Aside from investing in quality ingredients and taking good care of her bread machine, a beginner should also follow these tips to get the most out of the appliance:
- Begin with simple recipes. Never start with a complicated one; you’ll just frustrate and disappoint yourself. You can begin with pizza dough because the recipe is almost idiot-proof. You can also make a simple loaf of white bread using white flour first. You may substitute the white flour with whole grain flours after being successful with white flour.
- Open the lid if necessary. A lot of beginners are afraid of opening the lid because they think it’ll ruin the entire process. Actually, taking a peek after 5 to 10 minutes into the process is a sight to behold! Opening the lid makes it easier for you to identify if there’s something wrong with the blade or the machine, therefore allowing you to save the recipe at once. It’s necessary to check the moisture of your dough as well and you can only do that if you open the lid. If the dough seems to be too moist, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough ball becomes a little sticky. The dough should come in contact with the pan’s wall and then draw away. What if the dough is too dry? Then add a tablespoon of water at a time until it becomes tacky. Don’t worry much about the dough, remember there’s this thing called beginner’s luck. If you follow the procedure and the measurements of the recipe properly, then you don’t have to get worked up.
- Be very careful with your substitute ingredients. Beginners should always follow the list of ingredients in a recipe as much as possible. Doing so will increase their chances of being successful. If you want to replace some ingredients, you ought to be cautious. For instance, if you’re going to use whole wheat flour rather than white flour or use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, you should know that the ratio isn’t always 1:1. That means you should first study how they absorb moisture and the amount of gluten they contain before you consider substitutions. Also, be careful about the yeast because not all of them are similar. Other recipes might advise you to dissolve regular yeast first before adding it to the pan with other ingredients. At the end of the day, I recommend you to follow the ingredients exactly as they’re listed first—it’s the safest way for any beginner.
- Mind the room temperature. Where is your bread machine situated? Is the spot cool or warm? If it’s in a room that’s too cool, you will have a problem with your dough rising to double in the time assigned by the Dough Cycle of your machine. It’s best to move the appliance to a warmer area in the house. Sure, the bread machine has its own heating element, but the room temperature can still affect how fast or slow the dough will rise.
- Maximize the dough cycle, I beg you. When I say maximize, I mean use it as often as possible, especially when mixing ingredients. This will allow your oven to rest and save energy for the bigger tasks. Doing this will also let you have more control and shaping choices—even a better crust!
And that’s a wrap, folks! Just follow these tips, read these hacks, clean your machine properly, and practice!