The major ingredient in bread making is flour, so selecting
the right one is the key to a successful loaf.
Wheat flours make the best loaves. Wheat consists of an
outer husk, often referred to as bran, and an inner kernel,
which contains the wheat germ and endosperm. It is the
protein within the endosperm which, when mixed with
water, forms gluten. Gluten stretches like elastic and the
gases given off by the yeast during fermentation are
trapped, making the dough rise.
These flours have the outer bran and wheat germ
removed, leaving the endosperm which is milled into a
white flour. It is essential to use strong white flour or white
bread flour, because this has a higher protein level,
necessary for gluten development. Do not use plain white
flour or self-raising flour for making yeast risen breads in
your bread maker, as inferior loaves will be produced.
There are several brands of white bread flour available,
use a good quality one, preferably unbleached, for the
Wholemeal flours include the bran and wheat germ, which
gives the flour a nutty flavour and produces a coarser
textured bread. Again strong wholemeal or wholemeal
bread flour must be used. Loaves made with 100%
wholemeal flour will be more dense than white loaves. The
bran present in the flour inhibits the release of gluten, so
wholemeal doughs rise more slowly. Use the special
wholewheat programs to allow time for the bread to rise.
For a lighter loaf, replace part of the wholemeal flour with
white bread flour. You can make a quick wholemeal loaf
using the rapid whole wheat setting.
strong brown flour
This can be used in combination with white flour, or on its
own. It contains about 80-90% of the wheat kernel and
so it produces a lighter loaf, which is still full of flavour. Try
using this flour on the basic white cycle, replacing 50% of
the strong white flour with strong brown flour. You may
need to add a little extra liquid.
granary bread flour
A combination of white, wholemeal and rye flours mixed
with malted whole wheat grains, which adds both texture
and flavour. Use on its own or in combination with strong
Other flours such as rye can be used with white and
wholemeal bread flours to make traditional breads like
pumpernickel or rye bread. Adding even a small amount
adds a distinctive tang. Do not use on its own, as it will
produce a sticky dough, which will produce a dense
heavy loaf. Other grains such as millet, barley, buckwheat,
cornmeal and oatmeal are low in protein and therefore do
not develop sufficient gluten to produce a traditional loaf.
These flours can be used successfully in small quantities.
Try replacing 10-20% of white bread flour with any of
A small quantity of salt is essential in bread making for
dough development and flavour. Use fine table salt or sea
salt, not coarsely ground salt which is best kept for
sprinkling on top of hand-shaped rolls, to give a crunchy
texture. Low-salt substitutes are best avoided as most do
not contain sodium.
Salt strengthens the gluten structure and makes the
dough more elastic.
Salt inhibits yeast growth to prevent over-rising and
stops the dough collapsing.
Too much salt will prevent the dough rising sufficiently.
Use white or brown sugars, honey, malt extract, golden
syrup, maple syrup, molasses or treacle.
Sugar and liquid sweeteners contribute to the colour of
bread, helping to add a golden finish to the crust.
Sugar attracts moisture, so improving the keeping
Sugar provides food for the yeast, although not
essential, as modern types of dried yeast are able to
feed on the natural sugars and starches found in the
flour, it will make the dough more active.
Sweet breads have a moderate level of sugar with the
fruit, glaze or icing adding extra sweetness. Use the
sweet bread cycle for these breads.
If substituting a liquid sweetener for sugar then the total
liquid content of the recipe will need to be reduced