Before we purchased a bread machine, we deliberated buying one for months. Would we use it? Is it worth it? Will we like it?
I don’t live in an RV like Matt, but our kitchen is still small. When describing it to people who haven’t been in our home, I often refer to it as the dining room closet. A bread machine takes up a good amount of counter real estate, and I didn’t know if it was worth the sacrifice.
Ultimately, we ended up borrowing one from my in-laws when they decided to upgrade, and used theirs until it died after decades of regular use. A week after the borrowed bread machine’s death, we missed having one in the house, and took that as a sign that we should buy our own.
I’m telling you this lengthy story about our bread machine because I don’t think bread machines are for everyone. If you don’t regularly use one, it’s clutter in your kitchen. It’s not something anyone needs. There are healthy loaves of bread in bakeries and on grocery store shelves all across this country, and obviously ways to bake a tasty loaf in your oven. I bake bread at home because it’s less expensive than store-bought bread, I know exactly what is in it (which is important when you have a peanut-allergic child), and one of my favorite smells in the world is the scent of baking bread.
Simply stated, a bread machine is extremely convenient if you make all of your bread at home. You don’t have to tire out your arms kneading dough or find the right spot in your kitchen to get the best rise or heat up the oven or wash your hands 100 times from working with live yeast. You pour ingredients into a loaf pan, and three hours later you have an amazing loaf of bread. If you are busy, but would like to make bread at home, a bread machine makes that an incredibly easy task.
Erin’s Bread Machine Whole Wheat Bread — 2 lb loaf
Note: I use all King Arthur flours because the ones included in this recipe are all processed and packaged in a peanut-free facility.
- 1-1/4 c. Water
- 3 Tbl. Honey
- 2 Tbl. Unsalted butter, diced into 27 small cubes (room temperature)
- 1-1/2 c. Whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. High gluten flour or bread flour
- 1 c. Unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/4 oz. Active dry yeast
Layer all ingredients into the bread machine’s loaf pan, sprinkling the yeast on last.
As far as baking is concerned, I suggest starting with your machine’s programmed setting for whole wheat bread and only customizing if you don’t get your desired results.
Three minutes after the alarm sounds signaling your bread is finished baking, grab two oven mitts and turn the bread out onto a cooling rack. If you like a soft crust, immediately brush 1 Tbl. melted unsalted butter onto the six sides of the bread with a pastry brush.
To save time, on Saturdays when I’m making a loaf, I’ll pre-measure out a second bread’s worth of flours into a zip-top sandwich bag. During the week, when I’m busy and have less time and energy, it’s nice to have the flours ready to go.
(Final Note: If you are considering becoming a weekend baker and don’t want to invest in a bread machine, I highly recommend getting your hands on The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook and Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Actually, I recommend all of Reinhart’s books — the guy is a baking genius.)