Bread Machine: A Bread Maker is a Little Joy Factory for Your Home
I love bread. I love it so much so that my mother-in-law decided to give me a bread machine as a gift one year. Let me just tell you, not only did that bread machine turn out to be the best gift ever, it turned out to be the best invention ever. Humanity was at its finest the day the automatic bread machine came to be. It’s like a little joy factory that just sits there on my counter making people happy all the time. Especially ME!
The smell of fresh bread being baked is so delightful. Everyone loves it (I think it’s some kind of instinct), but not everyone can make bread. Well, actually anyone could make it, but not everyone does. People don’t have the time. I didn’t have the time that often either until I got my bread machine. Now I get to have fresh bread all the time. And it’s easy.
Usually I just put all the ingredients in the bread machine and let it do everything, right through shaping it into a loaf. But sometimes when I’m feeling festive, I like to put it on just the dough setting and then shape it myself. I can make it into everything imaginable: making my own twists for spaghetti, long thin twisted breadsticks, brushed with oil or butter and rolled or dusted with parmesan cheese—these are the best fresh breadsticks ever for an Italian meal.
Basically, I recommend anyone should get a bread machine that likes warm, flakey, fresh-baked bread, and who likes the smell of baking bread wafting warmly through the house in the evening or during holidays.
There are lots of varieties out there, but I have included a few below that will do nicely and that fit a variety of price ranges. I admit I’ve only had the one I have now (mine’s a Sanyo), but I’ve had it for ten years and it’s still going strong. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and my family loves all the fresh breads and doughs I can make. The only complaint I’ve ever gotten about my bread machine is that my husband says it’s my fault he’s putting on weight. I suspect he might be at least partially right, but I’m not going to tell him that. I love him just the way he is.
Over the years I have learned to make wonderful things that my family and friends get to enjoy. The easiest one—and most frequent—that I make are dinner rolls. These sweet, buttery, warm, soft rolls are the best I have ever had anywhere and, while it may sound like bragging, every one of my friends and family agree. They rock. (And because I want everyone to enjoy them, I’m going to post the recipe below. So, enjoy.)
On occasion I make sticky buns which are like cinnamon rolls but with a sticky brown sugar and butter topping. My children, being picky eaters, don’t like nuts or raisins, so I have always left those out, but I’m sure they would be the icing on the cake if I ever got to make them the way I would like. Sticky buns are a little more time consuming but they are the bomb! (My husband says they are better than anything you can buy from the Cinnabon booth at the mall. I may have to write another hub about those when I get a chance).
And like most families, we love our pizza around my house. I have a collection of recipes for pizza dough that is awesome as well (another hub?). I can make pizza quick and easy, and it’s way better than anything you get frozen, and frankly, every bit as good and usually far better than what we have delivered from time to time.
There is quite a selection of bread machines available:
The bottom line is, with a bread making machine in your kitchen, you open up the world of baked goods for yourself. I make French bread and sourdough all the time. Sometimes I make wheat and rye, and there’s this cheese bread that is so good it makes the bread gods cry. There are so many things that you can make, amazing things that you probably won’t make if you don’t get a bread machine. I know how that goes. It just takes too long to do all the kneading and mixing and all that stuff by hand. A bread machine takes all that work out of the picture. So, if you like warm, steamy bread and you like to bake bread but just never get to that part of a holiday or even every day meal, you should get one like I did. You’ll love it, I promise.
Speaking of promises, here’s the dinner rolls recipe I promised I would include. ENJOY!
The BEST Dinner Rolls EVER:
Flour: A key note to making bread is the Bread Flour. This is important. This is not regular flour. The best one I have found for the regular white breads is Pillsbury Bread Flour, and I get it at pretty much any grocery store. Now I know that there is another brand called King Arthur that many people swear by, but I just can’t see a difference in the two except that King Arthur costs more. There are some "organic" flours too if you are into that like some of my vegan friends are.
Ingredients: In using my bread machine I have found that you have to pay attention to how the ingredients are loaded into the inner pot. I will list the ingredients in the manner in which they should be added.
Water - 1 ½ cups
Butter - 1/3 cup
Bread Flour - 4 ½ cups
Brown Sugar - ½ cup
Salt - 1 ½ tsp
Yeast - 2 tsp
Place ingredients in inner pot IN THE ORDER listed. Place inner pot in the bread machine and set to the “dough setting.” Press start.
Now here I will intervene. I have noticed that in the first 10-15 minutes of the mixing cycle, sometimes there isn’t enough water in the ingredients. This happens on occasion. You should check it to see if it is mixing into a nice doughy ball that looks soft not crumbly because it is too dry. If it is not forming into a ball, you will need to add 1 tsp of water and let it mix some more. If it still looks too crumbly, you can add another tsp, but you want to start with just one tsp at first, otherwise your mixture will end up too watery—kind of like something like your child has made in kindergarten. So you have to be patient and check it every so often till it looks like the picture I have provided. Then you are ready to just sit back and wait till the timer goes off and your dough is done.
On to the rolls . . .
Once your timer has gone off, pull the inner pot out and place it on a counter. Your dough should have risen nicely and be ready to use as pictured here. This is where the fun begins.
You will need a greased 13x9 baking pan. Tear off a chunk that is somewhere between the size of a golf ball to roughly a tennis ball. Roll this chunk up and place in the greased pan evenly as I have shown. When you are done, you should end up with 12 buns. Place this in a warm spot and cover with a dish towel to allow it to rise a second time. They should be double in size before you bake them.
When they are ready, place them in the oven and bake them at 350° F for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. The whole house will smell fantastic and any visitors you have will be both jealous and in a hurry to do favors for you in hopes that they might get to enjoy.
Once you have taken them out of the oven, lightly brush them with butter! Not only does this taste totally amazing, it makes them look fantastic. My mouth is watering just having written this and put that photo there.
(Speaking of the neighbors, I often have enough dough to roll up an extra dozen, which I sometimes walk over and give to my neighbor to bake for herself. She LOVES that, and so does her husband, and this is why I always have someone to look after my cats when I go on a trip. You see, you can never under-estimate the value of a good bread machine. It really is a little factory of joy.)
Here, watch how easy it really is ... (OMG her machine is HUGE!)
Some Helpful Bread Making Links
- Best Bread Machine Recipes - Allrecipes.com
Top 20 Bread Machine Recipes from Allrecipes.com as rated and reviewed by millions of home cooks. This is a good source for recipes. BUT, that dinner roll recipe they have can't touch the one I just put up, so try mine first. Trust me.
- A flour discussion
Just to prove I don't work for Pillsbury or something LOL, here's a forum discussing someone having a different experience (even if not necessarily regarding a bread machine... which I might argue is why they are struggling lol).
- King Arthur Flour - King Arthur Flour Baking Banter
Even though I think the Pillsbury Bread Flour I buy is just as good, this is a good brand. This site has lots of good resources for you too, including a blog. Good stuff for you if you are just starting with your bread making machine.
- Joy the Baker
Speaking of "joy" and blogs, this is an often funny blog about baking and bread making that might help you with your forray into the world of bread machine happiness.
- Bread Machine Parts - Eventually they do need a part from time to time
For those of you with older machines like mine, here's a Web site specializing in bread machine replacement parts. Their site says, "We try to carry most replacement parts for Welbilt, DAK, Black and Decker, Regal, Toastmaster and More!"