My favourite memories as a child and teenager were spent in the kitchen cooking with my Dad. I loved the holidays as we would prepare cannelloni, lasagna, veal and all types of desserts. I would spend half my time helping prepare the meals and the other half eating the ingredients (cannelloni stuffing is still my favourite – all of that delicious spinach and cheese goodness).
Good food and family were the two most important things we had growing up in our home. They were the centre of every happy, fun moment and especially around the holiday season. This is the gift I want to give my own kids – family and good food.
The one thing I always wished I learned how to do in my youth? Make bread.
There is nothing better then fresh, warm bread to accompany your meal (it is like a giant hug on a bad day). We always had a loaf of bread with every meal and I was always the first to volunteer to go pick one up at the bakery (I loved the smell and how the bag would just heat up). Not to mention, bread is the best way to clean up those dirty sauce pots over the holidays!
My only problem? I have been incapable of making bread from scratch – it doesn’t rise, it is still uncooked after it is finished cooking in the oven or it is rock solid. After many failed attempts, I gave up (my pride couldn’t handle the bad loaves and the teasing from the kids).
We were able to test out the Hamilton Beach Premium Dough and Bread maker leading up to the holiday season and I can honestly say that I am in love with this machine.
The Hamilton Beach Premium Dough and Bread maker is on the bigger size but it does tuck away perfectly in our pantry closet, although I tend to leave it on my counter as it fits right in the corner. It has a beautiful, sleek stainless steel design so it can match any kitchen decor and will fit in with your other appliances.
The bread maker looks intimidating at first but it is actually very simple to use. You adjust each setting with the turn of the dial (which for me was the hardest part to learn) – making changes for the type of bread, loaf size and the crust colour (light, medium or dark). Once you have added all of your ingredients, adjusted the settings – it does the rest for you. You can literally just step away and enjoy the smell of the bread rising, warming and baking.
The clean up? Surprisingly very simple. My husband teased me a bit thinking that the machine would be messy on the inside but I could clean the inside with a paper towel. There was no sticky dough left in the machine (similar to when you make the bread by hand) and the pan that contains the ingredients was simple to wash in the sink. Nothing stuck to any of the parts, except for a bit of dry crust on the mixer piece.
Hamilton Beach has a great selection of recipes on their website – we have been using the French bread and Italian Parmesan recipes. Both have become huge hits in our home and take roughly three to four hours to bake with roughly a five minute prep time. So no excuses for not being able to make fresh bread, you can whip those ingredients out and have them in the machine in five to ten minutes.
The bread always came out perfectly, despite being paranoid the whole time that it wouldn’t work. The first time we made the french bread we realized we didn’t like the recommended crust colour (it came out a bit harder, which I know french bread can be but my kids like their bread softer) so the next time we went for a medium and it was perfect. Be careful when you are removing the pan from the machine, it gets very hot! I burnt the edge of my finger on the fourth time, but everyone was so excited to snag a piece of bread that they didn’t notice I hurt myself (no worries, it didn’t even blister!).
The bread maker made it possible for us to enjoy delicious home made bread with minimal effort, mess and clean up. Every recipe came out exactly as expected and added that missing piece from my childhood.
Do you have a baker in the family? This would make a perfect gift for the holiday season for them. The machine is roughly $149 Canadian, you can find more details on their website here.
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