In an effort to try to live a little more economically, to eat somewhat more wholesomely, Da Hubster and I have been making our bread for a good year now. This is not a very original idea, seeing as people have made their own bread since the invention of fire. Hey, if I could make little loaves on hot stones in the back yard, I would be all over that! Imagine what a conversation starter that would be when you have people over for dinner! But I digress…
We used to make by hand, with all the kneading and letting it rise, etc. the various recipes we tried called for, but there are times when time is just not on our side. So we set out to find a cheap yet durable bread machine. We checked out local garage sales, the second-hand stores were a bust, and retail outlets in our area only sold brands or models that did not get great online reviews. We thought about buying a more expensive model online, but paying for shipping chaffed our budget. And then a co-worker mentioned that she had one and wanted to get rid of it. SCORE! I actually ended up trading her a discontinued crafting die-cutter kit that I never used for the bread machine. DOUBLE SCORE! Cleaned out some clutter AND got something in return that pulls it's weight around here. *glares at lazy cats*
So, it still takes 4 hours to make a loaf of bread, but I don’t have to knead it. We usually set it to run overnight, and let me tell you, the smell of fresh baked bread when you wake up in the morning is PHENOM (A NOM NOM).
Here is the simplest and most often used recipe in our house. Please make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions for your particular bread machine. Dump these ingredients into the machine in the order they are listed:
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (this is equal to one packet)
Close the lid and wait 10 minutes. After 10 minutes or so, peek in and make sure there is bubbling. If so, you are good to go! Proceed by adding:
- ¼ cup veggie oil
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
Close lid and press button for the first cycle or "Basic" (however it reads on your machine). Go about your business. 3 ½ hours later, your home is going to smell so freaking wonderful, you will have to sit on your hands to keep from ripping the undercooked loaf of bread out of your machine and gnawing on it. Try to restrain yourself. :)
Now, if someone could only teach me how to slice bread evenly, I'd be IN!
Here’s an extra tip. Because there are no preservatives in your newly made bread, it doesn’t last as long as a store bought loaf. We’ve eaten the bread up to a week after making it, having sealed it in a plastic baggie, but it does tend to lose some of its awesome flavor after a few days. It’s not bad, so if you can finish the loaf, great, but what I’ve been doing is taking the leftover heels and stuff, and freezing them. When I’m making a salad, I’ll take a heel of bread – cube it, toss with a little olive oil, garlic, and seasonings, and toast them on a cookie sheet in the oven at around 400f. ***CROUTONS! And soooo much better than store bought. Any left over croutons do best in a ziplock baggy with a small square of paper towel to soak up any extra oil, or any moisture that might not have baked out of bread. But there probably won’t be any leftovers. They are that good.
(picture from www.mydish.co.uk )