Kneeding dough with hands

Yes, you can use a bread machine recipe to make oven-baked homemade bread anytime. In fact, you can pretty much convert any bread machine recipe if you follow certain rules and guidelines. 

Many bakers would like to give some bread machine recipes a go but they don’t own a bread machine. Here’s the good news, you don’t need one! In this post, we will guide you through the process of converting a bread machine recipe to make bread by hand.

How to Convert a Bread Machine Recipe?

Converting a bread machine recipe to manual baking is actually quite simple. Instead of adding the ingredients to the bread machine pan, you add them to a large mixing bowl and mix everything manually.

If you’re using active yeast, you dissolve it in warm water before adding it to the bowl. Then you add the rest of the ingredients one by one. 

But there are some nuances you should be aware of. For example, it is of utmost importance to measure the flour correctly. Using too much flour can ruin your recipe. Likewise, using less flour than indicated in the recipe can also affect the quality of the dough. 

We recommend using measuring cups or a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients before adding them to the bowl. You want to make sure that you use the amounts indicated in the recipe, especially if you are a first-time baker. 

When using a bread machine for baking, you don’t really have to concern yourself with many things as the machine takes care of everything. A bread maker features a cycle for every step of the process (kneading, rising, baking). Simply select the desired setting and press Start. The machine alerts you when the cycle is completed. 

But when kneading and baking by hand, you need to think about the timing. For instance, you want the dough to rise properly but you also need to make sure the dough is not over fermented. Temperature is a crucial factor here as too hot or too cold environments can affect the dough. It can either rise too quickly and later collapse or fail to rise at all. That is why when we say “leave the dough to rise at room temperature”, this can be a bit confusing. Perhaps the temperature in your house is too chilly or too hot. 

It is important to leave the dough at a warm place that will enable it to develop properly while ensuring that the optimal temperature. 

How to Knead Dough by Hand?

Kneading the dough is the most complex part of baking for many. Amateur bakers lack the skills to properly knead the dough while others simply don’t appreciate the mess that mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough inevitably creates in the kitchen. 

That is why bread machines are such a useful kitchen appliance as they handle this tedious task. 

However, kneading the dough by hand is really not complicated, it just takes time to get used to it and master the steps. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty (and sticky!).

But the first step is to try so we’ll attempt to explain (as much as that’s possible) how to knead the dough by hand.

Step 1. Prepare all the ingredients you need for the dough and a large bowl to combine the ingredients.

Step 2. Add the ingredients according to the instructions and mix well using a wooden spoon. When a firm ball of dough is formed (usually once you can’t move the spoon through it), the dough is ready to be kneaded.

Step 3. Clean the countertop or another flat surface you will use to knead the dough. (You can also use parchment paper if you don’t want to knead the dough directly on the countertop).

Step 4. Sprinkle some flour on the working surface.

Step 5. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the countertop and start working the dough with your bare hands (make sure you wash them before you start kneading!).

Step 6. Gently gather the dough into a pile, press it, and reshape it. That is basically it. Continue repeating the process until the dough is no longer sticky (about 5 minutes). The result we’re aiming for is an elastic, smooth ball of dough.

Step 7. Transfer the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size.

Tip: If the dough continues to stick to your fingers, use more flour to dust the surface and your fingers.

Can You Use a Stand Mixer to Knead the Dough?

Yes, you can. Even though kneading by hand is really simple, the process can be made even simpler if you use a stand mixer. This will also help reduce the mess since you don’t knead the dough on the countertop so there’s no sprinkling flour involved.

Simply add the ingredients to the mixer in the order indicated in the recipe. Attach the dough hook and start mixing the dough at low speed. It can take about 2-5 minutes until the dough is perfectly smooth and elastic. 

If you own a stand mixer, we definitely recommend using it to knead the dough to speed up the process and avoid creating additional mess.

Adjust the Ingredient Proportions

We must emphasize the importance of this step. When converting a bread machine recipe to a regular one, we must consider ingredient proportions. Bread machines have a limited capacity and so you need to adjust the amount of flour you’re using. 

Smaller bread machines usually allow for about 2 cups of flour while the larger ones use about 3-4 cups. You can stick to the amount indicated in the bread machine recipe or you can increase this amount if you want to make a bigger loaf of bread, a larger pizza dough, etc. 

But keep in mind that if increasing the amount of flour, you must also adjust the proportions of other ingredients (yeast, water, etc).

The ratio of flour to water is approximately 5:3.

Take a look at the table below for more clarity.

IngredientsQuantity (g)
Fat (butter, oil)5

How to Make Bread By Hand

We hope that by now,we’ve convinced you that making bread by hand using a bread machine recipe is easy. To make things even easier for you, we won’t adjust the proportions or anything. We’ll use the exact proportions from a bread machine recipe to make a basic white loaf.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ⅓ cup of warm water
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • A big bowl
  • A wooden spoon


Prepare a big bowl to combine the ingredients. Mix the warm water and half the flour. Then add sugar, butter, salt, and yeast. Gradually add the rest of the flour and stir with a spoon until all the ingredients are combined.

When it becomes too difficult to stir using the spoon, it’s time to transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead it. (You can also knead the dough in the bowl a little bit before transferring it).

Knead the dough following the steps we explained earlier.

Tip: If you don’t have instant yeast, you can use active dry instead but you need to activate it first. Combine yeast and water and let it dissolve for a few minutes.

Order of Ingredients

When using a bread machine, it is crucial to follow the order of ingredients indicated in the bread machine manual. Most bread machine manuals recommend adding liquid ingredients first (water, oil, etc)  followed by dry ones (flour, sugar, salt). Yeast is usually the last to go into the bread machine pan. 

When making bread by hand, the order of ingredients can be different. It varies from one recipe to the other as there are so many types of yeast bread. 

For active dry yeast:

Start by dissolving the yeast in warm water. Then, add the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture. 

For instant yeast:

If you’re using instant yeast, you add the yeast directly to the mixture. The order of ingredients is thus slightly different. You combine the dry ingredients first (flour, yeast, sugar, salt). Next, you add the liquid ingredients (water, oil/butter) and mix. 

What is the Best Time to Add Seeds and Nuts to the Dough?

When making a loaf with seeds, fruits and nuts in a bread machine, the machine alerts you when it’s time to incorporate these add-ins. The machine makes an audible sound so you know it’s time for this step. 

Many bread makers feature a hopper that automatically adds the seeds and nuts when it’s time so you don’t need to think about it. You add the seeds, fruits or nuts in the hopper immediately and let the machine take care of the rest.

When making bread by hand, you add fruits, seeds or nuts towards the end of the kneading process. About 1-2 minutes before you’re done kneading the dough, add the add-ins of your choice and gently fold them into the dough.