Monday, January 26, 2009

Bread Machine Tea Bread (or, Can This Tea Loaf Be Saved?)

Normally I wouldn't share a recipe and tell you to make it at your own peril, but that's exactly what I'll be doing today! You see, last year I was searching for some particular tea books online and came across a great buy on "Bread Machine Sweets and Treats - Featuring Tea Breads, Coffee Cakes, and Festive Desserts for All Occasions." Last weekend, I decided it was finally time to make something from the book.

I decided on the Cranberry-Orange Bread, only I didn't have an orange and used a lemon instead, which proved to be prophetic. The recipe said to bake the loaf on the bread machine's quick cycle, so I did. It smelled yummy while baking, but apparently the "quick cycle" was the "too-quick cycle," and out came a heavy, yeasty, square-shaped lump of dough. I popped it in the oven to try to salvage it, but no go. Since the book was written in 1993, I decided to go back and read the introductory chapters to see if bread machines have changed in the last 16 years. I learned that a "quick" cycle should be just an hour less than a normal cycle. Alas, that's not the way my machine operates. You have your basic cycle, which is about four hours; the dessert cycle (and a few others), just under 2 hours; and the super-duper quick cycle, for bread in an hour. So yesterday I tried again, opting for the dessert cycle this time, and I'm 90 percent pleased with the loaf that resulted, especially since I did have an orange on hand this time.

But if you look at the very bottom of the loaf, you can see a small line where the bread didn't fully bake. I sliced a piece and baked it in the toaster oven a few minutes, and both DH and I thought the taste was great. I just can't figure out how to make this cook properly in the bread machine -- and really, is it worth it? Tea bread isn't *that* hard to make, after all. If I go this route again, I may just end up using this book as "inspiration" and jazzing up some recipes that came with my bread machine. But in case you want to give this a whirl, here's the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry-Orange Loaf

3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter (cut in small chunks)
2 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add ingredients to the bread machine pan in order listed. I baked this loaf on the dessert cycle (1 hour, 55 minutes), and as you can see it needs a tiny bit more baking, but my machine doesn't allow me to adjust the time. If you decide to try this, a) good luck and b) I'd love to hear how it turns out!


  1. You are a brave one Angela- HOMEBAKED bread- no way, no how. Not even from someone who loves to cook!

  2. This looks yummy!! I'm home again today with a sick child, it's making the rounds here and so far I'm still the healthy one. If time allows I will make this today as I have the ingredients except for the cranberries but I think the orange will still taste great!

    I've had the same bread machine for going on 10 years now and I've had great results with breads. My loaf bakes it upright though so when I want the normal design of a rectangle loaf, I just use the dough cycle on my bread machine and let it rise in there, then I take it out and put it in my prepared bread loaf pan and bake it in my oven. Perfect everytime!

  3. Interesting!! I used to have a bread machine and I gave it up b/c I like working with the bread itself.

  4. Angela, I have some thoughts but will have to share them after the baby goes to bed, so that I have 2 hands to type. 2 questions; how old is your bread machine & how often do you use it?

  5. Hi Ginger! My machine is about two years old, and I use it about 1 or 2 times a month, just for baking plain old "country white bread." Any ideas? It did dawn on me after I wrote this post that I could try the bread on the "normal" cycle but then just manually turn it off after 3 hours...

  6. Angela, I'm going to assume you are fairly new when it come to bread machine baking. If I say something you already know, I apologize.

    While bread machines attempt to be 100% automatic, this is not the case. With most breads if you dump the ingredients in, hit start and walk away for a few hours, then the average person will be very disappointed. Bread baking is kind of like a science. So many things can affect it; the weather, your kitchen, etc.

    Here are some general tips:
    once the machine starts working on mixing the dough, open the lid and take a peak. Is the dough like soup (not good, add some flour a Tablespoon at a time)? Is the dough like hard clumps (not good, add some water a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time)? You want the dough to look smooth, like a babies butt, and in a round ball.

    Disregard most bread machine cookbook directions. They don't know how your machine does. Use the ingrediants and bake how you think is best for your machine.
    Most bread cycles are too long for baking. Bread is done about 180-190 degrees. When there is 45-30 minutes left on your bread, in the machine. Open the lid and take the loaf's temperature with an instant read thermometer. If it's done take it out of the machine early.

    Don't be afraid to just use your machine as a dough cycle and oven bake your bread. If you do this I guarantee you will be happier.

    Up until my son was born in September I made all the bread we ate. Since I worked full time I used the dough cycle of my bread machine 90% of the time. I cannot remember the last time I baked in my machine. I oven baked all my bread. That way I could get the size loaf I wanted or rolls. I think bread machines make a weird size loaf, or mine does. Now that my son is here I still make bread just not as often (because I have someone else taking up the majority of my time), so we don't eat as much bread.

    So for your current recipe I would try it again and use the machine to make the dough and then oven bake. Or try a different cycle and take the temperature before it's done and take the loaf out when it is done, not when the machine thinks it is. Good luck, let us know what you do.

    Here are some links I think you will find helpful. Read them in your free time.


Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from readers!