Why I make my own bread (or ode to my breadmaker)

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

A little over a month ago, I decided that it was silly for me to buy bread from the grocery store.  My reasons are numerous and simple.

  • I have a great bread maker that does all of the work for me.  Just dump in the ingredients and press start - the machine takes care of the rest!  
  • Around here everyone likes fresh baked bread so much more than store bought bread.  In fact, they like it so much that I thought it might be a problem.  Fortunately, the "must eat it all now!" feeling that came with homemade bread is wearing off.  Now it's just the way it is.  
  • I can control the ingredients.  The breads I make have  simple ingredients - nothing in the way of fancy dough conditioners or preservatives.  I like that.  
  • It's cheaper. We weren't buying the super cheap bread at the grocery store (because the super cheap bread usually amounts to super cheap ingredients that give me the heebie-jeebies).  It would be even cheaper if I had a warehouse store around and could buy bulk flour.
The big thing has been finding good bread machine recipes.  I struggled with this for a while, and then Kara from Itty Bitty Bistro recommended this amazing book - The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.  Love this book!  Every bread I've made from it has been a hit.  The recipes are easy to follow and work.  And there are about a zillion recipes (ok, or maybe just 300) in here for every type of bread you can imagine - and a few non-bread items (like jams) that you can make in your breadmaker.  If you've got a bread machine and are looking for a good companion book, I highly recommend this book!

The next problem was storage.  For a while, we would wrap our loaves in aluminum foil, but that method was messy and wasteful.  A lot of the bread bags and boxes sold aren't designed to hold the tall loaves made in a bread machine.  A couple of weeks ago I ordered this breadbox, and I've been very happy with it.  It holds my loaves perfectly.  (A note here, I like to make 1.5 lb loaves.  A 2 lb loaf from my bread machine might still be a problem with this bread box.)  And this bread box has done a great job keeping my bread from going stale.  It even has a little cutting board in the bottom for slicing bread.  My only complaint would be that it's a little cumbersome getting at the bread because you have to physically pull the box apart.  On the flip side, because of the way it's constructed, I can adjust the interior volume to fit my loaf size.

My go-to sandwich bread of the moment is a simple white whole wheat bread from the King Arther Flour Company featured in the book.  It makes a very tender 100% whole wheat bread that is great for toast or sandwiches.  We also have a favorite cracked wheat bread for sandwiches, but I'll let you get a copy of the book from your library, a friend, or the bookstore to take a look at that recipe and all of the others!

White Whole Wheat Bread
from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

makes a 1 1/2 lb loaf

1 1/4 cups water
2 TBSP nut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 TBSP gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Set crust on dark (I actually like a medium crust) and program for Basic or Whole Wheat cycle.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.


Cindy Rowland April 22, 2010 at 6:20 PM  

Big big fan of my breadmaker. Although it can be a pain to have one more thing to think about getting done. The bread we get to eat is worth it though. Over the past year or so I've settled on 4 or 5 recipes I make often. My everyday bread is a partial whole wheat with flaxseed.

Kara April 22, 2010 at 6:24 PM  

Yayyy! So glad you like the cook book! :-) One of our favorites is the beer bread - it's all white flour, but it's fun to experiment with the flavors that come of different brews :-)

Andra April 23, 2010 at 12:53 AM  

I've been baking my own bread twice weekly since purchasing the book Bread Machine Magic last year. Every recipe I've tried has been a winner.

I use a two gallon zipper bag to store my bread and have not had a problem with keeping it fresh.

Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 7:42 AM  

I haven't used my bread machine lately because we have to lug it up from the basement. Hopefully in our new house we will have kitchen space for it.

My problem is slicing baked bread. It mushes under my knife!

I would LOVE tips on how to slice baked bread.


cathy April 23, 2010 at 8:01 AM  

Leighann - The only tip I have is to get a super-sharp serrated bread knife and use a sawing motion to cut your slices. A regular, non-serrated knife will just crush the bread.

Martha A. April 25, 2010 at 10:00 PM  

Wait until your bread is cool.
Use a serrated knife or for really great slices an electric knife.....

That looks like a great recipe. i have some maple syrup that needs to be used, I may try that.

Hilary April 26, 2010 at 3:06 PM  

I've started making my own, but I make 4 loaves at a time in my mixer...
It does give you the feeling you're doing something pretty great for your family. :)
Until I yell at my kids. ;)

Lori April 28, 2010 at 1:36 PM  

I used to work in a bakery so I always thought I had no need for a breadmaker. However, I simply cannot seem to master the art of good great at home! I think I need to break down and get one...and the book. :)

Anonymous April 29, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

I have been thinking about getting a breadmaker. Which one do you recommend?

cathy April 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

Anonymous - I've been very happy with my Breadman Ultimate breadmaker. It's about 5 yrs old now, so I'm out of touch with what's on the market now, but I would definitely recommend what I have!

Zibi May 12, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

I love home made bread. I used to make semolina bread almost every weekend with the help of our bread machine... then it died... and now we've decided to cut back on carbs. I miss the smell of baking bread more than eating it!

These days I still make my own whole wheat pizza dough, then top it with a variety of vegetables... mmm maybe I'll make some tomorrow night :)

Kerri May 22, 2010 at 10:35 AM  

My youngest son is a very picky eater, and peanut butter & jelly is one of his staples. We are trying to get HFCS out of our diets, too, but I'm having trouble with the bread issue. I've tried to switch him to wheat, but then he just doesn't eat. We've been thinking about trying to make our own breads, so I just bookmarked your recipe. We'll see if I can get it past Picky Eater's lips.

I just discovered your blog, thanks to Scholastic Parent & Child magazine. I am blogging about our family's decision to change our eating habits @ greenbagspecial.com.

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