Making bread in a bread machine provides convenience and fresh, delicious loaves whenever you want them. However, there’s no denying you have less of an influence on the outcome of the bread. If you’re tired of your bread loaves being too soft and airy like cotton candy, you’re in the right place.
To make bread denser with a bread machine, use whole wheat flour, less yeast, don’t knead it too much, and don’t let the bread rise too long. You should also check the bread’s temperature while it’s in the machine, so it’s not too hot. Ensure your bread maker is on the proper setting, too.
In this article, we’ll break down the step-by-step process to make bread denser with your bread machine, how to limit the airy texture, and why the difference is often found in the flour you choose. We’ll also talk about flavoring tips and using the proper bread maker settings.
Start with Salt, Water, and Flour
It can be tempting to reach for lipids and other ingredients to boost your bread’s flavor, but we recommend beginners start with the basics: salt, water, and flour.
These three ingredients make up almost every loaf of bread worldwide. Using too much butter or oil can make the crust too airy and flaking, leading to uneven baking in a bread machine.
Another reason you should start with these basic ingredients is it makes it easier to reduce the margin of error.
If you add too much flour, you can reduce it next time; If you add too much little water, you can increase it in the next loaf. It’s much easier to manage three ingredients and make corrections.
Use Whole Wheat Flour for Dense Bread
Whole wheat flour makes the bread much denser. If you’re using a bread maker, consider using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose or white flour. While these ingredients work for some people, they tend to make the bread too airy or fluffy, leading to far too many bubbles.
Whole wheat flour can also be much healthier than other types of flour. It’s packed with fibre, vitamin B, and several minerals. Whether you’re aiming for a denser loaf, better health perks, or a classic-looking bread, using whole wheat flour in a bread machine is an excellent choice.
Don’t Knead the Dough Too Much
Kneading the bread too much can make it overly fluffy. On the other hand, not kneading it enough won’t mix the ingredients thoroughly, making the bread fail to rise properly. Panasonic explains kneading the dough is often as crucial as letting it rise, choosing the correct baking time, and so on.
You should knead the dough until all of the ingredients are blended. There shouldn’t be leftover salt or flour on the outside, nor should you find pockets of clumped, dry dough. Make sure you use enough water to keep it moist. Warm water activates the yeast, promoting a natural, even rise throughout the loaf.
The Kitchn recommends kneading the dough for ten to twelve minutes. Anything beyond this time limit can make the bread feel like cotton candy, which is far from the desired texture!
Reduce the Amount of Yeast You Use
Yeast is an integral ingredient in many bread machine recipes. Some bread makers have a setting that doesn’t require yeast, but it’s safe to say most of them do. If you’re using too much yeast, the loaf will rise quickly and become extremely fluffy. You can make it denser by slightly lowering the amount of yeast in the recipe.
A well-known sign of using too much yeast is collapsed dough. Yeast makes bread rise, but when it gets too fluffy, it can cave into itself. This can happen before you put it into the bread machine or while it’s baking. If this keeps happening every time you use a bread maker, make sure you lower the yeast content.
Furthermore, ensure the yeast doesn’t touch any liquid or salt before blending them together. Yeast can be altered and activated quickly, which means you have to pay extra attention to it throughout the baking process.
Ensure the Yeast Is Active
It might seem silly to mention this, but yeast always has an expiration date. If you use expired yeast, it won’t perform as it should. This process can cause the bread not to rise or make it overly fluffy by releasing gases. If you notice your bread smells or tastes rancid, it could be the yeast (or the flour).
The best way to know if the yeast is good to use is to check the expiration date, but that’s not always an option. Instead, you could make a simple trial loaf in the bread machine using salt, water, flour, and yeast. If it rises too little or too much, you either need to reduce the amount of yeast you use or get a new batch.
Shorten the Dough Rising Step
Letting the dough rise allows the yeast to do its job, but many beginners don’t know how long to wait. Bread Maker Machines suggests letting the bread rise for up to 40 minutes, but no more. If you forget to bake the bread loaf in the machine and it keeps rising, it’ll become extremely fluffy and filled with pockets of air bubbles.
Note: All bread makers and recipes work differently. If you noticed 40 minutes is too long, you could shorten the rising time to half an hour. Making bread in a bread machine takes lots of practice, so don’t shy away from trial and error. Some bread makers have a dough cycle, so it might be worth taking advantage of it if you don’t want to knead the dough or wait for it to rise.
Measure the Bread’s Temperature While Using the Bread Maker
Baking the bread at a lower temperature will prevent it from getting burnt or rising too quickly. Some bread machines come with a built-in thermostat, making it much easier to manage. However, you should use a thermometer if you don’t have this feature. If the bread gets too warm, it’ll burn the outside and become dry.
Low-heat settings are often desirable to bake bread evenly in a bread machine. Excess air pockets form when the gases trapped in the gluten expand, which is expedited and accelerated by high temperatures. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by using the previously mentioned whole wheat flour because it breaks down the gluten as it’s kneaded and heated.
Keep in mind that old bread machines can become worn, causing them to heat the outer edges of the bread more than the center. This issue creates a microwave-like effect that can burn the crust without baking the center enough. You’ll have bread that’s not nearly as dense as it should be. If you notice this issue, it might be time to upgrade your bread machine.
Use the Correct Bread Machine Setting
We already mentioned the importance of heating your bread at a lower setting, but some bread machines have in-depth choices. If you have a bread machine that lets you choose NKB (no-knead bread), dough cycles, soft bread, and so on, you’re in luck. These advanced bread machines take the hard work out of your hands.
A dough cycle lets you toss in the ingredients while the bread machine kneads and processes the dough. Some people prefer using this setting to knead their bread effortlessly, then toss it into the oven. Assuming you’re using the bread maker from start to finish, we suggest staying away from the soft bread cycles. They’re prone to making fluffy bread without enough density.
Butter the Crust After Removing the Bread
We all love bread and butter, but there are two times to match them:
- You can butter the bread before baking it, which makes the crust light and flakey. However, this can be problematic because it allows the bread to become filled with air that comes through the thin crust.
- You can butter the bread after removing it from the bread machine, which provides a delicious buttery taste without the flakey crust. If you want the best of both worlds, use a very thin layer of butter after kneading the dough, but not enough to see it. The butter should add a slightly yellow tint to the dough (don’t bathe it in butter!).
If your bread isn’t dense enough, pull back a bit on the butter and yeast!