While we might not all have the time – or the patience – to make bread from scratch, thanks to our trusty bread makers, making homemade bread becomes a breeze. Bread machines are amazing, they take all of the guesswork out of making bread and can turn a handful of ingredients into a homemade fresh loaf in a matter of hands-free hours.
So how long does a bread maker take to make bread? And does it take less time than making bread by hand?
Here’s what you need to know.
How does a bread maker work?
First things first, let’s go over the basics.
Most bread makers follow a very similar design: a removable baking pan that sits around the heating element that bakes the dough. Within the pan, there is a paddle (or two) that spins around and is designed to incorporate your ingredients and mimic the hand-kneading action.
Every bread machine has different settings and cycles. You can find that most bread makers can make a normal loaf, whole wheat, gluten-free, pizza dough, French bread, and even cake or jam. Once you have added your ingredients, and chosen the settings for the type of bread you want to make, all you have to do is press start and the bread maker will take care of the rest.
Each course is preprogrammed, so if you add ingredients for a gluten-free loaf and press the gluten-free cycle, the machine will know how long it needs to knead, rest and bake that recipe.
This is one of the many reasons why bread machines are so popular: they are unbelievably versatile and can make a variety of different types of bread without you needing to become a bread-making expert.
How long does it take to make bread in a bread maker?
Baking times will depend on the type of bread maker you have as well as the size and type of bread you are making. For example, a basic loaf of white bread will take between two and three hours to bake in a bread maker.
A more complicated recipe, like banana bread or cinnamon raisin bread, may take closer to four hours. A sourdough loaf can take even longer due to the long rest period required.
It is important to keep in mind that baking times may vary depending on the ingredients you are using. For example, whole wheat flour takes longer to cook than all-purpose flour. So, if you are using a whole wheat recipe, be prepared to let your bread maker run for a bit longer. Gluten-free bread will also take longer to bake since gluten-free flour is denser than regular flour. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 30 minutes to the baking time for any gluten-free bread recipe.
My bread maker makes a basic loaf in 3 hours, French bread in 3 hours 50 and whole wheat bread in 3 hours 40. If I want to just make the dough, it will do it in just 1.5 hours.
The size of your bread machine will also affect the baking time. A smaller loaf made in a one-pound bread maker will take less time to bake than a three-pound loaf made in a large bread machine. This is because it takes longer for the dough to rise and bake in a larger bread pan.
How Long Does a Bread Machine Knead Dough?
Most bread machines have a kneading cycle that lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes, although some machines will knead the dough twice.
The initial knead is to get all the ingredients mixed together and begin to form the gluten strands. After the first knead, the bread machine will let the dough rest and rise. The second knead is to develop the gluten further so that the final loaf will be fluffy and delicious. The rest time in between the kneading cycles depend on the machine and what type of bread you are making. Typically, the dough will rest for around 20 minutes each time for a basic white loaf.
You can also use your bread machine to knead dough without baking it by using the dough-only cycle. This is a great option if you don’t want to spend 20 arm-aching minutes kneading the dough by hand. All you have to do is put the ingredients in your bread maker, set it to dough only, and wait for the beep! Once it is done, take it out of the bread pan, shape your dough again by hand, let it rise one last time, and bake it in the oven.
Bread Machine Cycle Times
Again, cycle times differ depending on the type of bread you are making. Typically, a white loaf will have the following cycle time:
- Knead 1: 10 minutes
- Rise 1: 20 minutes
- Knead 2: 15 minutes
- Rise 2: 45 minutes
- Bake: 65 minutes
For a whole wheat loaf, you will have the following cycles:
- Knead 1: 10 minutes
- Rise 1: 25 minutes
- Knead 2: 20 minutes
- Rise 2: 70 minutes
- Bake: 60 minutes
As you can see, because whole wheat flour is a lot denser, the kneading and rising times are slightly longer than a normal white loaf.
These cycle times are based on my bread maker’s manual. If you want to find out the cycles for your bread machine, you should be able to find them in the instruction manual of your individual machine.
Making Bread by Hand
Now that we know roughly how long a bread machine takes to make bread, let’s see if it’s actually any faster than making it by hand.
Making bread by hand can be a bit of a slog, especially if you are making a large loaf.
First things first, you have to mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the dough forms. Then, you need to knead the dough on a floured surface for anything between 15-25 minutes, depending on how wet the dough is and what type of flour you are using.
After that, you would typically let the dough rest for anything between 1-3 hours or until double in size. How fast dough rises depend on how much yeast is the mixture and how warm the environment is. If you have added a whole packet of yeast and have placed the dough to rise in a warm oven, then you can expect the dough to have doubled in size within the hour.
If you are using 1g or 2g of yeast and are making a recipe that requires slow fermentation, you will be waiting around 5 hours for your dough to double in size. Not to mention there are recipes for bread and pizza dough that require overnight proofing in the fridge.
In terms of baking bread, it will take around the same time as a bread machine, so anything between 50 to 65 minutes.
If you are making a small white loaf by hand, the difference between making it in a bread machine and by hand are not that different. Both can be done in around 3 to 4 hours. That said, the bread maker has the advantage of being virtually hands-free with zero effort on your part, unlike making bread by hand.
So, how long does a bread machine take to make bread? Ultimately it all depends on the type of machine you have, the size of bread you are making, and the type of flour you are using.
For a typical white loaf, the differences might not be that much. However, if you want to make a whole wheat loaf or a large loaf, then a bread machine will definitely save you some time. If you are looking for a super quick bake, there are bread makers out there that have a rapid cycle or express cycle that can knead, rise and bake bread in under an hour.
Just keep in mind that by shortening the kneading and resting cycles you might be sacrificing the quality of that beautiful bread loaf!