Baking bread in bread machine is simple and complicated at the same time. Using ingredients in a correct way is vital. It takes time to find correct way to prepare your dough. I am still learning how to do it correctly.
Thus, today I would like to share some tips on using ingredients in a correct way:
Water – Start out by adding fairly hot water (120 degrees F.) and find that by the time you have added all the other ingredients, the water has cooled to the proper temperature.
Butter – Melt or soften butter or margarine in the microwave before adding it to the machine.
Eggs – Bring eggs to room temperature by placing them in a cup of really warm water for several minutes before adding.
Refrigerated Ingredients – Heat anything taken from the refrigerator (milk, buttermilk, cottage cheese, etc.) in the microwave until it is warm to the touch, about 1 minute.
Salt – Use only non-iodized salt (iodine attacks the yeast activity, slowing down the first fermentation). Salt is a yeast inhibitor and it is best to add it so it is not touching the yeast. If you are having trouble with short loaves, try cutting back on the salt (sometimes this solves the problem). Try to use coarse salt or sea salt in all my bread baking.
Flour – For most breads, you should use bread flour. It has a higher protein content, which forms more gluten during kneading. If you use all-purpose flour, the bread doesn’t rise as high, but it certainly rises. The bread is denser and not as fluffy.
Yeast – Use 1 teaspoon of instant yeast per cup of flour. If the recipe calls for over 3 cups of flour, still use only 3 teaspoons. This gives a taller and well-textured loaf. Sometimes, if the day is warm and humid, cut back 1/2 teaspoon to prevent over proofing. Store your yeast in the refrigerator for a longer life.
Vital Gluten – Add 1 teaspoon of vital gluten per cup of whole grain flour in your recipes. This will produce a taller loaf. If you find the loaves are still short, increase by adding an extra teaspoon until you get the results you desire (be sure to note the amounts on the recipe).
Other Ingredients – Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel or zest, as well as cinnamon and alcohol, will have a retarding effect. Too much will stop the yeast activity completely. Cinnamon has a direct effect on the yeast activity and in large quantities it will stop fermentation completely. Keep high percentages of cinnamon out of the dough itself and add it in the fillings where it can have only a limited effect on the yeast activity.
Good luck with your dough!