What do you need in a bread maker?
Last week I told you about one of my favorite homestead tools, the Yogurt maker. There is one kitchen tool that I use even more and that is my bread maker! I have not bought store made bread for well over a year now and I couldn’t do it without my bread maker. You can make bread without a bread maker, but it takes more time… a lot more time. Homemade bread is something I want for my family and, since right now my family has three kids ages 6 and under, a bread maker saves me enough time to do it.
Making bread with a bread maker can be quick. I measure the dry ingredients into mason jars, six jars at a time. When I need to bake a new loaf I only have to add the wet ingredients then pour the dry ingredients into he machine. We go through a loaf every 3-5 days so the 6 jars (and I make one loaf right in the pan while measuring the jars) lasts for a month. It takes me about 20 minutes to make them. Once the jars are made it takes about 4 minutes to measure the water and oil, pour in the dry ingredients, and add the yeast.
Without the bread maker I would have to knead, measure out rise time, punch down, rise again, and bake. That is a lot of time that I simply do not have right now. If you have the time then save yourself the expense and space of a bread machine.
For those of you who are looking for a bread machine, here are a few tips:
Choose the Bread Loaf Size that Fits your Family
The most common sizes for a bread machine is 1, 1.5, and 2 pound loaves. If you have a small family (3 or fewer) or just do not eat a lot of bread than a one or one and a half pound loaf will be good. If you have a larger family (4 or more) or eat bread on a daily basis then get a two pound loaf. I have made 1.5 pound loaves in my 2 pound pan and it seems to work fine. This bread machine by Breadman (from Amazon) bakes any of those sizes.
Delay Timer Setting
If you want to set the time your bread is made then choose a bread maker with a delay timer. It is not a feature I use often, but it is nice in some circumstances. One of my favorite is for those of you who work. You can set the delay timer to have the bread ready for you when you wake up in the morning or when you come home from work. The smell of fresh baked bread is nice to wake up to!
Keep Warm Setting
A keep warm feature is nice for short periods of time, but don’t rely on it. If you use “keep warm” for too long then your bread will be soggy. If you think you will not be able to get the bread out in time then get one with a delay timer.
Make Dough Setting
The make dough feature is nice if you want to bake the bread in your own oven (or use it to make dough for rolls).
Some bread makers can make jam. If this is a feature you want then look for it! It doesn’t have to be an expensive feature, this Oster bread machine has it and is only $79.99.