When we invite friends over for dinner–which is quite often–we always ask if they eat bread. They usually say yes and so then I tell them that my husband Kelly will be making homemade bread in our bread machine. (if they are eating gluten-free, he can pull out his recipe for that.)
It’s always a hit, specially with the homemade jam he also makes in the same bread maker. We’ve even had friends ask us if his bread will be on the menu when they accept an invitation. I like doing it because the fresh, hot bread is part of the main course… often with a salad and a soup like this blended carrot soup I’ve been making a lot… and then it can become the dessert when the homemade jam comes out!
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Bread Can Be Very Healthy
When you think about eating in a healthy way, bread may not be first food you think of. And besides, where are you going to find the time to mix up a batch of bread, then knead it, then let it rise, then catch it at the right moment to pop it into the over to bake? Well, using bread machines makes it all go very quickly and without much work from you. (People seem to call these things both bread machines and bread makers, so I will too.)
And you can make every loaf suit the way you like to eat. Yep, that includes gluten-free. Some bread machines have gluten-free settings built into them and others can be used for baking GF by choosing from the settings. Organic ingredients work fine too. Think of the healthy sandwiches you can create, with the healthiest bread ingredients possible and baked in your own home.
What if you want to bake rolls, pizza crust, or loaves of French bread such as baguettes? Many bread machines come with settings which will stop the dough after the first rising. Then you take it out and form it as you wish on your counter and then bake it in an oven.
There are also settings for quick baking to produce quick breads in a couple of hours.
So if you think you don’t have time to create your own super-healthy loaves of bread, you may change your mind after seeing the variety of new models of bread machines.
Breads you bake with a bread maker can include healthy herbs, spices, gluten-free ingredients, whole wheat flour, and other delicious things that help you enjoy your meals and know that you’re cooking healthfully. For example, I’ve made cheese bread where the protein is right there in the loaf.
Bread machines are surprisingly versatile, too. They’re not just for bread. My husband is the main baker in our family, and he keeps us well supplied with fruit jams and even with salsa made in our Zojirushi. Our machine has jam settings and he has found he can use very little sugar and no pectin. In season, he uses strawberries and rhubarb from our garden or fresh fruits from the farmers’ market, food coop, or grocery store. While many bread machines come with jam settings now, I don’t think any come with salsa settings… he experimented and found he could use the jam settings.
What about bread and the low-carb way of eating that I and many others follow? It simply means moderation. Kelly eats a lot of carbs and does fine with them. My habit now is that on the days he bakes bread, about once a week, I enjoy a slice with butter and homemade jam. On the other days, I usually skip the bread. Works for us! Kelly slices up the bread the day after he bakes it and he bags it up in small reusable bags in the freezer, so it stays extremely fresh.
Save Money on Bread by Using Bread Makers
We save a lot of money by baking with a bread machine. The cost of store-bought healthy loaves of bread has skyrocketed in the past few years and the taste is nothing like what we enjoy.
When you choose a bread maker, think about what features you need. If the more expensive ones might be too high-tech or large for you, check out the smaller or simpler ones.
If you really aren’t sure if you want a bread machine, here’s my recipe for homemade bread the way I did it before bread machines even existed! Try this a few times and then get hooked (or not) on homemade bread…
Brands of Bread Machines
Here’s a link to the list on Amazon of the current best-sellers in bread machines. This is updated hourly. As you can see from it, there are a number of different brands near the top. I’ll continue this article with three popular machines from Oster, Cuisinart, and Zojirushi, but you can also get really good ones from Hamilton Beach, Panasonic, Sunbeam, Breadman, Breville, and other companies. Just read enough of the reviews of any given make and model to see if it will serve your needs.
The Oster Expressbake Breadmaker
I wondered why the Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer was the most popular breadmaker until I saw the price. What a bargain!
So then I read reviews to see if it was also a really good piece of equipment. People love it. The Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine does all the work for you and produces delicious homemade bread.
First, you put in the basic ingredients and then a bit later the machine will then let you know when it’s time for you to put in pieces of fruit or nuts or other things. No, it doesn’t speak English, but it beeps.
This bread maker kneads the bread, causes it to rise, and bakes it. You truly don’t have to a thing once you get started, other than adding things at the beep, and even that is optional.
It can make a loaf of bread up to 2 pounds and it has 9 different bread settings.
The settings include basic, French, whole wheat, sweet, quick bread, European, dough, bagel dough and more. You can customize how crisp a crust you want from among three crust settings. There is also a jam setting… if you eat jam, I highly recommend getting a machine that has that, as it creates such flavorful jams that go easy on the sugar.
This Oster bread machine has a 13 hour delay timer so that you can prepare it for baking and then come back to hot bread much later. This device has an LCD display that lets you to follow the progress of the bread as it goes through the cycles.
Besides being very low cost, the Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine is light weight at 8 pounds and would be easy to put away between uses. This is particularly useful in small kitchens.
The Cuisinart CBK-100 Bread Maker
The Cuisinart CBK-100 2 LB Bread Maker offers you the option to make bread ranging in size from 1 to 1 ½ to 2 pounds. You can choose the crust setting as well.
With 11 different pre-programmed choices, you can select from basic bread, French or Italian, whole wheat, sweet bread, gluten free, packaged mixes, and quick or cake bread. The machine also gives users the option to make dough if you want to cook it outside the bread machine, such as for pizza. The bread maker has a jam option.
There’s an LCD display that keeps you current on the cooking process. You can use the timer to set and hold off on baking for up to 13 hours in advance. If you want to mix in items like nuts or fruits, the machine will give you the option to do that during one of the cycles. There’s also a keep warm function after cooking.
Reading its specs, I was pleased to see that it also has a power backup feature that maintains memory if the electricity is out for up to 15 minutes.
Zojirushi Bread Machines: My Favorites
The Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker with Gluten Free Menu setting is one of the easiest bread makers you can buy. When you want to bake bread, you put the ingredients in, choose your setting and that’s it.
We are on our third Zojirushi now. First, we bought one in 2005 or so. It went along when we moved to Mexico that year, and neither my husband nor I remember what destroyed it but I think it may have been a power surge before we added a surge protector in the kitchen. (Mexican power is more variable than in the US.) Then we got lucky and found an old used one in one of the thrift stores that expats patronized. Someone was probably on the way back to the US. We used that one happily for several years and then when we moved back to the US, we gave it to Mexican friends who had admired our breads. Once settled back in the US in 2010, we didn’t even think about what brand to get. We just went to Amazon and got our third Zojirushi. It’s a precursor to the one in the picture here, and it’s going strong.
When I examined the list of current best-selling bread makers that I linked to above, I noticed that the Zojirushi models are among the more high priced but like us, other people have seen the value.
As for specs, you can make up to a 2 pound loaf. You’ll have 3 crust shades to choose from and 10 pre-programmed bread selects including basic bread, basic wheat, quick wheat, quick dough, and more. This machine will delay cooking for up to 13 hours if you choose.
You can watch the various cycles with the viewing window. Unlike many other machines, the lid of this bread maker contains a heating element that ensures the best possible bread every time. You can also make gluten free bread using the correct setting and jam with this machine.
I really like the two blades in this bread machine. They seem to give the dough the kind of kneading that leads to the creation of a great loaf of bread just about every time. (Why do I say just about? Well, there was the time that the yeast got forgotten. That was pushing the limits of even this great machine.)
Bread Machine Bread Recipes
But I personally think cookbooks provide a lot of vaue. I read them at bedtime, mark up my favorite recipes, and get inspired by ideas in them.
So… this image is the cover for the best bread machine cookbook you can get. If you click on the cover image, you will go to the books department of Amazon.com, to the page with this book. If you choose to look inside the book, you can read and read about bread machine recipes. When I did that I learned that the writer, Beth Hensperger, has a very strong background in baking.
I did notice that the book does not seem to address the issue of gluten-free bread machine recipes. For that you need this book: 125 Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine Recipes.
Whatever your recipe source, don’t hesitate to tweak the recipe if the loaf isn’t totally to your liking. All these bread machines are quite forgiving.
If you are on Pinterest, this image is sized for it and I’d love a pin!