The humble bread machine is grandly known as a home bakery, or HB in Japan. The first automated home bread maker was pioneered by Matshita Denki, now known as Panasonic. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Panasonic home bakery product line pretty much dominates the Japan market. Their machines are high quality, generally last a long time, but tend to cost more. If you’ve never owned a bread machine before, our bread machine guide will set you right. There are a lot to machines to choose from, including ones that make baguettes, rice bread, mochi, cake sale, and a lot more.
Things To Know Before Purchasing a Home Bakery in Japan
A bread machine is quite easy to use even when the interface is not in your language. However, we run you through some easy instructions in our product reviews for Japanese bread machines. The home bakery has become more versatile over the years and can do a lot more than just bake bread.
The kneading function can easily be used to make dough for artisan breads, pizza, pasta noodles, or soba and udon. This can save you a lot of time, mess, and is something much appreciated by people with certain disabilities. Bread machines can also make jams, cakes, mochi, and some people use them to make casseroles or meat loaves.
Don’t be fooled by bun rolls or nice round loaves pictured with bread machines. The only bread you’re going to get are tallish square loaves. An exception is the Zojirushi Virtuoso which makes standard sized loaves, and the T-Fal brand which has an innovative baguette baker. A home bakery can knead the dough for non standardized loaves. To bake them, you’d need something like a countertop oven.
What to Expect From Your Bread Machine
The most basic bread machine is only going to bake a 1 pound loaf of bread. These are the smallest and easiest machines to use. The most you have to do is choose the level of crusting from light, medium, or dark; and then the bake option on the menu.
The most popular machines are those that have more functions and settings. With larger machines you can generally choose up to three loaf sizes: a 1 pound loaf , 1 ½ pound, and a 2 pound.
Multi-functional bread machines will usually have a numbered list of menu choices on the lid. Half of these are generally for different types of breads you can bake in the machine. Other menu options are for things such as kneading dough for pizza, making jam, mochi, or even chocolate.
Japan Home Bakery vs International Bread Machine
A Japanese home bakery tends to have a lot more functions than its international counterpart, and instructions are only in Japanese. They will always have standard bread options such as standard white (shokupan), whole wheat, French style and sweet breads; but usually there are a elect number of localized settings.
One of the most common of these is for rice bread. This uses cooked rice, typically leftovers, mixed with wheat flour to bake a kind of chewy, soft bread. Another popular option is for rice flour bread and even gluten free rice flour which is not mixed with wheat. Others may include a mochi making function, a setting for sweet potatoes, kiritanpo, red beans, or amazake.
A Japanese bread machine generally has better settings for fermentation. A recent trend for the home bakery in Japan is homemade natural yeast and natural yeast breads. Some of the best value for a Japanese bread machine is the Panasonic 1-Pounder with an automatic yeast dispenser:
General Features of a Bread Machine
Bread machines only have two detachable parts: the bread pan and the kneading paddle.
Pan and Kneading Paddle
The paddle is the most important, so you need to take care not to damage it, and to dry it straight after washing. The paddle is quite durable, but may need to be replaced after five years. Usually, it’s easy to pick up spare parts.
Some machines such as the Breville Custom Loaf (price link) may have an additional paddle for mixing jams. The Breville is also the only model where the paddle will fold into a hold before baking. Both these machines are available through parallel import, but are exceedingly expensive.
The paddle will bake into the bottom of your load and you’ll need to remove it after baking with the included feather hook. To make this easier, you can spray it with nonstick spray before baking. The other option is to take the paddle out after the second kneading cycle is complete. Some machines will beep and rest for a while for you to do this.
Automation and Dispensers
Increasingly, updated models have a built in hopper for fruit and nuts. Popular Panasonic machines have an additional dispenser for yeast, but usually you must add the yeast in with the flour.
Although many bread machines advertise themselves as ‘programmable’, the most you can actually do is to choose the crust setting, loaf size, and set a start timer for delayed bake. Only the Breville Custom Loaf allows you to customize and adjust each phase of the cycle. And the Zojirushi Virtuoso gives you the option of entering in a couple of custom recipes.
A lot of machines also have a power protection function, so if there’s a power cut, the machine will continue from where it left off. The length of this varies from machine to machine.
Most machines have a 13 to 15 hour delay bake function, so you can have your loaf ready at your convenience. You can’t use this function for heavy gluten free bread, or bread that contain eggs, milk, or add-ins like freshly chopped onions or vegetables.
How to Use a Bread Machine in 7 Steps
Bread machines are less forgiving than an oven, so it’s best to first master a few recipes in the manual and get to know your machine. You should use the recommended bread flour (not all-purpose flour) and active dry yeast. For rapid bake presets, you will be directed to use rapid rising yeast. These are some basic foolproof steps:
How to Use a Bread Machine:
- Step 1
Take the pan out of your unplugged machine. If you want, spray the paddle with non-stick cook spray and attach it to the pan.
- Step 2
Add all wet ingredients such as water, milk, or egg (well-beaten) at the bottom.
- Step 3
Next, put in the dry ingredients starting with the flour. Any salt, sugar, milk powder, and butter can be neatly tucked into the 4 corners.
- Step 4
Make a small indentation for the yeast in the center to keep it away from any salt and moisture.
- Step 5
If you’re doing a delay bake, you can reverse steps 3 and 4 so that the paddle doesn’t get clogged.
- Step 6
Insert the bread pan so it clicks into place, plug in your machine, and close the lid.
- Step 7
Choose your loaf size, crust setting, baking course, set the timer, and press start.
Tips and Fruits and Nuts
Your bread machine will beep and rest after each cycle phase. After the first beep you can open up and scrape in any flour sticking to the sides. At this point of the first rise and punch down, you can add any fruits, nuts, chopped chives etc. if that’s what the recipe calls for.
For the most part, after the pressing start, you can just walk away and come back after the bread is finished. Most baking cycles take between three to four hours to complete. Rapid bake cycles using instant yeast take about an hour. Try to take your bread out as soon as you can, although most machines have a keep warm option for an hour in case you aren’t around.
Don’t forget to gently pry the paddle out the bottom of your load with the feather hook provided. Some people like to take it out after the second kneading cycle is complete. Regardless, your loaf will still have a small indentation at the bottom.
Home Bakery Resources For Baking Bread in Japan:
In Japan you can search popular recipe sites for home bakery recipes. The best search term is HB パン or HB食パン.
- 500+ Bread Machine Recipes at cookpad.com
- ケークサレ HB – cake sale recipes at cookpad Japan
- Everything Bread Machines from the breadmachinediva.com
- 14 easy Bread Machine Recipes from tasteofhome.com
- Bread Machine Recipes from King Arthur Flour