Need to bake multiple loaves of bread within a few hours? Here are some tips for using a bread machine to streamline the process.
Photo by Loretta Sorensen
- You could mix all the dry ingredients (except yeast and sugar) for each recipe the night before, even a couple of days before you’re ready to bake. Be sure to label each batch (either glass jars or plastic bags make great containers) to ensure you know which recipe it’s for.
- If you don’t mix dry ingredients ahead of time, start assembling all your recipe ingredients to ensure you have the supplies you need and to shave some time off the actual baking task.
- Set up a separate area in your kitchen – on the counter or an extra table, etc. – for working with wet ingredients and dry ingredients. This just makes it easy to keep all dry ingredients together and all wet (remaining) ingredients together as you prepare the contents of each loaf. It’s less likely you’ll forget to add something.
- Assemble all your equipment and set it up in the appropriate spot to make your “assembly line” as efficient as possible and avoid searching for a necessary item just as you’re ready to start baking.
- If you don’t have enough bread pans to use a different one for each loaf, you can easily rotate between two or three pans. Plan to soak the pan in water for 3 or 4 minutes after your baked loaf is removed. It’s easy to clean bread pans when the loaf doesn’t stick!
- For easy access, recipes can be attached to your fridge with a magnet or otherwise set up so you can easily read them without having to stop and pick them up. My recipes are enclosed in plastic sleeves to help keep them clean.
- A day or two ahead of time, make sure your oven is clean and empty (I often store pots and pans in mine) and racks are properly positioned for baking bread.
- If you haven’t prepared dry ingredients ahead of time, it’s wise to prepare all dry ingredients for your recipe before moving on to the wet ingredients (or another task). This helps eliminate time consuming issues such as, “Did I already add that?” or “How many cups of flour did I just measure?” It can be helpful to use a consistent method such as always measuring flour first or measuring salt/gluten, etc. first, then measuring flour.
- Be prepared for spills or mishaps by having extra towels, paper towels, dish cloths, etc. ready. The best laid plans can be foiled!
- You might consider mapping out and writing down the timeline for each loaf, as in what time ingredients go into the bread machine, what time the first dough should be ready for final rise, etc. This can help avoid under- or over-kneading, under- or over-baking loaves.
- Check your bread machine for instructions about run time and any need for cooling down between operations. My machine recommends a cooling period between 10 and 15 minutes to avoid overheating the machine.
- Set up an area that’s out of the way for cooling loaves. If your cooling rack won’t accommodate 3 or more loaves at one time, you can use items such as packaged food or pans to suspend the bread (one package on each end of the object while it cools.
- Storing your finished loaves will require some space. If you intend to use them within 48 hours, you can store them at room temperature. Otherwise, plan to refrigerate or freeze as many as necessary.
- With my yeast activation and “keep it warm from mixing to baking” method, you can have a batch of dough ready to bake every 90 minutes, producing up to 5 loaves of bread in a 6-hour period. Advanced preparation is the key to making it all run smoothly and successfully.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest, and Facebook.