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!
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.