Bread is a popular type of food available in different forms, including but not limited to whole wheat bread, sliced bread, and pizza bread. In many households, it’s a staple product that you can either buy in any supermarket or make at home.
While bread is quite delicious and the idea of a homemade loaf is great, the whole process of preparing it, kneading it, and baking the homemade bread can seem quite cumbersome. Due to this, many households opt for bread-making machines that make the whole process easier.
As the name hints, this is a special machine that helps you bake bread at home.
Many of the available bread makers have the same basic workings, albeit offering slightly different functions. So that you can get going and enjoy your homemade bread, this post will go through how a bread maker works. Let’s dive in.
Different Parts of a Bread Machine
First, familiarise yourself with your bread machine by getting to know its various components:
Outer Tin With a Cover
The most visible part of a bread machine is, of course, the outer case. This is what holds everything together so that you can easily make bread and enjoy a freshly baked slice of your favourite bread type. The case of a bread machine also has a movable lid that lets you open the machine when adding ingredients or keep it closed while baking.
Most bread machines have air vents that let in air. These vents help with the dough preparation and the baking process. Air temperature, in this case, is critical, as warm air will help the dough rise, whereas cooler air will slow the rising process down.
An exhaust port is a part that lets the steam out of the baking tin or bread pan. After that, steam flows out of the baking machine through the lid. This is also partially why you can make different loaves of bread that have a good texture.
Power Supply Lead
Since most bread makers are powered by electricity, they have a power supply lead that conducts electric current from a power source to the main baking compartment.
The length of the power cable might differ from one bread machine to another, and they are usually long enough to have your machine easily accessible on your counter space while being in close range to the power outlet.
Baking Tin or Bread Pan
This is where the magic happens.
As the name hints, the baking tin or bread pan is the part that holds the dough and the bread mixture during the baking process. In most models, the tin or bread pan can be removed from the bread machine, making it easier for you to clean it once you finish baking.
The size of baking tins differs from one bread machine to another, so you can choose one which has a good capacity for you and your household. The size of the tin is an important aspect to pay attention to when looking at recipes and buying replacement pans.
Most doughs need to be kneaded or turned at some point in time. So, this is where the kneading paddle comes into play and helps you prepare the dough without you having to get your hands dirty. The small metal paddle is attached to an axle that rotates at a certain speed, automatically mixing the bread flour with the different ingredients and kneading the dough when needed.
So that the paddle can accomplish all of these tasks, it has a motor to which it is attached that moves the paddle around a rotating axle.
Bread makers come with outer insulations that protect you from the high temperatures of the baking tin. In most models, the outer insulation cover might be made from a plastic material.
Furthermore, the outer insulation prevents unnecessary heat loss, boosting the energy efficiency properties of the bread maker.
The LCD screen gives you an insight into the settings of the bread maker. For instance, it can show you the temperature within the baking tin or the progression of the dough or bread. Apart from that, it also indicates when your bread is fully baked.
How Does a Bread Maker Work?
So, now that we’ve explored some of the more important components of a bread machine, we will look at how a bread machine works.
The kneading paddle has to be connected to the bread pan to mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients for starters.
Once the paddle is attached to the baking pan, the baking ingredients can be added to the tin. Whether you already have the tin in the machine before you add the ingredients is up to you. Most manufacturers will offer some guidance on which the best way is in the accompanying instruction booklet. Once all the ingredients are, and the bread pan is in the bread machine, very little will be in the way of you and your freshly baked bread.
The baking tin is connected to the machine so that the paddle clicks into the axle. Bread makers have different settings for kneading as different doughs require different kneading patterns. Such settings can be easily accessed from the control panel of the bread maker. Once you’ve selected the right setting, the paddle will start rotating at a certain speed and intervals to knead the dough ball.
You will find that some bread makers come with a transparent glass lid that makes it easy for you to see what’s going on. If the lid isn’t transparent, you will also be able to hear when the paddle is in motion, as once the paddle starts to rotate, you will most likely hear a whirring sound.
When the kneading process is completed, the motor and the axle will stop rotating. This means that the dough is now given time to rise.
Depending on the recipe and the machine’s settings, your dough will sit in the baking tin for about 30 minutes to an hour until it rises completely. After that, the paddle will often knead the dough a few more times to eliminate any excess air in the dough. This final knead will give your bread an even texture.
Once the dough has completed its second rise, the bread maker will bake the dough. The temperatures in the interior compartment will start increasing, baking the bread at a predetermined temperature. You may notice some steam that comes out of the vents once the bread maker starts to bake bread. This steam is what will fill your home with the delicious aroma of a freshly baked loaf.
Then, finally, when the bread is ready, the machine will notify you.
Different Types of Bread That a Bread Maker Can Make
The best bread machines come with various settings and functionalities that prepare various doughs and make it easier for you to bake whole bread, french bread, pizza dough, and multigrain bread. This allows you to choose different rising settings, depending on the type of baking you are baking.
For example, if you are baking french bread, the bread maker will increase the time required to let the dough rise. Additionally, the settings on many bread makers can be adjusted so that you can make bread that has your preferred crust – whether that be a light crust, a medium crust, or a dark crust. Just keep in mind that all loaves will look the same, as the loaf pan remains the same.
Many bread machines come with basic bread recipes for white bread or sometimes even gluten-free bread. All you need to do is ensure you have the right flour in your pantry to bake your favourite bread at home.
The Benefits of a Bread Making Machine
Here are some of the benefits you get to enjoy when you use a bread-making machine:
Bread Makers are Cost-Effective
Instead of buying a basic sliced white loaf at a high price, you can use a bread machine for baking fresh bread. With the right ingredients, you can easily prepare a freshly baked loaf of bread at a lower price. While this machine might be a high one-time cost, it can help you save money in the long run if used regularly. Not to mention, making fresh bread is an enjoyable process.
Easy to Operate and Use
Various bread-making machines come with automatic functionalities that make them very easy to operate. Not to mention, you can choose between different settings while you are baking bread so you can experiment with different kinds of homemade bread.
In most models, you don’t have to keep on changing the settings as you are baking. All you have to do is to select a certain setting during the early baking stages. After that, the bread machine will do all the work for you. Since various bread makers have outer insulation, you don’t have to worry about burns or using an oven glove during the baking process.
Saves You Time
As bread machines can knead the dough properly and bake it automatically, you won’t have to hang about and do all the work. Instead, you can get one with the rest of your day, and you may not even have to keep an eye on the time, as many bread makers notify you when the bread is ready.
Therefore, when making bread, all you need to do is check what the recipe calls for, gather your ingredients, pour them into the machine, set the machine to the correct setting, and wait for your loaf to be ready.
Cooks Different Types of Bread
With a myriad of different baking settings, many bread machines can prepare a huge variety of freshly baked bread. Bread machines are designed with functionalities that can handle dough for different bread and flour types.
Not to mention, the settings of most bread machines are named after different types of bread, making it easier for you to choose the setting that is compatible with the bread that you are baking.
The settings of the machine make it easy for you to recognise what options are available to you. For instance, if you plan to bake whole wheat bread, you have to select the whole bread option. Some may even have a gluten-free setting, while others specialise in helping you prepare pasta dough. Many bread machines have a container for adding special ingredients such as walnuts or chocolate chips which are added during the kneading process.
Advanced Timer for Baking Bread
It is designed to bake different types of bread. Most bread machines have an advanced timer that streamlines the baking process.
Since different recipes and bread types have different baking and rising times, an advanced timer function allows you to accommodate these differences or even delay the mixing and baking process that suits your schedule best.
Fresh Bread Everyday
And there you have it! Everything you need to know about a bread maker.
From gluten-free to whole wheat, a bread maker allows you to produce a delicious fresh loaf of bread with the flour of your choice. Bread baked with a bread machine can save you time and allow you to experiment in the kitchen. With a little bit of practice, you can bake good bread in your bread machine every week.
Do you have a bread-making machine at home? What are your favourite recipes? Let us know what freshly baked bread is your favourite in the comments below.