Bread machines are handy devices, but they sometimes get put in a cupboard and forgotten. That can be good news though, because you can often pick one up at a yard sale for a very low price. A good one new costs around $100 (if you want a good mix of quality and affordability), and they can often be found used for about $10 at yard sales.
Bread machines are easy to use, but user instructions are usually long gone by the time they hit the used market, so while it isn’t that difficult, its not something you would necessarily be able to easily figure out on your own.
There are three key parts to a bread making machine. The machine itself of course, and then there is the pan or bucket, and the kneading knife or blade. Sometimes the kneading blade – which acts like a stirrer in the bottom – is lost in used bread making machines. You have to have this for it to work, and you can usually find one on the Internet by searching the brand name and the model number.
Some bread machines say to put the dry materials in first, and some say to put the wet materials in first. You can guess at this, and you have a 50 percent chance of getting it right or making a mess. Also pay attention to the size of the pan. If the pan holds less than 10 cups of water, you may make only a one-pound loaf of bread. A 12-cup pan will make a two-pound loaf. You may have to adjust recipes accordingly.
The basic ingredients for making bread in one of these machines is yeast, flour, salt and liquids. You can find yeast, or starter, in the baking goods section of your grocery store. Don’t use rapid rise because the time savings isn’t that much, making it not worth the extra cost. Use bread flour instead of all purpose flour. Bread flour comes in “hard” and “soft varieties, with all-purpose being a combination. You can use all-purpose flour, but bread flour is more compatible with yeast.
The yeast is a bit tricky. If your liquids are too hot they will make it ineffective, so try to get liquids to room temperature. Yeasts also works better with some sugar or salt, which most recipes call for.
Depending on how you use the machine, the order you mix things may or may not matter. If you are doing it all at once, then it is not so important. if you are setting the machine up to start later, you must do so in a way that keeps them inert until the machine starts. When using the delayed pattern, start with liquids, then cover that with flour, then ad things like salt, sugar and other seasonings, Add the yeast last. The important thing is to keep the yeast from touching the water before the process is to start.
Once you get the hang of it with some very basic recipes, you may then expand on them to make more kinds of bread.