Country Living Series

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Making bread (the cheater's way)

A few days ago I made a passing reference to my bread machine, prompting some questions from interested readers.

I'm no good at breadmaking. Early in our marriage, I tried and tried and tried to make bread ... and didn't have much luck. Long story short, around 1996 or so I broke down and purchased a bread machine, specifically a Regal Kitchen Pro Model no. K6743. At the time, it was one of the top-rated machines.

(I took this photo off an eBay listing, because my bread machine isn't nearly this clean and shiny.)

This marvelous invention has churned out literally thousands of loaves of bread over the last 20 years. Don's a sandwich guy, so on average I make two or three loaves a week.


For awhile, bread machines were the "thing" to have, but for some inexplicable reason many people never used them once they had them. As a result, you can often pick up pristine hardly-used machines in thrift stores, often with the instruction books intact. Gold!

I'm sure today's modern bread machines are far better than the one I currently use, but I certainly have no room to complain about my particular model; it still works flawlessly. A lot of newer machines produce more "loaf-shaped" loaves as well, but we're so used to the taller vertical bucket that we never give it much thought.

For literally the entire lives of our girls, they've eaten homemade bread. In fact, here's a true story: One time when Younger Daughter was just a baby, I got behind on making bread and we ran out, so Don purchased a couple of loaves at the grocery store. When he came home, Older Daughter (who was about three years old) watched him unpack the items. Suddenly she came flying into the bedroom where I was changing Younger Daughter's diaper. "Mommy, mommy!" she yelled with great excitement. "The bread! It’s sliced!"

The girls have dabbled in the "great unknown" of commercial white bread at various times, but they're grown to dislike the pasty consistency and bland flavor and now appreciate a good wheat bread.

Over the years, I've made different types, but our daily standby is wheat. It's not whole wheat, since the recipe calls for both unbleached white flour and oatmeal, but it's tasty and hearty and makes excellent sandwiches.

I add the following ingredients (in the following order) for one loaf of wheat bread, #2 setting on the bread machine:

10 oz. warm water
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ tablespoons sugar (or honey)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups white flour (don't bother with bread flour)
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup oatmeal
1½ teaspoons yeast

One reader asked what yeast we use. I buy bulk Saf Instant yeast and store it in a quart jar in the fridge.


At first I was embarrassed to be "caught" using a bread machine, but gradually I came to realize I should be no more embarrassed than if I were "caught" using a washing machine or a similarly useful invention. The fact of the matter is, I would not make homemade bread nearly as fast as Don could eat it without the handiness and ease of this gizmo.

So that's the skinny on our bread machine.

39 comments:

  1. Bread machines are awesome. I used one for ages, though I usually just used it to mix and kneed and then put the dough in a standard pan in the oven to bake. These days I have a slightly larger kitchen, with better counter space, and an off brand powered mixer that can mix and kneed the dough for me. But that bread machine stood me in good stead for ages. Local groceries have nicer loaves than stores used to carry, so on the occasion I end up buying bread I don't feel like I'm eating fluff, but I still prefer home-made!

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  2. I can never get the bread right while kneading. It is either too sticky or too floury or something. And comes out about as useful as a paper weight. I do like my bread machine and need to use it more. I am going to get some wheat flour today.
    I already have bread flour, though, so I will use that. I am guessing this is a 1 pound loaf?
    Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  3. I purchased one of these about 2 years ago. My wife is on a low carb diet so My machine has been banished to the shop where I now use it. I was doing a rye bread, ground wheat, and white flower and kept getting sunken tops. At the end of the proof cycle the loaf would look very nice but when it started to bake the top would collapse. I asked on one of the mormon forms if anyone had a way around that problem and one poster told me to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of ascorbic acid (fruit protector by Ball) and that worked. I do not make bread that often but the shop sure smells nice when I do.

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Steve! My loaves in North Carolina would always do that. I thought I read somewhere that it was due to the yeast rising too fast, or humidity or some such. I will try the ascorbic acid. Can you taste a difference?

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    2. Other than the loaf is not as dense no taste difference. Try 1 teaspoon to start and see what that does.

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    3. I will do that. Thank you, Steve.

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    4. I've had the same problem and just gave up baking in the machine. The rise would be beautiful, but then fall and bake into a dense "bread brick." (Side note: chickens don't care.) I'll try this. If it works for me, I'll definitely be baking a lot more bread and sharing less with the chickens!

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  4. I used my first bread machine for mixing/kneading for 10 years before it bit the dust. I picked up the 2nd one at a Goodwill for $5 and used it until I got a good stand mixer that could handle bread dough. No shame in using good tools.

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  5. Absolutely nothing wrong with using a bread machine! In summer it sure beats turning on an oven. And if you have arthritic hands, it is really helpful not to have to knead the dough.

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  6. I used a bread machine for a couple of years. I still have it but I have lost the instruction manual. I can't remember the way to put the ingredients in. Oh well, age does make a difference! Ha Ha.

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    1. You may be able to find a manual online, or recipes for your machine. There are a few websites that specialize in pdf files for different items. Try a search in Google or whatever you use for a search engine. The worst that could happen is you don't find it. ^_^

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    2. Usually you can enter the name of the machine (like Oster) and the model # into Google and find a manual typically in a PDF format. You can just save it to disc to look at when you need it or print it.

      I teach my two grandaughters to make bread and part of that lesson is they must remember the recipe. 1 cup water, 1 pkg or tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, 3 cups flour.
      Simple recipe and works fine. I often expand that recipe to include oil/butter (sometimes bacon grease), rolled oats, cheese, bacon crumbles, raisins, etc. But I do love the simplicity of the basic recipe.

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    3. Thank you for this, too! And I do like the idea of adding bacon to my bread. ^_^

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  7. Can I use steel cut oatmeal, or do you use the flakes? Thanks!

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    1. We use quick (thin-cut) oatmeal, but by all means try the steel-cut and see what happens. It will probably work fine.

      - Patrice

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    2. You will need to soak the steel cut or they will be really hard in the bread and not in a crunchy good way. In a hard hurt your teeth way. They don't soften up.

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    3. You will need to soak the steel cut unless you can find the quick cooking kind. I used the regular kind ...once!

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  8. You should check out the instant pot. It's just become my favorite kitchen appliance because of what it can do. It saves me so much time with a large family and cooking. I am not one to jump on the bandwagon of kitchen fads but this was on sale and I'm so glad I purchased it. We don't eat bread any more but when we did we had two of the sane machines one a gift and one from good will. We'd make two at once. It was heavenly.

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  9. Thanks for sharing what you do for making bread. I'm seriously thinking about getting one. Either way, my daughter will be making wheat bread soon. She is up for the challenge!

    LSM

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  10. You've convinced me, I will be looking for one and give it a try, I am tired of store bought, I will probably still purchase bagels and English muffins though.

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  11. What settings did you put this on?

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    1. Sorry for the omission, I just added it to the post. It's #2 setting.

      - Patrice

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  12. I can make bread by hand... but, I don't have to! ;-) My Mom gave us her back-up bread machine (she didn't want to be without one if the other one broke!) some 5 or 6 years ago. It was new in the box, but a few years old at the time. It's still working great! I use it for all our bread, rolls, and buns (hint: use the dinner roll recipe and shape into hot dog or sandwich rolls). I've felt like I was cheating, too, by using the machine. But, it makes more sense for me to use it than to spend money on store bread which costs about as much as a bag of flour. We have 5 children, 8 yo and under, so I don't really have the time to make bread and do everything else! :-) Thanks for the article, Patrice.

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  13. We have the same model. Makes fabulous pizza dough for family nights!

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  14. Patrice,

    Thanks for the "loaf-down" on your bread recipe. I think I need to dust our machine off and try it
    :)
    Steve
    Morrow, OH

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  15. I loved my bread machine too! - and had a delicious recipe. Then I had to go gluten-free so I stopped making bread. I do see there are gluten-free bread machine recipes online and I will try them in my bread machine. Hope they taste as good as my wheat loaves did! I used the white whole wheat (King Arthur with yellow on the label) - less "whole-wheaty" tasting than the regular whole wheat bread (King Arthur with red on the label). Yum!

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  16. Bread machines are nice, but my family has always used a Bosch Kitchen Machine. My parents bought one in 1979 and my mom (and eventually all 7 of us kids) have made literally thousands of loaves of 100% whole wheat bread. In fact, as we all moved into our own homes, we have purchased our own machines and mills. For our daughter's college graduation, we purchased her a Kitchen Machine and Whisper Mill. And the 3rd generation loves it just as much as the grandparents! So easy to bake bread and use it for any other kitchen chore.

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  17. I love my bread machine! It's my favorite "time- and labor-saving" device. I don't use my wood cookstove in summer, so I like that the bread machine uses 110 rather than 220 volt electricity like the full size electric oven. We've been in the upper 90s all summer, so I like that it doesn't generate as much heat as the electric oven. I can even move it outdoors so the heat it does generate stays outdoors. I like it for dough making too, for buns and rolls. On pizza night I start it up before chores and have dough ready to roll out by the time we get done.

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  18. Why pay dollars for a limp loaf of bread from the store, when you can make hearty good for you bread for about 50 cents a loaf.

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  19. For a interesting flavor try adding truffle infused oil as a butter replacement.

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  20. http://frugalmeasures.blogspot.com/2015/02/lizas-machine-bread.html this is my fav bread i use dough setting and bake in oven i use this dough on many variations elsewhere in the blog you can find all variations and i make english muffin bread using dough setting too

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  21. Every two weeks for over twenty years I baked ten or eleven loaves of bread. Then when the kids started to leave the nest I got my first bread machine. Wore it out. Got a second one, but our diet has changed. We don't eat as much bread now so it does not get as much use. It is still great ,I like to be able to toss in a few basic ingredents,push a few buttons and walk away. I do plan on showing my grandkids how to make bread the hard way. I expect it will be messy.

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  22. I had a bread machine but never liked it. The crust was just nasty to me and it never felt good to me. My husband loved it and said it was just like his mom used to make, which I found very odd. My died quickly when the knead flap became permanently stuck. Seems a lot of them had that problem. I never replaced it and just enjoy my soft, whole wheat bread from the store. I did buy white once and my 5yr old was super confused by the wrong colored loaf. I found it really funny, just like your girls being thrilled at sliced bread.

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  23. I have a bread machine I was given, but have never used. I will have to give it a shot now. Has anyone done sourdough in the bread machine?

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  24. Love my bread machine! I don't love the shape/crust when I bake it in the machine, so I just use the dough cycle, shape it, and preheat the oven during the 2nd rise. I don't use it much during the summer ... but I do find we eat more bread when I bake it, there's just something wonderful about homemade bread!

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  25. I use my bread machines as dough makers then bake in the oven. Would love to try your recipe, any idea temp and time in a regular oven?

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  26. after rising in my reg bread pan i put mine in a preheated 350 oven bake mine for 40 min and even tho if you search my site you can see i make lots of variations even cinn rolls i do the same temp i really like doing this i put all dry ingredients in a qt jar this way it l
    is a mix easy to make up my "mixes" seven or so at a time. Also to make bread flour one tsp wheat gluton per reg c of flour.

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