I found a breadmaker at a local thrift store. I didn't want to put too much money into this project until I was sure I wanted to continue with it. I did an online search for the instruction manual to match the breadmaker that I had purchased, and I was off to make my first loaf of bread. My goal was to make only whole grain bread. Whole wheat bread was taking a toll on our grocery budget, and I wanted to make my own with no preservatives.
I got the bread pan out of the breadmaker and added the ingredients. My two boys (ages 6 and 10) were very interested in this machine that was going to give us fresh bread. After three and a half hours, and the delicious aroma of fresh bread in the house, we had our first flop! That's right. I made a ball of bread that looked like a brown cannon ball. It did not raise much and was heavy. I pondered what I might have done wrong. Did I add too much water, or too little yeast? I did another internet search and found it could have been any of many different issues. In Florida, it was possibly a high humidity issue that had to be adjusted for also. I kept going.
My boys were still interested as I mixed another loaf. They were anxious to peek in the churning machine, and were teased by wonderful scent of fresh bread again, only to view a final heavy glob.
This happened over and over. Many loaves of bread went into the trash. Then one night, fighting with the breadmaker recipe quite late, I was too tired to do more than empty the bread onto a wire rack, drape a towel over the loaf and head to bed. I had intended to take it to the outside trash can, but decided it could wait. The next morning, I woke up to my husband and the kids eating loaf number nine! It might not have raised to the big puffy, beautiful loaf that I had envisioned, but it was edible! Looking back, the earlier loaves were probably edible, as well, even though they didn't raise very much. When hot, the yeast has a strong odor when the bread is cut open. Once cooler, the yeast smell disappeared. The taste was wonderful.
I kept playing with the ingredients and finally got the recipe that works. It's completely whole wheat, which was important to me. I prepare many (Ziploc) twist lock containers of the mix ahead of time to keep in the pantry. When I make bread, sometimes I add additional ingredients for variety. (Rosemary, sage, and chives from the herb garden make Herb Bread. Chopped, fresh garlic can be added for Garlic Bread. Fresh or frozen whole cranberries make a wonderful Cranberry Bread, and there is the always favorite Raisin and Cinnamon Bread).
Recently I was reading the top ways to cut costs on Yahoo! news, and there it was: Buy a Breadmaker! Yes, we've cut some food costs by making our own. Depending on what ingredients are in your recipe, making your own bread will be less expensive. (Our bread is around two dollars per loaf).
Over the past few months, I've encouraged a few friends to get started with their own bread making. I enjoy listening to how their experience is going. (And encourage them to try to eat their mistakes!) They are having as much fun as we are, so far.
Recently, in a school journal, my son had to write about a scent that reminded him of something. He wrote about how the scent of fresh bread reminded him of our home. I felt so proud....Proud that the bread we make is a healthier, preservative-free choice, and that my guys still love it so much. It makes our home smell homey, and my guys appreciate that as much as they do when they eat it. Their friends drop by and like to sit down for warm bread with melting peanut butter and strawberry jam. And I'm thankful for what my husband calls my "tenaciousness" that didn't let those first loaves beat me!
All in all, it's been worth it. I am still using the same breadmaker that I started with. It's proven to be worth every penny!
Whole Wheat Breadmaker Bread
9 Ounces of Water (1 Cup and 2 TBSP)
1 Tbsp Molasses
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Dry Milk
2 Tbsp Flax, ground or semi-ground
1 1/4 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Fast Rise Yeast
3 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
Add wet ingredients first. Then add dry ingredients, except yeast. Make a small well with your finger and add the yeast into the well. Follow Breadmaker Instructions for Whole Wheat Bread settings.