Several years ago, bread machines were a popular addition to small kitchen appliances. I bought one of the first ones on the market — and was very unhappy with the machine because the final result was not always consistent and the bread was often dry and the crust very thick and tough.
I used it a few times, but then put it in a yard sale and gave up bread making for a while.
Homemade bread is the only kind of bread I really enjoy, and since newer advanced models had entered the market, I requested one for Christmas.
Well, as usual, Santa Claus came to the rescue and one appeared under my tree. I put it right to use and, for a while, we had hot bread almost every day.
I must say, my new model was so much better than the old models and with the new added timers, I could set the timer and wake up in the morning to a hot loaf of bread.
I want you to know how great my house smelled when my favorite cinnamon bread was baking. When we moved to Florida, the machine somehow got shoved to the back of my pantry and rarely did I dig it out to bake fresh bread.
A couple weeks ago I ran across a recipe for a whole grain oatmeal bread and decided it was time to bring it back out, dust it off and bake some wholesome whole grain bread. It was a success and I am now back in business of bread baking.
Today, I want to give you some hints about using a bread machine and if you have one, I suggest you get it out and try baking one of these great recipes.
First, there are bread machines and then there are bread machines. Most of them are designed to mix, knead and bake right in the machine.
But, as I said before, the early ones did not produce a quality loaf of bread and the new ones have many added features. I suggest that if you are thinking of purchasing one, you opt for one that has a yeast dispenser as I believe that they produce a consistent result with the finest texture and flavor.
It has a small well on the top of the lid where you place the yeast to be dispensed separately from the other ingredients. I also suggest that you buy “bread machine” yeast or “rapid rise” which is available in a jar in the baking supplies. It is more economical and can be stored in the refrigerator where it keeps for several months.
Using bread flour also results in a higher quality texture and will make your bread raise better. If your bread machine does not have a yeast dispenser, I suggest that you add your yeast and then water as the last ingredients in your machine.
If you are making bread overnight, using a timer, DO NOT use a recipe calling for eggs as they may not be safe if left to set overnight. If you are making a whole grain bread, be sure to use a whole or multigrain setting.
If you are using a recipe that calls for nuts, raisins or dry fruit, most machines will have a beeper letting you know when to add. By adding later in the mixing, the nuts and fruit will stay in larger pieces and give a better result.
Another feature is that you can adjust the machine to the type of bread style you are making which allows you to bake the higher fiber whole grain breads without being heavy and dry. I really like the “dough only” feature which mixes and kneads the bread as well as allowing it to go through one rise cycle. You can then remove the bread and shape it into rolls or shape and bake it into your own loaf (like French or Italian).
The recipe for the Oatmeal Bread below is one that I make on the dough only cycle. It makes so much I can get two small loaves from one mixing and I am afraid it will be too much for the baking cycle of my machine.
The “sandwich” loaf is my favorite of all white breads I have tasted. It is somewhat sweet in taste although it only calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar. (Remember that all breads have to have some sugar added to activate the yeast and cause the expanding action needed to raise the bread.)
This bread results in a very soft texture and a soft crust. You’ll love it!
WHITE SANDWICH BREAD
1 teaspoons dry yeast
3 cups flour
1 ½ tablespoons dry powdered milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 tablepoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) water (room temperature)
Place dry yeast in yeast dispenser. Add remaining ingredients in the order listed. Follow the instructions for your bread machine to mix, knead and bake.
CINNAMON SURPRISE BREAD
This is a great bread to prepare the night before and set the timer to bake prior to waking up. And it makes great toast!
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 1/3 cups flour
1 ½ tablespoons dry powdered milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/8 cup (9 oz.) water (room temperature
½ cup raisins
¾ cup chopped pecans
Place yeast in yeast dispenser. Add remaining ingredients (except raisins and pecans) in order listed. Follow the directions for bread machine, adding raisins and pecans when instructed by your machine instructions.
OAT-NUT WHOLE GRAIN BREAD
This is a recipe that you can make without the bread machine. When you mix the yeast and flour/water mixture use a mixer to mix dough. Then knead as you do with other bread dough recipes. This bread is very dense, moist and high fiber bread which also makes incredible toast. I always use “steel cut oatmeal” which is available in the health food or organic section of your supermarket. It is a very coarse grained oatmeal (almost like chopped nuts) which bulks up your bread.
1 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
½ cup very warm water
1 cup steel cut oats
1 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup honey or molasses
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 cups bread flour
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
Mix yeast with ½ cup very warm water and stir to soften yeast. Let set 10 min. While yeast is softening, place next 5 ingredients into a large bowl. Measure 1 3/4 cups water and bring to boil. Pour over mixture, stir and let stand for 10 minutes. Place bread and whole wheat flour in bread machine. Pour in oat mixture and yeast/water mixture. Follow instructions that come with bread machine using the multigrain and dough only setting. Start bread maker and then add nuts when machine beeps for addition. (Add with oatmeal mixture if you do not have a nut adding timer).
When machine stops remove dough and divide into 2 equal portions. Form dough into loaf and place in two well greased 9” x 4” loaf pans. Place in warm location and let rise until completely double (about 1 hour). Bake at 375 degrees on top rack of oven for 40 minutes. Remove and brush top of loaf with melted butter. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
Have I enticed you to buy a bread maker? If so, happy bread baking — Sheryl.
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at email@example.com.