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Is Breadmaker Practical?

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I've considered buying a breadmaker but I'm not sure it's practical. It seems like it's one of those kitchen appliances that many people have but never use. 

As we move into homeschooling next year, I'm trying to find ways to simplify our lives. One way to achieve this is simpler dinners which means a couple of nights of sandwiches and salad. I have a hard time finding good sandwich bread as I don't like all of the preservatives that you find in what they sell at the grocery store. Now I get  whole wheat sandwich bread at the Great Harvest bakery but it's a pain because it's a separate stop on saturday and they are not open on sunday when I usually do our grocery shopping. 

So I thought...ahaa! I'll get a breadmaker and make our own sandwich bread so no more trips to Great Harvest. It looks really easy on the Youtube videos. I've tried making whole wheat bread myself without a breadmaker and it was a pain because of the kneading and the rising. 

What do you think? Do you use your breadmaker? 

 

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34 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I've considered buying a breadmaker but I'm not sure it's practical. It seems like it's one of those kitchen appliances that many people have but never use. 

As we move into homeschooling next year, I'm trying to find ways to simplify our lives. One way to achieve this is simpler dinners which means a couple of nights of sandwiches and salad. I have a hard time finding good sandwich bread as I don't like all of the preservatives that you find in what they sell at the grocery store. Now I get  whole wheat sandwich bread at the Great Harvest bakery but it's a pain because it's a separate stop on saturday and they are not open on sunday when I usually do our grocery shopping. 

So I thought...ahaa! I'll get a breadmaker and make our own sandwich bread so no more trips to Great Harvest. It looks really easy on the Youtube videos. I've tried making whole wheat bread myself without a breadmaker and it was a pain because of the kneading and the rising. 

What do you think? Do you use your breadmaker? 

 

I use my breadmaker at least 3 times a week.  It is true that it is one of those appliances that lots of people buy but end up not using.  Which is why they are usually pretty easy to find inexpensively at yard sales, goodwill, etc.  That's how I found my first one.

It's super easy to use, and very much like using a crockpot.  Dump all the ingredients in and turn it on.  Three hours later, you have bread.  In fact, there have been times I have put the main dish in one of my crockpots, a side dish/veggie in the other crockpot, and bread in the bread machine, and that's dinner.  

Now, it isn't quite the same as store bought bread.  Usually  a bit more dense and chewy.  And there are plenty of people who don't like the way a breadmaker leaves a hole (or two depending on the type of machine you have) in the bottom of the bread.  Plus, many breadmakers are vertical, and this can result in an odd looking loaf.  A lot of people will use their bread machine to do all the kneading and rising but then take the dough out and put it in a loaf pan and bake it in the oven.  I don't bother with that.  My machine has a horizontal pan and the holes in the bottom don't bother me.  

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It really depends on how you use it. For several years, I had a bread machine that I used several times per week. I could put in the ingredients and set the timer. We would wake up to fresh bread for breakfast. Or I could fill it before work and come home to fresh read for dinner.

Fast forward a few years. I have changed my style of eating and do not eat much bread at all. My DS can’t have gluten at all. Before we knew what is problems were, he didn’t like bread so we didn’t have so much. If I make fresh bread now, I am the only one who eats it, and I hate to waste food, so then I eat too much.  My DH thinks he likes fresh bread, but he is never home and eats only one or two servings, so again I am left with the remaining to overeat. A bread machine takes up  valuable counter space. My HD did buy a new (used) bread machine a couple of years ago. I made him one loaf which I needed up eating, then I put it on a bottom shelf in the laundry room. For us, a bread machine is no longer practical.

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You could also make a big batch of no-knead bread dough and use it to make loaves of bread all week. No kneading required! There are some good no-knead bread books that you can probably borrow from the library, and there are plenty of websites and recipes.

One caveat is that you need space in the fridge to keep the bucket of dough...

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Making it by hand from batch dough in the fridge was easier for me.  The bread maker never saved much time and I didn’t like the loaves it made.

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Sandwich bread has a fairly steep learning curve. It can take a long time to learn how to make bread that is fluffy enough to work in sandwiches, can be sliced thin enough without crumbling, and has a good flavor. And then you have a day that's especially dry or humid and it all goes to crap. Or you try a different brand of yeast or flour or whatever. Bread is tempermental. 

Also, most people who use breadmakers don't bake the bread in them because you get a weird square loaf with a hole in the middle. Most people use the breadmaker for kneading and rising, and then bake in the oven in a regular loaf pan.

If the only reason you want to make your own is because you think it would be easier, it really, really wouldn't. Lol.

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3 minutes ago, Noreen Claire said:

You could also make a big batch of no-knead bread dough and use it to make loaves of bread all week. No kneading required! There are some good no-knead bread books that you can probably borrow from the library, and there are plenty of websites and recipes.

One caveat is that you need space in the fridge to keep the bucket of dough...

 

I'm sure this varies based on which recipe you use and how you bake it, but I find the no-knead recipes, while they make delicious bread, don't work as well for sandwiches. The crumb is way too loose with a lot of big holes and the crust is too crusty. They do make amazingly tasty bread, though.

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The Bread Bible sandwich loaf is fool proof for me, but it's not whole wheat and contains dairy.

Re the breadmaker, I find I far prefer my stand mixer for kneading and the rising is just...time where it's sitting anyway and it's not like I have to do anything with it. So I don't use my bread machine much anymore because I couldn't get a sandwich loaf that wasn't too dense. But I agree with the pp, making one's own bread does not really save time unless you're losing a whole day going to the store.

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It really depends. For me it was, but I've been thinking about getting rid of it. Lately I only use it to make dough though I used to use it regularly to make bread. If you have the space, if you make bread and dough regularly, I think it's worth it. 

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Well, we use it a couple times a week for bread, bread bowls, pizza dough, rolls, or breadsticks. We don't use it for sandwich bread though.

We are a family that doesn't actually bake the bread in the machine - we use the dough setting, then remove, shape, and bake.

If you are buying to make sandwich bread, I don't think a bread machine is a good buy. We like long, crusty loaves, small sweeter rolls, & garlicky breadsticks.

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I used it a lot when my kids were little and I didn't want to run out to the store in the middle of a homeschool day. We enjoyed the taste but it was an odd shape and hard to slice evenly and as thinly as we would have liked. My kids would often make a weird non-perpendicular slice and it would multiply into a lot of uneven, oddly shaped slices. My dh banned them from cutting the loaf. After a few years we got tired of it and now, like many people, I'm not even eating bread. It does make the house smell good though. 

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If you are willing to invest the time to figure it out, you can make great sandwich bread with the no-knead dough.  You might consider a Pullman (or pain de mie) loaf pan.  It has a cover, which makes a perfectly square loaf.  It also controls the rise, because it cannot rise past the lid.  It is tasty bread, and easy to make enough dough on the weekend for three to four small loaves for the week.  I found it to be well worth the time to learn how to do it.  

Edited to add:  I also purchased a bread slicing guide.  If you do not have evenly thin slices for a sandwich, that defeats the purpose of all your work for a perfectly sized loaf.

Edited by LJPPKGFGSC
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I actually use mine. But not for what you want it for. We have homemade pizza frequently- often enough to make it worthwhile just for pizza. I also use it when I make cinnamon rolls, which I do make for several people around the holidays and a couple dc request them for birthdays. 

It is really nifty for those two purposes but I never fell in love with the bread from it and homemade bread, while delicious, just doesn’t work great for us for sandwiches.

So yes, I use mine a lot but I don’t know if you would 🙂

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I used mine a lot.  It won’t bake anymore though it will still knead dough.  The trick is having a routine set up to keep it running.  For me it was just that would be the first thing I’d do when I started dinner prep.  I never had any trouble with premix this bread mixes but when I tried making my own really whole wheat bread I didn’t have much success.

for me the benefit is we’re about 20 mins from a decent shop so being able to make a loaf of bread without running out is a huge time saver.

the downside was we all ate way too much bread when we had it because it was so yummy.

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I started with a breadmaker because I was a little afraid I could not turn out a decent loaf by hand. As my experience grew and I became more confident, I learned how easy it is to make bread and shape it by hand. Without the breadmaker, I may have never started - who knows.

Have you looked at "bread baking "websites? You could try a batch or two and see if you think it's easy or if a breadmaker would be helpful.

The method where you make a large batch in a mixer and refrigerate the dough and take just enough out to bake on any given day worked for me for years until I decided I was just making sourdough without yeast which is a little more time intensive as in thinking ahead to let the starter bubble.

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I used to have a bread maker, but it ended up that because of the weird shape of the loaves, I used it more as a dough-maker, and then I put the dough into a regular bread pan and baked it in the oven.

it would only make one loaf at a time, though, so eventually I gave it to my sister and bought a good mixer that can handle bread dough (a Bosch compact) so I could make batches of two or three loaves.

Its a little more complicated than just putting the ingredients into a bread maker, but still less work and mess than kneading my own.

One year we bought my mom a bread maker with an oblong pan, much closer to normal bread loaf shape. Can’t remember what brand it was or what keywords I used to search for it.

ETA - and that Bosch mixer was expensive (more than they seem to be now) but I’ve used it an average of weekly for years, and it also has a blender attachment and can do other mixing, though I primarily use it for bread. I have considered it well worth the money and counter space.

Edited by emba56
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I think the first question is whether you have the counter space, honestly.

I've known people who really use theirs and people who really don't.

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I only use mine in the summer and various warm days. I don't like all the excess heat from the oven in my house to filter out on those days. But I pack it up and put it away come cooler days and winter. Then that's heat, plus soup bread, or coffee cake, or whatever. I make a lot. 

So do I think it's worth it? Every July when I want some fresh bread and apple butter, ya better believe it! All joking aside, I paid $30 for mine brand new several years ago, so at this point I think I got my money's worth in preventing higher-A/C bills. But for most people I wouldn't say it is worth it, especially if you have a good kitchenaid or a couple of helpful kids to do the kneading for you.

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My sister used hers 3X+ weekly until it failed.  Then I don't think she replaced it.

She ran it in the laundry room, up on a shelf, so that they could close the door and set the timer and have fresh bread in the morning without it waking them up.  They also used it just for the mixing and kneading of dough for cinnamon rolls that they then shaped by hand and let rise a second time in the pan, as a Sunday treat.  I believe that they used half whole grain, and half white flour but am not sure.  

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I love, love, loved my bread maker! When the kids were little, I used it nearly every morning. Even with the tall, blocky shape of mine, we used it for sandwich bread. No, it was not just like store bought. It was better. And it was basically as easy as setting up my coffee pot.

The only reason I stopped was because I have a very tiny kitchen and it became more important to me to give the counter space to a microwave.  I don’t regret that, but I do miss my easy peasy bread!

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I use ours for sandwich bread. We also use it for toast. Yes, it takes some practice to cut. No, I don't let the kids yet (oldest is almost 9). Yes, some pieces are oddly shaped due to the hole in the bottom. However, we seem to have survived thus far.

Is it worth it? For us, yes, as we greatly prefer the taste. (FWIW, I use 2 parts whole wheat flour to 1 part bread flour generally). It makes it easy to overlook the odd shape or slightly uneven pieces (for us).

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I am in a no-bread mode right now, but I did use it often when I ate bread.  I bought one at Goodwill.  Make sure the one you buy one that has the mixer thing in it.   That is removable and many people accidentally toss it.  

My bread always came out just fine.   I used regular yeast and no mixes.   The trick was something I learned from a Bread Cookbook.    You ...   I forget the name ...   the thing you do to Yeast to get it started.  Prime?    You go ahead and do that Yeast Priming yourself as if you were making the bread by hand.    I found that the priming the yeast myself didn't really add any/much time, since I would start it first then put the rest of ingredients in the pan.  I even stopped timing the yeast, and would just add it whenever I had finished adding everything else.  When you do it this way, you change the order that you add stuff.   You add the liquids then the salt (which needs to be kept from the yeast as long as possible.   Then you add the flour.   Then the primed yeast.   With this way, you can't use the delay mode.   But, bread is still fresh 3 hours old.  

It is also essential to weigh your flour when making bread.   People that have bread experience and are making it by hand know when they need more flour.   So, they can use cups.   Noobs and bread-machine users need to weigh.   I would put the pan on the scale, and just zero it out before every new ingredient.   

 

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When we had 4-5 people eating sandwiches 6 days a week, DH used his bread maker every other day to keep up.  We bought it used from the thrift store and got a really good one for $7. 

These days we have only one regular sandwich eater (DH) so we do store bought bread and only use the bread maker for making rice.  But for the Heavy Sandwich Years, it was the most useful appliance we owned. 

Edited by AK_Mom4
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If this is something you really want to do, Zojirushi makes good quality bread machines that bake the bread in more of a loaf shape. I know a lot of home bakers who swear by them.

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I found one at Goodwill for $10 that lasted us 7 years.  It's the perfect way to find out if you really like it/need it.

While I loved it, I found out I made bread in cycles.  For other doughs, say for pizza, I would just use my Kitchen Aid.


I love Great Harvest and have even though about grinding my own wheat at times.  Then I realize that I probably wouldn't do that, and move on.  😄

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I use it all the time because I have to.  My daughter has severe allergies to many foods and cannot eat any commercially made bread.  I got a bread maker that has a gluten free cycle and I make bread for her every week.  With a lot of practice, I have perfected a sandwich bread that I can cut into very thin, even pieces.  You have to have the right bread knife to do this though.

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When I worked full time, and it was just my husband and I (or a couple of small children), I used it.  Once we started making a lot of bread fairly regularly, we did not.  I didn't bring it with me to Italy (I will miss this bread!), and don't plan to buy one when we return.

 

 

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