I've been making our own bread the past few weeks using the bread machine. The kind I like to buy was approaching $3.50 a loaf, and I don't care how much fiber it has per slice, that is just ridiculous. So I dug out the bread machine (was going to shorten that to b.m., but that just looked wrong...) and found the recipe booklet that came with it, and got busy. Actually, you don't have to get very busy to use the bread machine, but you know what I mean.
It takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to bake a regular loaf of bread in the machine after you press the "start" button. It only takes me about 15 minutes to haul out the ingredients and throw it all together, but sometimes I just don't want go to all the trouble of dragging in all out and putting it all away. I know, how hard it is it, really?
However, I prefer to get it going asap when I decide to make a loaf, so I'll tell you what I did as a shortcut. On Friday morning (during the 40-hundred inches snowstorm) I put a loaf in the machine to bake, then while I had the mess on the counter, I made up "kits" of the dry ingredients in quart-sized zipper bags. Now all I have to do for the next seven loaves I bake is grab a zipper bag, add my wet stuff, butter, and yeast, and I'm set.
Here you can see I went ahead and poured my flours, dry milk, and salt into bowls to make it easier to scoop. (The yeast is sitting there, but I put it away before assembling the rest of the ingredients. Oh, and pay no attention to the balsamic vinegars and olive oil in the background. That's just where they live.)Here's a handy tip-within-a-tip: when you want to fill baggies and not make a mess, put the bag down into a container, then fold the top of the bag down over the edge. You can fill it up, fold the top up, pull it out of the container, and zip closed without having stuff all over the top. Here, I've filled it and folded the top back up. Make sure you squeeze all the extra air out of your bag while zipping it closed, too.
Make sure you label the bags in case someone else in your household gets the breadbaking bug and wants to help out. What? It could happen...
The filled bags are packed into a plastic container and stored in the pantry cupboard in the kitchen. You could store them in the freezer for long-term storage, but make sure the ingredients have come to room temperature before you assemble your recipe.
My particular recipe calls for 1 1/2 C bread flour, 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 TBS. brown sugar (packed), and 1 1/2 TBS. dry milk. Those are the ingredients I put into the bags. Then when I'm ready to bake I put 8 oz. +1 TBS warm water and 1 TBS. honey into the pan, pour the contents of the baggie on top of that, dot 2 TBS. of butter into the corners, and put 2 tsp. of yeast in the center.