Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bread Machine Delights for the New Year

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you believe it's 2012 and the world didn't end? I feel pretty good about this year, and I know a lot of other people who do too, how bout you?? I rang it in right with a fun group at church accompanied by my husband, daughter and mother-in-law, singing and dancing and playing music until past 2 in the morning! Can you believe Lily stayed up all that time? She refused to sleep and wanted to party with us too! What a trooper- she didn't even get cranky! We obviously slept in late that day...what did you do on NYE?

As I was saying most of last month, I've been busy, but for NYE weekend I took a break and just relaxed for the most part, simply enjoying the company of my family and being cozy at home. Winter has finally stepped up to the plate with weather in the 20s, so I am back to baking. Last month I focused on cookies, so this month I'll focus on something healthier with fresh baked breads! Yummmmmm.

Christmas 2010 Paul got me a bread machine and it has become one of my most used kitchen appliances. Once you go fresh-baked, you'll never go back to store-bought breads, and when using a bread machine, even the least oven-inclined people can easily make just about type of bread imaginable.

The bread I make the most is a simple wholewheat and flax I came up with by just trying different grains and seeds and using honey in place of sugar. I gave loaves of it as gifts to my family members and everyone loved it! I hope you enjoy it too :)

Jessica's Wholewheat Bread Machine Loaf

Ingredients (for a 1.5 lb loaf):

1 1/4 cup room temp water
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dried skim milk powder
3 cups wholewheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup mixed grains and seeds: rolled oats, flax, sunflower, crushed walnuts

Bring all ingredients to room temperature, then place in bread machine according to your machine's instructions; mine has me place the wet ingredients in first, and the yeast in last in an indent I make in the flour on top. Select the "1.5 lb loaf" setting and "Wholewheat" setting (if applicable), as well as whatever style of crust you prefer (I usually use medium). Then press start and let the machine do it's magic. Add the oats and seeds at the appropriate time if your machine has you add them in later in the cycle, and remember to remove the kneading blade before it starts to bake so you don't get a broken loaf. If you prefer, take the dough out after the kneading cycle has finished and mold it into a desired shape, then stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. 

After about 4 1/2 hours using the bread machine, you'll have fresh baked bread! 

I did not have an image of one of my whole wheat breads handy, so here is a pic of how it could look via running-foodie.com

Investing in a bread machine is a really great idea; it will cut down costs to your grocery list, you will enjoy getting creative with it, and your house will smell like warm bread! Paul loves to come home to bread baking in the machine or oven- it smells just as great either way! Lily loves it too, and when you make bread yourself, you will guarantee preservative-free and filler-free bread. This is the best bread to make toast and sandwiches for your children with. Children benefit from eating whole grains in many ways, including receiving protection from developing diabetes, having more energy, and receiving weight-control assistance. Here is a link to some studies done on this wonder food, and here is a post I did in the past with some more information on the benefits of eating whole grains.

Image courtesy nutritionexpert.com

Using honey in place of sugar for most recipes does not effect the texture of the bread either; you can also add a honey glaze to the top of the loaf while it's baking by mixing a little honey in a little water then brushing it onto the top of the loaf about halfway through the baking period. Sprinkle some seeds on the top of it too if you like!

Do you already own a bread machine, and if so, how often do you use it? Do you just love it? What are some of your favorite recipes? Do share!

For the month of January, I'll post a different bread machine recipe each week on Friday (it just happens to be on a Wednesday this week). If you have a recipe to share, I might just decide to give it a try and post about it, so be sure to send me a link!

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