New bread machine

I tried to revitalize my old bread machine but it was too far gone, so I bought a new Zojirushi 1 lb breadmaker. The french bread and chocolate cake have turned out pretty dense, especially the french bread, which was nealry impossible to cut through with any of my serrated knives. The flavor was good, though. I followed the instructions pretty closely. The basic bread was fine, maybe a little dense.
I followed the instructions exactly.
Is there anything I can do to lighten up these loaves? All the flour is from King Arthur and the yeast is new. The second french bread batch used some more yeast than the 1 tsp called for, and it was even tougher. By the second day I could barely chew through the crust.

If you’re using active dry yeast, try instant. Other than that, more or less kneading and/or proof time may be necessary. Are you actually seeing your dough double in size after the proof period post kneading.

Unfortunately, my experience with bread machines is they do a pretty lousy job of kneading. Too much OR too little can both result in dense bread. Here is an article on Bob’s site that should help you determine which is the case…

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Mine worked pretty well the 3 or 4 years I used it - I didn’t have trouble with density or other. But from counter-top bread making, too dense for me usually means I over-proofed it as Scott alluded to.

Also like Scott asked, are you using instant yeast? As far as I know, that was a requirement for bread machines. Many yeast makers sell a specific “bread machine yeast” but I think (or read somewhere like ATK or Serious Eats) that it’s just repackaged instant yeast.

If you can’t find instant/only have active dry, then you could try deviating from the machine addition instructions a bit. IIRC, they tend to tell you to add all the dry ingredients (incl. yeast) first, then the liquid goes in on top. Instead of adding the active yeast with the dry stuff, put it in warm water with a bit of sugar first and dissolve, wait about 5 minutes, then add the mixture in at the order designated for the liquids and go from there.

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