Making Bread in a Breadmaker is Not Just for Wimps

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BreadAt the risk of being accused of selling out to the world of electronic gizmos, let me say this:  Bread making using an automatic bread maker is nothing to be ashamed of.  And, as a matter of fact, using a bread machine can easily and reliably deliver healthy, wholesome bread for minutes of your time and pennies instead of dollars.

A Bit of Ancient History

I purchased my first automatic bread machine over twenty years ago when they were the latest new-fangled kitchen appliance.  In those days, the only recipes available were those that came in the skinny little user manual that came with the machine itself.  So early adopters such as myself had to learn the ropes the hard way:  we invented them ourselves.

There was no internet in those days (circa 1990) but there were online services such as Prodigy and that is where like minded bakers would congregate and share bread making tips as well as our custom crafted recipes.  For me it was a hobby and a delicious one at that.

My first machine was a Hitachi B101 which I purchased at Costco for about $200.  It produces a tall skinny loaf with a domed top.  Not real pretty to look at and tough to slice but heck, the results smelled and tasted delicious.

About ten years later I purchased a more compact machine for use on my boat.  Let me tell you, there was nothing like sitting out at anchor with the generator quietly running and the aroma of fresh baked bread baking.  I still have that bread machine, the Oster 2 lb. ExpressBake Breadmaker.  Until about a month ago, it was gathering dust in my garage.

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The Return of the Bread Machine Maven

There is a bit more to the history lesson but I will get to that in a moment.  First, I want to show you a visual of the healthy result of a bit of  flour, some whole grains, and a few other bread making essentials.                 bread-6

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What you are looking at is a loaf of my Poulsbo Bread with the emphasis on the “my”.  You see back in 1992, I was contacted by Donna Rathmell German and was asked permission for this cookbook author to use my hand crafted bread recipe in her upcoming book.  Truly.  You can find my recipe on page 131.  Coolness!

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So as I was saying, I recently dusted off the bread machine and starting making anew by making sandwich breads.  I did this mostly out of disgust at the price of a decent loaf in town: about $4.50 at the grocery store and get this, about $7.50 at the bakery.  I knew I could do better and I did.  After a few fall starts (such as loaves of”white” bread with sunken tops) I dug out my own Poulsbo Bread recipes and voila, the perfect loaf.

The Survival Woman Poulsbo Bread Recipe

Now in all fairness, the original Poulsbo bread was made at a Sluy’s Bakery in Poulsbo, Washington.  I loved this bread and worked for weeks re-creating a version for the bread machine.  And now I am going to share it with you.

Place the following ingredients in the pan of your bread machine in the order shown or as recommended by your ABM manufacturer:

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
2 2/3 tablespoons molasses
2 2/3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup 7-grain cereal
2 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
2 teaspoons yeast
 
Optional, but necessary to be authentic:
Add 2/3 cups sunflower seeds at the “beep”

 

Easy and delicious, you can set it and forget it.  So for those days when you want a nice sandwich bread instead if your homemade Artisan bread (see Baking bread and why you should do it), consider the lowly bread machine.  And if you don’t have one stored away somewhere, check with an older relative (free), the local thrift store ($10) or Amazon ($70 and up).

Want to buy new?

I see no reason to spend more than $100 since even the cheapies have options to make jam and back quick breads.  Now I must admit that I covet this Cuisinart CBK-100 Programmable Breadmaker but I plan to make due with my trusty Oster. This Oster Expressbake Bread Maker looks like and updated version of my ABM (automatic bread machine) and runs about $65 with free shipping.  There is also the West Bend 2 Lb. Breadmaker which is highly rated and less than $60.

The Final Word

The only problem with all of this delicious bread are the consequences of eating so much that your waistline expands.  I leave it up to you to deal with that.  Aside from that, the news is all good when it comes to bread making the easy way.

And please, whatever you do, don’t let anyone get away with calling you a wimp for using an automatic bread machine!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye

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From the Bargain Bin: Want your own copy of the Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German?

Alas, The Bread Machine Cookbook III with my Poulsbo Bread recipe is out of print but you can usually find a used copy at Amazon or Ebay for a few bucks.  Or, you can do what I did and order the revised version of her original book which has been updated for the newer machines.

The book is still called The Bread Machine Cookbook and it sells for $8.95 at Amazon.

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Comments

Making Bread in a Breadmaker is Not Just for Wimps — 6 Comments

  1. A note to those temped to run out and buy a brand new bread machine – Before shelling out big bucks on a new machine, take a look at your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift store. It has been my experience that bread machines are nearly always available for $10-$15 (Goodwill), and many appear to be almost new. Buying one of those lightly used machines provides an opportunity to see if you like the result before spending excessively on a new machine.

    This also offers a clue as to what happens with most bread makers. They get used once or twice, and then end up gathering dust in the garage.

    On the other hand, if you knead the dough with your own hands, it is free, and you can make loaves any shape you want. Just saying.

  2. Gaye – Years ago, I had a bread machine that I ruined somehow – the dough overflowed into the unit and burnt. Never could get rid of the burning smell, and didn’t work properly so I got rid of it. I been “bread machine shy” ever since! But your recipe seem fool proof and the bread machines look like they have gone down in price. I have put the smallest one on my wishlist. Thanks!

  3. I love my artisan breads but for sandwiches, nothing beats a “loaf”. I just packed 50 lbs of bread flour into mylar bags plus I put some in the freezer so I am starting (again) to take breadmaking seriously. I believe the flour worked out to 33 cents a pound (purchased as Costco).

    Gaye

  4. Great article! I love my bread machine and wouldn’t be without one. I hate kneading bread dough by hand mostly because of the mess. But I love the smell and taste of fresh home made bread which comes from growing up with a mother that loved to bake; pies, cakes, biscuits, and especially bread and hot rolls. I recently experimented with using solar power to operate my machine and it workied perfectly. I have two small solar panels that keep two (new) automobile battery’s charged and the bread machine could not tell the difference. Just a tip in case you lose power, this duel panel setup will also provide power for a lamp or two, a radio, small battery recharger and will run or recharge a laptop. It was easy to hook up and costs less than $200……

  5. For those of you who hate kneading I have several recipes for Homemade yeast breads no kneading required and require only small amounts of yeast. I am glad to send them to anyone sullivangm@hotmail.com. One is a large recipe so you can get your baking done for the week in a couple of days and the other is for individual loves.

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