questions about bread makers?

jadeiteNovember 14, 2012

I just acquired a bread maker. It's a big Panasonic, comes with high recommendations etc. I've never used one before, so before launching into this, can someone please help me get started?

I know the books recommend instant yeast which I have. But is standard dried yeast completely out?

Is there a way to make a pre-ferment, a biga or poolish, and use it in the machine? I find it adds a lot to the flavor of good bread. The instructions which are quite clear don't allow for variations like this.

Finally, are there any tips which could be useful to a beginner? I've made bread by hand and with a mixer for years so I'm not inexperienced in breadmaking, just in using this new gadget.



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I use standard yeast in my bread machine and in fact prefer it. You can do a biga, I do them all the time. Just use the dough cycle or any other cycle and then turn off the machine or unplug or reset or whatever you have to do to start over after the biga had done its thing. Run out and get the book, "The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook" by Beth Henspberger. It has a whole chapter on doing breads with a biga, either 4 hours, overnight or two weeks. You could probably find directions online, but since I have the book I haven't looked.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:19AM
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lpink - thank you! I've reserved the book at my local library. I'm looking forward to learning how to use the bread machine, I hope it will get me making bread routinely instead of a few times a year.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:56AM
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My best advice is be very careful and don't get carried away making bread. When hubby got me a bread maker, fresh bread was so good we went through a loaf about every 3 days. Talk about putting on weight, boy did we.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:39AM
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When I teach bread machine classes I give my students a copy of "Bread Machines for Dummies" by Glenna Vance and Tom Lacalamita. It's great for it's detailed instructions and information on the subject - especially for anyone new to bread making or bread machines. And even better, I've never had a recipe out of the book fail.

I like the "Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cook Book" well enough, but wouldn't suggest purchasing it if you can get it from the library. I've actually made more recipes from another book by Beth Hensperger - "The Pleasure of Whole-grain Breads".

Another good book is "The Cook's Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking" by Jennie Shapter. It gets you well beyond white sandwich bread.

You may also want to look at the recipes at King Arthur Flour (link below). They use Zojirushi bread machines in their test kitchens because they do such a good job with dough. Several years ago they had a side-by-side test featured in their catalog with the same recipe for whole wheat bread made in a stand mixer and the bread machine (baked outside of the bread machine). The loaf using the Zo was about 1-inch taller than the loaf made in the stand mixer.

I essentially use my bread machine for the overnight sponge and kneading the dough. I remove the dough as soon as it's done kneading and put it in a dough rising bucket for the rise. Dough rises according to the strength of the yeast, moisture and temperature. The timed rise of a bread machine can't make those determinations. I rarely bake in the bread machine, but that's always a good energy-saving option. When I checked the Zojirushi Bread Machine with a Kill-A-Watt Meter, it cost me 2-cents (used .35 kwh) to bake a loaf.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bread Machine - King Arthur Flour

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Grainlady - thank you for the book recommendations. I have checked King Arthur's website already. I have their Whole Grain Baking book which has lots of good recipes. Once I get the hang of the machine, I'm going to try my favorites. I'd like to be able to make bread regularly for my husband who consumes it in huge amounts. He's not happy with commercial bread and neither of us has the time to make it the old-fashioned way.

Bryansda - I can foresee a rise in waistlines for the first few weeks! But with Thanksgiving coming up, that's already a given. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Cheryl, which model do you have?

I have Panasonic SD-YD250.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:02PM
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dcarch - I have the same model. Do you have any tips to pass on?


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Yes, tips.

How many loafs will you tip me for me to tell you my tips? :-)

First one you already know: Immediately remove bread from the bucket or you will end up with soggy crust.

More later.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Other tips:
-Read your user's manual, especially the troubleshooting section.

-Try recipes included in your user's manual. They are designed for your particular bread machine and tend to have a higher rate of success - then branch out from there.

-Keep both active dry yeast and a fast-acting yeast (such as SAF-Instant, Bread Machine Yeast, Rapid-Rise, Quick-Rise) on hand. Different recipes call for different types of yeast and I tend to respect the type called for in the recipe - especially if you aren't sure how to convert one type of yeast for another. When you use the QUICK (1-hour) cycle, you must use a fast-acting yeast. If you use a fast-acting yeast when active dry yeast is called for in the recipe, use 25% less. The recipes in Beth Hensperger's book will indicate the different amounts of yeast for each type in a recipe.

-Always check the hydration of the dough after about 5-minutes of kneading time. Adjust the dough, if necessary. It is better to err on the side of a wet dough than a dry dough. The dough should be formed into a very soft, sticky ball. The amount of ingredients in a recipe is just a good guess. The moisture and protein levels of flour vary from brand to brand and bag to bag, so you may need more or less flour than is called for.

-Add "chunky" stuff at the add-in beep, or the last 5-10 minutes of kneading time. If you add sharp ingredients, like dry chopped grain cereal blends, nuts, etc., the sharp edges can actually cut the gluten strands. If you add raisins too early, they will get pulverized.

-Know the different flour types and the best use for them. You can make perfectly acceptable bread using all-purpose flour. If you want soft dinner rolls, choose all-purpose flour. If you are making hard rolls, choose high-protein bread flour. Not all bread machines are designed for making 100% whole wheat bread - check your manufacturer manual. I mill my own flour, and not all bread machines suggest using it.

-You don't need "special" recipes for making hamburger buns, hot dog buns, or sandwich rolls. Most enriched bread recipes will work fine.

-Too much dairy in a recipe can affect the volume, symmetry, cellular structure, and texture of the bread. I really do like to use King Arthur Baker's Special Dry Milk in order to avoid these problems from dairy. (For more information, read "CookWise" by Shirley O. Corriher - pg 80).

-The same bread science that applies to making bread by hand also applies to bread machine breads. I'd suggest reading the first 100 pages of "CookWise" by Shirley O. Corriher for a good background about bread science.

-Vital wheat gluten is often called for in recipes, but it's not absolutely essential. Personally, the only time I add vital wheat gluten is if there is a high percentage of non-gluten or low-gluten flour. Adding too much vital wheat gluten will cause the bread to be tough.

-If you are trying to make low-sodium bread, the general rule of thumb is to reduce the yeast the same amount you reduce the salt, because salt regulates the yeast. So if you reduce the salt by 50%, reduce the yeast by the same amount. Better yet, find recipes designed to be low-sodium.

-Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves contain a chemical that can be detrimental to yeast growth. This is why cinnamon is applied to the surface of cinnamon rolls instead of adding large amounts to the dough. Limit the amount added to the dough to about 1/4 t. per cup of flour.

-If you cut into your loaves before they are completely cool, you will destroy the crumb.

-Cool the loaves to an internal temperature of 90-100-degrees F, then wrap to maintain a soft crumb. Allowing it to cool below that will result in bread that drys out quickly. The moisture from the crumb migrates through the crust the longer it sits without being wrapped in a tight wrapping (use plastic wrap for a tight wrap).

-If you are going to freeze the loaf, use honey instead of sugar in the recipe. It keeps the crumb moist.

-I have three ingredients that help keep an enriched loaf of bread soft and fresh longer than just a couple days, and they are coconut oil, agave nectar, and chia seeds.

-If baking bread in the oven, use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. It's the only accurate method. Panned yeast breads are done between 190-210-degrees. The higher the temperature in the temperature window, the dryer the loaf will be. Soft sandwich breads - 195-degrees F. Sweet dough (high amounts of sweetener) and egg enriched breads - 180-190-degrees F. Yeast rolls are done between 190-195-degrees F. Some free-formed Artisan loaves are done between 205-210-degrees.

-There is a substance - gluthione - in wheat germ that can break-down the gluten strands. This often accounts for short squatty loaves of 100% whole wheat bread. Whether you are using whole wheat flour (which includes the germ) or adding wheat germ as an add-in ingredient, you can counteract the negative effects of wheat germ by adding 1/8 t. ascorbic acid powder per loaf to the recipe. You will find recipes that also include orange juice, which works the same way.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:00PM
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I have the same Panasonic model too (And a Zojirushi machine). I've used many of the recipes from the manual and from other sources too. My suggestion regarding using a biga or poolish is to make it by hand, let it ferment, and then add it with the other ingredients when you're going to make the bread. I haven't had much luck starting the kneading and then stopping it mid-cycle although it's really easy with the Zojirushi. (Maybe dcarch has some advice for me.)

I think the most important tip when using any bread machine is to check the dough during the kneading. You may find that the dough is too wet and needs additional flour. Or you may find it's too dry and needs additional liquid.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I also agree tha tyou should check the dough during the kneading cycle, mine is often too dry and needs additional liquid.

I use any recipe I like or that sounds good in the bread machine, I don't use recipes specific to bread machines. I just dump in the wet ingredients, then the dry ones, and set it on "dough". I bake in the oven because I don't like the crust when it's baked in the machine.

I use whatever yeast I happen to have on hand, and I seldom have vital wheat gluten so seldom use it.

I know that I'm not supposed to cut hot bread, but that doesn't stop me, LOL. It's one of the reasons it's better to make dinner rolls, though, because you can just tear one apart and butter it while it's still hot without "compromising" the rest of them. (grin)

I use Grandma's "white bread" recipe to make buns for sandwiches, the grandkids love them, and I use Sol's honey rolls for cinnamon rolls, a favorite with the grandkids who favor sweet and eggy breads. I prefer them made with maple oatmeal, but that's me...

I also seldom have bread flour on hand, I use all purpose. It works fine.

I usually turn the dough out of the pan and give it a quick knead or two to test my dough, I know how it should feel and that helps me make sure it's "right". And, like Shambo, I find the sponge/poolish/biga easier to make separately and then add it to the machine with the rest of the ingredients.

Oh, and if you want more of that "sour" flavor, it will develop somewhat with a slower, colder rise. I know Ann T makes bread dough and keeps it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before baking, as it develops a more complex and less yeasty flavor.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:44PM
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I have an Oster Breadman machine and I love using it. Like Annie, though, I don't let it bake in the machine. I set it on the dough cycle then finish up by hand and bake in the oven.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:53PM
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I am sorry to disagree with you all.

Warning! Do not check the dough while it is going thru the knead cycle.

It is so messemerizeing, so hypnotic, and oh so sensual to see that masculine paddle, going in and out of that soft supple yielding white dough. Faster, faster! But the rhythmic cadence is unpredictable, stroke after stroke accentuated by the heavy breathing sound of the motor. You will be so fixated that you may not realize your chicken on the stove is turning into pure carbon.

I try to justify my idiocy to others whenever I am caught in this act of shameful scopophilia, "Oh, I am only observing the science of non-Newtonian fluid dynamic of starch and water"


Here is a link that might be useful: Starch & Water

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:14AM
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Couple suggestions:

- First thing: Check the book to see if you need to season the pan. Mine needed it. Virtually everyone I know who has problems sticking didn't season it properly and that caused trouble.
- If you have a cool area, preheat the pan. I fill it with hot water and let it sit a minute or two beforehand. Also warming the liquid ingredients helps. If you have a cold kitchen or pantry, even the flour can help bring down the temperature enough to affect things. Simple thing like warming the pan made a big difference for me.
- Don't hesitate to experiment. Even what some would call "flops" often taste just fine.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:23AM
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Well, I disagree with DC. If you are planning to bake the bread in your machine, I think you absolutely need to check the dough while it's kneading. I've found that if I use the recipes from the Panasonic manual, they're fairly fool-proof and may not need to be checked. But if you want to use your own favorite recipes, you really do need to check the dough during kneading. Otherwise, you may end up with a dry, dense brick or a loaf that collapses because the dough was too soft to maintain its structure.

That whole too dry/too wet situation is the reason why I normally use the bread machine for kneading & rising only. If the dough has any problems, it can be remedied once you get it out of the machine. You can hand-knead in some extra flour or liquid before shaping for the final rise. And you can get it into the oven before it overproofs. You have much more control over the quality of the dough, therefore the quality of the final baked bread, if you bake it yourself.

That said, I find the checking process much more difficult with the Panasonic. Its cycles have such long ranges (example: basic bake rest is 30-60 min and kneading is 15-30 min) that it is difficult to determine exactly when to check the dough. I find myself doing a lot of strained listening for the rumble of kneading and setting timers several times, etc. The Zojirushi cycles are pretty exact, so it's much easier to set the timer for the first five minute check. Also, I can bypass the initial pre-heat function if I want and go immediately into kneading.

As Grainlady suggested, I'd concentrate on using the recipes from the Panasonic manual for a couple of months. And I'd check the dough, give it a squeeze, just to get a sense of what a good consistency for the Panasonic feels like. Then you could start using your favorite recipes. When you check the dough, you'd have a better idea of what consistency you're looking for. More chance of success.

I'd also recommend keeping a notebook of the recipes you tried, what you did differently, and any problems you ran into. I did that during my first six months of using the Zojirushi, and I even now find myself referring back to it.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 8:21AM
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Thanks all for your comments. I made a loaf yesterday, following the instruction booklet for a basic white bread with only one change. I subbed one cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup AP. It went through an entire cycle including baking.

The bread it made was astonishinly good! DH and I admired it before tasting, and then fell on it with gusto. The crumb is fine textured and even, the bread is light with a nice crisp crust, the flavor is full (a little yeasty IMO). I expect the loaf will disappear by tomorrow.

I'll continue with the booklet, making small adjustments as I go along until I have some confidence with it. I did open and check the dough after kneading and it felt about right, just a little tacky to the touch. I agree that this part should be checked, there are so many variations in humidity, temperature, etc which affect bread. I'll check on ingredient temperatures to see if that makes a difference, but honestly I was amazed at how well this worked with absolutely no work on my part.

Grainlady - thanks for the tips which apply generally to breadmaking and not only to the bread machine. I have found bread made by the tangzhong method will stay moist with good crumb for several days. I haven't tried your 3 ingredients yet. I always use a thermometer to check doneness in just about everything. It's the most reliable method. I have a tip which you might find useful. I use atta flour for whole wheat. It's whole wheat used in Indian cooking to make chapatis and other flatbreads. I think it's more finely ground than most WW flours, a little darker than AP but with no visible flecks of bran. It makes a delicious wheat bread without the problems of gluten or bitterness of most WW flours. It makes wonderful whole grain pancakes and breads.

Annie - I'm glad to know that regular yeast and recipes work. I have SAF and active dry, so I'll experiment to see what the differences are. Once Thanksgiving is over, I'm going to see how working with a biga in the machine goes. Good artisan bread would be a great reason for this machine.

Shambo - I did check the dough during the process. Do you prefer the Zo to the Panasonic? I couldn't justify the cost of the Zo, especially as I had no idea if we would like the results.

Dcarch - you've given yourself away as a voyeur. The Panasonic doesn't have a viewing window so I'm surprised you have this model. Do you like dough hooks as well? C'mon tell all.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:05AM
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More tips:

1. If you are not baking with the machine, you can have the machine make more dough than capacity for oven baking or freezing.

2. You can't really add more water or flour in the middle of the kneading cycle because everything will be splashing inside the machine making a mess. Unless you make a simple cover using a thin piece of plastic.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Thanks for the tip about atta flour. I understand it is milled from durum wheat, more commonly used for pasta due to it's dominate protein - gliadin, but it's not gluten-free. There are two types of protein that make up the gluten group in wheat - glutenins and gliadins. There are some varieties of durum (hard amber durum) that contain sufficient glutenins to qualify as good bread-making wheat. I've never found a source for it.

When you live in the middle of winter wheat country like I do (Kansas), and you can purchase 50# of hard white wheat for $20 (the same wheat used for King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour for this region), I'll stick to milling my own. Fresh IS best - and it's the only way to get the optimum nutrition. I have mills capable of milling fine flour. Fine flour = fine bread, coarse flour - coarse bread. Neither is right or wrong, just a choice.

I make all our baked goods from freshly milled grains/seeds/beans (I store over 30 different ones). We consume one 1-pound loaf of bread per week (a total of 4 servings from the bread/cereal group per day - all are wholegrain). More than that and we would gain weight.

"Bitterness" is generally associated with red wheat varieties, which is from the red bran. There are three genes that determine bran color. The original hard red winter wheat (like Turkey Red) has all three genes and the bran is very dark and bitter. Most of today's red wheat varieties have one or two of the genes, while white wheat has none of the genes for bran color for the most mild flavor of all. Soaking flour, or sprouting the grain will take out most of the bitterness.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Maybe it is just my imagination, but I find the bread machine yeast gives a more "yeasty" flavor to the bread. That's because (this is my theory) it's a more finely broken up product so there is more yeast in it and the yeasty beasties get to doing their thing faster. However, since I do my final dough rise in a bread pan, I don't care how long it takes them to do their thing, and in fact as many have said, the longer the better (to a point, beware of overproofing) for the flavor. I used to bake all my bread in the machine and I just got tired of trying to get good slices of bread out of the loaves with these big holes in them. I have enough trouble even without that issue!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:25PM
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Regarding adding more flour or water to kneading dough, I use a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the dough ball. That way no water or watery dough sloshes around in the kneading bucket. For flour, I just sprinkle a tablespoon at a time and "smoosh" it onto the dough ball with a rubber spatula. Lately I've been having the opposite problem as Annie: my doughs seem to be softer or wetter than they should be. So I've been adding some flour to get them right.

Cheryl, I have a Zojirushi Supreme. It does a wonderful job of kneading, and as DC has mentioned, if I'm not baking in it, it can knead dough with up to six cups of flour. My bagel recipe uses that much flour and is quite a stiff dough. The machine does a great job getting that dough well kneaded. However, just to be cautious, I remove the dough to another container for rising.

I haven't been as thrilled with the baking results, though. The sides & bottom come out very thick and brown, while the top is barely cooked. This is a very well documented complaint too. I've tried all kinds of online hints and even spoken to the reps but have not found a solution. Zojirushi recently came out with a Virtuoso model that includes a top heating element, supposedly to solve the baking problem. It costs about $50 more than the Supreme I have, and, like you, I'm not sure I can justify the cost of buying it since my Supreme still does a good job of kneading.

I actually bought the Panasonic because DC had such good things to say about it. It serves as my "summer" baker. The color and texture of the crust is more uniform than the Zojirushi, although the shape is not quite a traditional loaf. (By the way, I've found that bread machine crust is usually thicker and chewier than oven-baked bread. I think that's why so many people mainly use their machines for kneading.) I use the Panasonic during the summer months when I want homemade bread but don't want to use the oven for baking. Way too much heat! I make almost all of our breads, rolls, buns, etc. because of my husband's salt-restricted diet, so I need an acceptable alternative for summer.

Cheryl, you mentioned one of the methods I have yet to try -- tangzhong. Now that the weather is cooler, I really hope to master it. Do you have any recipes to share? My daughter & her husband frequent a Japanese bakery near their home and share some of the goodies with us. The bread and rolls are incredibly soft because of the water-roux method. I'd really like to give it a try, so if you have any recipes, please share them. I can see some bread baking marathons in my future, especially once the winter rains begin.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:30PM
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I have added wet ingredients to my Zojirushi in the middle of the kneading cycle without any problems of sloshing or splashing. I do add a bit at a time, to see how the consistency is, but have encountered no problems.

If I need more flour I usually knead that in at the end, when I'm shaping the loaf for the pan.

dcarch, you have indeed "exposed" yourself, LOL.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:28PM
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I add water or flour during kneading too because it is either too dry or too wet and pretty much always needs adjusting some. Mine doesn't slash and carry on either.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:44PM
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Bread machines are great!! Only thing, your weight may increase from all the goodies you make.

Also if you have slightly higher blood sugar level than normal, be prepared for the delicious bread to shove you on over to being a diabetic. It did it for me!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:05PM
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shambo, I'm no expert at tangzhong but the times I've tried it, I've gotten the soft, fluffy breads that the Asian bakeries feature. I don't remember where I got the following recipe, but there are many websites with similar directions.

Basic recipe:

1/3 cups Flour
1 cup Milk
FOR THE REST OF THE DOUGH (Double to use all tangzhong mix)
1/2 cups Warm Milk
2 teaspoons Dry Yeast
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2.75 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Dry Milk Powder
2 whole Eggs, Divided
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened

Preparation Instructions
1. The first two ingredients are for a tangzhong mixture, the ancient Japanese bread secret. Whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens, but don't bring it to a full boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. This makes enough tangzhong for two recipes (two pans) of bread, so double the rest of the ingredients for 2 pans of bread.
2. For the rest of the dough, in a small bowl, combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar. Whisk to combine, set aside to let the yeast start.
3. In a large bowl or mixer bowl, combine flour, salt and powdered milk.
4. Once your tangzhong is cooled off so that it won't hurt your yeast, measure out half of it (120 grams) into the yeast mixture with 1 large egg. Mix together and pour over dry ingredients in the large bowl.
5. Let your dough hook work the dough until mixed, then add the softened butter. Let the hook work that in.
6. Now, at this point, your dough may be very shaggy. If it is, add some flour (up to 1/4 cup or so) a little at a time until the dough doesn't cling to the sides of the bowl any more. Let the mixer knead the dough about 5-8 minutes.
7. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the dough becomes less sticky and forms a smooth ball.
8. Let dough rise in an oiled bowl for 60 minutes, or until doubled. If your house is cool, put a few inches of warm water in your sink and set your bowl into it, covering the dough with plastic wrap.

Notes: the temperature of the milk/flour paste should be around 140F. When it thickens to the point where you can draw lines in it, that's about right.

I've made this using my KA mixer. I let it knead until the dough is very stretchy and elastic.

The first time I tried this method, I used all of the tangzhong and a double amount of the dough to make a big batch of sticky buns with pecans and cinnamon. My usual recipe for sticky buns uses a rich brioche dough. I liked the tangzhong bread better! It's very light and soft. Without all the butter in brioche, it isn't so heavy but you get all the flavor of the pecans and cinnamon mix.

I've also used this method to make raisin bread, and cranberry nut dinner rolls. I didn't think the method worked for the dinner rolls, I prefer these to be more chewy and crusty.

Check the link below. The blog writer has several recipes using this method, and she makes them all in her bread machine!


Here is a link that might be useful: japanese bacon cheese bread - tangzhong method

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:10PM
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Cheryl, thanks so much for the recipe and link. I can hardly wait to get started. One thing I noticed about the Japanese pastries was that in addition to being soft, they were not overly sweet. That really appeals to me because I tend to gag on super sweet desserts, breakfast rolls, etc.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 12:28AM
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Shambo - you're welcome. I forgot to mention in my recipe notes that the second egg is used to brush the top of the bread. Let us know how you make out.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:22AM
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I just received my first bread machine, which is the same model as yours, Cheryl - Panasonic SD-YD250. I intend to use it mainly for making dough that I will bake in the oven, but I will first give it a try baking it in the machine. I got the machine because I am tired of having to go the the market when the only thing I need is bread, and bread does not keep well. Now I just have to remember to keep flour on hand, and I have run out of that more than once before I realized it.

I bought this model because I believe it is better for making small batches, but I am thinking that I will keep portions of dough in the fridge for a couple of days when I make a batch.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 3:31PM
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The bread machine works like a charm. I now have DH making his own bread regularly. It makes big loaves which he slices and freezes. You can freeze in single slices, or in big sections to be sliced later. We never buy bread any more.

We've also used the machine for pizza dough, bagel dough and baguettes. For these, the machine mixes and we bake it in the oven later. I really have no complaints at all, and it wasn't too spendy.

Hope you enjoy it!


This post was edited by jadeite on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 13:04

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Thanks, Cheryl! I found the instruction booklet a bit daunting at first because of all the charts and cross references, but eventually I think I discovered how to make a simple loaf. It was not obvious at first because there were so many options, and the instructions are split up between methods and recipes, and so the recipes do not tell you how to do anything - only how much! Then you have to go to a different chart to figure out the method. I'm sure it will become simple once I've done it, but at first I was bewildered. Maybe I need to watch a video! The pressure cooker came with a DVD that showed methods and recipes, but it is actually a lot simpler to use than the bread machine.

I'm going to try to make my first loaf tonight, and put the machine on timer so that it will be ready at 7:00 AM, which is when I starting drinking my tea and watch the first 20 minutes of CBS This Morning. I don't like any of the other morning news shows, although I used to watch Good Day L.A until they got rid of Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Barberie.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I'd suggest timing your bread to be done a bit before 7:00 am if that's when you want a slice. Need to allow a couple minutes to get it out of the pan, remove the paddles from the loaf, and a few minutes for it to cool before slicing.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:43PM
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Tricia, I don't normally have toast or bread with my tea, but that is a good idea. I knew that I had to let the bread cool before storing it, but I was going to store the whole loaf at 7:30 or so. I leave the house for work at 8:20 and would need the bread to make a sandwich for lunch.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:51PM
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If you haven't tried it yet, go through the menu selections. This was the hardest part for me. I kept hitting the wrong buttons, and I couldn't work out how to do anything except the default selection (XL white bread). Once you've gotten it down, it will become second nature, but it took me a while.

I haven't tried the timer yet. I don't eat a lot of bread, and almost never in the mornings. Let us know how it works for you.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:59PM
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I made my first loaf last night, and I really like the way it came out. I agree with Cheryl that the menu is a bit confusing, and I think I made the bread on the wrong setting, for size, at least. I forgot about the size setting when I was starting the machine, and I was making a medium (the smallest) loaf, which used a total of 3 cups of flour. I used the plain white bread recipe, substituted one cup of whole wheat flour plus two tablespoons of Vital Wheat Gluten, since I was using all purpose instead of bread flour, and so because of the whole wheat. The water was supposed to be 1-1/4 cups, but I used 1-1/3 cups because I thought the WW might need extra water, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. Well, I'm not sure I used the correct yeast - I have SAF yeast in the freezer, and so I just used that. It did not have a yeast flavor when it came out. It only slightly stuck, and so I used a plastic spatula to get it loose. I let it sit in the machine for about 10-12 minutes after the timer went off - not sure if I was supposed to do that, but the bread had a thick, somehwat hard, crust, which I like and prefer.

I'm very happy with the loaf I made, although it does taste rather generic, but still much better than most WW bread I can buy. It's not as good as La Brea Bakery bread, but that is rather expensive, and this bread is an adequate substitute (except for the sourdough). The loaf came out lopsided, and so I will be making lopsided sandwiches, but I'm okay with that. I think it will also make good toast and French toast.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:24PM
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Well, I have been making one loaf of bread a week (which is all we eat of bread), and I have been very happy with the results. So far I have always added VWG and have yet to have bread that was tough, even though that was my goal - I don't like the bread to be too soft. All of the recipes I've made so far have been hybrids, including the pumpernickel I made last week, which was one of my favorites.

I never ever check the dough after the machine has started, and I always add two tables extra water in the beginning. The method has worked fine for me, and I will continue to use it, and so I have to disagree with those who say you must open the machine and check the dough!

The last bread I made was a beer bread, and I decided to substitute semolina for part of the flour and 3/4 cup of whole wheat for part of the 3 cups total of flour. I try to make only recipes that use 3 cups of flour or else I will have too much bread.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:33PM
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We use the generic white bread recipe, substituting about 40% of the white flour with whole wheat. We use bread flour for the white flour, and atta for whole wheat, no VWG.

I found that DH was using the "white bread" option on the menu instead of the "wheat bread". This makes a difference. He was getting bread that was soft and would tear when he sliced it. I wouldn't have thought it would make a difference, but when he uses the "wheat" menu, the bread is a little more chewy. It slices perfectly.

We got our Panasonic from Amazon at a great price and so far I'm pleasantly surprised at how well it does. DH does his wheat bread routinely, I make giant batches of bagels with high-protein flour, we've made multi-grain breads, baguettes and pizza dough. We pay it the ultimate compliment - it lives on the counter because it's used so often.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:45AM
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" ------We pay it the ultimate compliment - it lives on the counter because it's used so often.----"

I have the same model. It has a smaller footprint than many other makers.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Thanks, Cheyl - I'll try the "wheat" menu next time - I'm still in experimental mode. For the last loaf, I tried to change the menu after I had started, but it would not let me, even though I unplugged the machine. For some reason, it remembered its previous setting and was going to proceed with that no matter wheat I did. Evidently, once you press "start", nothing can be changed. Nevertheless, I am still happy with the bread, even if it has been a bit too soft, but then I've never used the "wheat" option.

My one complaint would be that when I make toast, the toast is extremely brittle and cannot be cut without shattering. So I've been cutting the bread to size before toasting. The loaves I get are a somewhat odd size/shape, and if I slice them with the dome part at the top (like a normal loaf would look), the slices are very tall. Sometimes I spray the slices with water before toasting and use a lower setting on the toaster oven, and that seems to work better when I am making sandwiches. If I do not toast the bread before making a sandwich, the bread is a bit too soft - except for the pumpernickel that I made.

My breadmaker lives on the portable chopping block/shelving unit I got from Ikea, and has displaced the meat slicer, which is now on a somewhat awkward place on the counter - no other place to put it. I use the eletric meat slicer to slice the bread, and that way I get perfectly even slices of bread. If I slice the bread by hand, the thickness is never perfect.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Cheryl, when I used my bread-maker, I got into the habit of leaving my bread out to cool completely, then put in a plastic bag overnight before slicing and freezing. The bread was just too soft for slicing, otherwise, and it would squish and get very uneven, broken slices.

I no longer use a bread maker but I still leave the bread alone for several hours before slicing, and it works perfectly. I prefer to slice the whole loaf and freeze it, then snap off the slices that I need.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:01PM
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