Are You Really a Bread Machine Person?
Mar 30, 2002
The Bottom Line Some people should NOT own a bread machine. Are YOU one of them?
What should you know about using a bread machine?
If you're a perfectionist, forget it.
If you already bake your own bread -- using an oven -- forget it. (I know 3 people who couldn't make the transition.)
If you think you're going to get wonderful, hot, sensuous bread that will make you happy when you eat/serve it -- forget it. (You just might get wonderful, hot, sensuous bread, but it won't make you happy. Trust me on this.)
If you are one of those who believe that "store bought bread is just fine," then you've already got your mind set against the bread machine, so -- forget it.
If you think you can toss a store-bought mix in the machine and a loaf you'll love will come out -- forget it. (These mixes tend to be pricey and make smallish loaves. You'll feel ripped-off. NOTE: you CAN make your own mixes once you've found recipes that "work" for you. It's easy, more economical, and you KNOW what you're eating!)
If you have a "want it now" personality, you're impatient or give up easily -- forget it. After the first failure, you'll be right here on Epinions, telling everyone what a waste of time and money bread machines are, and besides, you can go to the store quicker. We don't wanna hear it, ya got that?
On the other hand..
If you want to know exactly what you're feeding your family -- go for it.
If you're willing to eat your mistakes, and learn from them so you can do better -- go for it. (Most "failed" loaves will still make decent toast.)
If you're into healthy, delicious AND convenient foods -- go for it. It is well worth the time it takes to "get used to" your machine.
***** BONUS SECTION on INGREDIENTS *****
KNOW where to buy your ingredients! Picking up breadmaking supplies at the grocery store will cause a bit of sticker shock. We buy all of our yeast and flour (and sugar, and honey) at Sam's Club. If you're not a member of Costco or Sam's Club or BJ's, then find someone who is and make them your best buddy.
First off, let's talk about that dreaded yeast......The yeast that I use comes in a vacuum-sealed "brick" similar to the way you can now buy some brands of coffee. It might be called "bread machine yeast" but probably not. Mine says it's "Instant Yeast" which means that it doesn't have to be mixed with water first -- and that makes it just PERFECT for bread machines! Just cut the package open carefully, pour it into a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and store it in the freezer. Just measure out what you need each time.I've kept yeast in my freezer, literally for years, and it's worked just as well as when I first opened it. A pound of yeast should cost only a few dollars, say, no more than $5 (US), and will make you quite a lot of bread for the cost of just a few of those little strips of 3 packs in your grocers refrigerator case. You might also find that it is more "powerful" than the grocery-store-packet yeast. I use 1 or 2 teaspoons for a 2 pound loaf of wholegrain bread. Your mileage may vary.
Flour Power -- On to the flour. I got a 20 or 25 pound sack of bread flour (sometimes called "high protein flour" or "high gluten flour") at Sam's Club for somewhere around four to six dollars. It's been a while - we make mostly wholegrain bread now. Yes, thats a lot of flour, so you've gotta know where you're gonna put it--or, split it with a baking friend. Another option is to purchase a small quantity of wheat gluten from a health-food store. More on that later.
Speaking of wholegrain -- while it IS the healthier way to go, it can be costly. Our family decided to stop eating that soft, fluffy, white, colon-clogging dough-ball bread a while ago. We purchased a grain mill and grain roller combination, along with some bulk grains (wheat, oats, rye, among others). My standard daily loaf is Honey-Wheat-Oat bread.
If you want to go completely wholegrain, you will find the bread rises better if you add a bit of wheat gluten to the flour. Gluten is the protein of the wheat, and this is what helps hold the structure of the bread together as the yeast works its magic. If there is not enough gluten to support the weight of the bread, it will collapse.
If all this hasn't scared you off, then you may be a bread machine person. Now go read epinions to find out which one is for you!