Whip up home-baked bread the easy way with these tips and healthy bread machine recipes.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column
Some people love to knead bread. Maybe it relaxes them or helps them work out frustrations. The bread machine is the perfect appliance for everyone else -- those who love the smell and taste of freshly baked bread and rolls, but don't have the need to knead.
The day I brought my bread machine home years ago was the day I retired from the whole "mixing, kneading, first rising" ceremony of bread making. I'll be honest with you, though -- I'm not crazy about the square loaves baked in the bread machine. That's why I'm a "dough cycle" kind of gal. This way you have the best of both worlds. You get to skip the mixing, kneading and first rising, yes. But then you take over and shape your bread or rolls, let them rise near your preheating oven, and bake them the old-fashioned way.
The dough cycle means the bread machine can do most of the work for you even if you're making pizza crust, rolls, or baguettes. When you press the "dough cycle" button, the machine stops the process after the first rising so you can form the dough. It then rises in its new shape for about 45 minutes, and then it's into the oven.
Bread Machine Tips
Whether you "do the dough cycle" or let your bread machine bake your bread, there are some tips that hold true for all bread machine recipes. In fact, most regular bread recipes can be converted for use in the bread machine if you keep the following in mind:
- Use the right yeast. The yeast that works best in the bread machine, in terms of the timing and the way it's mixed with the other ingredients without being dissolved first, is called "bread machine yeast" or rapid-rise yeast.
- Use the yeast in time. Check the date on your yeast packet or bottle to make sure it hasn't expired. Some bread experts suggest keeping your yeast in the refrigerator between uses -- but then you have to remember to bring it to room temperature before adding it to the bread machine.
- Use the right amount of yeast. You'll need about 1/2 teaspoon yeast for each cup of flour.
- Store the yeast properly. Before the jar or packet is opened, store it in a cool, dry place in the pantry or in the refrigerator. Once opened, keep the yeast in a sealed container in the back of the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
- Room temperature is the rule. You want all the liquids (and the yeast) added to the bread machine to be around room temperature. That's because yeast likes to grow in a warm environment. You can use the microwave to gently warm milk straight from the refrigerator, if need be.
- Dry milk or wet milk? Some bread machine recipes call for dry milk and water. But if you're going to start your bread machine right away instead of using a timer, you can replace the water with milk or buttermilk and delete the powdered milk.
- Use the right size machine. Some bread machines make 1-pound loaves, some 1 1/2 pound loaves, and some can handle 2-pound loaves. Make sure your bread machine isn't too small for the amount of dough you're mixing. Generally, 1-pound loaf machines can handle up to 2 3/4 cups of flour and 7/8 cups of liquid, The larger machines can accommodate 3 to 4 cups of flour and 1 to 1 1/3 cups of liquid.
- Follow the 50% whole-wheat rule. In almost every bread machine recipe I make, I use half whole-wheat flour and half white flour. This way, the bread (or roll) is still somewhat light and airy but has more fiber and nutrients than if I'd used all white flour.
- Take a peek. After letting the bread machine mix the ingredients for a while and form the dough, peek in to make sure the dough is slightly sticky, but not wet. You may need to add a teaspoon or two more liquid or flour to achieve this state.
Favorite Healthy Bread Machine Recipes
After being a happy bread machine owner for about a decade now, I've collected quite an assortment of favorite healthy bread machine recipes. Here are just a few of them.
3/4 cup low-fat milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons egg substitute or beaten egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rapid rise or bread machine yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons less-fat margarine or whipped butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Add milk, canola oil, egg substitute, whole-wheat flour, white flour, sugar, and salt to bread machine pan. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast in there.
- Set bread machine to DOUGH cycle and press start.
- After about 1 hour and 40 minutes, the bread machine will finish. Place the dough on a long sheet of waxed paper lightly dusted with flour. Roll the dough into a 10-inch x 14-inch rectangle. Spread the margarine or whipped butter over the top.
- Add brown sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl and blend well. Sprinkle evenly over the margarine-topped dough. Let the dough rest about 8 minutes. Cut the rectangle into 14 strips (about 1 inch wide). Fold the top end of each strip down to meet with the bottom end and then twist it a few times. Place the twisted strips on a jellyroll pan covered with nonstick foil that has been coated with canola cooking spray.
- Cover with a towel, if necessary, and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 40 minutes). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, or about 15-18 minutes.
Yield: 14 twists
Per twist: 108 calories, 3 g protein, 17.5 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 130 mg sodium. Calories fat: 25%.
If you can't find dried mixed fruit or glace holiday fruit, you can substitute 1/3 cup dried cranberries plus currants and 1/3 cup coarsely chopped maraschino cherries.
3/4 cup low-fat milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs, beaten (use a higher omega-3 brand if available)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lite pancake syrup or honey
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 3/4 cups white flour or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rapid rise or bread machine yeast
2/3 cup chopped dried mixed fruit or assorted glace holiday fruit
- Add all the ingredients except yeast and dried fruit into the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast. Select the DOUGH setting and press START.
- Ten minutes before the end of the DOUGH cycle (set your kitchen timer), sprinkle the mixed fruit over the top of the dough. When the cycle is over, you might need to knead in whatever fruit hasn't been incorporated (it just takes a minute).
- Shape dough into a round about 8 inches wide and 3 inches high, and place on a foil-lined or nonstick cookie sheet.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees while the bread rises in a warm place (cover with a towel if necessary). When double in size, bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Yield: 18 servings
Per serving: 118 calories, 4 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fat, .4 g saturated fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 197 mg sodium. Calories fat: 19%.
Garlic & Herb Pizza Crust
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons water, warm or room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise or bread machine yeast
- Add water, molasses, olive oil, garlic, basil, and oregano to bread machine pan (unless a different order is recommended by manufacturer). Add both types of flour to pan, and add the salt in one of the corners. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast.
- Select the DOUGH cycle and press start.
- When the dough cycle is complete, about 1 hour and 40 minutes, divide dough into 4 pieces. Press and stretch each piece out into a circle about 7 inches wide. Top with your desired sauce (pizza sauce or pesto) and toppings (cheese, veggies, etc.)
- Bake the mini pizzas in a 400-degree oven until crust is golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving (crust only): 250 calories, 7 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 538 mg sodium. Calories fat: 19%.
Published September 27, 2007.
Recipes provided by Elaine Magee; © 2007 Elaine Magee
©2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.