Considering a Bread Machine

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Alf 101
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Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Alf 101 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:23 pm

I've started considering the idea of acquiring a bread machine, yet remain a bit skeptical. I see there have been a couple of bread machine related topics on this site, but none for several years, and my focus is a little different. So here are my questions:

1. If you have a bread machine, how often do you use it? In short, does it offer a return on investment? Could you make good bread cheaper than you could buy a loaf at the store? Was it something that fit a need or niche -- seeing regular 1-2x a week use -- or did it end as more of a gimmick -- something you pull out a few times a year?

2. Was the quality of bread comparable to fresh oven baked bread? I can bake bread, and do occasionally, only -- between multiple rises, etc. -- it becomes a multi-hour affair. If the quality is indistinguishable, this would be great. If the loaf it makes isn't quite the same, this would be sad. What I'm looking for here isn't aesthetic; I have no issues with a squamous loaf. It's more with the crust, general texture, and density of the bread.

3. Finally, if you have a bread machine, what kind of counter space does it require? And where do you store it?

If I can make bread by hand, why would I want a bread machine? I do ask myself that question. In full disclosure, I can also cook rice, but have a Zojirushi rice cooker on a counter top we use quite a bit. Many of our meals include rice, plus I like the timer setting, which allows me to enjoy rice and an egg for breakfast, or have steel cut oats at the ready. It's become a part of our routine, making me curious what kind of use and utility I'd get from a bread machine.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

Steigede
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Steigede » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:14 pm

1. Never got around to using it. I found a brand new one at goodwill for $10 and I don't think I ever used it. Gave it away to my girlfriend's sister.

2. I never really liked the taste of bread machine bread when my parents would make it. Not sure why I bought one in the first place. I make my own bread now, and I'm consistently amazed at how awesome it comes out and how little work it actually takes. I've taught my Mom how to make it and she now uses that method instead of her bread machine.

3. Mine was in the closet until I got rid of it.

Before buying a bread machine, I would try your hand at no knead bread! This is what I do and I make loaves of bread for a fraction of what a nice artisan loaf costs. I used this recipe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU
I cut the recipe in half and make about 2-3 loaves. I used to make it without a dutch oven and it came out great. I got a dutch oven for Christmas and it really improved the bread. I guess a bread machine is a lot easier because you just dump the ingredients in, set it, and come back to a nice loaf of bread. I enjoy cooking so I like to be a bit more involved with what I cook. This bread beats any bread machine bread, and most grocery store "artisan" loaves, I've ever tried. I would probably go for a $50 dutch oven instead of a bread machine. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

curmudgeon
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by curmudgeon » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:22 pm

Usage patterns are all over the map. We have one, and only use it a few times a year for bread. We do, however, use it quite often to make pizza dough. If it was just for bread, it wouldn't be worth the storage space to us (we've got a decent bakery nearby for breads).

I've certainly known people who have them, but never use them. I also had a friend who was away at college who (dubiously) tried one out and really loved it; using it several times a week. Given that they are fairly cheap these days, it's not a big deal to try one out and then donate it if you find you don't use it.

Snapper
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Snapper » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:33 pm

Had one for years. Gave if away to someone who also does not use it. It was a Kenmore and did exactly as advertised. You have to fool with ingredients to dial in what you like. Not sure why I never used it much. But that seems to be typical. Maybe just the hassle factor of putting the ingediants into the machine. They also occupy a lot of real estate in the kitchen.

Retread
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Post by Retread » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:37 pm

My wife bought me a bread machine for Christmas '93 when a bread machine ran about $200 and we haven't bought a loaf of bread since. I have five recipe books and have made everything from garlic parmesan bread to Mexican Easter bread and hundreds of others. The bread is far superior to store bread, and most loaves only take minutes to assemble the ingredients and start the machine which can be ignored until the bread is done. The machines don't last forever with constant use, and we're probably on our fifth machine or so. They now can be easily obtained for $40 or less and are superior to the earlier machines. I'm always surprised how few people seem to use them even when they own one.

We also use it to make hamburger rolls, dinner rolls and pizza dough.

There definitely is a cost savings and the result is wonderful. I buy white flour in 25 pound bags, whole wheat in five pound bags and yeast from Sam's in one pound packages. I would guess many loaves can be made for 50 cents or less. I'm not a cook or a baker but I've always enjoyed using the bread machine.

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minesweep
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by minesweep » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:40 pm

I had a Sunbeam bread machine. The bread was great. The machine broke during the warranty. I sent it back (postage paid) and got a new one. It broke a short time later (after the warranty expired). The machine set around the house for about 14-15 years. I took it to an electronic recycling center earlier this year. End of story.

P.S. The bread machine was used infrequently. I don't believe I made more than 40 loaves of bread (with both bread machines).

Mike
Last edited by minesweep on Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jay69
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Jay69 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:50 pm

It's been a number of years but from what I recall the bread machine was ok, this was our cons:

a. Small kitchen, took up to much counter space.
b. The bread was ok, we make better bread by hand.
c. Don't make bread while sleeping, it was loud at times.
d. I did not care for the crust, always seems thick.
e. Small loaf.
f. Did not really care about the power usage at the time but I would think it maybe more than our gas range.

Making bread for us is more of a labor of love and a treat, it's so good. I find I eat way more than I should when we make it!

Not exactly home made but a quick treat is a frozen bread dough, not as healthy of coarse.
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dlw322
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by dlw322 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:57 pm

We have had one for quite a few years. Used to use it a few times a week. Cut back about a year ago and now use it about twice a month. The bread is delicious and simple to make, the only reason we cut back on the amount we used it was because the bread is so good that we were eating too much and gaining weight.

I never thought about it cost wise but it is probably a little cheaper than a store bought loaf if you figure in all the ingredients and the electricity. The yeast is the most expensive thing, so I bought a large pack from costco and it lasts a long time as long as you seal it and keep it in the fridge.

TSR
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by TSR » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:59 pm

I am about nine months into my ownership of one of the cheap-but-effective Sunbeam models. I make this recipe (and pretty much only this recipe -- I'm boring) just about weekly:

http://guiltykitchen.com/2011/10/27/who ... ine-bread/

I doubt that I have reached the break-even point quite yet, but I'm very close. It essentially replaces my need for store-bought bread, and certainly tastes better. I also like knowing exactly what's in it. I probably spend all of ten minutes making any given loaf.

To be entirely clear, a bread machine is not going to make a good French loaf with crusty outside and nice gooey insides (although you could probably just make the dough in the machine and then do that yourself). It's very comparable to store-bought bread, but it is not like "artisanal" bread.

As for counter space, the thing potentially takes up a lot of it, but I never have it on my counter. This model is light enough that I usually just leave it on a shelf I have away from my kitchen and plug in on the floor when I use it. All you need in the kitchen when assembling the ingredients is the little "bucket" that the bread is actually cooked in -- not the whole thing.

I'd say that if you're the kind of person who likes to make things in advance (a crock-pot full of food for the week, a bunch of beans and rice, etc.), then this will be a nice addition for you. Best of luck!

Jeff Albertson
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Jeff Albertson » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:03 pm

Steigede wrote: Before buying a bread machine, I would try your hand at no knead bread! This is what I do and I make loaves of bread for a fraction of what a nice artisan loaf costs. I used this recipe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU
...
I would probably go for a $50 dutch oven instead of a bread machine.
I agree, great bread, better than the local gourmet bakeries.
Here's the original printed recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html
There have been a number of variations on this recipe, such as adding a little beer and/or vinegar.

donall
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by donall » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:06 pm

Just buy a bread machine at a rummage sale for $5-$10 and try it out. We got a Regal third hand and it makes good bread. We mostly use it in summer. It is easy and we keep ours in the basement (loading the ingredients in the kitchen), since counter space is at a premium in the kitchen. The only issue I have is that the bread is, well, square and lacks the soul that bread made by hand has. If you do get into making bread, then buy your ingredients, especially yeast, in large quantities.

investingdad
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by investingdad » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:07 pm

My wife has a Welbit 'The Bread Machine'.

She uses it maybe once or twice a month.

The bread is fantastic.

newbie_Mo
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by newbie_Mo » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:16 pm

We have West Bend bread machine. Got it from Walmart for $60. We've had it for 3 years. We used it quite often the first two years (maybe one loaf every one to 2 weeks), but haven't used it much this year. I used the machine mainly for kneading. I'd say it is a good investment. I let the machine knead the dough for 40 mins, and it gives very good doughs. I let it sit in the machine for the first proof, then take it out and shape it and do the second proof and bake the bread in the oven. I did not like the bread machine's baking function. For sweet breads, the machine's baking function seems to be ok. I put my bread machine on the floor underneath a kitchen table so it doesn't take up much space when not in use.

I calculated that it costs about $1 per loaf (plain bread, you can make it french or whatever you like). So here is the math: $3.5 for 5LB bread flour + 2.5 butter, $1 yeast (buy the large quantity ones then just put in fridge), small amount of sugar and salt... this make 7 to 8 loafs.

tigermilk
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by tigermilk » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:36 pm

Had one. Didn't notice anything about taste. I just hated the odd shaped bread. Transitioned to using it only as a way to kneed the dough for me, and eventually tossed it and replaced it with a stand mixer with dough hook. Pizza has never been the same....

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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by abuss368 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:41 pm

My parents had one years ago and loved it. A process to make it (and sometimes the bread collapsed) but it sure tasted the best!
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John3754
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by John3754 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:50 pm

I was given one as a gift, used it a bunch of times, and was not particlarly impressed. I'm a bag fan of a nice crusty baguette and you can't get anything even remotely like the shape and texture of a baguette out of a bread machine. Every loaf out of a bread machine, no matter what style its supposed to be, is just a homogenous cube of bread.

White bread....cube
Whole wheat...cube
Punkin bread....cube
French bread....cube
Olive bread....cube
Italian bread...cube
etc, etc, etc...


I'm sorry, but a good French bread is not a cube! I'll stick to the fresh baked $2 baguettes from my local bakery.

skylar
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by skylar » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:53 pm

I got my wife a Breadman bread machine a few years ago as a birthday present for $50. We use it almost every week, and the bread is delicious. You can also just use it to make dough that you put in the oven if you want.

Skiffy
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Skiffy » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:54 pm

I bought a baguette pan and made the dough in the bread machine which is 1 1/2 hr, then takes another 1 hour to raise in the pans, but well worth the effort. A chocolate bread that is good. Pizza crust is good as cinnamon roll dough. I make crusty, wheaty, grainy, seedy, whole-wheat bread in the bread machine that I cut into slices, freeze and toast for breakfast. I store my bread machine over the bin with the flour gluten so that it is out of the way. I have not found that you can use as sandwich bread. So it really depends if it is worth it for you, and if you like to mess around with this kind of thing? I would also second the previous advice to go to yard sales or Salvation Army--you can find them for $10 or $20 and then go to the library and check out some bread machine cookbooks. Then the investment isn't huge if you decide to chuck the whole thing.

If I leave it out it dries out or molds in just a couple days. Which let me to wonder what do commercial bakers but in their bread so that it doesn't mold for 2 or 3 weeks?

Electrum
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Electrum » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:07 pm

The bread from my sister's machine is not very good. The dough rises at too high a temperature and is baked at too low a temperature.

Caveat - I make all our bread (with the help of a mixer with a dough hook).

Electrum

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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by MattE » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:51 pm

My wife and I and I don't use ours that often (maybe a half dozen times per year), but every time we use it, we find ourselves going, "Why the hell don't we do this more often?" You really can't beat the simplicity of it - the process is literally dump in ingredients -> receive delicious bread. And it's certainly cheaper than store-bought loaves. Since it's fresh and from scratch, though, unless you nail down adjusting a recipe to include preservatives, it doesn't keep very long. This isn't an issue when you just want a loaf to eat with dinner or something, but more of a problem when you want sandwich bread for the week or something like that.

I agree with the sentiment that they can be a huge pain in terms of taking up space. We just purchased a home in June but prior to that were living in a 900 sq. ft. apartment with a tiny kitchen; the bread maker felt like it took up all of our counter space, mostly because it practically did. Our new house has a ton of cabinet space, so we just have it tucked into a large cabinet above the fridge that we otherwise wouldn't have anything in for ease-of-access reasons anyway. They're definitely not something you want to just have to leave out on the counter for lack of a better place to put it.

LifeIsGood
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by LifeIsGood » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:59 am

Another vote for trying the "no Knead" method. All you really need (no pun) is a dutch oven. Here's where I started out - http://www.breadtopia.com/basic-no-knead-method/

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soaring
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by soaring » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:42 am

We spent too much on deli bread for too many years and finally found http://www.krusteaz.com/bread-mixes-products-94.

Krusteaz no knead bread available at WalMart for $2.00 yes $2.00. Besides being the right price it really is good and easy to slice IMO.

Other grocery stores also carry it. The Krusteaz web site is very good because it will let let you search which mixes are available in which stores since none carry them all.
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jpkuva
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by jpkuva » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:46 am

We purchased the Zojirushi, which gets great reviews. With three kids we go through a lot of bread, so saw this as a way to reduce our grocery bill. We found the bread to be very dense with a really thick crust. It was not ideal for sanwiches, kids never liked it, and we eventually stopped using it. I am once again enjoying store bought bread. :happy

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mike143
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by mike143 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:25 am

There are tons of them at the local thrift stores. Maybe choose one of those and see if you actually use it.
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ieee488
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by ieee488 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:43 am

jpkuva wrote: We found the bread to be very dense with a really thick crust. It was not ideal for sanwiches, kids never liked it, and we eventually stopped using it. I am once again enjoying store bought bread. :happy
I did not like the denseness and the thick crust of mine either.
It was in storage for many years.

I just gave it to my aunt and uncle so they can make dough.
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Tom_T
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Tom_T » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:18 pm

MattE wrote:My wife and I and I don't use ours that often (maybe a half dozen times per year), but every time we use it, we find ourselves going, "Why the hell don't we do this more often?" You really can't beat the simplicity of it - the process is literally dump in ingredients -> receive delicious bread. And it's certainly cheaper than store-bought loaves. Since it's fresh and from scratch, though, unless you nail down adjusting a recipe to include preservatives, it doesn't keep very long. This isn't an issue when you just want a loaf to eat with dinner or something, but more of a problem when you want sandwich bread for the week or something like that.
We have the exact same experience. One of my favorite things to cook in the colder months is chicken soup, and I like to make a fresh loaf of bread to go with the soup. Can't beat it. I've made the same loaf so many times that I can get all the ingredients in the machine in no more than five minutes; three hours later, there's the bread. But you're right, the bread is really only good for a day or two.

My reference is a great book called "Bread Machine Magic", written by a couple of women who carefully tried out every single recipe on a number of different machines in order to discover the proper measurements for each ingredient, what kind of substitutions you can make, etc.

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Igglesman
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Igglesman » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:41 pm

I have a Panasonic Bread Maker....used to use it 1-2 times a week for 2-3 years.

But discovered the book(s): "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and now make all the breads by hand. It actually only takes 5 minutes a day.

There are now 3 or more books by the authors...and recipes for any kind of bread using all kinds of different flours. Have not used the bread maker in a couple years.

Tom_T
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Tom_T » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:54 pm

Igglesman wrote:I have a Panasonic Bread Maker....used to use it 1-2 times a week for 2-3 years.

But discovered the book(s): "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and now make all the breads by hand. It actually only takes 5 minutes a day.

There are now 3 or more books by the authors...and recipes for any kind of bread using all kinds of different flours. Have not used the bread maker in a couple years.
I think I'd like to try this. I always pictured bread making as some sort of Herculean effort in the kitchen. Thanks!

P.S. I see that a new edition of this book is going to be released next month.

Iorek
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Iorek » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:46 pm

I would second (third?) the recommendation to look at a no-knead bread recipe. I got into it via the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book/website, but the NYT/Bittman recipe is pretty similar.

Atilla
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Atilla » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:53 pm

Got one as a wedding gift many moons ago. I tried all kinds of recipes and never liked the taste of what the machine turned out.

The bread was fine as far as texture, softness, etc...but the taste was never very good no matter what I did.

Gave the thing away.
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vveat
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by vveat » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:20 pm

We have a Breadman, and use it almost daily - 99% of the bread we eat comes from it. The convenience is great, you always have fresh bread and it takes less than 5 minutes a day to prepare. Yes, it's a cube, but a very tasty one. We also use it for making pizza dough, just on kneading cycle.
For special occasion I may make some special bread by hand, or a focaccia, or something fancier, but it usually involves messing up some mixing and baking equipment, spending more effort, or in the no knead bread case (not my favorite anyway) planning from the previous day.
All a matter of preference, but we find the bread machine a terrific help in the kitchen. As it happens, 2 weeks ago we lost our kneading paddle and because our model is not available anymore it's proving a nightmare to find a replacement part, so finally we just decided to get a new machine - these 2 weeks showed us how much we haven't been missing the need to run to the store frequently for bread.
By the way, we had Regal before, the Breadman was much better.

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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by gkaplan » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:21 pm

What if one is on a gluten-free diet?
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Iorek
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Iorek » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:41 pm

gkaplan wrote:What if one is on a gluten-free diet?
I believe there is gluten free flour-- costs more but probably less than buying bread.

cbeck
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by cbeck » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:38 pm

I loved my Zojirushi bread machine, but threw it away after reading about the consequences of the teflon lining. It used to be thought that the toxic gases were produced at frying temperatures, but not baking. However, current estimates of dangerous temperatures do fall into the baking range. All bread machines are lined with teflon.

Fortunately, I now make better bread with very little more work following the method proposed here:

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

They have books, but you can find a video on the site that gets you started. The bread it produces is much batter than bread machine bread. It's very little work to make, but you can't wake up to fresh bread ready for you like with a bread machine.

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frugaltype
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by frugaltype » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:15 am

Skiffy wrote: If I leave it out it dries out or molds in just a couple days. Which let me to wonder what do commercial bakers but in their bread so that it doesn't mold for 2 or 3 weeks?
As a single person, I keep bread in the freezer and warm slices in the microwave or toaster before use.

c.Alvin
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by c.Alvin » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:37 am

A bread machine is a one trick pony. You may want to consider a good stand mixer. The mixer cost a little more, but you can accomplish any mixing chore with one. The down side is you have to understand the baking process which is simple enough. The upside is you can get much better tasting bread by letting the dough and yeast activate over a longer period of time. The most time consuming part is waiting for the dough to rise which does not require any attention on your part. I would bake a couple of loaves on the weekend and store them in zip lock bags in the refrigerator. Adding a tablespoon or two of oil to the recipe gives the bread a longer shelf life. You will want to purchase a bread slicing knife and cutting guide to get those nice consistent size slices of bread for your sandwiches. The fun part of baking bread is experimenting with different flours and yeasts. Trust me baking bread is cheap and easy. Who knows you may even decide to bake a pound cake.

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Methedras
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by Methedras » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:30 am

I prefer to make bread artisan style with my own hands.

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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by bungalow10 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:23 pm

Another vote for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
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Re: Considering a Bread Machine

Post by SnapShots » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:25 pm

I use to have a bread machine. You can make all types of bread that's yummy and the house smells so-so wonderful. Get prepared to put on an extra 5lbs+, it's hard not to eat the whole thing.

No longer have a bread machine. Newest wore off and I didn't want to buy a bigger pant size. :wink:
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