Saturday, April 3, 2010

Baking Bread

It’s conference time again. I usually turn up the volume on the TV and wash all of the windows in my house and dust. This year Steve is sleeping (after working all night) and I’m out of windex and feeling lazy. So I decided to bake bread.

I’ve been a homemade bread fan over the years, but this Christmas I tried something new. I bought myself a bread maker (with a coupon and it was on sale). After watching my sister-in-law, Carolyn, and my mother-in-law, Rhodell, make bread dough the past 3 years they made it look so easy---just throw the ingredients into the mixer and turn it on, right? Well, kind of.

Carolyn gave me great bread machine making advice and recipes to start me out. (She’s a generous recipe sharer.) Rhodell was my cheerleader and helped me overcome my fear of “the wicked bread machine.” I am a girl raised on Bosch mixers, never trusting these new-fangled machines, but I needed something I could literally throw ingredients into and not worry about for an hour and a half while I run errands or fix dinner or a myriad of things moms do.

Something I don’t do is bake in the bread maker. I just don’t like the look of the bread when it’s done. It looks like a brick and doesn’t fit in a Ziploc bag, so I mix the dough in the maker and bake my own loaves.

I use Carolyn’s white bread recipe (provided below), but replace 1 cup of white flour with wheat flour. I tried the whole-wheat recipe, but my guys didn’t like it as much as the mixed version.

I usually make about 6 loaves a week. (When D is with us for 2 weeks, we go through bread like nobody’s business, so sometimes more.) I bake them, allow them to cool for many hours, zip them up in a freezer bag, and toss them in the freezer. Sometimes I take them to friends. Maybe next time it will be you! ;o)

Some things I’ve learned:
1. Add a little bit more water than the recipe calls for. I don’t know why it’s like this, but my bread maker (or the dry air of the Las Vegas) make the dough too dry, so add a bit more if you live in a desert area. If you live in a damp climate, you may need less.

2. Check the dough as it’s forming the dough ball and use a spatula to scrape the edges of flour into the ball. Sometimes it needs a little help to get everything mixed in properly.
3. I add a bread dough enhancer Rhodell gave me. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference when I’ve forgotten it, but if you have some, use it. I’ll experiment more with it this summer when I have time.

4. If you buy/receive a new bread maker, take time to read the instructions. You never know, it could come in handy when you have a question.

5. Check thrift stores for additional machines. If you have a big family, you might want to have 2 mixers and use them at the same time. As long as all of the parts are there and it seems to be clean, you should be fine. (I don’t think most people really use their bread makers. The ones I’ve seen at Savers looked barely used.)

6. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the bread recipes. My family was very patient with me while I tested different recipes out on them.

Carolyn’s White Bread Recipe 2 lb. Loaf:
1 1/3 c water
¼ c oil
¼ c sugar
2 tsp salt
4 c white flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
Place ingredients in the bread maker in the order above, making a small well for the yeast. After the dough is ready I grease 2 pans and split the dough into them, allowing them time to rise. I also spray plastic wrap and cover the top of the bread while it rises so it doesn’t dry out. Once the dough is ready to go in the oven (doubles in size), I remove the plastic and cook them for about 25-30 minutes @ 350. Remove bread from the pan when finished and allow it to sit on a rack to cool.


  1. Great tips, sis! We made bread @ mom's the other week (the day of the cinnamon rolls) and I now feel more empowered to make 'em!

    Happy Easter & conference weekend! (I'm whispering...I have laryngitis!)

  2. My in-laws gave us a bread machine our first Christmas together. I didn't think it would be very useful. Now we use it nearly every day. Luckily our machine has a more convenient shape than most. I set it to finish baking when we're getting up in the morning, and I fight the urge to eat it all then and there, knowing most of it needs to go to school for lunch.