Common questions on bread and bread machines

See the answers to FAQ's on bread-making

My loaf has an irregular shape. What can I do?
If the loaf is a little wrinkled or bumpy on top, count it a success, as these imperfections are not unusual; results vary with recipes as well as machines. Defects such as a deeply caved top and gummy, dense texture are serious. The recipe may not work (all Sunset recipes are tested, but others may not be), or you may not have followed the recipe accurately. Consult the manual's troubleshooting section or call the toll-free customer service number.

How can I make my favorite bread recipes in my machine?
Start with a recipe that fits the capacity of your machine. If you have a recipe with a similar volume of ingredients to those of a bread machine recipe that you know works, success is likely. In general, a recipe with a total of 2½ to 3 cups of flour or flours makes about a 1-pound loaf; 3 to 3½ cups of flour, about 11/2 pounds; and 3½ to 4 cups of flour, about 2 pounds.

You can process any yeast bread, if scaled for the machine, through the first rising, then shape the loaf in or on a pan, let it rise, and bake in oven.

What causes sourdough to be dense and heavy?
Most trouble begins with the starter. It naturally grows more acidic with time, and if your loaf is solid and doughy (as if it didn't rise), chances are the starter has become so acidic that, as George York explains, it has destroyed the loaf's ability to rise and hold its shape.

If this happens, neutralize the acidity of your starter:

  • Add ½ teaspoon baking soda to 1 cup starter (mixture foams). Then use starter as directed. Or feed starter as directed.


What if my sourdough bread isn't as tangy as expected?
Wait for the starter to grow more flavorful with time. But flavors from different starter ingredients vary, so if you don't like the one you have, make a new starter using a different brand of yogurt.

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