Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
Baking your Homemade Bread the Easy Way
With an Electric Bread Maker
Baking Your Own Bread these days with modern bread makers' couldn't be simpler.
Not that many years ago making bread in the oven was often an art, time consuming, labour intensive and could be hit and miss as to whether the bread would rise or not; becoming light and fluffy or stay a heavy stodgy lump and hard to chew.
This article, based on my own personal experience and knowledge aims to highlight some of best of these modern bread making ovens (with recommendations) to help you make an informed decision before buying.
And to finish the article I take a little peek in our past with the origin of bread making, and not too long ago how bread used to be made in the home.
Making Your Own Bread Has Become Economically Viable
Especially With Steep Rise in the Cost of Bread in the Shops
For the past century housewives have dabbled in making the occasional loaf of bread in the oven, although more often bread rolls as a family treat because (unlike previous centuries) bread loaves have been a staple diet and relatively cheap to buy in the shops; far outweighing the cost, time and labour in making your own bread.
Until quite recently (within the last ten years) bread was generally quite cheap to buy and often we would buy bread on offer in bulk when it was nearing its Sell by date and use it to fill any spare space in the freezer. Now even the cheaper brands are expensive and finding good offers on old stock has become more difficult. So you can now make your own bread as cheaply as buying it; and if you get it right it can be far superior to anything you can buy in the shops; much healthier if you don't add all the salt commercially produced bread contains, especially if you use wholemeal flour. And with the availability of good bread making machines making bread these days is as easy as ABC.
Choosing a Suitable Bread Maker
You Get What You Pay For
Once we decided to buy a bread maker and make our own bread I did my usual research weighing up the various options and from that concluded that generally (as is often the case) you get what you pay for. So rather than just going for a cheap bread maker which would do the job we opted for one in the mid-range which did everything we wanted and more e.g. it also makes jams from fresh fruits harvested from your back garden or picked from the wild.
The Model we chose was a Kenwood bread-maker, and in doing my research for this article I noted the same model is branded as a Delonghi in America. Unlike some products the brand name doesn't seem so important it's whether the bread-maker has the capacity and range of options that meets with your expectations that's more important; often reflected by the price you intend paying.
We've been using our bread maker (with 20 programmable recipes) quite a bit for the past few years, mainly sticking to our favourite two or three recipes. We're well pleased with not just how easy it is to use but also the high quality of the bread, and how light and tasty it can be; especially when straight from the bread maker machine when it's still nice and warm. We haven't tried to make any jam in it yet but as our raspberry canes in the garden become well established I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
Up Side and Down Side of the Kenwood Bread Maker
What You Might Call Pros and Cons
The major upsides is that you just place all the ingredients in the container, press a few buttons to select you desired program and leave it to get on with it; simplicity in itself. And having 20 Programmes on plastic display cards on the handle has proved extremely handy for quickly flicking through and selecting the recipe program of your choice.
The only two minor irritants we've experience is the numbers and symbols on the green LED Panel can be a little hard to see so if you're not careful there's a risk of selecting the wrong programme for the ingredients and ending up with a loaf that doesn't rise properly; and the paddle sometimes gets stuck in the bottom but it's not difficult to cut out.
The Greatest Invention Since Sliced Bread
How to Make and Bake Bread in Days Gone Past
In Britain, our middle and upper class Victorian and Edwardian ancestors had dedicated coal fired bread ovens built into their ranges, often adapted from the large coal fire ranges in the rather grand Georgian houses in previous centuries; and baking their own bread (often done by the servants) was a way of everyday life. The image above shows such a bread oven; photo taken of a Victorian bread oven at Home Farm, depicting Victorian life during our recent visit to Beamish, England.
In fact from the end of the Stone Age to our Modern Age bread has been a staple diet worldwide and was one of the key factors in mankind settling from nomadic hunter gatherer tribes to farming when in southern Turkey about 11,000 years ago we first domesticated wild wheat.
On domesticating wild wheat we quickly learnt the art of refining the wheat to flour and from there acquired the skills to making bread. In the wild wheat is naturally contaminated with yeast (a fungus) and if the grain is crushed, mixed with water and allowed to stand long enough then (as with making wine) the dough will ferment and if then baked will make a Rustic bread; this would seem to be the obvious accidental discovery (as significant as discovering the wheel) from which over thousands of years the process of baking bread has since been refined.
Storing Your Bread
Keeping Your Bread Fresh for Another Day
Chances are, even if you make a large loaf it's so tasty it'll be demolished by the family in a day or two anyway so you'll probably not need worry about keeping it fresh. However, if for any reason you need to store it for more than a couple of days I found the best way to keep the loaf fresh is to place it in an empty bread bag. I always try to keep a few in the kitchen drawer from shop brought bread as bread bags are handy as food bags (for sandwiches) and for homemade bread; although a homemade loaf straight from the bread maker will be too big to fit into a bread bag until the family have had a few slices from it. Once in the bread bag storing in the fridge will keep it fresh longer than ordinary shop bought bread would keep in the fridge e.g. normally for a week although on one occasion I found a couple of slices in a bread bag shoved to the back of the fridge that had been there for a couple of weeks that was still fresh enough for toast.
We also keep sliced bread for daily use in the breadbin; recently a friend was throwing his old breadbin away so (as it's a suitable size for homemade bread) we took it off his hands and I'm glad we did as its rather handy just to pop the freshly made homemade bread (once cooled) straight into the breadbin; especially when the fridge is full.
Usage After Freshness
Making Full Use of Your Homemade Bread, Even When It’s Gone Stale and Past it’s Best
Usually homemade bread, being as nice as it is, gets eaten before it has a chance to lose its freshness. I say lose its freshness rather than going stale in that unlike bread bought from the shop homemade bread tends to dry rather than go stale so even after a week although it may not be so good for sandwiches it makes good toast; and optionally it can be toasted then used to make croutons or homemade breadcrumbs.
For toasting the homemade bread (especially from the middle of the loaf) is often too large to fit into a toaster, so unless you make your toast under the grill cutting the slice in half you can toast the two halves separately.
If making croutons, toast the bread and cut it into small squares. If making breadcrumbs toast the bread, break it up into small pieces and grind it down into small particles in a grinder. It makes excellent breadcrumbs and apparently homemade breadcrumbs can be stored in a bag in the fridge for up to six months although I haven't tried this yet.
Home Made Bread vs Shop Bought
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Arthur Russ
Share Your Experience and Thoughts on Home Made Bread and Bread Makers
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2017:
Thanks for your recipe Arjun, it's sounds as if you've hit on a winner there.
Arjun on February 05, 2015:
Cinnamon Raisin Bread 2 lb loaf1 1/2 cups + 5 tbsp water2 tbsp margarine4 tbsp cinmonan4 tbsp sugar2 tbsp dry milk1 tsp salt1 1/2 cups raisins4 cups bread flour3 1/2 tsp bread machine yeastPlace ingredients in pan in order listed.Select: Sweet, light, 2 lbs.Unhappy with the recipe that came with my machine, I experimented and came up with this. My family loves it
Arthur Russ (author) from England on December 21, 2014:
Good question peachpurple. The rest time to allow the dough to rise is part of the total time. Also, as stated by the manufacturer the heating element will switch on and off and will glow intermittently during the keep warm cycle. Therefore electricity isn’t being used during the whole process; our bread maker is only 780W so with the rest period and intermittent power during the warm cycle I’m guessing the total usage isn’t likely to be more than 1.5kwh, which still makes for good value for good wholesome food, cheaper than you would pay for healthy bread in a bakers.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 19, 2014:
just a question. When it says 3 hours to bake a bread, i remember 1 hour is the resting time to double the size of the bread dough. Does the electricity is till on? 3 hours is gon na cost of elec bill to shoot up
Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on November 24, 2012:
I love home made bread and the smell can't be beat.
anonymous on October 23, 2012:
Great lens, so much variety.