Sunday, 22 September 2013

The best thing (is) sliced bread

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.


  1. Have you tried making the Annabel Langbein bread for busy people? Really quick, easy and good.

    1. Ah, no, but have heard about it more than once, so this is another reason to try. I think it might be in the book I have...

  2. We used to have a bread machine, that we used pretty regularly for a while, but like you I was never entirely satisfied with the end result (although it did make the house smell good!) It broke a while back and I haven't got round to replacing it, partly because it took up so much space on my kitchen work surface, that has since been filled by... I'm not sure what, actually, but there doesn't seem to be space anymore!
    I would love to get back into the habit of making bread, particularly having seen how lovely yours looks. I might have to add it to my (ever-expanding) list of things-to-do-now-the-kids-are-at-school-and-pre-school... I know my mum makes a week's worth at a time (from scratch) and then freezes the loaves, but that requires quite a lot of freezer space, which we just don't have.
    Hmmm, sorry - not sure I've really added much by way of useful ideas. If I manage to insert bread-making into our weekly routine I'll pop back and let you know how we're getting on!
    PS Does your dough recipe have sugar in it? I seem to remember most of our recipes did have -do you use glucose for bread too?

    1. That's impressive! It would take me all day using the machine, but even a couple of rounds would be good. Yes, we have a large freezer which really makes life easier.
      No I don't put sugar in my bread. Recipes often call for a teaspoon but, while I am a stickler for getting the amount of salt exactly right, I always skip the sugar - I prefer the tase without.
      I imagine making bread without a machine would be a fairly nice pastime pastime once you've got in to the right head space. Do try one day for me!

  3. we had mum and dad's here for a while until one day when i just really wanted to see the floor of our pantry again. we didn't use it so much (i kept failing), but did see that it's good for making fresh pasta dough with. now there's something for you - physical challenge!

  4. We just took our bread maker to the op-shop a few months ago. It was gathering dust and taking up a lot of space! We used to use it every day until we started with sourdough and that seemed to work in better with our daily schedule as it's a much longer prove time so can be left for much of the day while it does it's thing. I prep the douche in the morning then cook it at night for the next day. It seems to work ok. At one point we experimented with making the dough at night then proving it overnight in the fridge then baking it first thing for breakfast. That seemed to work quite well and was nice and easy. We always make two loaves and freeze one for the next day. I always struggle with finding the right balance of flour and seeds for making a loaf that's not too dense. Not sure I've mastered that one yet but I love experimenting so will have to try your recipe as that loaf looks lovely. Nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread just out the oven!
    P.S. I did some googling about why some of my comments weren't posting and it looks like I was trying to use the wrong account (is that what it's called?? I don't actually know) here's hoping I've got it right this time!!

  5. well the bread in these pics sure look yummy!!