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Cooking with Sarah: Bread maker recipes

Last month, my mom had the opportunity to order a free small appliance with a gift card she received as an Administrative Assistant's Day gift. She's always thinking of me - especially when it comes to awesome stuff for my new apartment - and offered it up. I could choose from food processors, ice cream makers, coffee machines...you name it. I was drawn to the bread maker...but when I asked for other people's opinions, they all said, "You'll never use it!" or "It'll just collect dust," or my personal favorite, "You're going to gain like 100 pounds!" Pffffffffffft. I got it anyway. And it's awesome. Bread maker recipes can range from super easy to complicated - here's one that's a little tricky, but totally worth it. The first thing I made? Chocolate-stuffed soft pretzels.

Just take your favorite soft pretzel recipe...

...and follow the steps up until rolling the dough into the pretzel shape.

Once you're there, you're ready for chocolate chips. I highly recommend using mini chips for easier dough handling and keeping your pretzels together. I used these cuties by Ghirardelli.

My original idea was to make chocolate chip soft pretzels, but rolling the chocolate chips into the dough so they stay put, and your dough rope doesn't break, is way tougher than you'd think! So, I came up with a new plan...chocolate-stuffed pretzels.

Then, I returned back to the original recipe to boil and bake the pretzels. You might notice that some of your chocolate chips will escape and make the water brown with chocolate. I was a little disappointed...but the pretzels were still delicious.

After I was exhausted by that whole process, I moved onto making pretzel balls with the rest of the dough instead of shaped pretzels. I think I'm going to stick with those in the future. They're way easier to make, just as delicious (I think you actually get MORE chocolate) and bite-sized. Perfect for sharing (although not with the nay-sayers - suckers!) and portion control! For those, just...

  • Roll out a circle of pretzel dough.
  • Pile some chocolate chips in the middle (I bet a Hershey's Kiss would be perfect, too!).
  • Pinch the sides together at the top like you're making a little bag.
  • Seal the dough with a little bit of water and rolling.
  • Boil and bake!

The only thing that would've made these extra delicious? A salted caramel sauce to dip into.

Since then, I've also made challah bread and a French bread flavored with lots of dill. It was the perfect partner to egg salad and it made the picnic I brought it to that much more special.

Some bread maker tips

  • If you have one, use the delay timer for soft, warm bread when you want it. I actually threw all the ingredients for my French bread in the night before and set the timer so it was warm and ready for our picnic brunch...and despite my suspicions, it worked perfectly. However, be aware of how you put the yeast in - it can't get wet. Also, my bread maker is ridiculously loud. It started beeping at 5am on a Saturday outside of our bedroom door,and I thought there was a fire or something.

bread maker recipes timer

  • Measure everything perfectly - baking is a science. Use a spoon to shovel flour into your dry measuring cups - simply scooping will pack the flour and be inaccurate on the heavy side.
  • Get that bread flour! All purpose flour can be a fine substitute, but I've found that the density really is better with bread flour.

Oh, and I do have to give props to Danielle for being in my corner of the battle of the small appliances. She supported my "outrageous" idea and she'll be rewarded with delicious, glorious carbs.

What should I make Danielle for believing in me? Have any favorite bread maker recipes to share?

Say "cheese" - Instagram has joined the party!

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