The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Considering a bread machine...please advise!

clarebear's picture
clarebear

Considering a bread machine...please advise!

Hello!  I'm so excited to have found this forum, after countless bread machine failures.  :(

I have been through 2 different bread machines trying to make breads without any white flours.  I have tried countless 100% whole wheat recipes, spelt recipes, oat and bran recipes, etc.  I have followed recipes exactly, and have tried making my own up too.  I have made ONE loaf that rose and tasted beautiful, and like I said, countless others that taste ok but don't rise properly.  The machines I have used are a Breadman Corner Bakery machine and the other one was my mom's and I don't remember what it was.  I am beside myself and nobody can figure out why the recipes don't work...I follow all the basic rules, I've read all about breadmaking with machines, I've used recipes in my manual as well as from a Breadman book that I purchased, etc.

So, my only idea is to try another machine.  This is what I want to achieve:

-bread with NO white or enriched bread flour (only 100% whole wheat or whole grain)

-uniform loaves that look like what you get at the store

-longer/thinner loaves rather than round chubby ones

Does anyone have any advice on what bread machine might best suit my needs?  I don't care what it costs!  LOL!

This is the machine that I have been considering thus far...http://trishops.stores.yahoo.net/zojhombaktra.html

Thank you for any help!  Clare

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Clarebear,

Based on what you want to achieve, you would do just fine with the following:

- a couple of large mixing bowls
- a stout wooden spoon or dough whisk
- bread pans
- baking sheets
- a baking stone or tiles

If hand-mixing is not enjoyable or practical for you, you could also spring for a heavy-duty mixer, like a Kitchen Aid.

You may have some of these items in your kitchen, already. If you avoid the bread machine, you will save a bundle of money and not have a single-purpose machine hogging counter or cabinet space.

Granted, you won't have the "load it and forget it" convenience of a bread machine. You will have a whole lot more fun (kneading a hefty whole-grain dough can be wonderfully therapeutic--physically and emotionally!) and you can make your loaves in any shape you want. You can also make your doughs as light or as heavy as you wish and not have to worry about burning up the motor.

How about making several batches of bread, any kind you want, by hand? If you find that to be enjoyable and it fits with your schedule, then you will be able to have the breads that you enjoy without the expense of a new bread machine. If you find that you don't like the process or you just can't fit it into your schedule, then buy the machine and enjoy your fresh-baked breads that way. It's pretty much a win-win situation for you.

Sorry not to offer any advice about a specific bread machine. I don't know diddly about them.

PMcCool

npsmama's picture
npsmama

I agree, you'd be better off without a bread machine for the types of bread you want.

 

For 100% wholewheat try Marliyn's Famous Wholweheat Loaf:

http://articles.urbanhomemaker.com/index.php?page=index_v2&id=83&c=6

 

I also aim for 100% wholewheat. I had a breadmaker but since I've started with this recipe and many on this site my breadmaker has been confined to the garage and will soon find it's way to freecycle.

 

Another good resource for true wholegrain cooking is Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I thought I knew how to make bread (15 years of doing it!) but this book taught me how to do it properly.

clarebear's picture
clarebear

Thanks both for your comments.  Here are my issues with hand baking...first of all I don't know how...but of course I could learn!  ;)  The thing is time...I don't have a lot of it to devote to that, although I would really love too!  (The kitchen is my favorite place to be!)  Maybe after the holidays I will have some time to try and learn this art.  In the meantime, I WANT GOOD BREAD NOW!  LOL!

My other issue is, if I can't even make a loaf with the supposed "idiot proof" bread machines, how the heck can I do it by hand!?  

Well, enough boo hooing...does anyone out there have the "Breadman Corner Bakery" machine?  Maybe I could get some help with this machine before I dive into something new...

Clare 

npsmama's picture
npsmama

I know I'm repeating myself but I would really encourage you to try Marilyn's Bread recipe.

Honestly, it's very easy. 

Breadmachine techniques and handbaking techniques are like chalk and cheese.

 

Regarding time issues, Marilyn's Bread takes about 15min of work and makes 2 loaves. You could freeze one loaf maybe?

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

really aren't that difficult, Clarebear. If they were, I wouldn't be making them! ;)

Here's a thought. If you have a friend or relative living nearby who bakes bread, why not spend a morning (or afternoon, or evening) with them and have them show you the basics? That should give you a good introduction on how to mix, knead, ferment and shape. Just seeing it done, along with getting your own hands into it, will probably give you the confidence you need to do it yourself.

My starting point was what I had seen my mom do when I was still at home. Most of the rest I know has been learned from reading and trial and error. Even the errors usually taste pretty good.

Based on what I have seen on this site, everybody can tell you stories about the highs and lows in their learning experiences. Not a one of us started out as a professional. I'm nowhere near being one myself, but I have a lot of fun baking and eating my own bread.

PMcCool

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> really aren't that difficult, Clarebear. If they were, I wouldn't

> be making them! ;)Here's a thought. If you have a friend

> or relative living nearby who bakes bread, why not spend a

> morning (or afternoon, or evening) with them and have

> them show you the basics?

 

King Arthur is also giving free seminars at various locations around the US. They have two 3-hour sessions two hours apart, one for soft breads and one for artisan. I attended the artisan seminar and it was fantastic - everything from their video and more done live on stage. The instructor made about 10 loaves worth during the 3 hours [not baked though ;-( ] . I was sorry I hadn't gone to the soft bread seminar as well.

 

sPh

Cooky's picture
Cooky

 ... are actually pretty tricky to get right in a machine, I've found. 

Maybe it's because the recipes that come with the machine are poorly designed? Anyway, try some different  formulas, and you may find that solves your problem regardless of the machine you use.

Check out this site: http://www.fatfree.com/recipes/breads-machine/

P.S. Previous posters really are right, that hand-making bread is *much* easier and quicker than you imagine. To get the form of bread you imagine, you might also use the machine just to make the dough, then back it in regular bread pans. That would come out looking like what you buy in the stores.

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

clarebear's picture
clarebear

Thanks cooky...I have tried recipes from the book, and from another "breadman" book, and also a few from that site and others already.  Trust me, I feel like I've tried them all!  LOL 

I ran all over town last night trying to find this machine just to look at but nobody had it.  I was hoping to just get some information on it to see if I could ask for it for Christmas but it seems I'll have to wait. 

SP- I have asked all over my church and the hospital auxiliary that I volunteer for...everyone does the bread machine and nobody is interested in the all whole grain breads.  They keep telling me "just use bread flour." 

I really do want to learn to make bread by hand, and I was thinking about giving the "dough in the machine" thing a shot.  Maybe I'll get lucky and we'll have a snow day where I'm stuck at home with nothing to do...(besides clean and cook!) 

Anyhow, I'll be back when I try for it with lots of questions I'm sure. 

Clare

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I understand your difficulty with getting started; I experienced the same thing myself. I finally got past it by just determining to pick two recipies and making one of each every week for six weeks to see what happened. By the third week everything I was making was at least edible, and by the end of the 6th week I could make something decent with a 2/3 success rate.

 

If you really want bread machine dough recipes, I found Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine, Linda West Eckhardt, ISBN 0385477775 to be very helpful.

 

We got good use out of our Breadman Ultimate, which runs around $50 US. However, the company that made them doesn't really exist anymore, and whoever is selling them provides exactly zero technical support and no spare parts. Still, if you can find one it will give you 1-2 years of hard service for the price.

 

If you want to invest in a good bread machine the Zojirushi are excellent (except for the lack of a Pause button) but also expensive. They do however stock replacement paddles and buckets, which should extend the life considerably.

 

sPh

mmorse757's picture
mmorse757

I found a used bread machine at a thrift store for $4.00.  It looked like it had hardly been  used.  It has a "dough cycle" where all it does is mix your ingredients and shuts off after 1 1/2 hours.  This is pretty much all I use the bread machine for.  Before investing more money in another bread machine, try using it just to make the dough and then bake the dough in a regular convection oven.  You may like the results better.  Good luck!

dulke's picture
dulke

Some bread machines have whole wheat cycles. Whole grain requires a longer hydration period typically. I use my bread machine in the dough cycle only. This permits the dough to develop fully and to rise fully. The bread machine's cycle may not be the same as that of the dough. For many years I made bread totally by hand, but frankly, the machine helps me make it more often than I would otherwise be able to right now. 

clarebear's picture
clarebear

Thanks everyone for the comments, links, and feedback.  Look for me again here...when I have the time I'm going to try to do some hand baking.  It will probably have to wait until after the holidays!  Happy Christmas everyone!

Clare