We don’t buy much leaven bread these days. Tortillas, Naan, and other flatbreads we’ll buy (although I am working to change that too). But we very rarely buy regular old bread. The reason is simple, ever since I moved out of my parents’ house, I’ve had a bread machine. Why pay $2 for lousy Wonderbread when I can make properly wonderful fresh bread for $0.75 and five minutes worth of effort?
Okay, the title may be a bit much, but I think you’ll agree this is darned tasty bread.
- 1 1/2 Cups white bread flour
- 1/2 Cup whole wheat or multigrain bread flour
- 1 Cup water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp Fancy Molasses (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 1/4 tsp Bread Machine Yeast (use 2 tsp if using a quick bake cycle)
- If your bread machine does not have a separate yeast compartment (most don’t, our new one does), place your yeast in the machine’s baking pan first. Otherwise, add the yeast to the yeast compartment.
- Add both flours
- Add the oil, salt, basil, molasses, and sugar
- Run your tap water to get it to a warm temperature, when you place the back of your hand under the stream, it should not feel either cool or warm. I find this produces the best and most consistent results. You can also leave the water in the measuring cup on the counter for an hour or two to reach room temperature. But that takes a long time, and like I said, the results aren’t as good or consistent as using the back of your hand.
- Once the water is at the right temperature, add it to the pan.
- Set the bread machine to a small loaf, chose your desired crust colour, and hit start.
- Wait for 2 – 4 hrs (depending on your machine and whether you chose quick cycle or slow) and enjoy the smell of baking bread.
- When the bread is done, remove it from the machine immediately, remove the bread from the pan and place on cooling rack. Wait 10 minutes. Cut a slice off, add butter or margarine, and enjoy.
- I use olive oil, but any oil (or margarine) will work. I like olive oil for the flavour. If you are worried about the health effects of heating olive oil, Grapeseed oil works well too.
- I usually use Robin Hood Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour and Best For Bread Whole Wheat or Multigrain flour. Robin Hood has stopped selling these flours in the larger bag sizes and now only sells them in (expensive) 5lbs bags. At the cost of a 5lbs bag of flour (and how often we have to buy them) the bread starts costing almost as much as from the bakery, so I am trying other flours (see a future post on that).
- Our current bread machine is a Panasonic, and it cost an arm and a leg. But it works much much better than the Black and Decker unit we had before (which only lasted 6 months, and was broken / needed my help to kneed the bread for 4 of those 6). If you make bread as often as we do (at least once a week), investing in a quality bread machine is worth it. If not, just go to the local thift store and buy one for $5, it’ll last as long or longer than the $100 one at the big box stores.
- Because there are no preservatives in this bread, it only lasts about three days (tied up in a milk bag, kept on the counter). That’s really a moot point though, since the bread is always eaten within a day (two at the absolute most).
- The molasses is optional. If I know I’m going to have a bit of bread left over for tomorrow’s breakfast, I throw it in there. It makes amazing toast. If the bread is being eaten with soup, stew, or chili, I know it won’t last the night so I tend not to bother.
- For yeast I buy Fleischmann’s Bread Machine yeast in small jars. It is much more economical than the packets and works perfectly every time.
- You may notice I keep mentioning how things work every time, or for consistency. It took me years to be able to get a well risen loaf of bread every time. Water temperature, quality of yeast (and whether or not it is still alive), and choice of flour all greatly affect how your bread will turn out.