Bread Machine Recommendation...

I think I am going to break down and buy a bread machine. I have tried many times to make bread, but it turns out too dry and/or doesn't rise correctly.

It seems as if several of you use one. What features to look for? I know they can be pricey, but, is there something out there that could work but is economical, and will actually work?

Thanks.
I have this one and I like it very much. I got it as a gift so there very well might be perfectly decent ones for less money. The features about it that I like are...
  • Ability to do 1, 1.5, or 2-lb loaves (right now I usually do 1 lb, but I imagine as my family grows I'll appreciate the bigger sizes)
  • Delay start timer - I can add ingredients and set it up to be finished exactly when I want it done
  • Different cycles - I mostly only use the Whole Wheat cycle or the French/Italian cycle. It's got lots of others though.
  • Came with a great recipe book so I don't have to wonder about converting regular recipes
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
I have tried many times to make bread, but it turns out too dry and/or doesn't rise correctly.
Originally Posted by ruralcurls
I've found that even with a breadmaker, I need to take humidity into account. When it's humid, I need to add a little extra flour otherwise it won't rise correctly. I haven't experienced it yet, but I've been told that when there's very low humidity I may need to add a little extra water.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
Thanks, Pixie. It has been a long time since I have looked at bread makers. I wasn't sure where to start. The one you have seems to be priced reasonable. I wasn't sure if the the ones 60-75 would work, and 250 is too much.

From what you have wrote about making bread, you seem pretty happy with it. I will probably only use a wheat or French cycle, too.

One question, is your bread maker really loud?
Thanks, Pixie. It has been a long time since I have looked at bread makers. I wasn't sure where to start. The one you have seems to be priced reasonable. I wasn't sure if the the ones 60-75 would work, and 250 is too much.

From what you have wrote about making bread, you seem pretty happy with it. I will probably only use a wheat or French cycle, too.

One question, is your bread maker really loud?
Originally Posted by ruralcurls
I don't have anything to compare it to, but it can be a little loud during the knead cycle. Our house is a raised ranch, so the bedroom isn't far from the kitchen. Of all the times I've set the timer to have bread ready in the morning, only once has the kneading kept us awake - and that's I think because DS had woken up to nurse, which woke up DH who then went to pee, etc. If we're asleep when it starts, it doesn't wake us up. If it were on a different floor I think it would be a non-issue. And only the initial knead cycle is long, about 30 minutes, all the rest are only 15 seconds.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
Thanks, Pixie. That's exactly what I was worried about, being kept up at night by a bread machine. Our house is a ranch, too. And, sometimes, it seems like everything is too loud.

I think I am going to order it. Thanks.
It takes 4 hours and 20 minutes to make a 1-lb loaf of whole wheat bread, and the first 30 minutes is "preheat". So if you know you won't need the bread until 10:00 AM say, you can fuss with the start time so that it won't be noisy until after 6:00. The delay start timer is only good for 12 hours, so you'd have to set it at 10:00 PM the night before (or later).

Let me know how you like it!
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
One more question... Do you buy regular bread anymore or do you only make it?

I will definitely let you know how I like it.
One more question... Do you buy regular bread anymore or do you only make it?
Originally Posted by ruralcurls
<sigh> I didn't intend to buy regular bread anymore, and I wouldn't need to, except my husband prefers store-bought bread for his sandwiches (he brings PB&J to work for a snack most days). He loves my Italian bread, and he likes my Honey Wheat on the day I make it (he'll eat like half the loaf LOL) but he doesn't like it after that - he says it's got a yeast-y aftertaste. I don't notice that at all and I think it's all in his head. It's also possible that he's too lazy to cut the bread himself, since I prefer to slice as I go instead of cutting it all at once. I tried making the 100% whole wheat bread from the recipe book and I liked it just fine, but DH thought it was too heavy.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
It came yesterday!! I am a tad intimidated, ,
but I am going off to buy some ingredients soon.

I think I am going try some raisin bread first, and then the honey whole wheat.

ETA: I just read your thread on leaving the paddle in or taking it out. What do you usually do these days? It seems kind of silly to mess with it, I feel like I might as well go back to my misshapen, unrised bread if I have to take it out and shape it. But I just don't know.

Thanks again for your help, I really do appreciate it.

Last edited by ruralcurls; 10-17-2009 at 08:28 AM.
Sometimes I take it out, sometimes I don't. It depends on if I'm around and available when the signal beeps to do so. If I'm serving the bread for othersv(like French/Italian bread with dipping oil for company) I do take out the paddle. For just us, I often don't.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
Not to deter you from buying a bread machine, but check out Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice if you haven't.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/r...0082688&sr=8-1

I would also suggest Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/r...5333896&sr=8-1

This is actually my favorite book on bread, though it is more focused on sourdoughs, and you need a scale (which is the real, easiest way to measure anyway). His milk loaf is one of my favorite breads. Makes a great sandwich and tastes great days later.

ETA: I see you actually already bought it. Well, I hope it works out for you and you enjoy your bread.

Last edited by Saria; 10-17-2009 at 11:10 AM.
I just bought a Bread Man that works well. So far I've made honey wheat and corn bread. It's delicious. It has a setting for sweet breads, too.

The other night I made sauteed carrots, radicchio, snow pea pods, scallions, red pepper and broccoli. Then I toasted one side of the bread and put all the veggies on top. Then I sauteed garlic in olive oil and added some shredded cheddar and melted it and poured it all over the veggies and had like an open faced cheddar melt.

I'm probably going to make onion soup this week and also use the bread for that.


Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



Not to deter you from buying a bread machine, but check out Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice if you haven't.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/r...0082688&sr=8-1

I would also suggest Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/r...5333896&sr=8-1

This is actually my favorite book on bread, though it is more focused on sourdoughs, and you need a scale (which is the real, easiest way to measure anyway). His milk loaf is one of my favorite breads. Makes a great sandwich and tastes great days later.

ETA: I see you actually already bought it. Well, I hope it works out for you and you enjoy your bread.
Originally Posted by Saria
Saria, thanks. I have tried and tried to do bread by hand, but I just can't get the hang of it. I have noticed you rave about The Handmade Loaf, and I think I will be getting that, too. I will also try the Bread Bakers Apprentice.

Honestly, I am so terrible in the kitchen, I really just want to give up. But, in reading your posts and seeing your pictures, I want to keep trying. You somehow make things seem easy.

Springcurl, that sounds wonderful.

Pixie, that is kind of what I figured I would do, too.
Oh, I think The Bread Baker's Apprentice is pretty much required reading if you want to bake bread. It's very much geared toward home bakers but without dumbing anything down and by finding ways to replicate many professional bakery factors.
The Handmade Loaf is user-friendly (it actually doesn't even employ baker's percentages), but it's more about slightly more rustic, off the beaten path sort of breads. A lot of different grains, seeds, and flours implemented. Lots of sourdoughs. The milk loaf is one of the breads made without a starter, and fairly simple. But I also love breads like the polenta bread (made with a starter), a saffron-raisin bread, an apple and oatmeal bread, and so many others! And really, the book makes it such an easy-going process, albeit time-consuming (in terms of wait time). I just found out today that Lepard's new, massive book has been delayed until 2010. Oh the impatience!

I'm glad to know that you aren't quite ready to throw in the towel. And even nicer if I contributed in any small way. I do love bread-baking and wish I could have the time I used to have for it. I have to bake vicariously. Who knows, your baking woes might be fixed with something as simple as changing the flour you're using!

By the way, this is one of my favorite blogs:

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/
It's written by a home-baker (though she is now taking classes) and aside from all her amazing entries, she hosts yeast-spotting, which is a collection of bread-focused entries from various blogs.
Just forgot to add that if you are interested in The Handmade Loaf, look for The Art of Handmade Bread. It's the same book, but the latter features American measurements.

Oh, and that Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman is another great book for learning about bread-baking. Highly recommend picking it up as well.

Last edited by Saria; 10-18-2009 at 10:33 AM.
You are making my brain hurt. I will get Peter Reinhart's book first. Thanks.
Heh, sorry. I'd say Reinhart and Hamelman for both beginning and more advanced breadbaking. Lepard's method is actually incredibly simple, but he focuses more on regional, ethnic breads
such as Russian ryes, Scottish oat breads, breads using grains from barley, buckwheat (he has buckwheat English muffins for example), to wheat and others. He has the more typical loaves like the milk loaf, butter buns, and an amazing apple custard cake (made with a brioche-like dough), but he pays a lot of attention to breads that aren't as mainstream, basically.
danlepard.com is a site with forums discussing his books and columns. You can see what type of stuff people baked up and ask him questions. He even posted the true, corrected version of the most amazing garlic loaf ever that was published in a book called Baking with Passion.

Hamelman's book is listed by Lisa from Wild Yeast as her desert-island book, and it is a wonderful book.

Last edited by Saria; 10-18-2009 at 12:55 PM.

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