A Quick Crash Course in Bread Machines and Why You Need One
The bread machine is one modern invention that doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves. In fact, compared to toasters, blenders and coffee makers, bread machines are the unsung heroes of kitchen appliances.
It’s a real shame when you think about it. Good kitchen appliances are prized because they make life a little easier. And bread machines take one of the most time consuming, labor intensive things you can do in a kitchen-making bread-and makes it both fast and easy.
There’s just nothing like eating a slice of warm, homemade bread fresh from the oven. And not only does homemade bread taste great, it also smells heavenly. In fact, the smell of bread baking in the oven can do anything from improve your mood to help sell your house.
Most people would eat fresh, homemade bread every day if they could.
So why don’t they?
For most, actually making the bread from scratch is the problem.
If you’ve never tried making your own bread before, it can seem like a complex and mysterious process you’re too intimidated to tackle. And the truth is that making bread completely by hand, even if you’re using a simple recipe, really can be a challenge.
If you’re an experienced bread maker, time might be the problem. Making a simple loaf of bread by hand can take several hours. If your life is as busy as most people’s, you probably just don’t have time to make homemade bread.
That’s where the bread machine comes in. First of all, they’re fast. You can set up a machine to start making homemade bread in just minutes.
Bread machines are also user-friendly. Even absolute beginners can turn out a beautiful and delicious loaf of bread with the help of a bread machine.
Whether you’re an experienced baker or a newbie bread maker, there are countless reasons why you need a bread machine in your kitchen.
The Advantages of Using a Bread Machine
Compared to making bread by hand, using a bread machine has several benefits.
You Don’t Have To Do the Kneading. Kneading is the most arduous part of the bread making process. It’s tiring, tedious, and leaves you with sore arms and tense shoulders. Yes, it can be therapeutic. Pounding on a lump of bread dough is a good way to work out your frustrations. However, if you’ve had a lovely day and just want to make some bread as quickly as possible, let the machine do the kneading for you.
There’s No Big Mess to Clean Up. Making a single loaf of bread can require the use of several bowls, pots, pans and utensils… all of which needs to be washed and put away.
It’s also hard to make bread without ending up with flour all over your countertop and, more often than not, the floor. And that mess has to be cleaned up too.
But you don’t have to worry about cleaning a big mess when you use a bread machine. All of the stuff that can create a mess takes place inside of the machine. So aside from the bread maker itself, all you’ll have to clean is a measuring cup or two.
Worry Less About Making Mistakes. There are so many things that can go wrong when you make bread completely by hand. You might not knead the dough enough. Or you might knead the dough too much. Or you could make a mistake with the yeast, causing the dough not to rise properly. Any of these mishaps can result in a loaf of bread that’s hard, tough, and about as appetizing as a shoe leather.
Luckily, using a bread machine makes bread making nearly fool proof. You don’t have to worry about how much to knead the dough, or whether or not the bread dough will rise. The machine takes care of all of that for you.
Now that you know the advantages of using a bread machine, it’s time to pick one that’s right for you.
How to Choose a Bread Machine
There are a lot of machines on the market. They come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and can have a variety of features. So how do you decide which bread machine is right for you?
Ask yourself these questions.
How Much Do You Want To Spend? There are cheap machines that can turn out a decent loaf of bread. However, they are usually pretty small, so you can only make small loaves. Cheap bread machines also tend to be lacking in features. Still, if you only want to make a small loaf of bread every week or so, a cheap machine might be all you need.
How Much Homemade Bread Do Your Really Need? For some people, bread making is a hobby. They only make the occasional loaf of bread, usually when they find an interesting recipe they want to try. For these hobbyists, a machine that makes small loaves might be enough.
For some people, bread making is a huge lifestyle change. For example, if you have a large family, and have decided to stop buying store-bought bread altogether, you’ll need a bigger machine. Look for a bread machine that can make at least a 1-pound loaf. You can even find larger machines that make 2-pound loaves.
But keep this in mind. Homemade bread has no preservatives, and will go stale faster than store-bought bread. Will your family be able to eat a 2-pound loaf of bread before it goes stale? If not, stick with the 1-pound loaf bread machine.
Do You Need a Machine with a Timer? Some bread machines come with delay timers, so you can set the bread maker to start at a certain time. Using a timer, you can set the machine to start while you’re asleep or out shopping. If you time it right, your bread can finish baking just as you arrive home from work. And what can be better after a hard day at work than a slice of warm, freshly-baked bread?
Getting the Most Out of Your Machine
Yes, bread machines are nearly fool-proof. But there are things you can do to get the best results possible from your machine.
Choose Recipes Carefully. Not every recipe will work correctly in a bread maker. Fortunately, a quick Internet search is all it takes to find bread recipes that have been modified for use in bread makers.
You can also find ready-made mixes especially made for bread machines. These mixes are convenient, affordable, and almost impossible to screw up.
Don’t Leave Bread In the Machine for Too Long. Homemade bread is the best when it’s still warm. Some machines can keep bread warm long after it has finished baking. However, bread left in the machine for too long could end up being soggy, and not a lot of fun to eat.
Make the Bread Easy To Remove. Thoroughly spray the inside of the machine with cooking spray before adding the ingredients. This will make the bread easier to remove after baking.
Use Bread Machine Yeast… Always. Some recipes don’t specify the kind of yeast you should use. But, for the sake of convenience, use bread machine yeast whenever possible.
Bread machines are a modern marvel that many people are just starting to discover. If you’ve never made bread from scratch before, a bread machine will have you turning out beautiful and delicious loaves of homemade bread in no time. If you’re an experienced baker, but just haven’t had time to make much bread from scratch, a bread machine will help you step back into the homemade bread making game with ease.