Bread machine bread, please help!

I'm fine if I use mixes that are made for the machine, or if I use a recipe from the included booklet/manual. But Costco is eliminating their AMAZING rosemary/parmesan bread, and I need to duplicate it as best as i can in my machine. Or by hand, whatever. I've never made bread by hand, so I'm more comfortable sticking with the machine, for now.

I tried a recipe last night for oven-baked rosemary parmesan bread, based on how similar it looked inside in the photo to the Costco bread. (I did find a few machine recipes, but none of them looked right.) I also consulted with the King Arthur Flour website for tips on converting a regular recipe to a machine recipe, and I dove in somewhat confidently, although definitely feeling a bit in the dark.

The dough, while kneading, seemed dry and crumbly, so in line with a helpful tip I'd read, I added water one teaspoon at a time. The trouble is, I'm not at all sure what the texture of the dough should be. I'm not a bread baker (yet-- but there's hope!), so I was guessing. In the end, I suppose I added too much (4.5 scant tsp), although I could at no point have described the dough ball as wet. It was slightly tacky to the touch.

In the end, the bread was a bit too dense, it collapsed a bit on top (which i now know is because of too much water, but how much is too much??), tasted a little yeasty, and although I had actually slightly increased the amounts of cheese and rosemary, and the rosemary looked well-distributed, I could barely taste either (and it is a real reach to say I tasted them at all).

I'd either love some helpful hints or a better recipe. I know nothing about baking chemistry, so when the recipe called for 2.5-3 c flour, I went with 3, since I was making a 2-lb loaf. No other ingredients were written flexibly, so I didn't know how or what to adjust, if anything. The Costco bread is light, airy, crusty, soft inside, and SO flavorful. The one I made is dense, heavy, flavorless, crumbly on the outside, and unremarkable at best... it probably will end up in the trash. Can anyone help?

  • Posted by: mfj001
  • June 5, 2019


mfj001 June 6, 2019
Here's a screenshot of the recipe. Since it's a bread machine, I did not follow the instructions for the regular bake, but put all ingredients in (in the proper order-- wet, dry, yeast) and turned the machine on. There are probably a hundred mistakes in that action alone! But I don't know.

In answer to your questions:
1. HalfPint: I did not check the texture all that close to the bake. I checked it last probably 20-30 minutes before it baked, during its final rise. I can definitely, next time, do as you say to check it. I'm not sure how to add extra kneading time, if it "kneads" it (harhar), but maybe that's something i can figure out. I do sort of recall seeing someone do the windowpane test on the Great British Bake Off, so that's not totally unfamiliar territory for me.
2. Nancy: These are great ideas. Maybe I should get better at bread before I try to get fancy.
3. Miss K.: I'm in Florida, so altitude (or lack thereof) is only a problem when there's a storm surge! :P Also, as I made perfectly UNclear above, I did do this search. I could have dug deeper, but ADD makes me an impatient person. The trouble is, I didn't like the looks of the results of any of the recipes for it. The photos didn't look anything like what I'm trying to recreate. The one I tried, which I'm posting here, has the closest look in terms of crust quality, structure, and distribution of rosemary. This recipe calls for 2 Tbsp of rosemary, and I put in a little extra. There was tons of it, but not a lot of flavor from it. Not a lot of flavor of anything, in fact.

Thank you all for all of your thoughts on this terribly unimportant problem I'm having. You're so sweet to respond. I am not actually at all sure what the dough should look or feel like, so I do think maybe a class is in order. And a lot more baking practice. And maybe this bread is worth making the old-fashioned way, another thing I do not know how to do. I won't give up, though! And I'm actually quite convinced that this may not be the right recipe anyway. I'll keep poking about and experimenting. And asking for more help, I'm sure. :) <3
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Miss K. June 5, 2019
I have to adjust for altitude too. So perhaps that might be a consideration for you as well.
Miss K. June 5, 2019
I don't have MY recipe for rosemary bread handy, but you could Google machine Rosemary bread.(*specify bread machine.) I use about 1 TBSP (approx) of rosemary. In regards to the water, I just get my hand wet & skake it off into the machine. It's not exact, but sometimes it's all that is needed.
Nancy June 5, 2019
I can only provide an indirect answer...learn a few recipes and methods (more than came with the bread machine) by getting a top rated specialty cookbook, taking a local course and/or finding some relevant videos.
It will give you more flexibility with your machine and your shopping (you'll be able to better mix and match ingredients from scratch, more independent of mixes).
HalfPint June 5, 2019
Not a bread expert, but doesn't sound like you added too much water. Too much water and you would have had a wet and sticky dough, which wasn't what you described. Could you provide a link of the recipe that you used? It can really help to trouble shoot. Without it, it's kind of a crapshoot as to what went wrong. And there can be a number of things that worked against you, not just the water.

From what you have written, sounds like not enough water, and/or kneading. How well was the dough kneaded? They say that bread dough starts out tacky and ends up smooth with kneading. Did the bread machine knead the dough sufficient ly? You can use the window pane test to check if the dough has been sufficiently kneaded. This involves stretching a small piece of dough until you can get a thin membrane that you can see through without it tearing or breaking. Here's a good reference about the window pane test:

Those are my thoughts based on what you've written.
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