I used to laugh at people when they told me they made their own bread! What a waste of time, I would think to myself, when they told me they would spend time mixing ingredients and kneading dough just to let it sit for hours to rise, only to punch it back down and let it rise again! Schwewww, I was tired just thinking about all that, and the mess... are you kidding me!
Well that was before I discovered bread machines! My mom gave me my first bread machine a couple years ago and I reluctantly accepted it with thoughts of "Gee, thanks, something else to clutter my counters that I'll NEVER use"! Boy was I wrong I have found so many useful things to make with my bread machine that I rarely buy store bought breads now!
My daughter loves raisin cinnamon bread for breakfast, and my husband loves potato bread. I have found recipes for both and make it for a fraction of the price you pay for a loaf at the grocery store, even with a coupon!
Now, there are some things to remember when using a bread machine. When following the recipe you will typically put the ingredients in the machine in the order they are listed, they are listed that way for a reason! In certain recipes you don't want to dump the yeast directly in with your wet ingredients, so it will list the flour before the yeast so that the flour will float on top of the water and the yeast will sit on top of the flour.... genius right!
Another thing to remember is that you are using fresh ingredients which is great, but you also are not putting the preservatives in your bread like they do in store bought bread, ergo it is not going to last for weeks without molding. If you don't think your family will eat an entire loaf before it molds then cut the loaf in half and freeze the one half for later use.
Also, the crust of homemade bread will be a little harder than store bought bread. You can soften it up by brushing melted butter on the loaf as soon as it comes out of the machine.
You can make up a glaze for sweet breads out of powdered sugar and water to spread on top.
I love to make a loaf then slice it up (an electric knife works best for me) and make up an entire loaf of french toast. I then cut it into strips and sprinkle with powdered sugar. I then put it in the freezer and pull it out a slice at a time for my daughter. It's great for breakfast on the go, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and off you go!