As part of my constant quest to learn cool, new things, I bought myself a bread machine several years ago. How’d I afford it, you ask? Easy: I bought it at Salvation Army for $20. Got a few weird looks from the cashier, who asked if I’d ever use it, but that’s fine.
Problem: No manual. So I hopped online, where I discovered that you don’t need a manual. You can make any bread machine recipe in any bread machine, as long as you know two things: the order of the ingredients, and the size of the loaf.
First, the order of the ingredients. All the ingredients should be added in the following order:
- Liquids (including butter)
- Remaining dry ingredients (except yeast)
Why? Because as soon as the yeast hits the water, the yeast will “bloom,” or start to ferment. You don’t want that to happen until the bread machine says so. By putting the flour on top of the liquids, the flour will form a barrier, keeping the yeast dry on top.
And that’s it. Literally, you can use any recipe in your bread machine now. Unless, of course, the loaf would be too big for your machine.
This required some experimentation, but the key lies in the amount of flour. That will determine the size of the final loaf (plus a few other variables, but that’s the primary factor).
So, when you first make a loaf of bread, a 2-cup recipe is a great place to start. That’ll make a small loaf. Put the ingredients into the bread machine (in the order listed above), then turn it on for a normal loaf. See how much space the final loaf takes up, and you can adjust accordingly.
One final tip: If you buy a kitchen scale, you can measure by weight instead of using cups and measuring spoons. Not only is it more accurate, it’s faster and requires less cleanup: You just dump in X grams of an ingredient, reset the scale, dump in Y grams of the next ingredient, and so on. I regularly make bread with about 10 minutes’ worth of effort.
And here’s one of those recipes now!
Bread Machine Ciabatta
Prep time 10 minutes, total time 2 hours
1 and ¼ cups (150 grams) water
1 and ¼ cups (210 grams) bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
¾ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp yeast
Put the ingredients in the order listed above into the bread machine, making sure to sprinkle the flour evenly over the water so that the top of the flour is dry, and put the machine on the “dough” setting. Pre-heat the oven to 450° F as the bread machine makes the dough, then when it’s ready, remove the dough, stretch it into a log, and bake for 18 minutes. Voila!