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

Posted Apr 22 2010 5:38pm
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.
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