This is my reliable, “boring”, proven recipe for a basic white bread. All you do is spend 5 minutes to add ingredients to the bread pan and the bread machine does all the work, on an automatic cycle that is already programmed. That’s the whole purpose of the bread machine, right? The end result is a tasty loaf of white bread just of the right density.
I do believe that the day will come when I will use a bread machine for something more sophisticated, but for once this week I am sharing the recipe that doesn’t require too much thinking or meddling. Sometimes it’s just nice to make certain foods almost on auto-pilot, especially for basic stuff, like white bread.
In the last 3 months I hardly bought any store-made bread, baking about a loaf every week at home, in a bread machine. And, I’ve noticed a couple of trends/issues when making bread: sometimes the bread comes out way too dense, or the loaf does not rise enough and, as a result, comes out even denser. So, here I will describe the recipe that works for me to produce a less dense bread in a bread machine, using a basic cycle.
While making bread in a bread machine, make sure to consider these points:
– When you measure flour using cups, make sure not to pack flour too dense in a measuring cup, otherwise you will end up with much more flour than you need, and, therefore, the bread will come out denser. Measuring flour correctly will solve a lot of “dense” issues. The trick that works for me is that I use 1/3 measuring cup to carefully scoop all flour I need into the bread machine (usually about 3 cups), without over-packing it. Another way would be to weigh flour, which I don’t do, but it’s a solution.
– Use bread flour, not regular all-purpose flour. Bread flour contains a higher percentage of gluten than regular all-purpose flour. Using bread flour will produce taller, less dense loaves. If you use all-purpose flour (which has smaller percentage of gluten than bread flour), your loaves will be flatter and denser.
And here is the recipe. I started with the recipe that came in a little booklet together with my Williams-Sonoma bread machine, and I tweaked the ingredient measurements based on my preferences:
How to make basic white bread in a bread machine
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma bread machine booklet
Prep time: 10 min
Bake time: 3 hrs 15 min
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1/4 cups white bread flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Updated on 07/07/2014: Important note about properly measuring flour using measuring cups:
The proper way to measure flour using measuring cups is to aerate it first. This is done either by sifting flour, or aerating it by fluffing it up and whisking it well, then spooning it into the measuring cup, then carefully removing any excess flour with a knife. If you just stick that measuring cup in the bag of flour and scoop some out, you will get a lot more flour than what the recipe calls for. Do aerate the flour, or you will end up with dry dough! 🙂
1) Add water and oil into the bread pan. Add salt, sugar. Add flour.
2) Make a small indentation on top of flour and make sure it does not reach wet ingredients. Add the yeast to the indentation.
3) Keep yeast away from the salt.
4) Insert the bread pan into the bread machine, press it down to snap. Close the lid.
5) Use Basic bread, 1.5 lb loaf, medium crust cycle (3 hrs 15 minutes)
6) When bread is done, remove the bread pan using oven mitts. Turn over the bread pan and shake it to release the loaf. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.