A bread machine is a small kitchen appliance that mixes, kneads, rises and bakes bread. Most are very simple to use, and have become increasingly less expensive. Early bread machine models were such a novelty in the late 80s, that they often retailed for above 200 US dollars (USD). Today, you can find simple bread machine models for about 50 USD, and over time, making your own bread can save you money, particularly if you can restrain yourself from eating it just after it has been baked.
An essential to any bread machine is having bread recipes specifically designed for the bread machine. Most models make a one or 1.5 pound (.45-.68 kg) loaf. You can buy some machines that will make a larger loaf but these tend to be more expensive and a little more challenging to find. It’s very important to follow bread recipes for the bread machine to the letter and not to overfill. Creating too much dough can cause the dough to overflow onto the cooking element and break the machine.
The bread machine has one disadvantage. The paddle element that first mixes and then kneads the dough remains on the bottom, or actually one end of the loaf when it’s removed. This can cause an unfortunate hole in one end of your bread as you remove the paddle, and render part of the bread useless for things like sandwiches.
One way to solve this issue is to remove the bread after the dough has risen and bake it in a regular bread pan. You also need to do this if you’re making shaped loaves or rolls. It actually doesn’t add much time to bake the bread in this manner, since a normal bread machine cycle takes about three to four hours.
A recent addition to the bread machine is a tray that will automatically add ingredients during the kneading process. This is particularly helpful when you’re making nut or raisin breads. You can add raisins to the bread machine with other ingredients, but they tend to get chopped to little pieces by the mixing paddle. Adding the raisins later, during the kneading process assures you’ll have raisin bread studded with nice whole raisins. For the older models, you merely wait until the kneading process, quickly open the lid and add extras so they aren’t chopped up.
Most bread machine styles have timers, which means it is possible to put in the ingredients and time the machine so that it bakes fresh bread for the morning. It can be a lovely thing to wake up to a fresh loaf of cinnamon bread. With the new tray for adding ingredients, you won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to add raisins or nuts.
Many people find the bread machine a wonderfully convenient appliance. There’s nothing quite like fresh bread baking, but most people don’t have time to rise dough and knead it. This takes the work out of the process.
You should note that fresh bread tends to go stale quickly. You can arrest this process by making sure the bread is packaged in plastic bags, which will extend its life for a couple of days. You can also buy slicers made to slice bread machine bread. These can help you get the uniform slices that you’d have if you bought bread from the store.