I’ve owned a bread machine (or two) over the years and the one prevailing issue I’ve had is some inconsistency with the results.
My preferred machine is a 20+ year old Sears model that I Absolutely Adore. Note: I doubt you will be able to find one like it. This machine makes wonderful bread, is easy to use and is reliable.
That being said, there are always opportunities to see what else I can do with it. I have yet, for example, to try making jam or cakes in the machine. But I can see the time when I will give them a try.
In the meantime, I happened across this recipe from Food.com and gave it a try. Boy! Was I amazed! The recipes is: Throw Away The Bread Machine Instructions White Bread.
One of the main takeaways is that you start out proofing your yeast in warm water before you add the rest of the ingredients into the pan. Just as you would if you were making bread by hand. That short 10 minute wait gives you time to gather all your ingredients, measure them out and make sure that the yeast is still active. Sort of a jump start, if you will.
Because I use yeast from a jar that I store in the refrigerator, and I don’t let the yeast come to room temperature before I start, the time spent in the warm water does double duty. It not only brings the yeast up to temp, but gets the proofing underway before the machine starts combining ingredients.
The very first attempt with the recipe netted a lovely high loaf with a golden crust, even crumb and lovely taste.
As I continue to experiment, I will be sure to use the proofing method in this recipe. I know it won’t work for delayed baking, but for general use it should be a huge help.
As I think further, one thing that may explain the inconsistency issue is the temperature of the water used. Straight out of the tap sounds easy, but if it is cold outside, the water will be cold. If you draw hot water, be sure it isn’t too hot – it needs to be at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold and the yeast won’t grow, too hot and you’ll kill the yeast.
What else do I use my bread machine for?
- Pizza dough.
- Sweet dough for cinnamon rolls.
- English Muffin Bread.
- French bread (not the traditional kind but I could if inclined)
- Italian bread
- Dinner Rolls
Fresh bread made at home is less expensive than store bought and I know what is in it. While I use a machine, I started out making bread by hand and, contrary to what some people may think, basic bread is basically 15 minutes of work and a couple of hours of waiting; waiting for the rise and waiting while baking.
Which, come to think of it, is pretty similar to using a machine. 🙂
Either way, the end result is tasty, tempting and a true treat!
My Favorite Tools and Resources
While I’ve usually had excellent luck with my original bread machine, I did have a different one that made great dough, but the baking left a lot to be desired. I was lucky to be a part of an online cooks message board (long since gone) that had bread bakers as part of the group.
The group recommended The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. This book was a life saver as it provided much needed information about how the machines work their magic and what to do to help them do their jobs. The biggest take away from the book was to use additional gluten when baking in a machine. I tried it – and it worked!
This book contains my favorite pizza dough recipe!
Somewhere along the line I came across the first three books in the Bread Machine Cookbook series by Donna Rathmell German. These books have been great fun providing interesting recipes and options for using the machine.
These books have my favorite English Muffin Bread recipe along with the recipe to make the sweet dough for cinnamon rolls.
Fleischmann’s Yeast has a wonderful website (Breadworld.com) that holds an amazing array of recipes for hand and machine made breads and pastries.
King Arthur Flour’s website (kingarthurflour.com) not only has a wonderful recipe section, but their online shop has some great tools in addition to the flours, seasonings, chocolates, etc. They have a great community section where you can ask bakers for help with any question you have regarding baking.
Bread making doesn’t have to be complicated. Bread is actually very simple. Enjoy the process and don’t be afraid to experiment.