Perfect dough

The purpose of bread machines is to make baking a lot easier, right? You just add the ingredients and the machine does all the kneading (the most tedious part of baking) for you!

But somehow, your dough still doesn’t turn out great. If this is the case, it’s time to examine your method as well as the recipe you’re using because you are clearly missing something.

The tiniest mistake could ruin your dough. 

To help you out, we’ve gathered a list of tips for making the perfect dough in your bread machine.

Read and take note to enjoy a wonderful loaf of bread of pizza the next time you make dough!

Start with a Simple Foolproof Recipe

So you just bought a bread machine and want to give it a go? You don’t choose a complex recipe that requires skill and experience. You opt for the basic, foolproof one.

Find a tried and tested recipe that is so simple you can’t mess it up. Perhaps a recipe recommended to you by a friend or family member or one from the bread machine recipe book that came with your appliance.

For example, if you’re making bread in your bread machine for the first time, you can even buy a bread machine mix available in many stores if you don’t want to mess up.

There’ll be plenty of time to try other, more complicated recipes when you’re more experienced with bread machine baking. But for now, you should stick to the simplest one you can find such as this pizza dough recipe below:

Simple Bread Machine Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (or appropriate amount of instant yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Add the ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually wet ingredients first, followed by flour, salt, and finally yeast). Select the Dough setting and press Start.

After a few minutes, open the lid of the bread machine to check whether the ingredients combined well and to make sure the consistency is right. Once the dough cycle is completed, transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape it.

Don’t Experiment with Other Cycles (Dough Cycle Only)

If you are new to bread machine baking and you want to make homemade bread, perhaps it’s best to stick to the Dough cycle only and skip the baking part. As we already said, this cycle handles the trickiest part for new bakers-the kneading.

Use the bread maker to mix the ingredients and knead the dough but then transfer it to a lightly floured surface and shape the dough. Later when you gain more experience, you can choose whether to bake the bread in the bread maker or in the oven. You’ll also learn what works for you better, what your preferences are, etc. 

How Long Does a Dough Cycle Take on a Bread Machine?

Dough cycles usually take about 40 minutes, depending on the bread maker model you own. But sometimes, it can take significantly longer than an hour. That is because the dough cycle sometimes includes the rising time.

Most bread makers come with a timer so you’ll know when the dough is ready. The machine will alert you with an audible beep.

Tip: You can use the dough cycle for making pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, pie crust, and even cookie dough.

Measure Your Ingredients According to the Instructions

Remember that baking is a science and it takes time to develop a successful recipe so take the author’s word on it. It is crucial to use exactly the amount of water, flour, and other ingredients as indicated in the recipe.

Using more or less of something than indicated will ultimately affect the quality of your dough. For example, using too much yeast can lead to a deflated bread while using not enough water can produce a hard, inedible bread. Therefore, precision is a must.

Use the Right Measuring Cups 

To measure the ingredients, you need proper tools. But not all measuring cups can do the trick. For example, there are dry measuring cups for flour and other dry ingredients, and there are liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients.

Swapping one with the other and using it to measure all the ingredients, dry and liquid, won’t result in a perfect dough. If you want perfection, purchase both cups and get the correct ratio of ingredients.

Dry vs Liquid Measuring Cup

The difference between dry and liquid measuring cups lies in the weight. An ounce of a dry ingredient is not the same as an ounce of a wet ingredient. For example, one cup of flour doesn’t weigh the same as one cup of raisins.

To get a perfect ball of dough, precision is required and that means measuring the dry and wet ingredients correctly.

What is the Best Flour for Bread Machine Dough

Ideally, you should use the type of flour indicated in the recipe to get the perfect dough. There is a reason why that particular flour is specified in the recipe.. For example, if you’re baking bread and the recipe calls for bread flour, then that’s what you should use.

This is because bread flour has a high level of protein and helps produce more gluten which is essential for making a quality loaf of bread. So our best advice would be to use the flour the author of the recipe recommended.

Type of FlourProtein Level
Bread flour12%-14%
All-purpose flour 8%-11% 
Cake and pastry flour8%
Whole wheat flour13%

What to Do If You Want to Use a Different Type of Flour?

However, if you don’t have said flour in your kitchen and you want to substitute it with another type of flour, what do you need to know?

You can substitute one flour for the other if you need to. Simply use the same amount of flour as indicated in the recipe. But you should know that not all flours are the same. For example, using all-purpose-flour instead of bread flour will produce a high-quality loaf of bread but the dough might not rise as high as it would with bread flour.

Some types of flour absorb a greater amount of moisture. It takes experience to learn how to work with all these different types of flour. That is why we recommend baking beginners to stick to the recipe ingredients.

Bread Flour vs All-Purpose-Flour

Bread flour. It contains the highest level of protein (12-14%). Thanks to the protein, this type of flour helps produce more gluten which results in a higher rise and chewier bread. Bread flour is typically recommended  for making bread in a bread machine.

All-purpose-flour. It contains a moderate level of protein (8%-11%). All-purpose-flour can be used as a substitute for bread flour or almost any other flour, as the name suggests. It can even be used instead of cake flour.

What Type of Yeast to Use

What type of yeast are you using to make the dough? This is another important factor that can affect how your dough turned out. Again, it’s best to use the type of yeast indicated in the recipe but if you don’t have it, you can substitute it with another variety.

There are three types of yeast (even though the various names used can sometimes make it seem overly confusing): instant yeast, active dry yeast, and fresh yeast. We usually use the first two types of yeast for baking at home.

Instant yeast is sometimes referred to as rapid rise yeast so don’t be confused if you bought a package with that label.

How to Substitute Instant Yeast with Active Dry Yeast?

Substituting one type of yeast with the other is not as simple as it seems. For example, if the recipe calls for a teaspoon of instant yeast but you only have active dry yeast, you won’t just use the same amount of active dry yeast.

Instead, you would need a bit more active dry yeast. 1 ¼ teaspoon to be precise. 

1 teaspoon of instant yeast1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

Check on the Dough During the Mixing Process

Do not be afraid to check on the dough while it’s mixing in the bread machine. Beginners might be intimidated by the bread machine and thus won’t risk it by opening the lid while the mixing cycle is going but this is a very important step.

To get a perfect ball of dough, consistency is crucial. And there’s no way of knowing this unless you check on the dough. This way, you will know whether you need to add something to the dough to get the desired consistency.

The Dough Is Too Wet: What Do I Do?

Fear not because this can easily be fixed. If upon checking on the dough you noticed that it is too sticky and wet, you need to add a bit of flour.

Add flour slowly, one tablespoon at a time. Close the lid and let the dough mix and then check again. The dough should stick a little to the sides but easily pulls away- It looks firm enough to work with.

The Dough Is Too Dry: What Do I Do?

If the dough is too dry, it won’t form a ball that touches the sides of the pan. You can fix this too simply by adding a bit of water to the dough. Open the lid and add water carefully, little by little so as not to add too much. Use a tablespoon to add water.

Close the lid and let the mixing cycle continue. Then check again. If you’re happy with the consistency, then leave it as it is.

Keep the Dough in a Warm Place

Once the bread machine has kneaded the dough, you can either take it out for the rise or leave it in the bread machine. There is a third option, to place the dough in the refrigerator for a slow cold rise, but as you’re just starting out with bread machine baking, you should stick to the basics for now.

Many people use the bread maker only to make the dough as the machine does a better job kneading the dough (especially if you’re a newbie!).

They shape the dough, leave it at room temperature to rise, and then bake in the oven. This is often the choice if you’re making bread and you want to achieve that artisan-style appearance and crunchy crust.

 In order for the dough to rise, it needs to rest at a warm spot, especially if you’re making bread and you want the dough to rise beautifully and resemble the artisan-style loaves. However, too much heat can also affect the quality of the dough so it’s important that the environment is not too hot.

Basically, room temperature is fine, unless your house is a bit chilly, of course. In that case, you can preheat the oven a bit, turn it off, and then place the covered bowl inside. (MAKE SURE THE OVEN IS TURNED OFF)

Important: This will significantly hasten the rise but be cautious. If the dough rises too quickly, it will fall at some point and the result will be deflated bread.

Should You Leave the Dough to Proof Inside the Machine?

You can opt to leave the dough in the bread machine to rise. The dough is thus protected from outside elements and the machine will keep it warm. This is also a good solution if your house is chilly and you fear the dough won’t rise properly.

Once the dough has risen just right, you can then reshape it and bake in the oven or simply select the Bake setting if you’re making bread machine bread.

Keep the Bread Machine on a Warm Spot

If you worry that room temperature is too low for the dough to rise even inside the bread machine, then you can transfer the bread maker to a warm place in your house. This is usually the kitchen where we bake so it’s always a bit warmer than the rest of the house.

Final Word

To make the perfect dough, it is vital that you follow the recipe instructions carefully and don’t experiment, at least not until you gain some experience. Plus, if you take note of our above-mentioned tips, you will be making mouth-watering bread, pizzas, and more in no time!