Automatic Bread Machine FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQ and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

1. Why is an automatic bread machine useful?

A. A bread machine can be another “pair of hands” in the kitchen. I often set mine to knead a small batch of dough for rolls or calzones, while I am doing something else (like laundry, nursing a baby, housecleaning, schooling, reading, napping…). We also love that smell of freshly-baked bread when we wake up in the morning or walk in the door from church!

2. Can you use a bread machine if you have a large family?

A. I have not found my bread machine as useful as I’d hoped! We have four children and to keep my brood in bread, I’d have to do at least two loaves a day. So, to just make all of my bread, I would say it is not as useful. But for kneading small batches of dough for rolls or timed bread baking (like for breakfast), it is a nice little luxury to have! This needs to be considered when thinking about purchasing an ABM. It makes ONE loaf of bread or bread dough. If this is not enough for your family, we recommend a large mixer.

3. Can you use a bread machine if you only make whole grain breads?

A. Sure! Sometimes you have to change around the normal order of the ingredients. For instance, I have a great recipe for whole wheat and molasses bread, but I can’t put the “wet” ingredients on the bottom or it doesn’t knead well because the dough is so stiff. Other times, I find that if I mix ingredients with the measured water (like old-fashioned oatmeal or coarsely ground cornmeal) that they will knead into the rest of the dough better.

4. Please tell me how to use one. “Normal order of ingredients?” What’s that?

A. Usually in bread machines, you put the “wet” ingredients (water, milk, egg, honey, oil or butter, etc) on the bottom of the bread pan. Then, you measure in on top the flour and gluten and other ingredients. You put the yeast on top so that it doesn’t start growing until you are ready to start the machine. Your machine should come with these instructions and tell you what order you are to place the ingredients in the pan. Some machines have different order of ingredients, so make sure you are doing what your machine needs.

5. What are your experiences with various brands of bread machines?

A. Here are the responses of various members of the Real Foods Digest. (Remember, the market changes all the time and some brands are discontinued.)

ZOJIRUSHI

I think the Zojirushi is the “Cadillac” of bread makers, especially if using whole grains. I have had the BEST experience with the Zo and wouldn’t recommend anything else. The Zo now comes in 2 pound loaf size.

The Zojirushi is the one I have, and I love it. It has a detachable lid, kneading blades at the bottom, 2 stationary rods on the side that holds the dough while it is being kneaded which produces a better gluten-developed whole wheat loaf. It also has a “Memory” cycle that allows you to program your own recipes into the memory, which is great for the non-gluten loaves, as they sometimes need longer or shorter rising or kneading times and you and alter the cycles to fir the recipe. It also comes with all the other standard stuff the other breadmakers do …but a few more.

HITACHI

I have a bread machine, a Hitachi, and got it for Christmas 2 years ago. As a result of having it, I make a lot more bread now. Particularly for breakfast, it is wonderful to be able to throw in the ingredients, set the timer and wake up to fresh bread. The only problem has been when the good “come-n-get-it” smell of baking bread rousts everyone from their beds because they just can’t WAIT to eat breakfast! LOL… It is also great because you can try one loaf of a certain kind of bread to see if you like it, instead of a 3 or 4 loaf mistake.

PANASONIC

I thought I’d make a few quick comments on these appliances. Before I got my Bosch, I replaced my auto-breadmaker with a new Panasonic. Besides being capable of making good bread with whole wheat flour, it also has a yeast dispenser, which made using the timer-delay feature easier. When I was researching auto-bakeries, the three brands that came out as better bread quality (texture), especially in whole wheat, were: Hitachi, Panasonic, and Zojirushi. Now, there are other good brands, and there are probably other brands that are actually manufactured by the above companies, but maybe this will give you a starting place.

There are many other good brands on the market so we encourage each family to do a little research and determine which model, features, price are the best for you family. Consumer Reports has some brand performance comparisons as well. You can find Consumer Reports at your local library.

6. What about bagel makers? Does anyone have any experience or recommendations on these?

A. I have seen these and laughed! I’m sure they do a great job, but they seem awfully expensive for just making bagels. And bagels aren’t all that hard to make, just a little time consuming. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think machines are great, it’s just that this one seems cost a lot for a little, y’know? Just my opinion… but maybe someone will love theirs! Personally, I’ll make bagels without a machine. We love homemade whole wheat bagels!

7. Are there any healthy recipe books devoted to ABM’s?

A. There sure are! Check your local library, bookstore and second-hand bookstore first, there are some great deals on these books. **Not all the recipes in these books use whole grains and natural sweeteners.

8. I would like to see some yummy recipes please!

A. You might like these:

7 Grain Whole Wheat Bread
by Diann Smith

Yield: 1 (1 1/2 pound) loaf 12 – 15 slices

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 Tablespoons wheat gluten
  • 3 Tbsp honey or molasses
  • 2 teaspoon salt (heaping)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cooked 7-grain cereal (I use Kashi cereal), cooled to room temp

Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set on whole wheat cycle, light crust. This makes a LARGE loaf, which completely fills my 1 1/2 lb machine. It makes delicious, light, airy bread that is great for sandwiches, dinner rolls, etc.

Per slice: 193 Calories; 3g Fat (11.1% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 378mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Yield 1 (1 1/2 pound) loaf 12 -15 slices

  • 1 cup buttermilk (OR 1 cup warm water and 3 Tablespoons buttermilk powder)
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses or honey
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoon dry milk powder (instant or non-instant)
  • 2 teaspoons vital gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set on whole wheat cycle, light crust.

Per slice: 118 Calories; 2g Fat (14.7% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 128mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Honey and Flax Seed Bread

Yield: 1 (1 1/2 pound loaf) 12 -15 slices

  • 1 cup plus 4 Tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon lecithin
  • 3 cups Kamut flour, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground flax seed
  • 2 Tablespoon vital gluten flour
  • 3 Tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon SAF instant yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set on whole wheat cycle, light crust.

Per slice: 302 Calories; 5g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 249mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

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About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.