Bread machine that makes bread as good as a stand mixer?

I love making fresh bread with my stand mixer, but the main barrier is that I generally don’t have ~4 - 5 hours at one shot when I’m willing to hang around the house going through all the steps. I have a bread maker (an old Oster, more or less this one), but the bread it makes is just never as good as the more labor-intensive stuff; the texture always seems a bit off, and the top crust often caves in.

So is it the machine, or is it simply the nature of the beast? If I got a new, possibly fancier bread maker, would the bread come out better? I mean the loaves cooling right now on the counter look perfect (made with the mixer), but that involved putting dough to rise in the fridge last night at 10 pm and then getting up at 6 pm to punch it down, form it, let it rise again, and bake it. Which just doesn’t happen most of the time in time for Saturday breakfst.

If you think a different bread maker might be better, please feel free to give recommendations.

You might try making batter breads. The one I usually make takes about two hours start to finish. It’s crusty, light and very flavorful. I’m not a fan of bread machines, as I’ve never had bread from one that I thought was very good. But I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

Recipe, please?

My mother used to make this, so it’s a comfort food thing, especially in the fall. I think it came out of a Good Housekeeping cookbook (or maybe a magazine article long ago), but I’m not sure.

Herb-Parmesan Bread

This is batter bread, so it doesn’t require kneading, just thorough mixing of ingredients.

4 ¼ cups sifted flour
2 pkg. active dry yeast (check date)
2 TBSP sugar
2 TSP salt
1½ TBSP dried oregano leaves
½ cup plus 1 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese (or combine with Romano or Asiago)
2 cups warm water (130 deg.F)
2 TBSP softened butter

In a mixing bowl, place three cups of the flour. Add salt, yeast, sugar, and oregano and mix on low speed or by hand until blended. Check the temperature of the water with a thermometer. This is critical for the yeast to properly activate. Add the water and softened butter to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Continue beating for 2 minutes until the batter is smooth. Add the rest of the flour gradually, either beating in by hand or with mixer at low speed. The batter should not be too wet, and it will differ with changes in weather. If it is, add a bit more sifted flour, or you’ll end up with a dense product.

Cover the bowl and let rise in warm place for about 45 minutes until double in bulk. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Beat the dough down for about 30 seconds, then transfer to a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish. Cover and let rise for a short period, perhaps 15 minutes. This allows the batter to rise a bit, but not double. If it rises too much, it will be full of air holes.

Sprinkle the remaining TBSP of cheese over the top of the bread and bake for about 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack. It helps to run a table knife around the dish to break the loaf loose before attempting to turn it out onto the rack. Otherwise, part of it may remain in the dish.

The baking time will depend on your oven, of course. I’ve baked it for as long as 55 minutes. Too little will result in the middle or bottom of the loaf being somewhat dense. Once you’ve made it a few times, you can tell whether or not the batter is too wet, etc. The fragrance will drive you wild. It makes incredible toast unless you consume the entire warm loaf with butter before it gets that far.

Thanks! Now we just have to eat the rest of the oatmeal-maple-honey bread so I have an excuse to make more…

Please forgive me for this, but you find a stand mixer to be labor intensive? Perhaps I’m biased since I prefer to work with sour dough cultures and almost feel like I’m obligated to knead by hand. Ahhh… nevermind, ignore and forget that I even posted this.

Most of the time I use the “french baguette” recipe and just set it to dough. When the dough’s ready I knead in any additions I want, if I want any, and shape it and bake it in the oven. I think it comes out better this way than the exact same dough baked in the machine.

Basically I let the machine do the worky part (the mixing, kneading, and temperature-monitoring) and I just do the fun, easy part.

Not the stand mixer* per se*, but the issue is that the only time I am going to have 4 - 5 consecutive hours to go through the whole bread-making process is on the weekend, and I’d rather not a) have to wake up at the crack of dawn or even earlier, or b) be stuck inside for such a huge chunk of daylight when I have other things to do, particularly when we really don’t eat much bread except for weekend morning toast.

It’s not the work in itself so much as the timing issues that it presents. If I want bread to make weekend toast, then I have to wake up really early on Saturday (and I’m an insomniac, so I really treasure my weekend sleeping-in time), or spent most of Saturday hanging around the house waiting for the dough to do its thing, not have any bread for Saturday morning, and not get the rest of my errands done.

I’ve had decent bread machine breads, if not all THAT exciting.

What I popped in to suggest, however, is the Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day book. A couple of the recipes can be found online. You spend a bit of time mixing it up on the first day, then you let it sit out for a bit (or put it in the fridge right away)… then in a day or so you scoop out the desired amount of dough, plop it on a baking sheet, ignore it for a little time while you do other stuff, then slide it into the oven.

Thanks for reminding me about that book! I saw it when it first came out in a bookstore, but was skeptical. The reviews seem to indicate it’s worth it, and there is apparently also a second book out with whole-grain breads, etc. I’ve added both to my Amazon wish list.

Yep - I’ve made a number of recipes from the original; I have the second but just haven’t bothered in a long while. You can do the mixing in your stand mixer (though it might not handle a double batch, my 4.5 quart machine won’t).

It’s really more time but it’s in easier chunks if you use Peter Reinharts recipes. This is my favorite recipe book ever, although if you prefer white breads he’s got other books as well.

Basically you make predoughs one day and combine and bake on either the second, third or 4th day, whichever is more convenient. I also freeze them at the last proofing stage or after being baked.

And I just discovered yesterday - he’s got a TED talk!

:: bump::

Books have been purchased, and vat of wet dough is currently fermenting away in the fridge. Chunk #1 will be baked either tonight, or tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed! I have some of my co-workers very excited.


I have read criticism of the amount of salt the recipes in the original call for, and when I was tracking stuff on Sparkpeople that bumped up my daily sodium intake a fair bit, but the second book does say you can reduce that.

I did not find I got the best results when I froze dough, though I only tried that once or twice so maybe I did something wrong.

I also had trouble spreading / rolling dough as flat / wide as called for in the one or two recipes I tried that called for it (hint: the raisin bread is YUMMO) so my loaves never looked very nice.

So far I am liking this a LOT, maybe too much. Made a boule for dinner last night, leftovers for breakfast this morning. Baguette is cooling on the counter right now for sandwiches. The boule was yummy, far better than anything I could buy in any but the best bakeries I know of around here, except that it’s practically free if you make it yourself and would probably cost $4 - 5 at a bakery. Baguette looks good - we’ll see how it tastes. But it’s hard to beat bread fresh out of the oven!

I think the next batch of dough had better have some proportion of whole grain in it.

There’s one in the original book that had something like 3/4 whole, 1/4 white flour. Not as dense as a 100% whole-wheat loaf, a good compromise.

I love my (Oster, $5 like-new from Goodwill) bread machine, but it’s purely a cost:benefit thing.

If I can make bread that’s 80% as good requiring 10% of the time…I’m happy.

I’ll have to try Hello Again’s suggestion, though. I love my bread maker’s generic French bread, but it’d be even tastier as a baguette.

Artisian in 5 is really a good concept. You always have dough in the fridge that is ready to go with a tiny amount of advance planning. ON line searches will give any number of variations.

Bread machines are the gateway drug for bread baking. Hmmm, I likes me some homemade bread, the bread machine sure seems easy. Yum, homemade bread. Hmm, I wonder if I let the machine do the mixing and rising, and then I shape and put it in the oven, how would that taste? Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

Oh look, Bittman’s No Knead Bread, let’s try that. Hoo boy. You know, if I made a bigger batch of Bittman’s and left it in the fridge, that would be artisian in 5. On top of that, I need a Kitchenaid just because.

Point set match. :wink:

Guess I did things backwards - I bought the Kitchenaid first. Comes in handy for all kinds of things besides bread, although bread dough is really where it shines.

Hmmm, if I really get the hang of this, I may just give the bread machine to Mom. Then I would have space for more gadgets!