Bread is such an impressive tool - you offer to bring homemade bread to a gathering and you get an appreciative ahhhh. It's quite gratifying for moi whose sink is full of dirty dishes and who still has to finish wedding thank you's two years late BUT I HAVE FRESH BAKED BREAD!
No one needs to know that it is actually made with a bread machine, except now everyone will know because everyone I hang out with reads this blog. Unfounded or not I feel that making my own bread is a feat and I'm going to stick to that, no matter how it happens.
I've got this wonderful huge cookbook and from it I've made Brioche (pictured) Proscuitto Mozzarella Bread, Black Olive Bread, Halepeno Bread with Longhorn Cheese, Beer Bread with Cheddar, Roquefort Cheese Bread with Walnuts, Ricotta and Fresh Chive Bread, Italian Lemon-Ricotta Bread, Chickpea Flour Bread as well as numerous others.
Marianne over at Prepare to Eat challenged readers to make their own bread in May. Marianne's method is a distant dream for me at the moment. She soaks her flour, she hand kneads everything, she doesn't use much white flour or any sugar. Sigh. I like to think that someday when I'm home for more hours of the day than I'm at work I, too, will do bread the ideal way. But really, won't I just find other excuses (kiddos, the sink of dirty dishes, Arrested Development on Hulu?) I'll probably still use the bread machine. But I'm OK with that. I don't think it's cheating, it's just a different way and I'm still coming out ahead. Those fancy loaves that I mentioned above would have cost approximately $6 per loaf here in the DC area, and I make them for half that or less. A cheap loaf of bread makes a meal of lentils actually filling. And all the ingredients in my bread I chose and I can pronounce.
One of the best parts is that I now have a perfect and designated use for one of my favorite wedding gifts - the bread/cutting board handmade by Aunt Mimi and Uncle Gary who are, themselves, die hard every day Zojirushi bread bakers. Also I finally got to buy the little butter dish I've been wanting.