4-teaspoon of salt per pound of bread to regulate it properly.  Salt also adds flavor to the bread. Bread made completely without salt doesnít taste as good as bread made with some salt.

Sugar, honey and other sweeteners soften the texture of the dough and the finished loaf. They also contribute to the browning of the bread and the crispness of the crust. The main role they play though is as easy-to-use-food for the yeast. Yeast can use the starch in flour for its food but it is much happier if it gets an easy to use food like sugar or honey. Most bread machine recipes call for at least a small amount of sugar. A very few may not, like machine made French bread, or occasionally pizza crust.

Bread machine breads do best if they donít have too much sugar added to them. When making sweet dough from scratch it isnít unusual to add a full cup of sugar to the dough. When making sweet dough in the machine though it is better to use 1/4 to 1/2-cup of sugar or honey at the very most. This is because the dough rises faster and higher in a bread machine than it does when prepared by hand. Too much sugar is too much food for the yeast and it gets over-excited. This can result in a machine made mess.

Liquids used in a bread machine should be room temperature or a little bit warmer. You should never use hot liquids in a bread machine. Liquids that are too hot will kill the yeast. Room temperature liquids make the yeast happy. If you are using tap water then warm tap water is fine. If you are using yogurt or buttermilk you may want to take it out of the fridge to warm up a bit before you use it in the bread machine. This isnít strictly necessary, especially for breads baked on the Basic Cycle or longer. If you are using the Rapid Cycle though it is imperative that the liquids be warm or at least at room temperature.

Milk, buttermilk, and yogurt make the finished loaf of bread softer and give it a finer crumb. With milk or buttermilk, I usually use warm tap water and add powdered milk or dry buttermilk with my dry ingredients.

If you are making bread with water you can add a spoonful of vinegar along with the liquid ingredients. You will not taste the vinegar in the finished bread but the acid in it will keep the bread fresh for a little while longer after it is baked. This is an old-fashioned trick that still works well today.

Fats make the finished loaf richer, softer, and also keep the dough from sticking to the non-stick surface of the bread pan . Usually between 1 and 4-tablespoons of fat are used in a 2 lb loaf of bread machine dough. You can use most fats interchangeably in a bread machine. Margarine, oil, shortening, lard, chicken fat, bacon grease or butter will all give you pretty much the same results. Some of the fats will add a different flavor, and the texture of the bread will change very slightly, depending on which type of fat you use. The changes however, are minor so you can pretty much use whichever type of fat you prefer.

Solid fats do not have to be melted before adding them to the bread machine. It helps if they are at room temperature.  If you are using the Rapid Cycle the temperature of the fat becomes more important than for the Basic Cycle or longer cycles.

The Order In Which Ingredients Should Be Added to the Bread Machine
There is a big mystique about the order in which ingredients should be added to a bread machine. The truth is, if you are going to mix and bake the dough right away then it really doesnít matter which order you add the ingredients. The machine will mix them all up regardless of the order they were added to the bread bucket.

If you want to program the machine with the Delay Cycle to start while you are away, then the order becomes very important. The ingredients must be added in a way that will keep them inert until the machine begins its mixing.
 
Most machines require you to put the liquid ingredients in first. This would include water, eggs, milk, honey, buttermilk, fats and extracts. Put the liquids into the machine first. Next add the flour. As you are adding the flour, urge it out overtop of the water so that that it sort of seals the water in. Then you can add the other dry ingredients like salt, sugar, dry milk powder and seasonings. The last thing you should add is the yeast. Most recipes suggest that you make a shallow indentation or well in the center of the flour and sprinkle the yeast into it. This is important because it prevents the yeast from coming into contact with the liquid until the machine begins mixing. If the yeast and liquid get together before the machine is scheduled to begin, then the yeast will become active.

For quick reference, here is the order in which the ingredients should be added:
1. Liquid ingredients (water, eggs, milk, fat, honey)
2. Flour, to ďsealĒ in the liquid
3. Other dry ingredients (dry milk, salt, sugar, seasonings)
4. Add the yeast last.
To sum it up, if you are going to mix and bake your bread right away, then add the ingredients in any order you please. If you are going to use the delay cycle to program the bread machine to work while you are away, then add them in the order given above.
 

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