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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Blessing of the Bread Machine

Have you ever actually read the ingredients list on a loaf of bread at the grocery store. I was reading a book about 4 years ago that suggested that to me, and I was shocked. High fructose corn syrup and synthetic chemical (unpronounceable) preservatives made up the majority of the list, so I decided to start buying locally baked bread with wholesome natural ingredients. But those loaves could cost as much as $5, and I couldn't spend that much just on bread each week.

I remembered that one of our wedding gifts had been a bread machine. I decided that the best way to know what was in the bread that I was eating and feeding my family was to simply make it myself with the help of my bread machine. Trust me, there is no way that I would have the time to bake homemade bread without one, but I have found that it's pretty easy to bake at least one loaf of bread each week. It used to be a Sunday Evening routine for me before we had kids, but now I'll get it done whenever I have the 5 minutes it takes to assemble the ingredients + the 3+ hours it takes to finish (I never leave while the machine is on). As I am typing right now I am loving the fact that my house smells great right thanks to the bread I have baking in the bread machine.

I am a big whole grain fanatic. I actually prefer the heartier, nuttier flavors of whole grains to the their processed, refined white flour counterparts. One of my absolute favorite bread machine recipes is one for Honey 100% Whole Wheat Organic Bread that I created by tweaking some other recipes that I already had.

Honey 100% Whole Wheat Organic Bread
(1.5 pound loaf)

3/4 cup Water
3/4 cup Milk
2 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola oil
1/4 cup organic honey

4 cups Whole Wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Organic Flour)
3 tbsp. Wheat Gluten (Again, I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. Fleischman's Bread Machine yeast

Assemble the ingredients in the pan. Set the machine for the Whole Wheat cycle, 1.5lb. loaf, and medium crust. Hit start.

When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle promptly remove the pan. I let the bread sit in the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and placing on the cooling rack to cool completely. It is easiest to slice once it has cooled down.

Baking healthy homemade bread is just one more way I take a little bit of the stress out and add a little bit of joy in to our everyday lives.

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