Reader Contribution by Loretta Sorensen
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Love your bread machine but unhappy with the loaves of bread it produces? I have good news!

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Making one change to your dough prep method will give you beautiful loaves of your dreams – time after time after time!

The change? Use a digital thermometer to warm your recipe liquid to a range between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature range in which yeast thrives. Hotter than 115 degrees and the yeast will die. Colder than 95 degrees and it won’t activate.

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If you implement this one step in your baking method, your bread will rise so well you will hardly believe your eyes!

What other tweaks can you make to your method/recipe to get better results? Here are a few:

  1. The ideal sized bread pan is 8.5 x 4.5. A 9 x 5 pan will work, but larger pans will cause the bread to spread out rather than raise.
  2. Coat your pan well with a non-stick product such as aerosol non-stick spray, butter, olive oil, etc. You might also use a commercial paper insert to prevent sticking.
  3. I tried parchment paper to line my entire pan and found it doesn’t fit into the corners of the pan, and it distorted the shape on the bottom of the bread. You could use parchment paper just on the bottom of the bread pan if sticking is an issue.
  4. Avoid glass pans to bake your bread as the loaf is prone to sticking to the pan once its baked.
  5. Aluminized loaf pans are my favorite bread pan type because they’re heavy and bake dough evenly. Those with a corrugated design aid release of baked bread and hold up to longtime use.

More Tips:

  1. Once your bread dough starts mixing in the bread machine, you can open the lid to check the dough consistency. If it seems too sticky or too dry you can add flour or a bit of liquid at this point to resolve either issue.
  2. You can raise the bread machine lid to peek at your dough any time through the mixing/kneading process. Just make sure the machine resumes its cycle after you close the lid.
  3. Your bread machine canister will keep your bread dough warm as it rises – this is a great thing as it helps the yeast keep working to produce that high rise that’s so beautiful to see on your finished loaf! It also makes the final product softer and more tempting to eat!
  4. You can bake the bread in your machine or place it in a bread pan to bake it in the oven. Either way, keeping the dough in an environment that’s at least 80 degrees (F) and not more than 100 degrees (F) will support yeast activity.
  5. If you bake the dough in your bread machine, you have the option of taking the dough out momentarily to remove the bread machine paddle. It’s frustrating to have the paddle stuck in the bottom of the loaf.

Happy baking!!

Photo Courtesy of Loretta Sorenson

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