In days past, a person wanting a loaf of freshly baked bread had to go through an excruciatingly long process. This process of bread baking included mixing, kneading, rising and baking which took several hours of careful monitoring and execution. After all of the hours of preparation, inadequate attention to detail could result in a failed loaf of bread. With the advent of the invention and mainstreaming of bread machines, the fuss of bread preparation was reduced dramatically. No longer did one have to do the manual labor that was required of bread making. A well-designed bread machine allowed the bread to now be mixed and baked with no further assistance from the baker than putting the ingredients in the pan. Even with all the technological advances in the bread-baking process, instances in which the bread that is baked in a bread machine is not successful will arise. Below are some of the common problems that bread machine operators encounter and how to prevent them.
Loaf is Too Dense
If the bread loaf is too dense or heavy, this could be a result of not using enough water. Not having enough liquid in the bread mixture can result in a texture that is dense and thick like a pound cake. On the other hand, too much flour could have been used as well. Using too much flour or using heavier textured flours like whole-grain flowers can make the bread loaf too dense. Substituting a bit of bread flour, which is flour made for optimum functioning in a bread machine, can make the difference.
Loaf Does Not Rise
If the bread loaf refuses to rise whatsoever, the first thing to check is the amount of yeast used in the recipe. The yeast is the primary agent in promoting the expansion of the bread during the rising process. Not using an adequate amount of yeast will result in a flat loaf. If the proper amount of yeast was used, then the issue could be old or expired yeast. Yeast is a living organism and should be as fresh as possible for the best results. One other possibility is that the yeast were killed from the liquid being to hot. Alternatively the yeast many not have grown is the temperature was to cool. Ideally, eggs and any liquid’s should have a temperature between 70-90 degrees F. Although it does not happen very often, a bad batch of flour can also be the culprit!
Top Of Loaf Is Sunken Or Collapsed
If the bread rises and looks fine except for a sunken dent at the top, too much liquid in the recipe could be the problem. However, if the appropriate amount of water was used in the recipe, it could be a physical issue such as the bread pan being too small for the amount of dough. If the dough reaches the lid, then it can often result in the bread collapsing before the baking process. Opening the lid can also result in a sunken loaf similar to a cake that falls when the oven door is opened.
Loaf Is Shorter Than Usual
Using heavier flours like whole-grain and all-purpose flour often results in a shorter loaf than normal. These flours are naturally denser and therefore created denser bread textures. Another reason for a shorter loaf could be from not enough yeast in the recipe. As well, not enough sugar in the recipe can also cause this problem.
Bread Has Risen Too High
This can happen if too much yeast is used . Salt helps to prevent the yeast from being too active.
Bread Is Gooey Or Undercooked on the Inside
This can happen if the dough is too wet. To correct this add a few tablespoons of flour during the kneading process.
Dough Does Not Rise
This can happen if the yeast has expired. Always be sure to check the expiration date on the yeast package and remember to store your yeast in a dark cool place.
Bread Has Too Many Air Holes
Either too much water or too much yeast will cause this type of problem.
Bread Crust Is Burned
First, try a lower crust color setting. Many bread machines allow you to pick between light, medium, and dark crust. If your machine lacks this setting, try selecting the “Sweet Bread” setting which should reduce the bake time slightly. Reducing the amount of sugar in your bread will help as well. If all else fails, you can remove your bread three to six minutes before the bake cycle finishes.
Flour On Side of Finished Bread Loaf
This is simple to fix by temporarily stopping the kneading cycle and scraping the flour off the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Take a close look at the sides of the pan toward the very end of the kneading cycle. If there is still flour on the sides, you’ll need to scrape the sides again. You could also try pre-mixing your ingredients so the flour would already be wet before you add it to the bread machine.
Crust Is Too Thick
The most important factor is how long you leave the loaf in the bread machine. Removing the bread as soon as it is done should cure this problem. If not, try using bread flour as it contains more gluten and this should give your dough more rise and a thinner crust. Unfortunately, some bread machines are more prone to this problem so you may want to try a different bread machine.
Top of Bread Did Not Brown
Adding more sugar to your recipe will make your bread brown more on top. If you are using a bread mix, start by adding one-fourth teaspoon of sugar to the mix. You can add a little more the next time if this doesn’t work. You should start with about two teaspoons of sugar per two cups of flour and increase in small increments from here. You can also try adding molasses instead of granulated sugar. Small loaves will tend to brown better than larger loaves. On glass-topped bread machines, covering the top with aluminum foil can help the bread brown more as well. Using milk instead of water will usually produce a slightly darker crust.
Bread Has a Rancid Taste
Whole grain flours, such as wheat germ, will sometimes turn rancid if stored at room temperature, particularly if you live in a hot climate and allow your home to warm up. Trying storing your whole wheat flours in airtight containers in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Likewise, try to buy your whole grains at stores that keep them refrigerated. Refined white flour can be stored at room temperature without turning rancid.
“By Allan Phinney”