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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Frugal Kitchens 101: Breads (2) Equipment

Frugal Kitchens 101

In the last Frugal Kitchens 101 article I gave you some of the ways that making your own breads can save you money. Today I'm going to focus on how to save on the equipment needed for breadmaking. Even if you make bread by hand you will need good baking sheets, loaf pans, muffins tins and a few other items that will make baking breads easy. If you are using mechanical means you will need a breadmachine, KitchenAid® stand mixer or similar or larger capacity food processor.

The first thing to consider is how you are going to make your flat bread, yeast dough or quick bread batters. In general for making all breads types at home you will need: large stainless steel mixing bowl, dry measuring cups, wet measuring cups, heavy duty mixing spoon (suggested Paderno or similar), baking sheet (2, suggested Wilton, preferred restaurant grade), cast iron pan, coated loaf pans (2, suggested Wilton), silicone loaf pan (2), silicone muffin tin, rolling pin and cooling racks. Optional but not essential are silicone baking cups and Silpat non-stick baking sheets. Both of these will reduce using paper products such as parchment paper and paper cupcake liners something every frugal kitchen should strive for. They will also reduce the cost of food prep by not using disposable prep equipment. Chances are good you already have most of this equipment so you likely won't have to buy a lot since most of the aforementioned equipment has other culinary uses. Silicone bakeware is now quite inexpensive and often goes on sale so if you don't have the mentioned bakeware, wait for it to go on sale. I do not recommend buying a full set of silicone bakeware as you will likely end up with pieces you will seldom use but the sets also go on sale quite often so it's one thing to keep in mind.

Breadmachines - These small appliances have been on the market for over a decade so have come down greatly in price. They tend to be either and I love it or an I hate it appliance for a few reasons. The primary reason people love it is because you can dump the ingredients in the baking pan then simply press a button so the machine does the rest including the baking. It eliminates extra prep equipment and clean-up. The primary complaint with this very convenient appliance is the bread itself. People often complain about the quality of the bread crust and the hole the paddle leaves. The work around many use is to make and proof the dough in the breadmachine then shape and proof as desired. Bake in the oven, convection oven or grill. The second complaint is the amount of room these single use appliances take on the counter. Many kitchens simply do not have the room to have a breadmachine sitting on the counter all the time. The work around is to store the breadmachine off the counter or set it up on a cart to use as needed. If you do not have a breadmachine, new ones are relatively inexpensive at under $50 especially this time of year. However, good used breadmachines can often be found for less than $10 at resale stores, yard sales and estate sales. You may be able to find one on your local Freecycle or check Craig's List.

KitchenAid® stand mixers and similar - The first thing to look for in a stand mixer is the wattage. The higher the wattage the more load that machine can handle. You should also look for additional attachments to extend the versatility of your machine. I have the KitchenAid® stand mixer Professional Series HD (475 W) that I recommend. They are multi-functional so will earn their keep even in kitchens with limited counter space. Stand mixers make quick work of mixing and kneading dough. You can easily add additional ingredients and adjust the knead time as desired. Another benefit of using a stand mixer is the ability to make enough dough for two or more loaves of bread so you can make larger batches of dough to use that day or refrigerate or freeze for later use. Expect to pay in the $250 or better price range for a new stand mixer but considering it is multi-function and can replace a few single-use appliances it may be the best choice for you just in this aspect. Again check the sources indicated for finding breadmachines at a lower cost. Another good source for stand mixers especially used is eBay.

I cannot stress this enough, if you buy a breadmachine or stand mixer take the time to read the manual! Doing so will save you a lot of frustration and give you tips for troubleshooting. Very few bread recipes cannot be converted to using a stand mixer and virtually all breadmachine recipes can be converted however, converting conventional bread recipes requires a bit more. You must first reduce the total amount of flour to be less than the recommended amount of total flour for your breadmachine as recommended by your manufacturer. You must add the ingredients to the breadmachine in the order that your manufacturer recommends. If you buy a used breadmachine that doesn't not have a manual check online for a manual you can either order for a charge or print out. Not all manuals are available this easily so ask on forums and blogs if necessary.

As you can see the equipment necessary for successfully making bread at home is not extensive and need not be expensive. Keep in mind that each loaf of bread you make at home goes towards paying for your equipment investment as well as saving you money on your grocery bill.

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