Best bread maker recipes

So you’ve decided to invest in a breadmaker and are looking forward to some delicious, fragrant homemade bread. But how do you get the best possible results? The truth is – because of the variety of machines available – there are no one-size-fits-all best breadmaker recipes for all devices. However, there is a way in which recipes can be adapted to suit your particular breadmaker.

Most breadmakers come with an instruction manual that includes at least some basic recipes. While the instructions may be rudimentary, and the recipes sometimes a little unclear, these can be a good first foray into testing out your breadmaker. Beyond that, these recipes can also serve as the basis for any adaptations.

The most important element here is flour – it’s essential not to exceed the stated amount of flour, lest the pan overflow during the process. The flour capacity can generally be found in the specifications section of your manual, or by looking at basic recipes. You can then adapt a recipe by matching your machine’s capacity and reducing or increasing other ingredients accordingly.

Your breadmaker’s manual should also help you assess which baking program and size setting to use – most breadmakers have at least 10 different programs.

If, for some reason, your breadmaker doesn’t have an instruction manual or recipes, I recommend doing a search online for your manufacturer’s models. Some manufacturers also have dedicated recipe sites, such as The Ideas Kitchen by Panasonic and this selection by Kenwood.

To assess your machine’s capacity without a manual, you can use water to measure it in litres and then take a look at this handy table. Note, however, that this table doesn’t indicate how much flour to use.

For flour and yeast quantities, the following should serve as rough guidelines:

  • Small loaf (450g): 285g flour, 1tsp dried yeast
  • Medium loaf (700g): 430g flour, 1-1.25tsp dried yeast
  • Large loaf (900g): 570g flour, 1.25tsp dried yeast

Morphy Richards Homebake Breadmaker

The basic recipe and substitutions

Basic 900g white loaf

  • Water 360ml
  • White strong bread flour 570g
  • Unsalted butter 25g
  • Table salt 1.5tsp
  • Granulated sugar 1tbsp
  • Breadmaker-compatible dried yeast 1.25tsp

Measure all ingredients and add in the order stated, or follow the order recommended in your manufacturer’s recipes. The main thing to remember is to keep the yeast from getting wet: contact with liquid will activate the yeast, but you don’t want the yeast to be activated too early. The best way to protect the yeast is to put it in last, on top of the flour – or first, covering it with flour completely and adding the water last.

Within this basic recipe, substitutions can be made. Instead of butter, you can use a similar quantity of vegetable, sunflower or olive oil. Using some kind of fat gives a softer crumb and a better flavour to your bread.

You can also use milk instead of water, or add 2-4tbsp of milk powder. Milk will result in a softer dough and a closer crumb. Vegan milks are also suitable here.

It’s fine for dairy products – such as milk and butter – to be added straight from the fridge. If you’re using a delay timer, bear in mind dairy is unlikely to stay fresh overnight.

Some sugar is needed to feed the yeast, helping the bread to rise. While granulated sugar can be replaced with brown sugar, honey or treacle, the chemicals in artificial sweeteners render them unsuitable.

A small amount of salt is necessary to strengthen the gluten, but too much can kill the yeast.

Panasonic SD-ZX2522 Breadmaker

Customising your bread

Wholemeal seeded bread, 750g loaf by Kenwood

  • Water 310ml
  • Vegetable oil 1tbsp
  • Lemon juice 1tbsp
  • Wholemeal bread flour 420g
  • Unbleached white bread flour 80g
  • Skimmed milk powder 4tsp
  • Salt 2tsp
  • Sugar 1tbsp
  • Poppy seeds 2tsp
  • Lightly toasted sesame seeds 2tsp
  • Easy blend dried yeast 1tsp

Add in the seed dispenser, or when prompted:

  • Pumpkin seeds 2tsp
  • Sunflower seeds 2tsp

This recipe can be customised with additional ingredients of your choice, and by playing with different proportions of white and wholewheat flour. For machines without a seed dispenser, use a program that lets you include additional ingredients during the baking process. Instead of seeds, you can also try adding 75g of pitted black olives.

Rye-wholemeal loaf, adapted from a recipe by Doves Farm

  • Water 340ml
  • Oil 1tbsp
  • Strong white bread flour 250g
  • Rye flour 250g
  • Salt 1tsp
  • Sugar 1tsp
  • Dried yeast 1tsp

While rye alone is a very dry, low-gluten flour, the addition of white bread flour here makes this loaf lighter and more manageable for your breadmaker. While some models, such as the Panasonic SD-ZX2522, come with a specialist rye kneading blade, a 100% rye flour loaf will inevitably come out flat and heavy. For other machines, a wholewheat program is best here.

Simple sourdough bread

Simple sourdough bread by The Ideas Kitchen

A French bread or sourdough program is recommended here. Certain breadmakers, such as the Panasonic SD-ZX2522, come with a sourdough starter making kit and a dedicated program, but you can also easily do this on your countertop. Allow 12 hours to make the starter culture.

Breadmaker vs store-bought bread

Spiced sweet bread 

  • Milk 280ml
  • Butter 25g
  • Strong white bread flour 400g
  • Ground saffron 0.25tsp
  • Salt 1tsp
  • Sugar 3tbsp
  • Dried yeast 1tsp

Add in the seed dispenser, or when prompted:

  • Sultanas 40g
  • Currants 40g
  • Cut mixed orange and lemon peel 40g

Bake this with a sweet bread or raisin loaf program, on a lighter crust setting. The proportions of additional ingredients can be changed and some omitted, provided that altogether no more than 120g of ingredients is added. Saffron (ground from about 0.25tsp of threads here) can be replaced with 0.75tsp of nutmeg or 1.5tsp of ground cardamom. If your breadmaker has a brioche mode, you should also try this panettone recipe.

Gluten-free bread by The Ideas Kitchen

  • Water 350ml
  • Cider vinegar 1tsp
  • Vegetable oil 4tsp
  • Two medium eggs
  • Salt 1tsp
  • Honey 1tsp
  • Gluten-free flour 450g
  • Dried yeast 1.5tsp

Use the gluten-free program on your breadmaker and choose the dark crust setting, if possible. Also check out this gluten-free coconut bread and this gluten-free brioche.

Gluten-free bread

Adjusting recipes

Once your loaf is ready, take a moment to have another look at the recipe. Note down any issues and see if you can solve them by making subtle changes next time around.

For instance, if the bread comes out too brown, you may have to choose a lighter crust setting, reduce the baking time, or use less sugar. If the bread has too many air pockets, you could reduce the amount of liquid by 10-20ml. And if your loaf rises too much or too little, you may need to adjust the amount of yeast used accordingly – but no more than in increments of 0.25tsp.

Read our breadmaker tips and tricks for solutions to common baking problems and advice on how to get the most out of your breadmaker.