Kent and I were given a bread machine as a wedding present. I don't know if that gives away the era in which we were married. We were certainly very pleased to receive it, and used it off and on over the years. But high usage only really went in phases, and I must say it really does produce a certain kind of bread. I liked it, but couldn't eat it every day for breakfast and for lunch. I really like the idea of making homemade bread but am not up for making it regularly from scratch, so quite awhile ago decided to experiment a little more with the bread machine.
I got quite a good thing going with making buns. Using the machine to make the dough, then just shaping them, letting them rise, and baking them in the oven. It's a pretty good compromise, and the results are wonderful. The buns just feel more like "normal" bread, and don't have any of that obvious bread-machine-bready feeling. I've made them quite often, experimented a little with different seeds and grains, and have made hot cross buns.
But I do like a slice of toast for breakfast after my weetbix, and a bun is pretty inconvenient thing to toast. And there's nothing like a different shape of bread for your lunchtime sandwich to make life a little more exciting. So recently I got out my loaf tins to see what I could do.
And, yes, it's pretty easy. The first time I did it, I used two tins, and lined one with baking paper and left the other without. I found that the loaf without was damp, almost soggy, around the bottom, so have lined the tins with baking paper each time. The largest amount of dough that I can make in my machine fills two tins of the size above, but I suggest you just experiment with what you've got.
I've been using the white bread setting on my machine, but I substitute a little bit of wholemeal flour, and my current favourite additions are sesame seeds, chia seeds and ground up pumpkin seeds. I'm keen to get sunflower seeds in to the mix and perhaps try nuts of some kind.
I've also been working on how to make the whole process easier. Making loaves every second day would see us using very little shop-bought bread, but for me that's quite a big commitment! Folding my baking paper in to four before cutting the corners out makes it a lot quicker, as does greasing the paper before I put it in to the tin. I have been using individual sachets of yeast, but as I'm using it often enough to keep it fresh, a standard jar would be a lot less fiddly. I've crushed up all my pumpkin seeds so that I don't have to do it every time. Kent's family used a bread machine many, many years ago, and his Mum had all the dry ingredients pre-mixed in a big container which must have really saved on time.. once the initial job was done.
I also keep a close eye on the clock as the process takes about 2 hours from beginning to end, and I like to keep on top of it. If you don't want to be late for lunch, have the tins ready by the time the dough finishes, and get your oven on before they have finished rising in the hot cupboard (/warm location). I'd like to not have to mess around with lining the tins actually, but haven't yet found a solution to this.
Do you have a bread machine? Do you use it? Is it time to get it out of hibernation? I'd love to hear your ideas
on how to make the best use of it and how to make this process any easier. And tastier of
course. What are your favourite bread additions? Years ago we used to
get a beautiful olive and parmesan bread that I'd love to try one day, and something walnuty would be rather nice. Mmm, I think I need to go and get baking...
Loaves of Bread
Make a standard dough in your bread machine.
Line two loaf tins with greased baking paper.
Divide the dough in to the tins, and spread roughly through the tin.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for 30- 40 mins.
Bake at 180 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden on top.
PS - If, like me, you have a dairy-free friend that you'd like to feel welcome in your house, grease the paper with oil instead of butter. You may like to sweep a bit of milk on top if you're happy with dairy, but you'll still get colour without it and it doesn't add to the flavour, so save some time and skip it unless you're really wanting to impress some visitors.