Nothing beats the taste of homemade bread. And the smell of it baking? Mmmmmm. Did you know that you can easily bake your own bread – for less than a dollar a loaf?
What you will need to bake your own bread
For a 2 lb loaf of basic white bread –
♥ 1 1/2 cups warm water (like the temperature you would use for a shower – not too hot!)
♥ a splash of canola (or vegetable) oil – about 1 tablespoon
♥ 4 cups flour I use only unbleached flour. Brands I like are Bob’s Red Mill, Hecker’s and King Arthur. Your bread will be less expensive to make if you use a generic, bleached flour but the unbleached is so much better!
♥ 1 1/2 tsp salt
♥ 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast. Buy this by the jar – or better yet – by the pound – not those little packages. It’s so much more cost effective, and once you bake your own bread, you’ll want to make it all the time.
The secret to easy bread baking?
This little guy takes ALL the work out of baking bread! When I first started, I used to bake bread without a machine. I would knead the dough; let it rise; punch it down; and let it rise again. And then bake it. The entire process took 5 hours. It was messy too. But that wasn’t what bothered me. The huge amount of time it took meant that I wasn’t able to do all the other things that needed to get done on the weekend.
And then I discovered the magic bread machine! My first one was a Sunbeam, and it lasted about 10 years. I used it constantly! Not only does it bake bread, but I use it for making pizza dough, and for making dough for other breads that I cook in the traditional manner. I just bought my second Sunbeam machine recently, and the bread pan insert from the old one fits in the new machine.
The bread machine has options for a 1 1/2 lb loaf and a 2 lb loaf. I always make a 2 lb loaf. The loaf bakes fairly tall – not like a store-bought loaf of bread. I only like small sandwiches, and don’t need a “normal” size slice of bread. What I do is cut the loaf half width-wise. One half is for using during the week, and I freeze half for the following week.
How to bake bread
♥ With the baking container locked into the bread machine, add the warm water
♥ add the splash of oil
♥ add the flour
♥ make a little well in the top of the flour and add the salt and dry yeast
♥ close the lid and plug in the bread machine
♥ If this is your first time using the bread machine, choose your settings. Mine is set for Basic; Medium (crust colour); and 2 lb. It will keep these settings until you change them, so the second time you bake bread, all you have to do is
♥ Press. The. Button.
The machine will: mix the ingredients, warm the ingredients & make the dough rise; knead the dough; “punch” the dough down; warm it and let it rise again; and then bake it to perfection. Every. Single. Time.
Baking a loaf of bread in the machine will take 3 hours. But it takes less than 5 minutes to dump the ingredients into the machine and push the button. That means you can do other stuff in those 3 hours and not have to stop to tend to the bread-making.
And wait until you smell it as it bakes!
Other options are whole wheat or rye bread – both of which I make in the bread machine. They all come out fantastic! These recipes may cost a little more than $1/loaf – they may cost you up to $2 to make. Compare that to the prices in the grocery store. My machine gets used once or twice a week for bread and pizza dough, so it has more than paid for itself. The machine comes with a recipe book, so you will have lots of different options of great things to make.
Let me know if you bake bread, and if you use a bread machine. And if you have never baked bread in a bread machine, you have GOT to do it!