A bread making machine or bread maker is a home appliance for baking bread. It consists of a bread pan (or “tin”), at the bottom of which are one or more built-in paddles, mounted in the center of a small special-purpose oven.
This small oven is usually controlled by a simple built-in computer, the settings for which are inputted at a control panel. Most bread machines have different cycles for different kinds of dough—including white bread, whole grain, European-style (sometimes labelled “French”), and dough-only (for pizza dough and shaped loaves baked in a conventional oven). Many also have a timer to allow the bread machine to activate without operator attendance, and some high-end models allow the user to program a custom cycle.
To create a loaf of bread, ingredients are measured into the bread pan in a specified order (usually liquids first, with solid ingredients layered on top) and the pan is then placed in the breadmaker. The order of ingredients is important because the instant yeast used in breadmakers is activated by contact with water, so the yeast and the water must be kept apart until the program starts.
The machine takes a few hours to make a loaf of bread, first by turning the ingredients into dough using the paddle, proofing the loaf using ideal temperature control, then baking the loaf. Once the bread has been baked, the pan is extracted from the breadmaker and the bread freed from the pan. The paddle, now at the bottom of the loaf, is removed, leaving a small paddle-shaped indentation or hole. The shape of the finished loaf is often considered unusual, with many early bread machines producing a vertically oriented, square or cylindrical loaf very different from commercial breads; however, more recent units generally have a more traditional-appearing horizontal pan.