Here are some ideas to get that bread machine making you something delicious instead of just gathering dust! You can freeze the dough in half or whole batches, so plan to make several batches ahead. Half batches are great if you only want to make a few rolls or small loaf or if you want to make a couple different kinds of rolls/loaves for a meal. You may want to print this and stick it in your bread machine book.
Let's start from the begining....all the way back to the flour.
** Leanne's Bread Flour. Buy some bread flour (all purpose works too but this is better) and some whole wheat flour. Sprout/Henry's and Sunflower Market have it on sale pretty often either by the bag or in bulk. Pick up a cup or so of wheat germ while you are there.
In a big bowl, mix together 4 parts bread flour, 2 parts whole wheat flour and 1 part wheat germ. You can store it in gallon ziploc bags. Whenever you see "flour" in any bread recipe, use this!
Here is a list of the basic ingredients and some guidelines for what and how to use them:
*Bread Flour, (All purpose is also fine but you will notice a difference in the texture of the bread).
*Whole Wheat Flour (It can be expensive so watch for a sale)
*Wheat Germ, (The least expensive and least wasteful way to buy is in bulk).
*Jar of Bread Machine Yeast. (If you are going to be making lots of bread buy the big brick of the stuff at Costco or Sam's. Even if you only you 1/2 of it before the exp. date, it is cheaper. Keep it in the fridge).
*Olive Oil, extra light, (I use it instead of margarine or butter. You can use margarine, butter, olive oil or any combination to equal what the recipe calls for)
*Sea Salt (plain ol' salt works too)
*Agave nectar, Honey or just Sugar, (whatever you have or prefer or any combo of these. I have just recently started using part stevia.) You may find that you need to increase the flour by a tbsp or so.
*Egg, (Some recipes call for eggs and some don't but I almost always use an egg. If the recipe doesn't call for an egg you have to adjust the liquid. I do this by cracking the egg into the measuring cup I measure the liquid into (milk or water), then add the liquid to to the amount specified so the total liquid is still that amount.
*Liquid. Some recipes call for milk and some for water. I never just use water but will use 1/2 and 1/2. For a nutrient boost, I add a TBSP or so of powdered milk with the liquid.
*Spices and herbs. If I am adding cinnamon or herbs to the bread dough I usually use a total of 2 tsps or so For instance, I might use 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp onion powder.
*Gallon Size Freezer Ziploc bags, (other brand, sizes and types are likely to explode when the bread raises as it thaws. I resembles something out of a B horror movie when this happens...you open the fridge and discover that the dough has escaped and has taken the fridge!!)
Now here is the basic bread machine recipe that I use. I adjust it if I add different ingredients and there is probably a great scientific way of doing this but I just do it. If it works fine, I make a note of what worked. If you add a wet ingredient such as pumpkin or other fruit or veggie, decrease the liquid. I have used one book in particular for bread machine recipes, "Bread Machine Magic", but have discovered that for most kinds of bread only a small adjustment is needed for different additions. Special breads, such as rye or pumpernickel or something like banana oatmeal bread.
I use a 1 1/2 lb machine and recipe. Put the ingredients into the bin in the order given. Use the "dough" setting on your machine menu.
Basic Wheat Dough
1 cup liquid (milk, water or some of each)
3 cups of Leanne's Bread Flour**
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1//2 tbsp olive oil (fat)
1 1/2 tbsp honey (sugar)
1 1/2 tsps active dry bread machine yeast
When the dough is finished, flour your hands then pull the dough out. Now is when you want to divide the dough in 1/2 if you are going to. Place the dough in a ziploc that has been labeled and greased, (about a tsp of oil in the bag then press it around to generally cover inside of bag).
To use frozen dough, place in the fridge overnight or on the counter a couple hours before you plan to use it. When it is thawed, turn onto floured board. If you are making rolls, form a "log" then use a sharp knife to cut slices. Form the slices into balls and place on a greased pan or use muffin tins. I snip an "X" in the top of each one with kitchen shears. Often I also mix some olive oil and garlic powder and drizzle or paint with a pastry brush over each roll. Cover with a dishcloth and let rise at least 30 minutes and as long as an hour. *Hint: Turn on oven to warm for about 2 min. Turn off and set the pan with the dough , covered with a towel, in the oven to rise. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.
A FEW VARIATIONS:
*Cheese Dough: With the flour add 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp onion powder
*Sweet Cinnamon: With the flour add 1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon. Increase sugar to 1/3 cup.
*Taco Dough: With the flour add 2 to 3 tsp taco seasoning mix
*Potato Dough: Add 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes with flour. Increase water by about 1/8 cup. (I also add herbs/garlic/onion to this bread sometimes)
*Egg bread dough (nice for sandwich or slider rolls): Increase eggs to 2 eggs. Decrease water to 1/4 cup. Use sugar and increase to 1/4 cup.
This should get you started! Let me know how it goes. If you don't happen to have a bread machine, check your local thrift stores. I often see them for around $10 in thrift stores!