A bread machine works by providing kneading, proofing and baking of bread. The user places all the ingredients in the machine, chooses the cycle and presses the start button. The machine moves through the cycle to finish the loaf of bread.
The bread pan has a mixing paddle at the bottom that connects to a motor in the machine. After the user presses the start button, the paddle begins the process of incorporating the ingredients and kneading the dough.
After the first knead is complete, the machine starts the proofing stage. Depending on the cycle the user selects, the machine sometimes provides heat to speed proofing.
At the end of the proofing cycle, the machine moves back to a kneading the bread and a second proofing for the final rise.
At the designated time in the cycle, the machine begins to heat. It serves as a small oven to bake the bread and automatically shuts off when the cycle is complete.
Bread machines offer several options for users. Some provide a time delay so the bread completes the baking cycle just before the family serves dinner. Others have cycles for white or wheat flour. Machines often have the option of increasing or decreasing the baking time so the loaf bakes to meet the family preferences.