I got a bread machine years ago from my husband for Christmas. I never really used it much. I did two box mixes that he got me with it and then made quick breads (pumpkin, banana, ect.) a few times. I decided that it wasn't worth the effort for the quick breads because it was less dishes and clean up to just use the mixer and bake in the oven. I put the big appliance in the cupboard and never thought about it again (okay, obviously that has changed but be patient). I think that you can tell why I put it away because it takes up so much room.
When I decided to try to be more frugal, I bought a jar of yeast and decided that I was going to make bread in the machine and try it out. It was a great jump that instead of getting the little package that I was going with the whole jar but I knew that I had to or I wouldn't commit to this project. I wish that I had the date that I bought the jar but I could certainly look through all of the past years Harris Teeter receipts but I don't have that much time. I found out after reading the Breadmaking for Dummies (from the library) that I needed bread flour so I went in search of a good deal on it. I went searching for wheat flour, only to later find out that I would also need gluten to make that work. I finally found gluten on clearance at Target so I was on my way after many trips to the store. I made my first loaf of bread and I thought it was yummy. It has made toast, garlic bread, sandwiches and best of all paninis throughout the process. I just made a loaf this morning and finished my first container of yeast!!! I can't believe it especially because I haven't tried that many recipes (maybe three) and I haven't done anything creative like adding rosemary or making pizza dough. I guess I will have to go out and get a second jar soon but luckily I got a few strips of the yeast with some coupons during the last sale :) If you want to make some of the yummy bread, please feel free to follow the easiest recipe that I could find.
White Bread Recipe (makes 1 1/2 lb loaf)
1 1/8 c warm water
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour (does say you can try it with all purpose flour)
2 tsp active dry yeast
Pour everything in order into the bread machine and turn on based on the instruction manual of the bread machine.
* Please note that this part of the instructions freaked me out but it turns out that you really just put everything in the loaf pan and then I put the loaf pan into the little hooks on the side of the machine and lock it into place. Then, I plug in the machine. It beeps at me, I press select once for white breaf. I press loaf size once to pick 1.5 lb loaf and then I press crust control until it goes to light. I found that if you leave the bread in after the time at all on the medium or dark that it was too well done for my family but you can adjust as you like. Once you find the settings you like, it will make you much more at ease. Advice I gave to my cousin is to use all the cheap ingredients to make a loaf of bread to play with the settings and then you won't have wasted the whole wheat flour and the gluten on the first try :)
The great thing is that the machine does all the work and then in no time you have dough like this:
In about 3 hours, I have a loaf of bread that looks like this:
Then you have to master the cutting of the bread which I have gotten much better at :) Hope that you enjoy and make a loaf of bread for yourself and your family.