Bread makers do the hard work

Back in gradaute school, I would occassionally spend an entire weekend day making bread from scratch.  I bought the Tassajara Bread Book and would diligently follow directions on amounts of ingredients, then spend a half hour kneading, followed by many hours of rising and punching, then baking, only to have a very dense, barely edible loaf of whole wheat bread.  It did not take long to realize that I was doing something wrong, so I continued to buy high quality healthy bread at $5+ a loaf.

Then a few years ago (feeding a growing boy and two adults that love bread) I thought about the cost of flour and water and wondered why I was spending $5-10/week on bread when I could make it for much cheaper.  Sure, you can buy bread more cheaply, but it almost always has high fructose corn syrup and/or partially hydrogenated oils…not things that I want in my bread.  We went to Target and bought a Breadman bread maker (an affordable <$100 one that would pay for itsef in no time).  Three years later after using it 1-2 times per week, it started to show serious signs of age.  We were obviously going to be a bread-maker family, and so I received a nicer model.

For those of you that have never used a bread maker, it is super easy and you have lots of options for changing things up.  The easiest option is to dump all ingredients in, push a few setting buttons and walk away (having spent all of 10 minutes max and virtually no dirty dishes to wash)…..three to four hours later your house smells wonderful and you have a loaf of fresh bread with dinner.  Us working parents can even set the timer in the morning to start later in the day so that the loaf will be ready and fresh at 5:30pm when we get home.  What could be bettter?!

While I certainly do this often, I have started enjoying using the breadmaker for the “dirty work” of keading and initial rises, and then I take the dough out for one more rise and cook it in my oven.  The advantage is no holes in the bottom of the loaf (size varies with type of maker) where the kneading blades are and also I prefer the crust in my own oven – a little less tough.

I have been having fun with new recipes and have found a WONDERFUL one (Flax and Sunflower Seed Loaf) that is going to be our family’s standard weekly loaf for quite a while.  Here is a step by step:

Start by putting all ingredients in the bread maker pan, wet ones first, yeast last

You can buy active dry yeast at most stores for super cheap – We get ours at Good Food Grocery.

 

 

 

There are also lots of options for flour, but we use a combination of King Arthur unbleached bread and white whole wheat.  In contrast to 100% whole wheat, you get a softer, flufier loaf that rises better.

 

 

This is what the dough looks like the machine is done kneading and after two rises.

 

 

You then dump it out on a floured surface, flour your hands (b/c this recipe makes a pretty sticky dough) and shape the loaf how you like it.  We shape it for a loaf pan.

 

 

Winter is great for bread making b/c there are typically warm places (furnaces, radiators, wood stoves, etc) near which you can place your dough for the final rise.  Here is our loaf in front of the wood stove.  It blows very warm, dry air so I put a towel over it so it does not dry out too much.

 

An hour or so later, it has risen over the lip of the pan.  Time to go in the oven.  350F for 25 minutes.

YUM!!!

Contributed by the Bullucks.

2 thoughts on “Bread makers do the hard work

  1. I’ve made the magic loaf several times. I am linovg it. I’m hoping to try making it again, shape the mixture into balls and cooking them on a cookie sheet to make Vegan Magic Loafy Balls(?)The first time I made it with the following ingredients:1/2 cup sesame seeds2 TB olive oilOne onion, diced1/2 large shallotOne large garlic clove, mincedOne large carrot, peeled and grated2 cans cooked garbanzo beans, partly mashed2 cups cooked quinoa1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed1 heaping TB flaxseed meal1 tsp. chili powder1 tsp. Italian seasoning2 TB nutritional yeast flakesFreshly ground black pepper, to taste1 tsp. salt(Use instructions from the studio)I got a lot of complements at the vegan potluck I took it to. It was good warm with a bit of guacamole on top.The second time I added celery and one large shallot instead of a half. I didn’t like it as much.The third time using left over brown rice (actually a mix of brown/wild/Wehani(red) since I didn’t have enough of each for one batch). Originally I made with a my veganized version :2 cups brown rice4 1/2 cups Mushroom Broth2 tablespoon Earth Balance margarinePreheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rice into an 9- by 12-inch glass baking dish. Pour in broth and add margarine. Stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. (Saves room on the stove top.)3rd Loaf Ingredients:1/2 cup sesame seeds2 TB olive oilOne onion, dicedOne large garlic clove, mincedOne large shallotOne small head of Broccoli with long stem, chopped up small and minced in the food processor2 cans canned mixed beans (one can brown lentils, one can navy beans)2 cups cooked brown rice (above)1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed1+ heaping TB flaxseed meal1 tsp.cumin1 tsp. Italian seasoning2 TB nutritional yeast flakesFreshly ground black pepper, to taste1 tsp. salt(Use instructions from the studio)This one, with the cumin, tasted really good. The best part was the crust. Or cold covered in ketchup.

  2. Sarah Hubbard

    Thanks for the recipe and love the tip of mixing the flours…heavy dense texture has always been our biggest complaint!

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