Stocking the bread machine baker’s pantry

Stocking the bread machine baker’s pantry

The ingredients used in making bread range from very simple to exotic.  Here are some of the most essential ingredients to help you to get your pantry stocked and ready to bake bread!

The most basic pantry

Yes, you really only need four ingredients for the most basic and simple bread recipes!  And one is free!

Flour – I normally use all-purpose flour which works perfectly fine for bread baking.  Bread flour is ideal but I don’t usually buy it because it’s not as versatile (see below for more on bread flour).  Even if you plan on making whole grain breads, many of them still use some white flour for ideal texture.

Salt – I use Kosher salt for my bread machine baking but any table salt is fine

Yeast – This is obviously an essential ingredient in all yeast breads, and it’s critical to get good yeast and make sure it is not too old.  The gold standard is the red SAF yeast.  You can use packets of yeast or buy jars of bread machine yeast at the supermarket.  I find the SAF to be the best.  Store it in the refrigerator or the freezer after opening it, and it will keep for ages.  If your bread maker has a rapid setting and you plan to use it, you will need rapid rise yeast.  Depending where you live, you may also be able to buy yeast locally in bulk from bakeries.  Store your yeast in the refrigerator or freezer (you don’t need to thaw it before using) for the longest shelf life.

Water – I normally use filtered tap water for the best flavor.

Basics plus

These are the ingredients you will most likely want to keep stocked in your pantry for other common types of bread machine breads.

Whole wheat flour – There are many good options for whole wheat flour, but my preference is King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour, which I find to be lighter in color and texture than other whole wheat.

Bread flour – this has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, and if you are doing a lot of bread baking you may want to keep some on hand as it will result in a higher loaf.  Alternatively, you can add more vital wheat gluten to your all purpose flour.

Sugar – any kind of granulated sugar you have on hand will do

Honey – an alternative sweetener to sugar

Molasses – another sweetener with a stronger flavor

Oil – olive oil or canola oil depending on the flavor you are going for.  Italian bread or focaccia recipes normally use olive oil

Butter – unsalted is ideal so as not to throw off the salt proportion in most recipes, but frankly I use the lightly salted because it’s what I keep on hand for other things.

Eggs – add a richness to loaves, one of my favorites is brioche, a rich French egg bread.  Use large size eggs unless the recipe says otherwise.

Milk – I almost always use nonfat milk, but now that I have a young son and have whole milk on hand, sometimes I use that for a richer flavor.  Some recipes call for nonfat dry milk instead of fresh milk.

Buttermilk – I happen to be a huge fan of buttermilk bread.  If you don’t want to keep fresh buttermilk on hand, powdered buttermilk is a great substitute and works really well if you are using the timer as it won’t go bad.

Dry milk – this is really handy to keep on hand, first because some bread recipes call for it, and also in case you are short of milk!

Dried buttermilk – even more useful than regular dry milk, I like to keep this around because I often don’t have buttermilk on hand in my refrigerator, and I love buttermilk bread.  You do have to keep it in the refrigerator after you open it though.

Flours and grains

You definitely don’t need all these flours, but it’s fun to experiment with different types of flour and grains to get different flavors and textures.

Spelt flour

Almond flour

Soy flour

Bread enhancing ingredients

These are for more advanced bread machine bakers, if you are a perfectionist seeking the ultimate loaf, or if you just want to get the most out of your bread maker.  They are not necessary, and frankly sometimes I leave them out just because the more ingredients you have, the more work it is to put the bread together.

Vital wheat gluten

Vitamin C

Vital wheat gluten + vitamin CHodgson Mill makes a blend of the two that’s even easier to use (the fewer ingredients you have, the faster and easier it is to mix up your bread!)

 

Other nice additions to have on hand

Dried fruit – I love sultanas.  Raisins and dried cranberries are really nice as well.

Nuts – Walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias…the possibilities are endless

Spices and herbs – I always have cinnamon, but almost any spice or herb will add great flavor to breads.

7 grain cereal – nice for whole grain breads.

Cheeses – what can I say but…yum!  Cheddar and parmesan are two favorites.

Less common ingredients

Olives

Sun-dried tomatoes

Yogurt – gives a nice sourdough-like flavor, I use plain greek yogurt

Chocolate, butterscotch, or cinnamon chips – no need to elaborate here!

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