Making Bread - Mixer & Oven vs. Bread Machine


Two years ago I posted about my experiences baking bread in a bread machine. I liked the convenience, but I've found over the years that when I make bread in the bread machine, it is too dense and dry. Maybe there is a way to mess with the settings more, but I don't care much for it. I don't think it kneads well enough, or lets it rise well. Plus, if you're not setting it up the night before, for the morning, it takes 5.5 hours for it to make the whole cycle.

Now, I make bread using a Kitchen Aid mixer. I tried it by hand, I'm terrible at it. I can't get the dough to stop sticking to everything without adding a bunch of flour, which makes the dough stiff. I mix the yeast and warm water with the first two cups of whole wheat flour in the mixer until mixed just enough (using the paddle). Then I let rise in a slightly warmed oven for fifteen minutes in the mixer bowl, then put it back on the mixer and mix it on low as I slowly add in the rest of the flour, stopping when it just starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Then I take out the dough and place it on an oiled suface. I scrape out the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then exchange the paddle for the dough hook. I oil the mixer's bowl and the dough hook, put the dough back in, and mix it for 7 minutes. After that, I put it in a pan to rise in a slightly warmed oven, then take it out and preheat the oven, and proceed to bake as directed. This produces a much more satisfactory loaf, to me, than the bread machine variety. Of course, I'm still new to this, having only made bread a handful of times.

The recipe I've been using is Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread Recipe. It's okay, but I'm on the lookout for a better one. I don't use the "dough enhancer" it calls for, which is sold on her site, and which I suspect is probably just vital wheat gluten. Some people like a lighter loaf, more sandwich-like. When making whole wheat bread, I like it to be truly 100% whole wheat, no added white flour or gluten. I like it dense and filling, making it a nutritious way to stretch your grocery dollar. My children eat 50% less for dinner when given a slice of this bread. It's good for them, and for our budget.

That recipe also calls for oil. I don't know what most whole foods bread makers use for oil. I tried olive oil...eeew. Mine was good, raw olive oil too, not the rancid processed stuff. Yuck. I don't use most oils that others would use, as most of them are processed and rancid, too. I'd use melted coconut oil, but that would give a slight coconut flavor. I did try melted butter. That batch didn't come out right, as I used the wrong grain accidentally, so I don't know if the problem was just the grain, or the butter too. I'm open to suggestions from more experienced bakers! I'm also open to new recipes, if they are using NT-friendly, whole food ingredients.

Next time I may replace the honey with raw agave nectar. Can't say enough good stuff about agave!!

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