Introduction of the Ingredients
A bread maker, overall, does the exact same thing that someone making bread by hand would do. The obvious advantage is that it is all done for you without much effort or thought. The most important (and virtually only) step in how a bread maker works is the introduction of the ingredients into the bread maker. Bread making is more like a science experiment than cooking because if you don't put the exact right amount of a certain ingredient into the recipe, the whole thing won't work. Make sure you measure out the exact amount of flour, water, yeast, salt and any other ingredient before you put it into the bread maker to ensure it produces a satisfactory end product.
Mixing and Kneading
Once the ingredients are in, a program is selected for the bread maker to follow. Most bread makers come with a certain number of set programs that are available at the touch of a button. The timing may be slightly different, but they all follow the same basic series of commands, the first being mixing and kneading. The bread maker will start by mixing the ingredients with its dough hook for a short amount of time, probably around two minutes. It will then let the dough rest for ten to fifteen minutes to develop it's gluten, then the dough hook will begin turning again, this time kneading the dough. This will last for five or six minutes.
The thermostat in your bread machine will raise the temperature slightly around the dough in your machine, allowing the bread to rise for the appropriate amount of time. Once it is done rising, the machine will immediately go into baking mode.
After rising, the microchip that controls the thermostat in your bread maker will, once again, raise the temperature. This time, though, it will be baking your bread. Your bread will bake for the predetermined amount of time programmed by you, and when it is done baking, the machine will shut itself off. Your bread will be cooled and ready to eat in thirty minutes to an hour.
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