I don’t know about you, but waking up to the irritable smell of freshly baked bread is my favorite way to start the day. A few chunky slices of homemade bread and a fresh cup of joe are the only things that keep me sane in the morning. And while it’s certainly rewarding mixing, kneading, and baking bread from scratch, it’s not exactly something I want to be doing at 5 o’clock in the morning.
Mastering the bread-baking process is undoubtedly an art, but let’s be honest, most of us budding bakers don’t have the time to be whipping up an an endless supply of fresh dough.
Fortunately, that’s exactly why bread machines were invented! To make our lives easy and help us out a little when we are feeling lazy. Bread machines are very easy to use and super convenient. All you need to do is pop the ingredients in the bread machine, press a few buttons and let it work its magic. Once the bread machine starts doing its thing, you can just walk away, get on with your day and come back to freshly baked bread with zero effort on your part. This makes bread machines totally worth it, right?
Most bread makers have a handy feature that allows you to delay the timer and set the bread machine to start later on. You will find that most bread makers (like my amazing Breville BBM800XL) have a delayed timer for up to 13 hours.
This means that you can set your bread maker to have your bread ready at the time that you want and up to 13 hours in advance. This is a very useful feature if you want to wake up to fresh bread every morning, or if you want to come back from work and drown your sorrows in doughy goodness.
I take full advantage of my bread maker’s delayed time, and you should too!
But what happens if you’ve delayed your bread maker but come back late from work, or you lie in on a Saturday morning and your bread just sits there in the bread machine long after it’s been baked?
Or what if you are just a bread machine novice, still learning the tricks of the trade and you simply want to know, ‘Can I leave bread in the bread machine? Can I store it in the bread machine? Will it go soggy or hard if left?’.
I also had all these questions, and plenty more, when I first started baking. So, if you want to know if you can leave bread in the bread machine, you’re in the right place!
Here’s what you need to know.
Can you leave bread in the bread machine overnight?
When I first got my bread maker, I got a little confused with the delay timer and ended up setting my bread on multiple occasions to bake much earlier than I intended.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that my bread had just been sitting there for lord knows how many hours!
I am quite a forgetful person as it is, so I have had my fair share of loaves just chilling in the bread machine hours after they have baked.
When I would realise that my bread has been sitting there for a while, I would panic hoping that my bread hasn’t turned into a soggy mess.
From experience in leaving my bread in the bread maker for longer than it should be, I can confirm that it can cause your loaf to become softer and soggier, especially if you leave it as long as overnight.
How soggy will my bread really go?
I have found that with most bread makers, the top of your loaf will be quite soft and almost feel soggly-like as it cools down, even if you take it out from the pan straight away and cool it on a cooling rack.
This is because most bread makers don’t have a top heating element. The only bread maker that I have found that has the top heating feature is the Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread Maker.
My Panasonic bread maker doesn’t have a top heating element, so all my loaves tend to end up with a soft top.
The longer you leave your bread machine in the bread maker, the soggiest it will get as condensation starts to form.
This is the bread after it’s been left in the pan for just over an hour. You can see the top is starting to crinkle and it was definitely much softer when I touched it.
Compared to this which is just as the bread machine has just finished baking. There is a much smoother top and it was much sturdier.
What will start to go soggy is the bottom and maybe the sides, depending on how long your bread has been left in the bread machine.
This is the bread pan after I left the loaf in it for 1 hour after it had baked. You can see how much the bread pan has sweated.
Surprisingly, the bottom of the loaf still felt quite hard. It actually felt like it hardened even more being left in the bread machine.
But, I did notice that the paddle hole felt very wet and soggy.
It is really hard to see in the photo, but trust me, it was a pretty soggy hole!
I also have found that the bread gets soggier when the bread machine has a viewing window compared to one that doesn’t have a viewing window.
I’m not sure if there is a science behind this, if there is, please drop me an email to explain!
I noticed this when I made bread in my Panasonic bread maker and in an old Pacific bread maker with a viewing window
My Panasonic bread maker doesn’t have a viewing window and I noticed that it doesn’t go very soggy when the bread is left in the machine.
On the Pacific bread maker, a lot of condensation would start to form very fast, causing the top of the bread to go quite soft and soggy.
Will my bread keep cooking and go hard?
You might question whether your bread will continue to cook if you leave the bread in the bread machine.
All bread machines will beep to let you know that the bake cycle has ended. At this stage, your bread machine will stop baking the bread and automatically turn off.
If you can’t take your bread out of the bread pan straight after it’s finished, your bread machine will go into ‘heating’ or ‘keep warm’ mode.
If you aren’t sure whether your bread machine has this feature, check the manual.
How long your bread machine will keep your loaf on the ‘keep warm’ mode depends on your bread maker.
Usually, your bread maker will keep your loaf warm for up to 60 minutes.
So you don’t need to worry about your bread baking even more and burning, ‘cause it wont! ‘Heating mode’ should also keep away any excess moisture and condensation.
What can happen though, is that you might get a thicker, harder crust at the bottom of your bread if it is kept in the bread machine for a very long time (apart from the area where the paddle has been, like we mentioned above).
How to remove bread from bread maker
By now, you will have gathered that the longer you leave your loaf in the bread machine, the softer and soggier it will get.
So, unless you are like me and have forgotten that you even put bread in the machine in the first place, then you really should be taking your bread out of the bread machine straight away.
Open the latch of your bread machine and with your oven mitts, take hold of the bread pan handle and pull the whole bread pan out.
Please don’t try and remove the bread from the inside of the bread machine ‘cause 1) it’s freakin’ hot and 2) it’s pretty much impossible to take the bread out like that (I may or may not have tried to do that myself once…).
With your oven mitts still on, turn the bread pan upside down and begin to shake the pan like there’s no tomorrow. I mean it. You might think that your bread is stuck in there forever, but persevere, it will come out.
I feel like this is pretty obvious, but make sure you are shaking the pan over your kitchen top. We don’t want to lose any delicious loaves to the floor.
Once your glorious bread has come out of its pan, place it on a cooling rack and let it cool down. If you are planning on eating it warm, you only need to let it cool down for 10 to 15 minutes so it’s easier to slice.
If you are planning on storing it, let it cool down COMPLETELY.
How to store bread machine bread
If there is any bread left over, which I really doubt there will be, you might be wondering how to keep bread maker bread fresh for long.
Store-bought bread can keep for ages, even well past it’s best by date. That’s because store-bought bread is filled with preservatives that allows it to stay fresh for longer.
Bread maker bread is much healthier than store-bought bread because you know exactly what is going into your bread and you can control the ingredients.
Do you want to omit the salt? You can. Do you want to add honey instead of sugar? Go for it!
Making bread by hand or in a bread machine gives you the freedom to do whatever you want.
Although homemade bread is much better, because you are making it without preservatives, your loaf won’t last as long as store-bought bread.
The best thing you can do is to store it straight away after it has cooled down. Take a large sandwich or zip lock bag and put your loaf in, securing the bag tightly so no air goes inside.
Alternatively, you can wrap it in some good quality cling film or tin foil. Make sure you wrap it around a few times to make sure there aren’t any little holes where air can enter.
If you are storing in a bag, I find it easier to slice the loaf before hand. This makes storing it much easier and it also means you don’t need to take the whole loaf and cut a slice every time you want some bread.
In a bag or wrapped up in tin foil/cling film, your loaf will last for around 3 days if stored in a dark, cool area. If you want your bread to last longer, you could get a bread bin.
Make sure it is a good quality one with good ventilation so it maintains freshness. With a bread bin, your bread can last for up to 5 days.
If you want your bread to last even longer, place it in the freezer. A good tip to keep in mind is to slice up all your bread, put it in the freezer and every time you want some bread just take a slice out and toast it. Sliced bread defrosts very very quickly when placed in the toaster.
Alternatively, remove a few slices from the freezer in the morning and they will be defrosted by lunch.
How to fix soggy bread
One morning, I asked my partner to take the bread out of the bread pan to cool.
Big mistake. I came into the kitchen to find that all he had done was take the bread pan and left it on the counter with the loaf still in it.
Trust men to do anything eh! It must have sitting like that for an hour at least.
Things didn’t look good. I started shaking the pan on the counter and water droplets started coming out. WATER!
When the whole loaf was out, aside from the bread pan being covered in sweat, I was met with the most wrinkly, ugly and wet loaf.
After seeing how soggy and wet my bread loaf was, I turned the oven on and preheated it to 200C/390F.
Not really knowing if this was going to work, I put the loaf on a baking tray and baked it for 10 minutes.
And this is the result!
It might still look very wrinkly, but the main thing is not soggy anymore! It has a nice deep brown colour and a delicious crunchy crust.
Putting the loaf in the oven worked. So, if you ever end up with a wet loaf, just pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and it will come out looking fresh and revived.
If you do find that your loaves generally come out with a soft top from your bread machine, you can use this trick to harden the top and get a nice thick crust all around.
If you want to have fresh, good quality bread, the best thing to do is take it out of the bread machine as soon as it’s finished baking.
This will guarantee that your bread will stay soft, moist with a nice crispy crust all over.
But, if your bread ends up staying in the bread machine a little longer, do not panic!
It is okay to leave bread in the bread machine for up to an hour after it has baked. It will still be fresh and delicious.
It might just have a slightly softer top and a crispier crust around the bottom and the sides.
If a lot of condensation is formed though, you might end up with a soggy, wet loaf that does not look appealing. If this happens, just pop your loaf in the oven for 10 minutes to remove all the excess moisture.
Knowing how to store fresh bread from a bread machine is also very useful and will ensure your bread stays nice and moist for longer. Weather that is by storing it in a cupboard, in a bread bin or the freezer.