While bread machines make making bread simple and easy you
will need a few basic items on hand to make bread. While the
list below is by no means complete it does give you the basics
and with the basics you will be amazed at how many different
types of breads you can make.
Like with all things, the more you use your bread machine
the more you will figure out what you and your family likes
and dislikes. Then you can start adding some of the more
exotic ingredients to your list. I have one rule of thumb
that I go by for my family and I want to share it with you.
If a loaf of bread or any bread product for that matter
is still sitting around for more than a day, then it isn’t
something we like. Fresh bread is like ice in a hot oven,
it doesn’t last. If you have something sitting around for
a long period of time you probably don’t like it and shouldn’t
make it again. Do keep track of these dislikes so that you
don’t fool with them later thinking they are something you
The basics of a bread machine pantry are:
- Bread Flour
- Wheat Flour
- Good Water
- Dry Milk
- Fresh Milk
- Vital Wheat Gluten
- Dough Enhancer
It is important to use bread flour when making bread. Bread
Flour is made from hard winter wheat and is higher in gluten
than all-purpose flour. You can find bread flour in the baking
isle of your local supermarket. You can use some all-purpose
flour if you are going to make pizza crust or dinner rolls.
The all-purpose flour will help make softer less springy
dough. But, you should never use more than 1/3 of the flour
called for in the recipe as all-purpose.
Buying Tip: If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club near you
buying your bread flour in bulk can really save you some
money. If you do buy your flour in bulk it is very
important to store it in an air-tight, moisture proof container
with a very tight lid. This keeps the flour fresh and dry
and keeps bugs out of it.
Wheat Flour should be as fresh as possible. Your best bet
is to grind it yourself. However, if you don’t use
wheat flour often that is not practical. Store your whole
wheat flour in the refrigerator or better yet the freezer,
the oils and minerals in wheat flour break down quickly,
that is why freshness and how it is stored is so important.
If your lucky enough to have a local mill that is the best
place to get your flour, otherwise health food stores, co-ops
and then finally the supermarket are good choices and in
Supermarket flour in my opinion should be avoided whenever
possible. In order to keep the flour from going rancid and
to extend the shelf life as much as possible commercial whole
wheat flour has been defatted, in other words the oils are
removed often times this includes removing the germ which
is the main source of the fat/oils in wheat. So what you
get in the store is often old, it isn’t 100% whole wheat
flour and in my opinion is tasteless in fact I think it is
a large reason why most people don’t care for whole wheat
breads. I mill my own flour and it is the only whole grain
flour I will use.
The quality and purity of your water is very important.
If your water is high in minerals, chlorine, fluoride, etc.
these things can damage and even kill the yeast. I have a
Culigan drinking water purification system and I use the
water from that. If you do not have or don’t want to
get such a system use bottled water, if your tap water tastes
good to you the chances are it will be ok for your yeast.
There are several brands and types of yeast on the market.
While you can use any of them with the exception of cake/fresh
yeast, I recommend you use Instant Active Dry yeast. This
is a new form of Active Dry yeast that is 50% faster and
doesn’t require proofing.
On the market today you will find Active Dry Yeast, Instant
Active Dry Yeast, Rapid Rise Yeast, Quick Rise Yeast, Instant
Yeast, and Bread Machine Yeast. All of these can be used
interchangeably. I also use the same amount of yeast no matter
which I use. I personally don’t like Active Dry Yeast.
It is the slowest of all of them and I find it doesn’t
do a great job in the bread machine. Some people however
like it and use it all the time. I think you will be happier
with the Instant Active Dry Yeast.
Don’t waste your money on those small packets and jars
of yeast in the supermarket; they’re way to expensive
for what you get. The most economical way to buy yeast is
in one pound bulk bags. Some club stores like Costco or Sam’s
Club carry the Instant Active Dry yeast, or you can order
it from our online store or for other sources check the links
section of our site. A one pound bag of yeast will cost you
about the same as the small 4 oz jar in the store.
Storing your yeast is also important. Once you open it you
should store it in a tight-lidded container in the refrigerator
or better yet the freezer. Just measure out what you need
and put the rest back. There is no need to thaw the yeast
or bring it to room temperature before using.
Butter, Oil, Margarine
Butter, Oil and Margarine are just some of the fats you
can use to make bread. You can also leave these out all together.
Fats however do play an important roll in bread. They add
flavor, moistness, texture, and they even help keep bread
fresher a little longer.
I have successfully used olive oil, lard, Crisco, peanut
oil, margarine, butter, etc. with no problems. You can substitute
one fat for another 1:1. So if the recipe calls for 1 tbsp.
of butter you can use 1 tbsp of olive oil, etc.
If you don’t want to use fat, but want the advantages
of it use applesauce, apple butter or prune butter, again
Salt helps control the yeast and adds flavor to your bread.
Without it all of the little yeasts would go crazy, your
bread would over rise and then collapse and even worse your
bread would be flat and tasteless. If you are on a restricted
sodium diet don’t let the small amount of salt called
for in the recipe bother you. It will be spread throughout
the entire loaf with each slice having a small percentage
of the salt.
You can use any salt you like. Table salt, sea salt, canning
salt, or kosher salt which is what I use. You don’t
want to use salt substitutes as they may damage the yeast
and never ever using curing salt like that used in curing
Dry Milk, Fresh Milk, Buttermilk
Milk also plays an important role in bread. Like with the
fat it improves texture, flavor and it helps keep the bread
fresh a little longer. I usually use dry milk powder or dry
buttermilk powder; these can be found in the dry and canned
milk area of your supermarket. I like the powdered best,
but you can also use fresh milk and buttermilk. It doesn’t
matter what milk you use non-fat, 1%, 2% or whole milk all
work the same. The reason I like the dry milk is that it
is easy to work with, you can use it on the timer without
having to worry about spoilage and it doesn’t get old
TIP: If a recipe calls for dry milk and you want to use
fresh milk, substitute some of the liquid in the recipe with
milk and forget the dry milk. For example if the recipe calls
for 1 cup of water and 2 tbsp. of dry milk then use 1/2 cup
milk and 1/2 cup water and leave out the dry milk. You could
also use all milk or less than 1/2 cup. Just make sure you
keep the amount of liquid to what is required.
For those of you that can’t have milk you can use
soymilk, rice milk, etc. use it 1:1.
Sugar, Honey and Other Sweeteners
You can use any sweetener you want with the exception of
sugar free sweeteners. Sugar free sweeteners contain chemicals
that can damage or kill the yeast. Sweetener is important
as it provides the yeast with a food source, which in turn
helps your yeast grow and raise the bread. Most recipes call
for a tablespoon or so and this should not cause any problems
even with diabetics, as the yeast consumes most of the sugar
and the rest is spread through out the entire loaf.
If you do not want to use a sweetener, then feel free to
leave it out. But, be forewarned that the yeast will be slower
as it has to convert some of the starch in the flour to sugar.
Also, for those of you that are diabetic natural sweeteners
like honey, molasses, etc. are easier on your system as they
take more time for your body to break down.
Sweeteners like fat can be substituted for one another without
any problems. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon white sugar
and you want to use brown sugar, molasses, honey, etc. substitute
Splenda. Splenda is a new sugar substitute on the market
it is made from sugar but doesn’t cause the same problems
for diabetics that sugar and other sweeteners do. You can
use Splenda in your bread. But, it is important to note that
Splenda will not feed the yeast it will just make the dough
sweeter tasting. So for sweet dough’s I recommend you use
Splenda in place of regular sweeteners but add 1 tsp. of
regular sweetener to the recipe to help feed the yeast. This
gives you the best of both worlds.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Vital Wheat Gluten is usually added to 100% whole wheat
bread dough. It helps make a lighter loaf. There is no need
to add it to recipes that use 100% white bread flour or are
mostly white bread flour. The white bread flour has plenty
of protein for the job at hand. For 100% whole-wheat bread
use 1 tablespoon per cup of flour.
TIP: Also, on the market is what is called Gluten Flour.
This is a combination of white bread flour and vital wheat
gluten. It is usually 50/50. I suggest you avoid this product
and go for the Vital Wheat Gluten. If you do get the Gluten
Flour you will need to use twice the amount I indicated above.
A dough enhancer is a combination of ingredients that help
the yeast, improve the bread texture, flavor, moistness and
the amount of time it will remain fresh. I have created a
dough enhancer called Bread Fresh™ and the recipe is
in the recipe section of this site. Bread Fresh™ is
very powerful and so you don’t need much. It does a
great job of keeping your bread fresher longer as well as
help in the rise, taste and texture of the bread. If you
have problems locating the ingredients try your local health
food store or you can order them from King Arthur Baker’s