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Topic: Bread Machine Disasters HELP PLEASE!

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Subject: Bread Machine Disasters HELP PLEASE!
Date Posted: 8/4/2009 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 407
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I follow directions, use bread machine yeast and bread flour yet my bread ends up about 3 inches high, is that normal?  It seems too dense.  It also wasn't mixed all the way on the bottom for the side edges a couple places.  Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong?

Last Edited on: 8/4/09 10:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2009 12:02 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Is your yeast fresh? That is my first thought . . . if the bread is not rising.

Reminds me of the time my mom was teaching my daughter to bake quick bread and it seemed to not rise much and was quite dense. We checked the baking powder they were using and it was about 2 years past the expiration date!

Last Edited on: 8/5/09 12:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2009 12:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 407
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i just bought the yeast a week ago.  I am keeping in the fridge, could that be a problem?  It said to store it there.

Date Posted: 8/5/2009 2:11 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2009
Posts: 301
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I would maybe let it warm up a little before you put it into the bread.  Maybe even feed it a little sugar water mixture.  I know you're not supposed to have to do that with the bread machine yeast, but I did it all the time before realizing you didn't have to.  When I stopped, my breads didn't come out as well.

One problem I've had is making blueberry bread in the machine.  I have tried everything -- fresh berries, frozen ones, dried ones, varying amounts of sugar, suspending the berries in cornstarch/flour, changing salt content -- and all I get is blue bread that smells awesome and tastes NOTHING like blueberries.  Can anyone help me?  I undertake this project about 3 times a year and end up making bread pudding out of the failures.

Date Posted: 8/6/2009 10:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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also elevation, hot, cold all has to do with this.  Since moving to NH - I am at a higher elevation than the town so everything I bake now adays doesn't really rise properly.    Even if the yeast is new (purchased) it could have a expiration date that has past.

Date Posted: 8/7/2009 5:58 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2006
Posts: 1,069
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Are you using warm water and the correct quantity of it? If not, that could affect it. Also, are  you opening the machine and checking on it a lot before it is done? Opening the lid can cause the warm air to escape and that can affect it also.

Date Posted: 8/8/2009 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 407
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I'm wondering if maybe the water is too warm.  Also when it says to add butter, do you melt of soften it?  The recipes haven't said so I've been mellting it.


I haven't opened the lid at all during baking.  I wonder if I do follow the directions and have good ingredients maybe the breadmaker isn't working right?  I got it from a friend that had it in storage for a while, but I think it's more possible that I'm doing something wrong.  I don't know, I just want to be able to make bread at home.

Date Posted: 8/24/2009 4:50 AM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 1
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You could check the manufacturer's web site on your machine. However, the most common bread problems are old yeast, water too hot (melted butter rather than softened could be adding a bit too much heat?) and possibly not enough water.  If the weather is dry, you will need another teaspoon or so of water.  If the weather is damp, you many need another teaspoon or so of flour.  Oh, and if you put garlic in the bread (yummy) like garlic/herb bread, be aware that garlic will inhibit the yeast, so you need a bit more yeast or just expect a lower, denser loaf.

It's fun to have the machine to do all the work for you, and have fresh bread when you want it.  And so many different variations on bread types and flavors to play with!  Good luck with it - don't give up, even dense bread tastes better than store-bought.

Date Posted: 8/25/2009 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/12/2009
Posts: 81
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I wouldn't use melted butter unless it specifically calls for it.  I use softened butter, and my loaves turn out great.  I actually think your problem may be the breadmaker itself, since you also mention that it isn't mixing everything thoroughly.  When I went to buy a breadmaker, I did a lot of research, and you'd be amazed at the poor results so many of them churn out.  If you're consistently getting poor results, even with fresh ingredients and no large temperature differences for water/butter, I would start suspecting the breadmaker.  My mom's Breadman stopped working after two loaves.

Date Posted: 9/13/2009 3:33 AM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2007
Posts: 1,157
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Hi Christa, Let's run over the ingredients of a typical bread recipe.

Butter: Do not melt it. You may allow it to soften naturally outside of the refrigerator if you want to in order to facilitate smooth mixing, but this is unnecessary. Just slice it up and toss the slices into the machine and it'll be fine. Note: YOU MAY SUBSTITUTE SHORTENING OR MAYONNAISE OR ANY EDIBLE OIL FOR BUTTER. Different oils will result in different flavors and slightly different textures. Once you have good loaves coming out, I suggest you experiment with this for fun.

Flour: Are you using BREAD FLOUR? All purpose flour doesn't produce enough gluten to rise properly. (Gluten is what makes it sticky and traps gases so the carbon dioxide emitted by the yeast is trapped and causes rising.) Also, at least 2/3 of the flour should be white flour. Using all whole wheat flour can result in inadequate rising. Note: YOU MAY SUBSTITUTE INSTANT MASHED POTATO FLAKES FOR UP TO 1 CUP OF THE FLOUR to make potato bread. However, this rises slightly less well, so try that sometime after you've got a good loaf.

Salt: Are you measuring the salt correctly? Make sure you're not using too much. It should be no more than about one and a half teaspoons per loaf, or less. Too much salt will kill the yeast.

Sugar: There should be at least a little sugar in your recipe. This feeds the yeast. If you forget it by accident, the yeast may not cause rising because it won't have any food to grow on.

Water: Should be cold or room temperature. Slightly warm to the touch is okay too. Straight hot water from the tap is probably too hot.

Egg: You may substitute an egg for an equivalent volume of water if you like. It will impart a pleasant flavor to the bread, and help with rising.

Baking powder / baking soda: Unnecessary, but is used in some recipes to create different textures in the bread. 

Yeast: If you're confident that you've got all the above things right, throw out your jar of yeast and go buy a new one from somewhere else. Yeast is ideally kept in the refrigerator, but may be kept on the counter: it will simply not stay good as long if you leave it out. A fresh jar of yeast should be so active that you have to cut down the amount used so the bread doesn't over-rise. (If it does, just punch it down with your fist once. Yes really.) As it gets older, it will react as the recipe describes. When it starts getting too old, it will start getting weak, and you'll need to use extra. Once it gets too old, it won't cause any rising, because it'll be dead. 

Check your bread machine's instructions, but in general, most machines require that you put in all the wet ingredients first, then the dry ingredients, and then you make a little dent in the middle of the top of the dry stuff with your finger and pour the measured yeast into that. Then start the machine. This prevents the yeast from becoming wet and active until it's being mixed in. Do not use the timer feature on your machine until you've got good loaves coming out, to ensure that the problem doesn't relate to your yeast accidentally getting wet and being used up before the mixing starts.

One other thing I'd check is, is the bread rising and then falling, or is it failing to rise at all? Peek through the window of your machine, or if it doesn't have one, open the lid a few times during the rise cycle. While it has been suggested that that's bad, and I agree it doesn't help, one or two peeks won't hurt it noticeably. If the bread is rising up well and then falling, you might select a shorter cycle on your machine, or try a little more yeast, or check again to make sure you're using bread flour, not all purpose flour. If the bread is never rising in the first place, and you're using the correct flour, and the bread machine is getting slightly warm during the rise cycle and hot for the baking... your yeast is dead.

Best wishes, and please tell us how it goes!

Subject: Flour contains different amounts of moisture, esp at diff times of year
Date Posted: 9/18/2009 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2009
Posts: 1
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Because flour contains various amounts of moisture depending on the type of flour and the time of year, I always open the lid after the paddle has mixed the ingredients into a ball during the first mixing to check the consistency.  I check to see if the dough has consolidated into a ball but is still moist enough that it is moving around the periphery of the pan. 

It could be that your bread comes out inconsistently mixed if not enough liquid was added to enable the machine to work it properly.  If the dough is too dry and hasn't formed into a soft ball, I add more water.  And, this usually takes more than a tablespoon.  If it is so wet that it isn't in a ball shape, I add a bit more flour to the edge of the pan.

If I'm using whole wheat flour, which by it's nature contains little glutin, I add 1 Tbsp. extra glutin, which can be purchased in the same part of the store as the flour.  Thomas F.'s comments about placing the ingredients in the correct order cannot be overstated-Keeping the liquid away from the yeast will help prevent cooking the yeast if the fluids are too hot.  Likewise, keep the salt away from the yeast, too.  Salt is important in that it tempers the yeast, but it can stop its growth if too much.

So...do you have a good loaf yet?  If not, your machine may not be up to par.  Newer machines are not too expensive and I'm glad Ive got one- I don't have to worry about it burning my bread nor, on the other hand, heating up adequately if I happen to open the lid once (at the beginning).

Date Posted: 10/5/2009 6:13 AM ET
Member Since: 11/4/2006
Posts: 795
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 i had that problem - it was the heating element. i got a new bread machine - the same make & model - and used everything i had been using in the same way, etc, but it worked in the new machine - whivh i noticed got alot hotter than the non-working machine.