Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bread Machine Thoughts

I've mentioned previously how I'm generally against anything I deem to be "cheating"--ie, Crockpots, Swiffers, and, yes, bread machines. I've always felt like, for bread to "count" you should be making it by hand. (I have no idea who is supposed to be keeping score. I would imagine God has better things to do than keep track of who made their bread the "real" way or in a bread machine. And even if he did care about that sort of thing enough to keep a massive tally board, what's the point? What do I win when it's all done? A bread machine?)

But, as you may have guessed (or I may have explained) all my lofty aspirations of not "cheating" were before I had kids. Since then, I've come to realize that maybe I need to lower my standards. In regards to bread machines, the turning point for me was when my uncle mentioned how they really like theirs because they can have fresh bread for supper every night...can we say "yum"? However, I was/am reluctant to invest bucu bucks in something that I may or may not like--or use. Imagine my glee when I found a very nice looking bread machine at GoodWill for $5.

I happily rush home with my new toy, carefully read the directions, and make a loaf of bread. And another. And another. And another. Every loaf of bread came out delightfully golden on the outside....and appallingly gummy on the inside. I adjusted settings until I was blue in the face. I tried several recipes. Nothing helped. Now before you say, "you get what you pay for", keep reading! In desperation, I called my mother-in-law, who also has a bread machine (that she bought new). She told me she had the same problem with hers, as did her mother. They just use the bread machines to knead the bread, then bake it in the oven. She was pretty sure that all bread machines were pretty useless for actually baking the bread.

Now to me, this totally defeats the purpose. The idea is for me to come home to fresh bread. Disgusted, I tossed my machine in the trash--no point in donating it back to GoodWill and cursing some other poor soul. (It wasn't all for naught, though--I was able to give the inner pan to my friend, who needed a replacement for her bread machine.)

In short, I've slowly become sold on the idea of a bread machine. IF it will bake the bread, also. Do any of you have experience with bread machines? What kind do you have? How long have you had it? How much did you spend on it? Does it actually bake the bread for you?

I'm considering buying one, but, I don't want to spend $50 on one only to realize that my mother-in-law was right and I'll need to bake the bread in my oven. I also don't want to spend an arm and a leg. (The one linked to in the picture is $250. Um, no.) Honestly, my upper limit is probably $75. Is it possible to get a good bread machine for this price? Or am I going to be forced to spend upwards of $100 to get one that actually does what it claims to?

Please, oh wise ones, share your wisdom with me!