minutes per mile blog

step-by-step guide: fresh bread in a bread machine, with less than 30 minutes of work

I’ve been making my own bread for a year and a half now!sunflower_seed_bread_2_DSC0362 I honestly have not bought a single loaf of sandwich bread since I got my bread machine in June 2014. This sounds like an incredible feat, but I promise it’s really not that big of a deal.

I always tell people how EASY it is to make bread at home, but I feel like they don’t believe me. So. Now I’m here to show you — with proof– how simple the whole process can be!

Here’s how to make a basic loaf of bread in your bread machine from start to finish. Note: Because this is a start-to-finish guide to the bread machine (not the oven) the final product will be tall and handsome like the loaf below (not long and skinny like the one above — I shaped that one by hand). Don’t judge a loaf by its looks, though. No matter how it’s shaped, it will still be delicious.black_russian_bread_DSC0157Step 1: Line up your ingredients (5 minutes). To make the most basic loaf of bread, all you really need are the following: water, flour, salt, and yeast. I tend to go a little crazy and add in a few other ingredients, though 😉

Most recipes will also call for butter (or some type of oil) and sugar (or honey/molasses). Some recommend subbing in milk or dried milk powder as well. This gives the bread a chewier texture.

I’ve found that you can take almost any recipe and sub in whole wheat flour for white bread flour, as long as you don’t sub whole wheat for more than half of the total flour requirement. Start going too heavy on the whole wheat and you’ll have a dense, sunken loaf.

And by the way, the one investment you MUST make is to buy good flour. Store-brand flour doesn’t rise well, no matter how carefully  you measure it our how humid you keep your kitchen. My favorite flour brands are King Arthur, White Lily, and Bob’s Red Mill. Most five-pound bags cost about $4, which makes them more expensive than store-brand flour but still way cheaper than buying an actual loaf of bread!

You can read about Bob’s Red Mill vs. King Arthur hereeasy homemade bread in a bread machineStep 2: Measure & dump your ingredients in the bread machine according to machine manual instructions (5 minutes). Your bread machine will come with a manual with recipes for basic white, wheat, rye, etc. loaves. I recommend starting with a few of your manual recipes and then moving onto more advanced recipes (I love King Arthur’s bread recipes) as you get more comfortable.

Or just start making up your own recipes, like I’m doing below! I took the basic wheat bread recipe from my manual and added in flax seeds, sesame seeds, almond meal, and barley. Plus some soy lecithin and vital wheat gluten for structure. Again, you don’t need all these fancy add-ins to make bread, but they are fun to play with :)easy homemade bread in a bread machineIt’s kind of important to put the ingredients into the bread machine in the order they are listed. Most of the time, wet ingredients go in first and dry ingredients (especially yeast and flour) go in last. I don’t know the science behind this, but I think it’s so that the yeast stays cozy and warm (but not too warm) next to the flour. I like to put my yeast right on top! Hello, yeast.easy homemade bread in a bread machineStep 3. Choose your settings and press start (2 minutes). My favorite thing about having a bread maker: It does all of the work for you. No messy kneading! All you have to do is choose the appropriate settings and hit start. And another amazing thing: most bread makers come with a timer. Mine allows me to schedule bread up to 15 hours in advance!

Which means that you can throw the ingredients in before bed and wake up to a fresh loaf! Or program before you go to work and come home to a fresh loaf. That’s actually how I schedule most of my bread-making — I throw it in at 7 am or 7 pm and set the timer so it’s done when I’m awake or at home again.

For this loaf I put my machine on setting 3 for whole wheat and set the timer for 10 hours. I put the ingredients in at 7 pm on Monday and scheduled my bread to be ready at 5 am on Tuesday when I woke up. You’ll also see the little arrows that indicate the darkness of the loaf as well as the size of the loaf.easy homemade bread in a bread machineStep 4: Walk away and completely forget about your bread while it bakes (3 to 15 hours). I made dinner, watched the Good Wife, talked on the phone to a friend, slept for 7 hours… and then woke up to this:easy homemade bread in a bread machineIt’s pretty typical for bread machine loaves to have a sort of deformed top (especially large, fluffy loaves) because humidity tends to build up and sink the top layer a bit. Don’t let the weird-looking top scare you. If you want a perfect-looking loaf, your best bet is probably to hand-shape and bake the dough in an oven, not in the bread maker. easy homemade bread in a bread machineStep 5 (10 minutes): Cool, slice, and serve! Dump your bread out of the bread maker and let it cool on a wire rack. Try not to leave fresh-baked bread in the machine for more than 30 minutes or else the sides get soggy.  Note that the bottom of the loaf will have a hole/tear in it from where the bread machine agitator/mixer thing is. Again, if you want to avoid this — shape your dough by hand and bake it in the oven. I personally don’t care too much!
easy homemade bread in a bread machine
And don’t worry about that messy top section — just slice it off!easy homemade bread in a bread machine
And I recommend eating that bit, too. I toasted up a little deformed slice, topped it with butter and jam, and ate it with a cup of coffee while I checked emails and got ready for my morning run.easy homemade bread in a bread machine
The rest of the loaf is nice and rectangular in shape, perfect for making sandwich-sized slices. easy homemade bread in a bread machineI like to let my bread cool for at least an hour before slicing so that the loaf firms up a bit and I can make clean, thin slices. On Tuesday I cut off the wavy top part to eat right then and went for a run/took a shower/wrote a blog post before slicing up the rest.

Meanwhile the sun also came out, which is why the lighting changed in the photo below! Ha. I am crazy. easy_homemade_bread_machine_DSC0374And that is IT, people. Fresh bread with less than 30 minutes of actual work on your end. Go buy a bread maker (I love my t-fal) and let this magical machine transform the way you feel about carbs. The end.

  • Have you ever made bread in a machine or from scratch?
  • Do you have a bread maker?
  • Favorite type of bread?! (I’m a big fan of cinnamon-walnut-raisin but love anything with seeds/crunch as well!)

13 thoughts on “step-by-step guide: fresh bread in a bread machine, with less than 30 minutes of work

  1. Thanks! I just recently got into bread making. Do you ever let your dough knead and rise in the bread machine and then shape and bake it in the oven? If so, when do you remove the dough from your machine?

    • yes! i put my machine on program 8 for pizza dough. that kneads/rises it for about 1.5 hours. then take out, shape, and let rise again for 45-60 minutes. then bake for 30-40 minutes.

    • FYI I made a gluten-free loaf in my machine the other week using Bob’s Red Mill GF bread mix. Came out like a dream! My friend who is gluten-free said it was one of the best she’s tasted :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now… and I think I’ve unknowingly been waiting for this post. I’ve also been making my own bread for almost a year now – inspired by you! You’re much more adventurous. When it comes to add-ins, do you have a recommendation on how much is “safe” to add in total (e.g., a couple tablespoons, 1/2 cup)?

    • Ah! I forgot to include that in the post. For this loaf I added in:
      – about 1/8 C each of: flax seed, sesame seed, barley. These are lighter seeds and weigh less than nuts so I’ve found I can go heavier with them than I can for things like sliced almonds or walnuts.
      – 1/4 C almond meal (cut back about 1/4 C of whole wheat flour for this substitution)
      – 2 heaping tablespoons of vital wheat gluten (this is the magic to making heavy/dense loaves rise)
      – about 1/8 C soy lecithin (this supposedly helps spread the mix-ins evenly throughout the loaf and keep the bread fresh)
      – as for flour: I did 1.25 cups whole wheat & 2 cups white bread flour. King Arthur brand!! Hope that helps!

  3. You read my mind! Thanks for sharing your step by step instructions. I’m digging out my bread machine right now :)

  4. I’m a new blog reader and I really enjoy what I’ve read. I love running, which is how I found your blog, but I’m also in the market for a bread machine, so this post is really helpful! I appreciate all of your tips.

    What made you decide on the T-fal bread machine? I’m thinking of getting the 311 model. Was that available when you bought yours? They look really similar. Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for reading! I’m sure the 311 is a great model — from what I can tell, it’s just the upgraded version of the 111 (my model, which is ~2 years old), which explains the difference in price (111 is no longer in production). To me, the most important features of a bread machine are: 1) programmable timer; 2) large loaf size (2 lbs is good); and 3) sturdiness. Some cheaper bread makers have been known to shake themselves right off the counter! T-Fal seems to be a pretty trusted appliance maker when it comes to bread machines. Before you make your first loaf be sure to buy some high-quality flour. King Arthur is my favorite. If you have a question, call their baking hotline. It’s a brilliant resource!
      Happy baking!

      • I ended up getting a Tfal bread machine and tried it out today. It was great! I didn’t have a lot of time to experiment today, so I made something simple, but I’m looking forward to trying some of your suggestions soon. Merry Chrismas!

        • oh good!! i hope you love it! my mother-in-law has an amazing high-end breville bread maker that sort of made me want to get a new one, but we both think the t-fal is a great basic bread machine for the price.