Nothing pleases my senses more than the smell of bread baking in my house. It reminds me of my mom serving me homemade bread and jam after getting off the bus as a youngster. My mom was hardcore though – no bread maker – her homemade bread was very “hands on.”
Part of the DIY Natural mantra is keeping things simple and quick. I don’t have the patience for long projects, but still want GOOD food! Homemade bread is just so much tastier than store bought. I haven’t purchased a loaf of bread from the store in about three years. If you think you don’t have time for baking bread, read on…
Time saving benefits of a bread machine
We acquired our bread machine during a visit with some friends a few years back. They received it as a gift and had only used it a few times. (Pretty common with bread makers I think.) We gladly took it off their hands and have put it to good use ever since.
When I’m in a hurry, I can dump all the ingredients into the bread machine in about 4 minutes flat. (I had Matt time me once.) I can go about my business while the bread is doing its thing in the machine, my hands stay clean, and more importantly, my kitchen stays clean. A few hours later I have a hot, tasty loaf just waiting to be cut into. It’s like food magic!
Homemade bread recipe
My standby bread recipe for everyday loaves makes a lightly-sweet, fluffy loaf that we’re in love with. I made a few adjustments to the Honey Grain Bread recipe found in our Oster Bread Machine recipe booklet. It’s a must try!
Honey Grain Bread (1.5 pound loaf)
- 1 ¼ cups filtered water (find water purification systems here)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (best from pasture-raised cows, or learn how to make butter here)
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey (buy raw, unfiltered honey here)
- 2 ¼ cups white organic pastry flour (buy sprouted flours here)
- 1 cup organic whole wheat flour (buy sprouted flours here)
- ½ cup organic rolled oats (buy organic rolled oats here)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (buy unrefined sea salt here)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (buy active dry yeast here)
- Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
- Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to pan.
- Using a spoon or your finger, form a small hole in the flour for the yeast. (DO NOT let yeast come in contact with liquid ingredients.) Carefully pour yeast into the hole.
- Insert bread pan into bread maker and close lid.
- Choose the “basic” or “whole wheat” setting, and choose your desired crust color (I use light).
- Press the START button, go about your day, and a few hours later you’ll enjoy a house that smells like a bakery (this recipe takes 3 hrs. 40 min.).
We love our bread covered with butter, jam, served with eggs in the morning, made into grilled cheese, or piled high into a big fat deli sandwich. This particular loaf has been stored in our refrigerator for up to three weeks with no problems.
In fact, in three years we have never had a loaf go moldy. When it gets too old it just dries out, which we don’t mind because we turn it into croutons or bread crumbs.
Bread machine drawbacks
While bread machines are an awesome convenience, I do have a few complaints.
There’s that pesky little hole in the middle of the finished loaf from the kneading blade. It only affects a few pieces of bread, but I always grumble when I get to the middle of the loaf and have an incomplete piece. Although there is an easy fix for this problem, it dirties up another dish and involves turning on the oven. The owner of a bakery once advised me to let the bread maker do all the dough work, then plop the dough on a baking stone or into bread pans and bake in the oven to eliminate the annoying hole. Great advice, and I really should give it a shot.
My other complaint about my bread maker is the Teflon coated bread pan and non-stick kneading blade. We’re trying to eliminate all Teflon cookware from our kitchen, and this is one of the items we have yet to replace.
Once our machine dies we won’t replace it, unless they have ceramic pan machines out by then. Instead we’ll just work the dough in glass bowls and bake it in glass, stoneware, or cast iron bread pans – old world style.
Get a cheap (or FREE) bread maker
If you’re interested in using a bread maker, but don’t currently own one, you don’t have to buy one brand new. Consider these means to acquiring a (nearly) new bread machine:
- Start by asking around–do any of your friends or family have one collecting dust and taking up valuable space in their kitchen? You might be doing them a favor by taking it! (Promise to gift your first loaf of bread to the donor.)
- Keep your eyes peeled at garage sales or thrift stores. I once saw an entire SHELF of bread makers at a local thrift store.
- Check Craigslist or Freecycle. A recent search on Craigslist revealed a brand new machine for $40, used ones for $15 and $30, and many more being sold at reasonable prices.
Note: While we recommend making bread by hand – without teflon bread machine pans – we also know how priceless using a machine can be when you have 100 other things to do but don’t want to sacrifice homemade bread for store bought, which is cooked using nonstick teflon pans anyway.
However you can find time, FIND THE TIME!
Homemade bread is far and away better than what you buy in the bread aisle at the grocery store; and much more cost effective than the expensive artisan loaves.
Yes, I’m pushing you to start making homemade bread! Do it, I promise you’ll thank me.
Share your favorite recipe with the community
What is your favorite homemade bread recipe?
Share your recipes below, along with any tips to speed up the process of doing it by hand without the use of nonstick bread machines.
photo credit: jeffreyw