The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Never baked bread but bought a bread maker. Need help

crabjoe's picture

Never baked bread but bought a bread maker. Need help

Folks, I need some help.  

Let me 1st state that I know nothing about baking bread.  Have never even attempted it but I want to learn.  

It's kind of a funny story that lead me to this.  You see, I live out in the boondocks and last week I was working from home.  Went to make a sandwich but was out of bread.  I figured I'd just pick some up the next day, on my way from home.  Problem was, I ended up working from home again and still wanted a sandwich.  I then thought, I can just make bread at home, but after I noticed all the recipes took hours to make because of the proof and rise, I decided to get a bread maker. 

I order a Hamiton Beach 29886 model.  It came last night.  And I was ready to bake.  Had my bread flour, yeast and everything.  

My 1st loaf as you can see didn't turn out well.  I followed the recipe they gave, except for the amount of salt.  The loaf came out heavy as can be..   

Today, I made a 2nd attempt.  I used a 1/4 cup more water, a 1/4 cup less flour, and a 1/2 tsp more yeast and sugar.  The bread came out better, but it's still too heavy.  What am I doing wrong?  Should I try it again but maybe use warm water to help the yeast get a jump start?  Maybe I should add a pinch of baking soda to help the yeast?

BTW, that's suppose to be a 1.5 lb loaf.  Oh.. I'd post a pic of today's loaf, with even looks better, but it's on my phone and the site wouldn't allow me to attach more than one phone.


Thank you!!

crabjoe's picture
David R's picture
David R

Bread machine bread is definitely different from other bread. If you try to make it the same as other bread, it doesn't work right. I think that's one main thing to keep in mind.

I suggest trying again with their exact recipe right down to the letter, and see what result you actually get, before you start changing things. Use all of the salt they call for, and make all the other measurements exactly as directed too.

I'm not saying it will necessarily be good that way. What I am saying is that you need to start by following the directions exactly, and only after that begin to think about whether you might change something.

Everybody has hunches - "I bet that will be too salty", or whatever. But the first time with a new recipe, no trusting your hunches. Just blindly follow the directions. The first time, that is. ? If it's a bad recipe, you are going to want to find that out; and if you've never actually tried to make the actual recipe as it's printed, you won't be able to find out.

crabjoe's picture


The 1st time, I actually did follow it.  Not using enough salt was by mistake.  It was printed "1 1/8 tsp salt"  I read it as use one 1/8 tsp of salt, instead of 1 and 1/8 tsp.  Still, I don't think the salt would have caused it to be heavy as can be and while it was making the dough, I thought it looked like there wasn't enough water.  It looked too dry based on how the dough ball wasn't a smooth round ball.  The 2nd attempt, was much different. The dough ball just looked right.  I did lift the lid and poked it to see if it bounced back and it mostly did, so I figured I had the right about of water.

I'll give it the Hamilton Beach recipe another shot, but instead of oil, I'll give butter a try, since they say I can use either.

Thank you for your feedback!

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg

Most of the recipes that come with bread machines are pretty poor. They seem to have been developed by engineers not bakers. There are dozens,and probably hundreds, of cookbooks devoted to nothing but bread machine baking. Your local library should have a selection, so there is no need to spend money. A little bread machine education goes a long way. Just my opinion. Good luck with your baking!!

Yippee's picture

I'd used Hamilton Beach but eventually returned it


leemid51's picture

You said the final result was heavy. Study up on how to measure flour by cups if you don't have a scale or the recipe asks for flour by cups. Depending on how you measure cups of flour, you could easily have WAY too much.

crabjoe's picture

Never thought about that, even though I did see the manual had a chart that gave weight of different flour types.

I've got a scale, so I'll give that a try.

Thank you.

KarenCT's picture

I've been using a bread machine (actually, 2 machines) almost exclusively for 5 years and have learned a lot.  Mainly, fresh ingredients are key.  Also, WEIGH your flour, don't measure it.  Very important.  I weigh 120 gr. per cup, regardless of the type of flour I'm using.  I love using Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour - it makes a soft, chewy loaf every time, no extra vital wheat gluten needed.  When I use mostly whole wheat flour, I add vital wheat gluten (1-3 tablespoons) and/or 1/4 cup of driy milk powder to make the loaf softer and chewier.  Read the instruction manual for your machine and figure out when the last rise is about to begin.  Open the machine and, using wet hands, smooth and shape the ball of dough to form a uniform loaf, remove the paddle from the machine, and place the dough back in.  Close the top and let it rip.  This will help to make a nicely shaped loaf with no digging out the paddle from the bottom of the loaf once it's done.  You'll still have a hole, but a small one.  Once the baking cycle has finished, I place a cooling rack across a large Dutch oven pot and cool the bread in the center of it so that air can circulate all around it.  I leave it there for about 90 minutes before bagging it.  I usually wait until the next day to slice, bag and freeze it, but most people want to try it right away!


P.S.  Be sure to soak the paddle in hot, soapy water immediately after removing it from the machine.  

KarenCT's picture

My first machine (I still use it) was an Oster ExpressBake ($65 on Amazon - a steal!), it also makes pizza dough and jam <smiley face>  Even has a setting to make fresh bread in an hour!  Love that feature for Sunday mornings.  Be sure to have lots of cold Irish butter handy.  Jam takes only 1 hour to make, btw.  I use organic frozen berries and it's amazing.

My second machine is a Breville, which I use most frequently,  I haven't mastered all of what this beast can do, but it's well worth the $$$ spent.  

Tardigrade's picture


It's probably one of two things:

1) You are not using strong/bread flour. This is different to plain/all purpose flour. Personally I love dense bread and use AP flour, but if you want light, you have to use the strong flour.

2) Your maching may not have a rest period at the start like panasonics. If so, and your water and other ingredients aren't tepid, your yeast won't function well in the cold. Possibly you are using a shitty yeast, or not enough also. I don't know if your machine has a yeast dispenser etc.

If you don't mind wasting the money, I recommend the higher end Panasonic breadmaker (not the hard crust one). It is absolutely fool proof for whatever type of bread you like.

Oh: and as someone else said, 100% do everything by weight, not volume.

KarenCT's picture

... I always - ALWAYS - heat the water to 110F.  Whenever I didn't heat the water, the loaves did not come out right.  I also add the oil/butter, salt and honey/or sugar to the warm water and whisk it thoroughly before adding to the bread pan.  I think this makes for a more uniform distribution of ingredients.  

Are you weighing your flour?  120 grams for AP, 113 grams for whole wheat, rye, etc.

Ciarli's picture

All bread machines make heavy bread only due to the form of the pan!

They are designed for invalid people without hands or for very poor people! If you are not so poor and lazy or invalid one you can try making no knead-bread thats much better and lighter than machine bread loaf!

PhilDough's picture

First statement is simply not true. I began 40 years ago with a bread machine and worked my way into hand making. I have used three different machines, and none made "heavy" breads.

Napollo's picture

download the zojirushi manual for free and try a recipe from that book. They seem to have bread maker recipes pretty dialed for a 2lb loaf