by, 03-12-2014 at 12:09 AM (596 Views)
I took the plunge and bought a breadmaker. I did not want to originally. I actually went kicking and screaming. But, after having my sweet daughter, kneading bread hurts my hands. Mostly my left hand, but really both start to hurt after a little while. So, I got on to my Amazon account and looked through bread makers. I specifically wanted one that my Prime membership would ship for free. And after a good while of looking, I found a very inexpensive model by Hamilton Beach that had fantastic reviews for less than $65. The specific model is the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29882.
Now you must understand that I am a breadmaker snob. I have spent the last 4 years telling others just how much I dislike breadmaker bread. I felt it was often heavy, dense, and with too thick a crust. I am no professional breadmaker, but I found a basic white bread recipe early in our marriage that I could adapt to nearly any need and I ran with it! But, being that now my hands hurt when I knead, and the fact that our house stays cold which is not conducive to effective rising, I ordered a bread maker.
The bread maker arrived well packaged from Amazon. Upon opening the box, there was very little assembly. Essentially I just had to install the little paddle that mixes the dough. After running a cycle in order to prep the non-stick coating, I started a two pound loaf of the basic white bread recipe included in the direction manual. After 3 hours, I turned out onto a cooling rack a very tall, but evenly baked, medium crusted loaf.
Once allowed to cool, I sliced into two loaves, as the loaf was so tall, and proceeded to enjoy a slice of the best breadmaker bread I have ever tasted. It was fluffy, light, and had a crispy and thin crust.
The direction manual comes with a whole list of recipes that of the ones I have tried, have turned out very nicely. The bread maker and recipes are also approved by my husband. He has now made multiple successful loaves of bread. My husband is a wonderful cook, but breadmaking has always been in my arena. The fields have officially been leveled!
Overall, our favorite is the basic white loaf. I now make the 1.5lb loaf, to maintain freshness, as most days our bread is only used to make my husband's lunch sandwiches (two sandwiches for lunch every day since we've been married- I've offered other food, but my honey knows what he likes!) The 1.5 lb loaf is a good height for sandwiches as is. I have also used the dough cycle to make basil parmesan breadsticks that were divine and froze well.
A quick note on ingredients:
The recipes call for bread flour, naturally. This, however, is not in our budget right now. I have made every recipe so far using all purpose flour. I do not feel that the flavor or texture has suffered. I purchase my breadmaking ingredients in bulk at a club store. Specifically, I purchase: a 50lb bag all purpose flour, 32oz instant yeast, 50lb bag sugar, 4lb butter. I have airtight dog food containers in my pantry for the bulk ingredients. I keep the yeast on the top shelf of my refrigerator, as this shelf tends to be ignored in this house (ie, food placed on it may be forgotten, so only put items with long shelf lives on it!), and excess butter is frozen. Purchasing ingredients this way makes fresh bread less than $1/loaf for us.
Overall, I am amazed how pleased I am with this device. I find we make bread more often and in smaller batches due to the convenience, which keeps this household stocked with fresh bread with out preservatives to keep it soft.
I found a store bought loaf that fell to the back of the pantry shelf the other day and it was still pretty soft. I started using this breadmaker almost a month ago, meaning it was purchased prior to that... should bread stay soft that long?