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My dad bought a bread machine several years back, and he makes machine bread every week and for all the special dinners around like church pot lucks and Cub Scout banquets. Ive enjoyed his bread, so I had been thinking to buy a bread machine too. Since he makes the basic white bread loaf, I wanted to try some of the variations.
My machine is the Welbilt 3800. Its a basic model with the heat box, bread pan, paddle to mix and a small recipe booklet.
The machine has 8 cooking cycles, and those are listed on top on the control panel. The first four are the basic breads at 1 ½ pound or 1 pound and lighter or darker. For example, cycle 4 is one pound and darker, and thats the one that I use most often. Other options on the selection include things like number 8 for dough. With that one, you let the machine mix up and rise the dough, and then you make rolls and such to go in the conventional oven.
Since my dad has been machine baking for a long time, I already knew some of the problems. If youre going to machine bake bread, then buy the right ingredients. While you can buy a mix and dump that in, the yeast tends to be old in the jiffie mix boxes. Dad had about one good loaf to two failures with bread mixes in the boxes. I would warn against getting those.
If you look in the flour isle at the grocery, youll see that you can buy bread machine flour. Go with that. Or, you can mix half and half with your plain flour. If you use all plain flour, then you may not have very good bread.
If you make hand mix yeast bread, then you may use the little packs of yeast. If youre moving to machine baked bread, then youll need to get a jar of yeast. That comes in regular and rapid. If you buy the rapid rise, then you need a different setting on the bread machine (7). The machine does all the work, and its fast, so I would suggest getting the regular yeast.
The other basic ingredient that I did not keep on hand until getting the bread machine is powdered milk. Many of the recipes call for that, so I keep a box of it on hand.
The Welbilt is designed so that you just dump all the ingredients in, and the machine does everything. Ingredients should go in with the order listed, since some of the wet items should not really touch the dry ingredients until the correct temperature is reached (set by the machine). In fact, I find it works out better to mix the stuff up and then pour it in the machine. I mix the ingredients up in a bowl by hand to get it all worked together. Im just not convinced that the bread paddle in the bottom can get the same smooth mix I get by working it quickly by hand before it goes in the machine.
If youre the type to guess on amounts, then you dont want a bread machine. Everything needs to be very exact. When they call for 2 cups plus one tablespoon of flour, then thats what you need to carefully measure out. If the recipe needs sugar or salt, then you need to include that for the interaction with the yeast and at the amount called for.
*NOTEIf you buy this Welbilt, then the basic bread recipe for 1 pound in the booklet has a typo. It says to use 4 teaspoons of salt. It should be 1 1/3 teaspoon of salt. I think they got that mixed up with the sugar which is 4 teaspoons.
After the Welbilt heats all the ingredients, it then mixes (kneads) and then goes to a second cycle of mixing. After those two cycles, youll hear a beep. This tells you to add any of the extras like fruits and nuts. If you put those items in from the start, the bread does not turn out right. The only problem with this is that you have to be in the kitchen and hear the beep to add your nuts and stuff. If you miss the beep, then the machine carries on, and you have bread without the things you meant to include. You can stop the machine and reset, so if you miss that little beep, then too bad.
When the bread is done, you need pot holders to pull the bucket out. You can leave it in the machine for several hours where it stays warm, but its better to pull it out pretty soon after baking. If you leave it in too long, then its hard to get the loaf out of the pan. If the bread does stick in the pan, then use a plastic spatula and slide in the sides of the pan. Jiggle the paddle piece lightly from the bottom. The bread should release and come out in one piece.
The bread cooks up as a little square shape in either 1 or 1 ½ pounds. Personally I like the smaller sizes. The ratio of soft bread to crust is better on the small sizes. If you dont like crust, then you might like the bigger size better.
In addition to the loaf bread, you can mix up dough for pizza crust, cinnamon rolls, and any other bread based item you might think up. The benefit of using the machine is that it sets the temperature and the rising times. On the down side, you clean up the machine plus items used to oven bake non-loaf items.
Cleaning is pretty easy. All the mess is in the pan which pulls out. If you put the pan in water as soon as you take out the bread, then its easy to clean the paddle in the bottom. If you dont soak and immediately, then it may take some hard scrubbing to get the bread off the paddle. All the pieces have non-stick coatings, but the paddle seems to lose that non-stick stuff after a couple of uses.
The taste on machine bread is kind of between store bought and homemade by hand. Its a little lighter in texture than the bread I mix and then cook in the oven and has less of the air bubbles. Actually, I like the old style yeast bread the best, but the machine bread is much easier and much more likely to turn out than the by-hand bread.
Tupperware carries a good bread knife and also a container for these bread machine loaves. I bought those for my dad. If you dont have Tupperware parties in your town, then you can go online to get Tupperware. I have a review about this new way of buying Tupperware at http://www.epinions.com/content_34674019972
Some people like my dad really love and use bread machines. Others buy them and get tired of them fast. If you keep your eyes open, you may find one at a yard sale. I found mine at Good Will for $5. Wal Mart also carries a model for under $30. If you check Ebay, youll also find a good selection of bread machines.
Here are some of my favorite bread machine recipe pages:
http://fp.enter.net/~rburk/breads/breadmachine/breadmachine.htm - A bare bones page with a click to pages that are printer friendly.
http://www.recipesource.com/baked-goods/breads/machine/ - This one has 922 recipes, so if its out there, youll probably find it here.
http://www.fatfree.com/recipes/breads-machine/ - If you want fat free and vegan bread, then check here.
Problems? Here is a troubleshooting chart:
This is a good site to bookmark. It includes tips for better results and things like where to buy a new dough mixing blades and things like that:
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