Originally Posted by Miss Bridget
I'm pretty much in line with all the recommendations except that I have been using bread machine yeast. I never get a light, fluffy bread - it always comes out dense and heavy.
Hi Bridget and other bread machine users. Bridget, your problem obtaining a nice, light, airy bread is unusual. I am on my third different brand of breadmachine and all have given great bread and I make numerous different types of bread, the vast majority of which are wonderful. Of course, there is always the occasional "hockey puck".
If you follow the directions and ingredient list carefully, the only thing you need to do is "watch the bouncing ball". During both kneading cycles, you must watch the dough ball that is being made. That ball will eventually "rise" to make your loaf. To perform this work, OPEN THE LID.
The ball should be a smooth mostly round ball. It will bounce from one wall to another while the kneading arm turns, swirls and spins. It should not stick to one wall or be a loose mixture on the bottom of the pan.
Use a chopstick to gently scrape any dough or batter is in the corners or on the sides of the bread pan. Push it toward the spinning ball, so the arm (kneading blade) can incorporate it in the ball.
If the ball is too wet, meaning the ball isn't formed into one, single, round ball, then you need to add dough. Add one tablespoon or slightly less at a time. Eventually you will get the ball I have tried to describe.
If the ball is lumpy and cannot form itself into a single, tight, smooth ball, you need to add a little water, a teaspoon at a time. You again will eventually get the ball you now know you are looking for.
You can do all this work while the bouncing ball is happening. When it stops, you must close the lid, as the machine is going into a "rise" phase.
Normally only a few, minor "tweaks" are necessary at the second kneading phase. If you can't get the ball you are looking for before the rise phase, start the process all over. That will give you more time to tweak your ball during the kneading phase. You will only need to do this the first kneading period.
This should solve your problems. Good luck and happy bread making.
Marty (in Panamá)