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Bread-making 101: Everything You Need to Know

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There's nothing more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread. But the complicated and labor-intensive process of making it by hand can prevent a lot of people from experiencing the joy that comes from serving a perfectly warm and tasty slice of bread from a loaf they made themselves.

The Oster® 2 lb. Bread Maker takes all the work out of preparing fresh bread by making it easy for anyone to bake their own loaf. The machine bakes fresh bread quickly and conveniently, simplifying the process and saving you valuable time and effort.

Now you can enjoy the benefit of baking with your own ingredients and customizing loaves to your taste and preferences. Read on to learn everything you need to know to make the perfect loaf.

The basic ingredients
Creating delicious loaves depends on understanding its five basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, a liquid like water or milk and a sweetening agent like honey or sugar. Most types of bread are created from a combination of these ingredients. Bread-making seems like magic for a reason - each component interacts with the other in just the right way to transform from dough into a warm and aromatic loaf of delicious bread.

breadThere's nothing like biting into freshly made bread.

Yeast is the main catalyst in the bread-making process. When the yeast comes into contact with warm water, it interacts with sugars in the flour and emits carbon dioxide. This release of carbon dioxide is what causes the bread to rise.

Since yeast will begin to activate as soon as it comes into contact with water, it's important that you add the liquids to the bread maker first when making the bread. You need to ensure that the liquid and the yeast don't come into contact with one another before the machine begins mixing the ingredients together.

De-mystifying the process
A lot goes on in your bread maker after you add the ingredients and push the button. It perfectly kneads the bread dough using a built-in paddle. After the dough has been kneaded, the machine heats up to just the right temperature for the bread to rise. All that's left is to bake the bread - and, if you're using your machine's EXPRESSBAKE® cycle, you'll have a 2-pound loaf of artisan-style bread ready to eat in less than an hour. How's that for taking out all the hard work of hand kneading and rising time needed when preparing bread the traditional way?

Things to keep in mind
Home-baked bread sure is delicious, but a good baker knows how important it is to precisely follow a recipe. Even seemingly minute variations in ingredients or measures can impact how the bread turns out. In addition, when bread is made in a bread maker, the way it rises can be affected if the room temperature and humidity level are unusually low or high. Make sure to carefully follow the quantities and ingredient types in recipes, too, since slight differences can change the results. For example, certain types of flour absorb more moisture than others.

"Follow recipes closely - even minute variations can impact how the bread turns out."

A great way to help make sure your bread turns out just the way you want it is by lifting up the lid about 6-10 minutes into the kneading stage to observe the consistency of the dough. If it appears too wet or runny, add a little flour to it. If it looks dry or crumbly, add a little water.

If you want to create bread in different shapes other than a rectangular loaf or bake with a decorative pan for a special occasion, you can use your bread maker to knead and raise the dough and then transfer it to the oven to cook as you normally would. This works for baking rolls too.

Endless variety
The fun of making bread at home is that there are endless variations to the types of loaves you can create! Nuts, chocolate chips, fruit pieces and seeds all add extra flavor and excitement to a standard loaf, plus you can experiment with different flours such as rye, whole grain and even gluten-free rice and garbanzo bean flours. 

And the opportunities for bread-makers don't just end at baking tasty loaves. You can also use the machine to prepare the dough for pastries, pizza, cinnamon buns, bagels and even pasta!