Understanding Bread Machine Cycles and Settings

Baking with a bread machine can be a true pleasure, but the sheer number of cycles and settings can be confusing. Many beginning bakers aren’t sure what the different names actually imply. Those of you who don’t have the manual, or bought your machine second-hand might need a little help with the basics. This list should help you navigate the most common settings and cycles found on modern bread machines.


That perfect white loaf that mom used to make is found on this setting. Basic breads that don’t need a lot of fuss, American loaves, and many savory yeast breads are baked perfectly using the basic cycle. For sweet loaves, however, this setting isn’t appropriate. It can result in an overproofed and yeasty loaf.


Sweet bread lovers, have no fear. The sweet cycle is your friend. It will help you to bake the perfect sweet yeast loaf every time. Quick breads, which contain no yeast, should not be baked on this cycle. The sweet cycle setting includes a rise time, and bakes for a different amount of time than sweet yeast loaves.

Whole Wheat

Whole wheat flour often requires a little extra rise time. As a result, the whole wheat cycle includes a slightly longer rise time, which allows the wheat gluten to do its job, and the yeast to work. Adding vital wheat gluten to a whole wheat loaf may eliminate the need to use this cycle. Still, for best results, when using a whole wheat flour … Read more