King Arthur Flour's
Guide To Bread
Chapter 1: IntroductionWelcome to the wonderful world of bread machine
baking! While you may be using a different method than your grandmother
did, you're still doing the same thing that humans have done for
centuries: combining flour, water and yeast to make bread.
Your bread machine can be your best friend in the
kitchen. Just remember our first basic rule: Your bread machine is a robot
and like a computer, the machine can only do what it's programmed to do.
You have to do the thinking for it.
How do bread machines work? They're not complicated.
Once you've put ingredients into the machine's pan and pressed START, the
machine mixes the ingredients (pre-knead); kneads the dough (first knead);
gives it a short rest (rest); kneads it again (second knead); lets it rise
(first rise); knocks it down; lets it rise again (second rise); then bakes
it (bake). Your machine has a motor that turns a paddle to knead the dough
and a heating element to provide the warmth for rising and
Each machine is programmed a little bit
differently. Some knead the dough longer; some let it rise at a higher
temperature, or for a longer period of time; some bake for a longer time
at a lower temperature.
Remember to follow a recipe that is sized for your
machine: either 1-pound, which the recipe may also call "small", or 1
1/2-lb. or larger, which may be called "large". Many people have asked for
help in modifying 1 1/2-lb. bread machine recipes to fit their 1-pound
bread machines. Simply cut all of the ingredients in a 1 1/2-lb. recipe by
one-third (i.e., 3 cups of flour becomes 2 cups of flour). Yeast is an
exception to this rule; use 1 teaspoon of yeast in a 1-pound bread machine
recipe. Eggs are also an exception; instead, substitute a small egg for
each large egg called for in the 1 1/2-lb. recipe (you should always use
large eggs in your recipes, unless otherwise indicated).
We've found that often the manuals that come with
bread machines can be confusing, and can contain incorrect information.
For instance, one of the manuals we've read says that poorly risen bread
may be caused by too little sugar in the recipe, when just the opposite is
true. Too much sugar can cause a small, dense loaf. In addition, the
recipe books that come with the machines are not foolproof; sometimes the
recipes work, sometimes they don't. The best independent bread machine
book we've found is "Bread Machine Baking -- Perfect Every Time", by Lora
Brody, published by William Morrow. Each recipe includes slightly
different versions for each of the major machines, including DAK, Welbilt,
Maxim, Sanyo, Regal, Hitachi, Zojirushi and Panasonic/National.
Chapter 2: Let's Examine The IngredientsThis basic ingredient is a living organism that eats
and "breathes" just as we do. It's this breathing (actually, the process
of fermentation) that gives off carbon dioxide gas, which is in turn
trapped by the gluten in the flour, causing bread to rise.
Yeast is inactive in its dry form, but touch it with
liquid and give it something to eat and it starts to work. That's why, in
the bread machine, we make a practice of separating the yeast from the
liquid with a barrier of flour. If you're going to put all of the
ingredients into the pan and start it up right away, it doesn't matter in
what order they go. But what if you want to use your machine's delayed
cycle, where the bread won't be ready till tomorrow morning? You want the
yeast to stay dry till your machine actually starts its cycle, so a
general rule is to use the flour in your recipe to separate the yeast from
Yeast likes to eat sugar, but doesn't like salt. It
doesn't like extremes of temperature, and feels more comfortable in an
acid environment. It also is prone to over-eating; too much sugar in a
recipe, rather than boost the yeast to greater heights, will slow it down
to a crawl.
Your machine will provide the draft-free environment
yeast loves, neither too hot nor too cold. Many manuals suggest warming
ingredients before putting them into the machine. Some machines have a
pre-heating cycle, which does this for you. However, we've found that you
can add ingredients right from the refrigerator, use cold tap water as
well, and the dough will still rise just as successfully. The heat
generated by the vigorous kneading raises the temperature of the dough
Yeast likes an acidic environment. Although the
fermentation process naturally creates an acidic environment, to make
yeast even happier, increase the dough's acidity a bit. You can do this by
adding a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or by replacing some of the
liquid with an acidic liquid (a tablespoon of orange juice, lemon juice or
vinegar). This is especially helpful when you're following a sweet bread
recipe, one in which the yeast will be slowed down by a larger amount of
What kind of yeast should you use? Use a good quality
active dry or instant yeast, preferably bought in bulk (which tends to be
fresher, as well as much less expensive). We prefer using instant yeast;
either regular instant or instant gold for all-purpose bread baking, or
special instant for sourdough or sweet breads. Instant yeast is a
stronger, faster-acting yeast that performs particularly well in bread
We don't recommend rapid-rise yeast, as it goes
against one of the tenets of good bread making: the longer the rise (and
fermentation process), the better the flavor. As we mentioned before, this
fermentation is creating acidity (or sourness) that, if carried to the
extreme, would yield sourdough bread. Bread dough that rises quickly has
no time to develop flavor, and will be noticeably inferior, in taste, to
bread that is given a longer rising time. In other words: unless you are
in a tremendous hurry, ignore the "rapid-bake" cycle on your machine!
The Sweeteners...How much sugar should you use in your machine? If you
don't have any dietary restrictions that preclude sugar entirely, we
suggest 1 to 2 teaspoons. Although yeast makes its own food by converting
the starch in flour into sugar, a little "fast-food fix" of pure sugar
right at the start gives it the quick energy it needs to work. (If you
need to avoid sugar, just leave it out; your bread will be just fine,
although you may find it doesn't brown as well).
How about if you're making a sweet bread, one that
requires sugar for flavoring? This is where you need to learn the nuances
of your own machine. As a general rule, we've found that any more than 2
tablespoons of sugar per cup of flour will slow yeast down to the point
where you can't make a nicely risen loaf in your machine, without making
some other adjustments, such as increasing the amount of yeast, increasing
the acidity of the environment, etc.
No one kind of sugar is better for you, nutritionally,
than another kind. White sugar, light or dark brown sugar, corn syrup,
molasses, honey, maple syrup, concentrated fruit syrup -- all are suitable
for the bread machine, although the liquid sugars must be counted as a
liquid when you're tracking your liquid/flour ratio. Don't use artificial
sugar substitutes; they don't help the yeast, and we feel they give bread
a strange flavor.
The Flour...Flour is the basis of good bread, but many of the
bread machine manuals give the reader poor information concerning flour.
Be sure to use a good quality flour, one that is untreated with either
bleach (powdered bleach belongs in your laundry, not your bread), or
potassium bromate, a suspected carcinogen. Despite the fact that some
machine recipe books call for bromated flour, it isn't necessary to the
success of your bread, and also poses a health risk.
Be sure to use a flour made from hard wheat, which
means it's high in protein, and therefore high in gluten. The gluten
combines with water to form the elastic strands that trap carbon dioxide
given off by yeast, allowing bread to rise. A flour high in gluten will
produce a nicely risen loaf, while a low-gluten flour (such as pastry
flour, cake flour or self-rising flour) will not. Most bread machine
manuals and cookbooks call for bread flour rather than all-purpose flour.
King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, because it's higher in gluten
than national brands of all-purpose flour, works perfectly in the bread
King Arthur also makes an extra-strong bread flour,
King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour, which is especially good in
sweet breads and breads containing whole grains, which may have difficulty
rising sufficiently. Be aware, however, that the higher the protein level
of the flour you use, the more liquid it will absorb; be sure to check
your dough during the kneading cycle, and add more liquid if necessary.
The proper consistency for your dough is a smooth, soft ball.
An interesting point: If you read the protein content
on a bag of whole-wheat flour, it's actually higher than all-purpose
flour. So why doesn't whole wheat bread rise sky high? Because the bran
cuts the gluten strands as they form, rendering them useless, unable to
trap the carbon dioxide being generated by the yeast. This is one of the
reasons 100% whole-grain breads tend to be dense, rather than light.
So we've established that you want to use
a good-quality, high-protein flour in your bread machine. But what about
whole wheat bread? And pumpernickel? And New York rye? You can make
wonderful whole-grain breads in most bread machines. But, keep in mind the
fact that grains other than wheat -- rye, barley, buckwheat, amaranth,
corn, rice, the whole array of grains and flours available to today's
baker -- contain little or no gluten.
To make a successful bread machine loaf using these
grains, you should "cut" them with some high-protein all-purpose or bread
flour, to provide the gluten necessary for rising. You can also try adding
some pure gluten to the mixture. Look for vital wheat gluten (not gluten
flour) and for each cup of whole-grain flour used, put 1 tablespoon of
gluten in the bottom of the measuring cup before filling with the
When making whole-grain breads, we like to tell people
to start with a mixture that is 1 cup whole grain flour, 2 cups
all-purpose flour, then work from there. Gradually increase the whole
grain and decrease the all-purpose, at the same time increasing the yeast
a bit and perhaps adding gluten, till you get the combination of taste and
texture you enjoy. (This is the part where some creative experimentation
Here's an interesting point concerning whole-grain
bread. Many people feel they have to eat only whole-grain bread to get any
health benefits at all. This is simply untrue. All-purpose flour is
certainly not "nutritionally empty", as many believe, but in fact is
better nutritionally in some areas than whole wheat flour. The endosperm
from which all-purpose flour is ground is, after all, the food source for
a new wheat seedling (the germ); the bran is merely its protective
Whole wheat flour contains more fiber,
but by the same token, that fiber helps to "flush" a lot of whole wheat's
nutrients through your body before they have a chance to be absorbed.
All-purpose and whole wheat flours are comparable in many areas. It's
really a toss-up as to which one you should choose, and it's based on your
personal needs and the rest of your diet. Clearly, whole wheat flour's the
winner in the fiber category; but much of that fiber is insoluble, meaning
it provides bulk and roughage in your diet, but that's about
Whole wheat is also noticeably higher in
potassium and phosphorus, and a bit higher in protein (though some of this
is tied up in the fiber, and is therefore not nutritionally available).
All-purpose flour is lower in fat and sodium. They're about equal in iron
Which should you choose? Well, if you're getting
sufficient fiber, phosphorus and potassium in other parts of your diet --
we'll assume everyone's getting sufficient protein, one of the easiest
nutritional elements to ingest enough of -- and if you don't like the
taste of whole wheat, by all means use all-purpose flour. Ditto if you're
trying to watch your fat and/or sodium intake extremely carefully. But if
you really should eat more fiber every day, then use whole wheat
If you like traditional whole wheat flour, then you're
home free. But, if you feel that you ought to bake with whole wheat flour,
and your family just doesn't like the taste, try our King Arthur 100%
White Whole Wheat Flour. Because it's missing an indigestible, bitter
element in the bran -- phenolic acid, related to tannins -- it's got the
light taste of all-purpose flour and all the nutrition of whole wheat, a
perfect marriage of flavor and health. So, next time you read or hear
someone spurning "white" flour because of its nutritional shortfalls, take
it with a grain of salt.
Some machines feature a whole-grain cycle. What does
this mean? Generally, this cycle will knead the dough a bit longer, and
give it a significantly longer rising time. If your machine doesn't have a
whole-grain cycle, choose the cycle with the longest second rise or try
the basic bread cycle.
The Salt...Why do we use salt in bread? Basically, for flavor.
You can certainly make bread without salt. However, salt-free bread, to
most people, is about as appetizing as cardboard. Salt brings out the
flavor in food, as we well know, and bread is no exception.
For those of you who don't want to use salt, remember
that salt is a yeast inhibitor; salt-free bread will rise much more
quickly and vigorously than bread with salt. When you eliminate salt from
your recipe, you'll need to reduce the amount of yeast, and perhaps even
bake bread on the "rapid-bake" cycle to keep it reined in sufficiently.
Don't use salt substitutes in the bread machine -- they don't work.
The Liquids...These include any liquid that is added to the machine,
as well as anything that will become liquid when heat is added, such as
shortening, margarine or butter. Typical bread machine liquids include
water, milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, soft cheeses (cream cheese,
cottage cheese, feta, etc.); soft fruits (applesauce and other fruit
purees, bananas, etc.); liquid sweeteners; eggs, butter and vegetable
oils, in either their liquid or solid forms. Relatively soft cheeses such
as mozzarella, cheddar and Swiss are on the border between liquid and
solid, as far as your machine is concerned; don't figure them into the
flour/liquid ratio directly, but keep in mind that they'll tip that ratio
a bit toward the liquid side. Hard cheeses, such as Parmesan or Romano,
won't affect the flour/liquid ratio.
What do liquids do? They activate the yeast, and they
combine with gluten to form the elastic strands that help bread to rise.
Too little liquid, and you'll get a hard, dense, poorly risen loaf; the
gluten is tough and unable to expand. Too much liquid, and you'll get a
loaf that rises, then collapses; the gluten has expanded and thinned too
What else do liquids do? They provide
flavor (cheese or maple syrup, for example); structure (eggs -- whole
protein contributes to the strength of the loaf as it bakes); nutrition
(dairy products and eggs) and texture and freshness (fat, which gives
bread a finer, softer texture, and keeps it fresh longer). Varying the
liquids in your bread machine recipes will allow you to produce very
different types of bread, in both flavor and texture. This is an area
where experimentation is both useful and fun.
The Additives...By this we mean raisins, dried fruits, nuts, seeds,
chocolate chips...anything that doesn't directly contribute to the
structure of the bread. In order to keep these things from being shredded
or mashed during the kneading cycles, add them at the end of the second
kneading cycle, about 3 minutes before the machine is due to go into its
first rise. This gives the machine time to knead your additions into the
dough, but doesn't give it time to tear them apart. Some machines have a
"raisin bread" or similar cycle, which features a "beep" when it's time to
add the fruits or nuts.
Chapter 3: Learning The Basics
We hope you enjoy
this beginners' exploration of bread machines, and feel confident that you
can produce a good loaf of bread in your machine. Once you feel
comfortable with how your machine works, begin to think about using it for
all kinds of yeast baking: it's an incredibly versatile tool, if you use
your imagination. We've used our bread machine to make the dough for
wonderful pizza, sticky buns, kolache, bread sticks, baguettes, focaccia,
doughnuts, coffee cakes...you get the picture.
Hint #1:Don't be afraid to open your machine to look at and poke
the dough as it kneads. This is the only way you'll be able to tell if the
combination of ingredients you've used has made a good dough. We don't
recommend poking the dough as it rises, and you shouldn't open the top
when your machine is in its second rise or baking cycle, but before that,
feel free to get familiar with your dough, and how your machine works with
it; that's how you'll learn.
Hint #2:If you're using your machine's delayed cycle, where the
machine won't start for several hours, don't use fresh ingredients such as
milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Bacteria likes to grow in these ingredients, and
there's a risk of food poisoning in keeping them at room temperature.
Hint #3:Too little yeast, your bread won't rise sufficiently; too
much, and it will rise and collapse. It's important to watch your dough as
it rises and bakes; dough that has risen and collapsed may look just like
dough that never rose at all, once it's baked. In order to correct the
problem, you need to know what went wrong.
Hint #4:Bread that is undercooked and gummy inside is bread that
didn't rise sufficiently.
Hint #5:We've found that one or more of the following will
increase the chances of your getting a successful loaf of sweet bread:
doubling the amount of yeast; cutting back the amount of salt; using 1/8
teaspoon of ascorbic acid; using the longest cycle on your machine (the
one with the longest rising period); or taking the dough out of the
machine, and forming and baking it by hand.
Hint #6:Match the flour to the desired result. A high-protein
all-purpose or bread flour will yield high-rising bread. Whole-grain
flours will yield denser, heavier, more substantial breads. A combination
of flours will yield something in between.
Hint #7:The basic ratio of salt to flour in bread is 1/2 teaspoon
salt per cup of flour. Recipes that call for less salt than this may seem
"blah"; try increasing the amount of salt to the recommended ratio.
Hint #8:The basic all-purpose flour/liquid ratio is 2 1/2 to 3
cups flour to 1 1/4 cups liquid, depending on the time of year -- more
flour in the summer, less in the winter.
Hint #9:Bread that rises, then collapses in the middle as it
bakes -- the infamous "crater bread" -- contains too much liquid. Adjust
Hint #10:Adding a couple of teaspoons of flour along with the
raisins/nuts helps the dough in the machine to "open up" and accept
whatever you're adding more easily. If "additives" haven't kneaded into
the dough by the time it goes into its first rise, simply remove the dough
from the machine, scoop out the raisins/nuts, knead them in by hand, and
return the dough to the machine.
Most Frequently Asked Questions:We continue to receive inquiries
regarding modifying "regular" bread recipes to work in the bread machine,
and using bread machine recipes to make a "regular" loaf of
A 1-pound bread machine, in general, can handle 2 to 3 cups
of flour, while a 1 1/2-lb. machine can handle 3 to 4 cups of
Many recipes ask for a range of flour. For example, if a
recipe asks for 3 to 4 cups of flour, it is because flour changes with the
weather, absorbing moisture when the humidity is high (generally, in the
summer), and becoming dry when the humidity is low (usually during the
winter months). To put it simply, you'll need to use more flour in the
summer and less in the winter.
Q. Can I use regular bread recipes in my new bread machine?A. Yes, you can probably use many of the same recipes
you've always used. Just be sure to use a flour with a high protein
content. King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, with its high gluten,
is an excellent flour for bread machines. Numerous people have told us
that their recipes worked in the bread machine using King Arthur, when
they didn't work with other all-purpose flours. Another tip: don't try to
make whole-grain breads, such as rye or whole wheat, using only
whole-grain flours. Their minimal gluten content will produce loaves which
are flat and hard. Mix them with unbleached all-purpose flour for best
As we continue to work with the bread
machines, we find that they're extremely versatile and flexible, as long
as you use the manual or dough setting. It's convenient (and tempting) to
take a regular 3-cup-of-flour bread recipe, throw it all in the machine,
press Start, and hope you have a nicely risen loaf of baked bread 4 hours
later. Well, usually this won't work; the dough is too stiff, too slack,
the rising time in the machine is too short (or too long), etc. etc.
Save yourself the hassle of trying to
modify recipes by simply placing all of the ingredients into the machine,
programming for manual or dough, then taking the dough out at the end of
the cycle and proceeding with the recipe from the point where it tells you
to "punch down the dough". What the machine's dough cycle gives you is a
thorough knead and initial rise. From then on, you're on your own. But,
hey; the mixing and kneading is the only part that takes even a modicum of
effort. From then on you're just shaping the dough, putting it in a pan,
and putting it in a hot oven to bake. You can do that -- honest! We find
our 1 1/2-pound Zojirushi will handle up to 5 cups of flour in the dough
In some respects, bread machine dough is
better than hand-kneaded. Very slack doughs, those with a lot of liquid,
are virtually unkneadable by hand; you always have to add more flour. In
the bread machine, however, slack doughs knead very nicely, and the
resulting loaf is full of coarse holes and light as a feather.
Sometimes you can take a regular bread recipe, reduce
the flour to 3 cups and amend all the remaining ingredients
correspondingly, make it in the bread machine, and get a good loaf on the
very first attempt. But most often, you'll have several failures while
you're in the trial and error process. A more fail-safe method is to just
make dough, and go from there.
Q. Can I make a bread machine recipe by hand?A. You can easily convert bread machine recipes to
"manual" recipes by reading the ingredients, then combining them the way
you usually do. Dissolve the yeast in the liquid, add other "wet"
ingredients (e.g., eggs, honey, butter), add the flour and other dry
ingredients, knead, then knead in any "extras" (raisins, nuts, chocolate
chips, etc.). Let the bread rise once in the bowl, then transfer it to a
pan and let it rise again. Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated 350°F
oven. A bread machine recipe for a "large" machine, calling for 3 cups of
all-purpose or bread flour or 4 cups of a whole-grain/all-purpose flour
mix, will make a 1-lb. (8 1/2" x 4 1/2") loaf. A bread machine recipe for
a "small" loaf, calling for 2 cups of all-purpose or bread flour or 3 cups
of a whole-grain/all-purpose flour mix, will make a 10- to 11-ounce loaf
(a 7 3/8" x 3 5/8" pan).
Q. How can I convert a 1 1/2-lb. bread machine recipe to a 1-lb.
machine?A. Your 1-lb. bread machine will probably
be happy with a ratio of 2 cups flour to 1 teaspoon each yeast, sugar and
salt, and 2/3 cup liquid. Let's say the bread recipe you want to use calls
for 6 cups of flour (a typical two-loaf recipe). Simply divide the amount
of each ingredient by three, and use one-third (6 cups flour becomes 2
cups, 1 tablespoon yeast becomes 1 teaspoon, etc.). If any of the
ingredients seem way out of whack, be aware of adjustments you can make
(i.e., the amount of sugar seems high, so increase the amount of yeast).
This may seem complicated at first, but by keeping the ratio in mind, as
well as the relationship of the ingredients to one another, you can
convert just about any bread recipe to the bread machine.
Q. What qualifies as a liquid?A. Liquids include obvious things, such as water or
milk, as well as anything which becomes liquid or semi-liquid when heated.
Typical bread machine liquids include water, milk, buttermilk, yogurt,
sour cream, and soft cheese (cream cheese, cottage cheese, feta, etc.);
soft fruits (applesauce and other fruit purees, bananas, etc.); liquid
sweeteners, such as honey or molasses; eggs; butter and margarine; and
vegetable oils, in either their liquid or solid form. Relatively soft
cheese, such as mozzarella, grated Cheddar or Swiss, etc. are on the
border between liquid and solid, as far as your machine is concerned;
don't figure them into the flour/liquid ratio, but keep in mind that
they'll tip that ratio a bit toward the liquid side. Hard cheeses, such as
Parmesan and Romano, won't affect the flour/liquid ratio.
Q. Why did my loaf sink in the bread machine?A. You may have used too much liquid in the dough. The
dough should be smooth and soft. Or, you may need to adjust the amount of
yeast; instant yeasts are stronger than active dry yeasts, so less is
Q. My crust is always soft. How can I make a crispier crust?A. If your bread machine has a french bread setting,
try using that. If you reduce the oil or butter in your recipe you may get
crispier results. Also, if the recipe calls for milk, try using water
Q. My bread didn't rise. Why?A. You might try using chlorine-free water. Also,
check the expiration date of the yeast. If you determine that your yeast
is good, make sure that you keep the yeast separate from the salt. If
yeast and salt are directly on top of one another, the high concentration
of salt can kill the yeast.
Q. My crust was crisp but I wanted it to be soft. What can I
do?A. You may try increasing the oil or
butter in your recipe. Also, try using milk instead of water.
Q. Why do I have raw, doughy spots in my finished loaf?A. The cycle could be too short for the recipe causing
it to be baked prematurely. If that's not the case, maybe too much heat
may have escaped from the bread machine as it was baking. You should never
open the cover of your machine while it is on the bake cycle. Also, too
many rich or heavy ingredients may cause the bread to under bake.
Q. Why do I get coarse, crumbly loaves?A. Perhaps the dough is too dry. Try increasing the
liquid if the dough appears dry during kneading. Or, your recipe may not
call for enough oil in the dough.
If dry whole grains were added, which takes moisture
away from the dough, try soaking the grains first.
Copyright 2001 The Baker's Catalogue,
Norwich, Vermont 05055