I am so glad I did! The two most frequently used appliances in my kitchen are my Kitchenaid and my bread machine. I've had this handy bread machine since, well probably since we were married over 10 years ago but all I knew how to do was buy a mix at the store and push a button. Turns out that little bread machine is a miracle worker and helps cut the work tremendously! We do not buy any bread from the grocery store anymore. And I've upped the quality of my ingredients significantly too because your finished loaf is only as good as what you put in it.
Before I go into my recipes I want to show you WHY I make our own bread. The other day I needed to make some quick sandwiches to take along with us as we were going to be running around with no time to come home to eat. I would rather pack sandwiches than stop to get fast food. BUT I had no time to make a loaf of bread. So I went to King Soopers to pick me up some bread and a few other items. I was very disappointed as I looked for a REAL loaf of bread to make our sandwiches with. Almost every loaf contained high fructose corn syrup and those that didn't had an ingredient list a mile long. Even the "Fresh Baked" bread had long ingredient lists." I finally chose one but I think we'll stick to our bread machine from now on! Check out this label from a fresh loaf of bread in the bakery.
Enough of that! Now on to the recipes!
This is my go to bread. We probably make this 2-3 times a week and we use it for PB&J's, toast, grilled cheese, etc. It is perfectly soft yet slice-able without crumbling. I have made just a few adjustments to the original recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com. You can find the original recipe here. Keep in mind that some of my alterations are due to altitude so you will not have to make these adjustments if baking in Kansas.
1 cup warm water (approx 110 degrees)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast*
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour**
1 cup whole wheat flour
Place warm water, yeast, and sugar in your bread machine pan. Let yeast proof for about 10 minutes. This is not a normal bread machine process but it really helps the bread turn out great. Add the rest of the ingredients and start your bread maker on the Basic setting.
If you are not using a bread machine: After the yeast proofs, mix the other ingredients in by hand or mixer. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes. Let dough rise for about an hour in a covered bowl. Punch the dough down and place in a bread pan. Let rise again until doubled in size. Now you can bake it in your oven at 350 for 50-55 minutes.
* I did not have any trouble using active dry yeast instead of bread machine yeast. I buy active yeast in bulk. Also, normally a "packet" of yeast is about 1 tbsp. I used a little bit less for altitude reasons. I live in Denver and if you do not reduce the yeast a little, your bread will collapse.
** Original recipe calls for 3 cups of bread flour. I like to add whole wheat flour to my recipes. The loaf does NOT turn out tough or condensed as it sometimes can when you add whole wheat.
The great thing about making it from scratch: you can make it colorful if you want! We made this green bread for St. Patrick's day.
2. Pita Bread
Besides regular sandwich bread I have discovered the "dough" cycle on my Bread Maker. It is genius This pita bread is a perfect recipe made super easy by my trusty machine.
Another recipe from Allrecipes.com, Peppy's Pita Bread is a winner. You can check out the recipe for yourself as I don't have to make any changes to this recipe. The altitude does not seem to matter. Just dump your ingredients into the bread maker and press the "dough" cycle and half the work is already done for you!
3. Ciabatta Bread
Another Allrecipes.com bread. Are you sensing a pattern here? I have a fabulous app on my computer that lets me save recipes from their site. I love it! You can find almost anything you can think up on there! Anyway, back to the bread. This one also uses the dough cycle on my bread machine.
Here is the recipe link. This one is super easy and is possibly the stickiest dough I've made. It is a very wet dough and like the original author says, you must resist the urge to add more flour. This recipe made two beautifully golden brown loaves but you can also make little rolls if you choose. We had a loaf with dinner one night and for sandwiches for lunch another day. It was so yummy and easy!
I seem to have lost my pics of the other two breads. No worries - I'll make some more and update the post later! Stay tuned for more bread recipes using good old elbow grease and time.