Bread has been made by hand for centuries and only recently through automation. Kitchens of the 1980s saw a new appliance grace their counter tops, namely the automatic bread machine. Bread machines, or bread makers as some are called, are small units that run on electricity. They take up a square foot or so of counter space and they perform all the necessary functions to produce a loaf of bread. Making bread with a machine simplifies the hands-on part of making bread. It’s easy and takes less hands-on time to make bread with a bread maker.
Bread machines mix the ingredients that you add to a mixing pan. The dough is then kneaded with a mixing paddle or two for several minutes. The dough is allowed to rise for a time period, according to the cycle initiated on the machine’s control panel. Then, the mixing paddle is started again for a few moments to squeeze out the gas that built up during the first rise. The dough is allowed to rise again in a warm atmosphere. After a rising period the oven is heated up and the bread is baked right in the pan that the ingredients were mixed in. After a few hours the entire cycle is completed and a buzzer sounds off that the bread is ready to be taken out of the oven.
Bread produced by a bread machine is a little different from bread produced commercially. The type of yeast, the mix of ingredients, and the handling of the dough are no doubt at least slightly different in a commercial setting than what we can use at home, so the two types of bread have their unique characters.
Sandwich bread that you might purchase at a supermarket has a certain airy texture with a soft crust. Bread machine bread is typically darker with a crust that is more substantial. The texture is a coarser texture even for plain white bread.
Bread machine baking pans typically have a large cross-section which makes for big slices and big sandwiches. The texture and taste have been described as “hearty”. Homemade, bread machine bread is great to slice with soups or stews. It really makes wonderful toast and jam, or buttered garlic toast.
The coarse texture and substantial crust of bread machine bread make for fantastic French toast. It’s easy to make, too. Soak a couple thick slices of your plain white bread from the bread machine in two beaten eggs having a healthy dash of cinnamon added before beating the eggs. Turn the bread and brush it so that all surfaces are coated with egg. Cook on a hot griddle until each side is a golden brown. Serve with warm maple syrup at once.