With so many of us making resolutions to be healthier, it’s no wonder January is National Bread Machine Month! Whether you’re looking for inexpensive gluten-free options or just trying to cut out preservatives, investing in a bread machine is a great way to take the reins on your new health initiative. I’ve only been using my bread machine for about a year now (I’ve been pretty happy with the West Bend 41300!) so I’m by no means an expert, but there are a few things I wish I’d known when I first started making bread.
1. Start Basic
If, like me, you are primarily interested in a bread machine for health reasons, you might open up the bread machine manual and immediately gravitate toward the gluten-free and whole wheat bread recipes. This might sound counter intuitive but I highly suggest you instead start with either a store-bought mix or a basic white bread recipe. While not as healthful as their whole wheat counterparts, white bread recipes are easier to perfect for the first time bread machine user. Make a few loaves so that you can get a sense of what your dough consistency should be (see hint #3) before you try the more difficult recipes. And enjoying a slice of warm white bread is a nice way to celebrate National Bread Machine Month!
2. Follow Directions
There are two types of people in this world: those who enjoy reading manuals, and those who don’t. I actually fall in the “Why Would They Give Us A Manual If It Wasn’t Important To Read It” camp, yet I still didn’t follow my bread machine directions well enough! When your manual tells you to start with the liquids and then add the dry ingredients, making sure to leave a small hollow for the yeast, follow the directions exactly. There are precise reasons for the very specific instructions (you don’t want the yeast to come in contact with the liquids too early) and as a beginner, you’d do well to follow them. Eventually, you’ll get good enough to substitute and adjust; until then, follow directions!
3. Take a Peek
About 5-10 minutes into your first cycle, go ahead and open the lid to take a peek at the dough. You want a nice ball of dough that sticks and pulls away from the sides. If you open the lid and the ingredients still look exactly like how you put them in, make sure you didn’t forget the blades. (I’m embarrassed to admit that I have done this.) If the ball is dry or the machine extremely loud, add one tablespoon of water until the proper dough ball is achieved. If dough is too soupy, add additional flour.
Follow these quick beginners’ hints and before you know it, you’ll be a bread machine pro! What kinds of breads are you planning to make to celebrate National Bread Machine Month?