The Staff of Life

Bread in its many forms is a staple food in many countries, and fills the bellies of many billions of people each day.  We have been making our own bread for many years, and just love the taste of freshly baked bread either in our bread-maker or from the oven.  I am also looking forward to cooking a few loaves in my cob oven now that the weather is getting cooler again.

My apricot jam and Kim’s wholemeal loaf

Now imagine our dismay when our old bread-maker machine died the other week.  We had kept it going since 1998 when I first bought it for Kim as a present.  It was a bit like the energizer bunny, it just kept working.  The seal in the bottom of the pan was stuffed, so we just used it to make dough in the end and baked the bread in the oven.  It lasted for 14 happy bread making years and many a loaf was made in it.

So what can one do, besides do everything by hand, which Kim cannot manage, and I don’t have the time, except to go and find another bread-maker machine.  We did look for second hand, however we were a bit dubious about buying a clapped out appliance, I decided to buy a brand new machine, in the hope that it lasts as long as the old one.  Here it is.

It has a long pan, instead of the tall type that we had in the old model.

It also makes a very decent loaf of bread.  Kim made this sundried tomato loaf, which was delicious and didn’t last very long!

We are impressed, and even I am now making bread again.  I use a pre-made multi-grain bread-mix which is the same cost as normal bakers flour and is made within our local zone.  I can make a loaf for $1.30, and the equivelent size and type cost over $5.00 in the supermarket or bakery.  The purchase will pay itself off with the savings in just under six months, then after that it is very cheap bread.

We have used it to make the dough for our home made pizza’s the other night, and I have baked 2 loaves of multi-grain in as many days.  In fact I have a few loaves that I am going to make tomorrow that should last us at least a week.

Who else makes their own bread?  It doesn’t have to be in a bread maker either.  Let me know, I would love to hear about your daily loaf.


  1. Brenda says

    I have an old Palsonic breadmaker,with settings 1-11 but no mention of gluten free or spelt settings. Can anyone advise how I could successfully make bread, in it or the oven, using either of these types of flour? Thanks! Brenda

  2. Jamie says

    Between weekly pizza dough and regular bread making we’ve worn out two bread makers in under 7 years. The last time a pan wore out I looked in to a replacement pan, but our model had been superceded (sp??). Somehow I ended up on ebay and found replacement parts of the seal and all the other bits that go with it in the bottom of the pan. It was very inexpensive (compared with a new bread maker, or even just a new pan), came with instructions and I managed to fix it myself with no technical know how!
    I just wanted to let everyone know this is an option.

    P.S. Love your blog, Gavin. Thanks especially for your cob oven video. It is much loved in our house.

  3. says

    Thanks to all those kind people who left a comment. So many recipes and methods to look up and try. Making your own bread is just so satisfying.

    Gav x

  4. says

    This morning I ground some hard wheat, oatmeal and flax seed into a flour, mixed with some salt and a few cups of white flour. I put 2 heaping tsps of yeast, a squirt of honey, a drizzle of molasses in some warm water until the yeast bubbled happily. I add a sqeeze of lemon juice to all whole grain flour breads, as helps it to rise higher. Added the yeast mixture to the flour along with some olive oil and more warm water to make a sticky dough. Knead for 5 or 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, and turn into an oiled bowl to rise for an hour or so. Knead again and make into loaves. Bake in the oven. I never measure the flour, but start out with roughly 8 cups to get it going. Moisture content in the flour varies through the year. Sometimes I add sunflower seeds. I have never had a bread machine, but my mom and sister love theirs.
    Happy Baking!

  5. Anonymous says

    I have baked several no-knead recipes and several baking variations … here is what I mixed up today for baking tomorrow.

    3 cups flour (all purpose today)
    1/4 rounded teaspoon yeast (rapid rise in my case)
    3/4 teaspoon salt (I use 1/2 rounded tsp of kosher salt)
    1 and 1/2 cups room temp water or slightly warmer (not hot!)

    * Mix the dry ingredients (large bowl or container that can be covered)
    * add the water and mix – it will be a wet shaggy dough
    * cover and let rise overnight (20 hrs or so) in a draft free zone

    I bake this loaf in a small cast iron skillet (8 inches?) with another skillet as the cover

    *lightly oil/butter the 2 cast iron skillets (or your preferred baking pan)
    * flour the dough in its container before handling/pressing down. It’s a very wet dough.
    * turn out onto a floured surface and fold/kneed into shape to fit your baking pan … put crease side up … you can add additional cuts for a rustic look after it has rested
    * let rest for while 10 – 30 min (or let it rise again)
    * put into cold oven, cover skillet with the 2nd skillet (or lid) if you have one
    * turn on the oven to 410 deg or so (500 deg per no-kneed recipes didn’t work as well for me)
    * after about 30-35 minutes I remove the skillet cover so the loaf(Boul) can brown
    * total cooking time is 40-45 min

    ** if you can’t bake it the following day, put the dough, container and all in the fridge. It should keep for 2 -3 days. You don’t have to punch it down.

    It’s a flexible recipe, and you can certainly add other grains, just do it gradually / in small increments to find a mix you prefer.


  6. says

    My dear Dad, now 81, is on his 3rd bread machine – he wore out the first two. Dad uses the full cycle to make and bake their bread for breakfast toast, a lovely bread with whole oats (am happy to share his recipe if anyone is interested). ANd the rest of the time Dad uses the dough cycle prepare dough for buns (with olives and rosemary) for their daily lunch and to make specialty breads

    I bought the sunbeam compact breadmaker last year as I only have to provide bread for me, and it was on special! I use it mostly to mix and do the first dough rising, then remove the dough and shape to suit whatever I want to make.

    The bestest part is that I know exactly what is in my bread now, and can make bread that suits my designer (most of the colon was removed 13 1/2 years ago due to severe Crohn’s disease) innards.I’m giving the innards wee challenges like 1/5th rye flour (Yummo!)

    Happy bread making and baking, Michelle across the ditch in Wellington

  7. says

    Being gluten-free in a small town means always making our own bread! I use a packet mix (The Real Bread Mix / IGA signature gluten free bread mix), mix it up with the Thermomix (Thermie for short) and use the bread maker to bake it. It uses a lot less electricity to bake a loaf than the big electric oven!
    Funny thing about the bread maker. We got it second-hand about 5 years ago. The mixing arm was always annoying, leaving a hole in the bread, not mixing well, and making a terrible clunking sound. We drilled it out and put in a nut/bolt/washer and it’s great! Haha!
    Considering getting a couple more bread tins so I can use the oven to make a few loaves at a time instead of using the bread machine to make the one loaf. Bread really does taste better with a crispy crust straight out of the oven.

  8. Frogdancer says

    I make our bread in the thermomix.
    Absolutely love it… and of course it does so much more than make bread dough. The kids really prefer the home made bread to the bought stuff… they whinge if too many days go by without me getting the whole wheat out and making flour!

  9. Dawn says

    We’ve had our breadmaker (Sunbeam brand) about 10 years I think, and tend to be sporadic in our enthusiasm for it. Before we got it I had been baking bread the “old-fashioned” way for about a year, and asked for more loaf pans for my birthday – hubby thought he’d surprise me with a breadmaker (he loves gadgets). I spurned it for several months, but about that time had begun working part time again and was short on time. Hubby dug out the shiny unused machine and produced a very decent loaf of whole wheat bread when I came home one night. Since then, when we’re in the right groove, we bake bread with the machine about twice a week, and pizza dough about once a month. But we do go through phases of not using it, usually when we’ve come back from a trip or something and we’re out of our routines. We’ve had no trouble with our machine except once when it got unbalanced and “walked” right off the counter – the hinge on the lid broke, but we just adapted to balancing the lid in place when we’re ready to start – and we make sure it’s level before we leave the room. I know at least two people who use their machines far more regularly than us and have had to replace them every 3 or 4 years, mainly because of the element, as you experienced. I like making bread from scratch and enjoy the kneading process, but it is an all day project and I never seem to remember to plan well enough ahead to accomodate that fact.

  10. says

    I often you the breadmaker to make the dough,and then bake it in the oven. This morning I baked a french loaf. I do wonder sometimes if the other breamakers out there end up with the whole kitchen covered in flour (including myself) or is it just me?

  11. Tracey says

    Like others above I just use my bread machine to knead the dough. I got it because it has a timer, so I can have pizza/pizza dough ready when I get home from work. Since my bread is usually just flour, water, yeast and salt there’s no problem with the ingredients sitting at room temperature for hours before the machine starts. Not sure if I will replace it when it eventually dies. We only make bread once or twice a week. In theory I should be able to organise myself to do it all by hand….

  12. says

    Like Joc, I make almost no knead sourdough – two or three small loaves a week. I’ve discovered how to fit it in around a work day and it takes no more than 15 minutes work, but spread over 24 hours. I haven’t bought bread, or even been slightly tempted, since I started with sourdough – my homemade is just so much better. Mostly I go for very heavy wholegrain – megagrain or oat and linseed, or lately barley bread. But yesterday I made some lovely ciabatta with semolina and unbleached wheat flour, and today I’m going to make some pita bread to go with babaganoush.

  13. says

    Our family goes through a big bread (1.35kg) a day. After about 500 loaves, my bread maker wouldn’t bake anymore, I bought another one. While I was waiting for it to arrive I started making sour dough breads and then bake it in the oven (it still kneads). Having become addicted to sour doug breads I hardly ever use it for baking, just to knead the dough for the sour dough. I can even knead two breads side by side. The manual program would probably suit a smaller sour dough bread as well (takes longer to rise) but my breads become too big for the bread maker to bake in it. Only when I’m in a hurry or not home during the day I turn the bread maker on for a “quick” yeast bread. It’s great for making pizza dough, but also pasta dough. It’s great being able to bake fresh bread every day, saves me many trips into town, or a big freezer to store it.

    • Anonymous says

      This is very interesting, Marijke but what do you use for your sourdough starter and how do you keep it going? I’d love to see a detailed method if it’s not a secret. I have often found that the sourdough starter looks to be bubbling away furiously then I add most of it to my flour and knead it up, put it in the pans and it takes all day to rise.

    • says

      Hi, I have my starter in an old yoghurt bucket with a hole punched in the lid. I use about 250gr of it every day, but only every other day I replenish it with equal parts plain bakers flour and water. It found that my starter was a bit to active to keep it on the kitchen bench, so keep it in the fridge, works better for me. 500gr flour, 323gr water (adjust for rye and wholemeal), 200gr starter and 12gr salt is the recipe I based my bread on. Knead the dough in the bread maker and let it sit in there until it doubles in size (a couple of hours in Summer, many more in Winter). Once doubled put the bread maker back on to punch it down. I then spoon it into a bread pan, let it sit for another hour (won’t double in that time), and then bake it in the oven where it will rise to it’s max. Hope that helps!

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you Marijke, that’s very interesting and more or less what I have done many times but it doesn’t always work. Occasionally I get so fed up with waiting for it to rise in the pan, that I take it out, add a bit of active yeast and sugar, knead it and return it to the pan. It tastes like sourdough alright but I know I ‘cheated’.

      Although I never measure anything – or rather I never keep a record of exactly how much of anything I add – I have occasionally added all my starter to about half of the final amount of flour and all the liquid to make an intermediate ‘sponge’ (like a thick batter). When that is working well (3 – 4 hours) I save a bit for my future starter and knead in the rest of the flour. The theory is you get fresh starter every time and you are adding more actively working yeast cells to the final dough. But unfortunately that doesn’t always work out as I would like. Nevertheless it tastes great.

      I discovered you could buy a range dehydrated sourdough starters that give different flavours, though the cost in my opinion was prohibitive. Have you ever tried any of those?

  14. says

    Im up to bread maker number 3. I make bread everyday but only use it to make the dough. I use my own recipe for bread mix and form it into 2 loaves or rolls depending whats on the menu for dinner that day. My current machine was purchased from Cash Converters for $25.00 and it was hardly used if at all. Its a Brevlle with the long pan as well.

  15. says

    Your bread machine lasted well- ours died after about 4 years! After that I was tossing up whether to buy another one, or buy a couple of loaf tins (about $28 each) My mum has made no knead bread for years, so I thought I’d give it a try, I could always ask her for help if needed. Well, I haven’t looked back, it tastes so much better when made by hand. The no knead supplies come from the IGA supermarket (my Pa passed his no knead book on to me). I make it with spelt flour and some dark rye mix, with the addition of kibbled linseeds and chia seeds for omega 3’s. I only need to make it once per week (2 loaves), as I don’t eat bread now as I think I might be gluten intolerant :( My 5 year old happily takes her dark bread sandwiches along to school, with her home baked snacks.

  16. Anonymous says

    I bought my Palsonic breadmaker in 1997 at K mart on special for $95. It is still going. We have gone through a few bins which Palsonic actually stocked replacements for until recently. We are on our last bin and that will be it for our Palsonic breadmaker. I have started looking for a replacement but haven’t found a brand which offers replacement bins. We too have been using the machine to mix only. We found that we get a nicer bread if baked in the oven. I imagine that it would be even nicer baked in a cob oven!!!

  17. says

    I started off with a breadmaker (2nd hand from a garage sale) and used it for many years. Then, like yours, the element died so I just used the dough mixing routine and baked in the oven.
    And then I discovered sourdough bread and it’s relativly no knead system. Ah, that is all I bake now and as a consequence (and perhaps a complaint) the breadmaker totally died. At this stage I have no plans to replace it.

  18. Anonymous says

    I have been making all my own bread for at least 20 years, and have developed an ‘almost no-knead’ method which takes about 10 minutes (or less). This started when my son just couldn’t get the knack of kneading. What I do is this:

    In a BIG bowl I put 3 cups of white all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of dry fast acting yeast and 3 cups of warm water. I stir this up to make a batter, cover it and leave it in a warm place overnight. At the same time as I do this, in a second bowl I put 3 cups of whole wheat flour (I grind my own), approx I teaspoon of salt and anything else I fancy (sunflower seeds, ground flax, millet etc).

    The following morning I first butter two bread tins, then add the dry ingredients to the overnight stage and stir together. When they are combined I tip the dough onto my kitchen counter and give it a minimum of kneading. Basically this is just to get it into one homogenous lump. Usually another half cup or more of flour is necessary because my home ground is not so fine and thus not so absorbent as commercial flour.

    Then I cut the lump of dough into two pieces, shape and put into the pre-buttered tins to rise. I bake for 15 mins at 415 F/210 c and then reduce the temp to 375 F/190 C. This is to simulate baking in a traditional oven like Gavin’s cob oven which is cooling down during the baking period.

    You will notice I don’t add any oil or fat of any kind, nor any sugar of any kind and very little salt. The yeast is perfectly capable of breaking down the starch in the flour to sugar (maltose I think) and it is not necessary to have butter ON the bread as well as having it IN the bread.

    So apart from the rising time and the baking time (when you can be busy doing something else) it takes very little time. One advantage of the long overnight stage is that it gives the bread a delicious flavour.

    I’ve tried to add a photo but can’t seem to do it.

  19. says

    I make bread every week for our family and we love it! One recipe I like is the 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. The Tassajara Bread Book is also great. I have found some great recipes online at Lots of good recipes and information from home and professional bakers alike. Also, I enjoy the site We get wheatberries from our local CSA farmer and grind them in a mill to make the whole wheat flour. It is VERY economical to make your own bread, and SO much better tasting without all the extra things they put in it at the store.

  20. says

    I was the baker when I worked from home. Now my husband does almost all of it. He likes the process of kneading, so works by hand, but I normally use our Hobart mixer (made for commercial bakeries and tough enough to handle four loaves at once–and thankfully, found at a yard sale for about 1/20 of the price of a new one!). Homemade bread is the best, and since we buy flour and yeast in bulk, it’s definitely a money-saver.

  21. says

    Have you ever tried the no-knead bread? I have been baking it for a while now, in the oven and it is delicious. You just throw water, yeast, salt and flour in a container with a lid, mix it, let it sit for 2 hours, shape and bake. Could not be easier.
    I am following the recipes from “Artisan Bread in 5 min a day” book. You can make all kinds of bread like that, rolls, whole wheat, rye, funky peasant loafs.

  22. says

    We make bread, mainly in the breadmaker, but make dinner rolls and shaped breads in the oven. There is something wonderful about being able to throw the ingredients in the night before and set a timer and wake to fresh bread, and we never have to worry about going to make lunch for our son after the shops have closed only to find there is no bread. I don’t think it saves a lot of money when compared to the cheap $1 loaves we were buying at the supermarket, but its much nicer.

  23. says

    Alas no longer making my own bread…baked my first (by hand) loaf in the early 1970s! When a friend passed away in 2000 her husband honored me by giving me her breadmaker! I used her machine until Don was no longer eating bread…then passed it on because I was getting fatter and fatter from eating all the delicious homemade bread by myself. Your new machine is beautiful…wishing it a long, long bread making life!

  24. says

    I love baking our own bread! In the beginning I made the whole thing in the bread maker, now I pretty much just use the dough setting and bake it in the oven. So many yummy recipes out there to try…:-)

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