Bread Machine Recipe

Ingredients

1 t          salt
2 T          sugar
1 C + 2 T    warm water
1 T          olive oil
1 T          canola oil
2 C          whole wheat flour
1 C          bread flour
3.5 t        bread machine (rapid rise) yeast

Directions

Use this recipe with the quick, 1 hour cycle on 1.5 lb capacity bread machines. It could be scaled for use with other size machines.

I add the ingredients in the order shown. Given the short kneading time with this cycle, I stir the first 5 ingredients a bit before adding the flour and yeast.

The "warm water" is tap water a bit hotter than you care to keep your hand in. Water too warm will kill the yeast. Water too cool will affect the rise. Work quickly to keep the water from cooling in the pan.

All the other ingredients must be at room temperature. If you use yeast from a refrigerated jar, measure it from the jar and let set at room temperature for at least 4 hours before starting.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. I usually wait 45 minutes.

Notes

In talking with other owners of bread machines, I find I am not alone in getting the traditional breads, with 2 kneadings and 1 punch down, to work well. For me, the loaves always collapse at the top, either just before or just after the start of the bake, and the texture is not uniform.

I read some books on bread making and bread machines. I tried several different recipes, adjusting proportions trying to get a tasty and well formed loaf. After about 40 loaves, I was almost ready to give up.

I decided to try my machine's 58 minute cycle for white bread. Only 13 minutes is given to mixing and kneading, and this is done at an elevated temperature to get the yeast active more quickly. A large amount of yeast is used to ensure the bread rises enough before baking begins, only 25 minutes into the cycle. The bake is done in only 33 minutes at what appears to be a higher than normal temperature.

The machine came with a recipe for this cycle. The recipe uses white bread flour, and the resulting loaf is not especially tasty once it cools. The texture and flavor are rather like the cheap white loaves from a supermarket. It is, though, very consistent; the loaves never collapse.

I set about to modify their recipe to make a loaf with more flavor. I had read that most recipes can accept upto 50% whole wheat flour in place of the bread flour, and I started there. This added more flavor, so I decided to try more. I tried up to 5/6 whole wheat flour, but the texture suffered. Using 2/3 whole wheat, as in the recipe above, seemed a good compromise between taste, texture, and ease of measuring. I wouldn't go above 3/4 nor below 1/2.

Olive oil can add a nice flavor to breads. I tried replacing all the canola oil in the original recipe with olive oil. The texture seemed to improve some, but the flavor wasn't quite to my taste. I settled on a 50/50 mix. A recent loaf was made with 7/4 T of olive oil, and this seemed fine, so perhaps something else was amiss earlier.

The original recipe used a whopping 5 t of yeast, and the resulting loaf was a bit yeasty tasting. I had read that many recipes can get by with as little as 1/2 the yeast recommended. I reduced the yeast down to 3 t, but I noticed the rise wasn't as full. I settled for 3.5 t, and at that, the yeast accounts for 1/2 the price of a loaf. Compared to traditional recipes, it is a lot of yeast for a 1.5 lb loaf of bread.

The instructions which came with the bread machine warn the express cycle can only be used with one size loaf, and this is the largest loaf the machine can work. The bake on this cycle seems to be done at a temperature higher than normal, probably to bake the loaf though in the little time available. A side effect of this temperature is the crust at the bottom of the loaf is a bit over cooked. A smaller loaf would likely be overcooked by this cycle. Therefore, I suggest you scale this recipe to the size of machine you have.

Generally, the amount of salt seems to be in proportion to the amount of yeast used. I tried once using less salt than the original recipe recommended, and, oddly, the loaf failed to rise as much. I didn't experiment further.

I also did not experiment with either the amount or the type of sugar. I fear reducing the sugar might affect the activity of the yeast, and the cycle is very short.

Nor did I try reducing the amount of oil used. As it is, 16% of the calories in this loaf is from the oil, about mid-range for commercial breads. Neither of these vegetable oils has much saturated fat in it, so I didn't bother to try reducing it.

Bread recipes recommend allowing the bread to cool before cutting. Not only does the bread not cut cleanly when very warm, too much steam escapes, and the texture of the cooled bread is harmed. After 45 minutes, the bread is still warm enough to melt soft butter but not so warm as to dry out.

Preparation time is only about 6 minutes. If the yeast is at room temperature, one can have a warm, fresh loaf ready to slice for dinner in well under 2 hours, including the time to measure, bake, and cool.