I love to eat, so I learned to cook over the years. I also enjoy sharing the little I know with interested others.
Two Go-to Bread Machine Recipes
We stopped buying bread at the store on February 21, 2020. It really had nothing to do with the global pandemic. Instead, that was the day I retired from the workforce—I gave notice in January before we knew Covid was coming—and started picking up a lot of the cooking duties around the house.
My wife and I love homemade bread, and we already own a bread machine, so it wasn't a particularly daunting transition. Now when we make toast in the morning, or we eat sandwiches, or broil garlic bread in the oven to go with our pasta or soup, we use exclusively the bread we make right here at home in our West Bend bread machine. In addition, we recently purchased and gifted our son a bread machine for his birthday, as he and his roommates expressed interest in making their own bread after several gift loaves I have given to them over the past few months.
We’ve had a bread machine for nearly all the years we’ve been married (that’s 23 as of this writing), and the one we own now we got from my wife's mother, but we haven’t used it routinely since our early days together. Back then, part of the appeal of making our own bread was in the money it saved for us as an up-and-coming couple with not a lot of cash and lots of bills to pay. Along with the once-a-week, two-for-one hot dogs at our local 7-Eleven on occasion, making our own bread was just one of the ways we tried to be somewhat frugal while still enjoying the finer things in life. Insert smile emoji right here while reminiscing about the good old days . . .
The following two bread recipes are among the staples of our everyday life here in 2020 and beyond. I make about one loaf every other week or so, and sometimes I make one of each of these two types on the same day. Both recipes call for a small amount of whole wheat flour along with a larger quantity of white (or bread) flour, and both make outstanding sandwiches, garlic bread, and toast.
If you have a bread machine or are contemplating purchasing one, and you’re looking for super simple yet enjoyable bread recipes, look no further. You’ve found the right place. There are two for you right here. Enjoy!
1. Basic Bread Machine Recipe
Yield: 1 (2-pound) loaf
- 3 1/2 cups white (or bread) flour
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/3 cups warm water, 90 to 100°F
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar, put all sugar in one corner of the bread pan
- 3 teaspoons yeast
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- In your bread machine, using the 2-pound loaf size setting, add the above ingredients in the order they appear.
Because there are only two of us, and because my wife doesn’t eat as much bread as I do, a loaf might last quite a while around here so I freeze half of it and keep the other sliced half in a gallon freezer bag near the toaster and coffee pot.
2. Honey and Oat Bread Recipe
Yield: 1 (1.5-pound) loaf
- 1 cup water (90 to 100°F)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (I spray a slight amount of Pam or other cooking spray in my metal tablespoon before measuring honey; it works great for a clean, precise pour)
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (I always use Brummel and Brown yogurt spread for this, which is our go-to margarine for day-to-day use)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 cups white (or bread) flour
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- In your bread machine, using the 1.5-pound loaf size setting, add the above ingredients in the order they appear.
I was less pleased with the appearance of this loaf, but that happens sometimes when you make your own bread. Indeed, it has little to no effect on the taste of the bread. In fact, the toast I made with a couple of pieces of bread from this particular loaf, and slathered with my wife’s homemade crabapple jelly, was nothing short of outstanding. I do believe my favorite toast in the world is made from this honey and oats bread.
Slice and Freeze
I also slice and freeze this bread, even though there is technically less of it since it's a 1.5-pound loaf. That’s because it still yields the same number of slices; they are simply smaller in stature.
Final Thoughts: Techniques and Variations
The first time I made bread in a bread machine, it collapsed bigly. I'm talking inedible bread bigly. What I learned from that first botched attempt (ok, and several others over the years, too) were several things:
- Be precise with your measurements. If you are using a measuring cup, level it off with a butter knife when you are measuring out flour and other ingredients. When the recipe calls for a teaspoon, use a leveled teaspoon . . . and so forth.
- Don't make bread in a cold, drafty kitchen. The yeast won't work right and the bread will not rise. It might just end up so dense that you can't eat it.
- Sometimes, for whatever reason, the dough is too dry in the very early stages of mixing and kneading. You can open your bread maker lid and look into the pan to see if it's too dry or not. If it is—and you can tell it is if the ingredients are not quite mixing together to make a smooth, uniform dough ball—dribble a few drops of water into the mixture until it smooths up.
- On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes the dough is a bit too moist, looking like a retreating, won't-hold-its-shape blob instead of staying together in a smooth dough ball. If you see this happening during the early mixing stage, add flour by the scant teaspoonful until it tightens up.
I have not done too many variations on either of these types of bread, but I have on occasion skipped the wheat flour and used all white/bread flour, particularly during 2020 when flour was hard to come by in the early days of the pandemic. I've also made the honey and oats bread with garlic and herb-flavored margarine a couple of times. This is a nice change of pace, particularly if you are going to use the bread as garlic bread while having Italian for dinner one night.
Happy baking, friends. Enjoy your bread!
© 2020 greg cain