Monday, September 30, 2013

Pa, I’m fixin' to bake bread

I started baking our own bread when we were first married.  I used my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the bread hook and we were pretty much spoiled from then on.  There’s nothing like homemade bread but it involves a lot of TIME.  That is, unless you use a bread machine.

Remember bread machines?  I bet you or someone in your extended family still has one of these relics they received as an unwanted Christmas gift stored somewhere in the attic or basement. Probably next to the yogurt maker, the air popper and the gelatin molds. 

I remember when we first got one and were so amazed that you could dump all the ingredients into the pan, set the timer and at whatever time you liked, you had a hot loaf of fresh-baked bread.  It was almost as mind-blowing as the first time I saw someone cook bacon in a microwave oven.  I also remember, back in the day, when realtors told people to set their bread machines so they were on the ‘bake’ cycle when prospective buyers came to look at their property… it increased sales because the smell of baking bread created a homey feel that buyers couldn’t resist.  Who knows what impact bread machines could have had on the recent slump in home sales?

There are lots of kitchen appliances that enjoy a burst of popularity when they’re first introduced but it doesn’t last.  Think of your mom’s electric fondue pot or maybe you had a Fry Daddy (we didn’t but I was  always jealous of my friend whose family made their own donuts).  I may be the only one but I never quit using the bread machine.  Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and much of our bread for toast and sandwiches comes from that little fat workhorse.  It is just SO EASY.

Over the years we’ve purchased several of these babies, some better than others.  We’ve even been given a ‘used’ model from somebody who heard we were still living like Laura Ingalls Wilder and making our own bread.  They found it in their garage, still in the box, and decided somebody might as well be using it – {snicker} - they sure weren’t going to! 

We’ve tested lots of recipes and adapted several that we make over and over.  So in case you find your old bread machine under a pile of stuff for the Goodwill and decide to give it a second chance, here are a couple of our favorite recipes.  Be sure to use bread flour for all recipes in your bread machine – that will give you the dense, chewy texture you want. 

Honey Wheat Bread
  ~  Printable Recipe

This makes a light, high-rising bread.  You can play around with adding different ingredients - these are the ones we like.  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ or ‘Whole Wheat’ cycle.

¾ cup warm water
3 Tblsp olive oil
1 egg
2 Tblsp honey
1 tsp salt
1½ cups white bread flour
1½ cups whole wheat bread flour
2 Tblsp wheat berries
2 Tblsp sesame seeds
1½ tsp yeast

Cinnamon Raisin Bread  ~  Printable Recipe

The smell of this bread baking in your kitchen is heavenly!  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ or ‘Sweet’ cycle.

11/8 cups warm water
2 Tblsp olive oil
2 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour (I use ½ white and ½ wheat)
1 Tblsp cinnamon
1½ tsp yeast
When the machine beeps, it’s time to add:
1 cup raisins

English Muffin Bread
  ~  Printable Recipe

This makes a chewy bread with the flavor and texture of English muffins.  The top often sinks so don’t be surprised or think something is wrong!  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ cycle. 

1¼ cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
3 cups bread flour (I use ½ white and ½ wheat)
1½ tsp yeast

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