Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 1) -- 5 Easy Steps to Get Started

Oster 5838 ExpressBake Breadmaker, White
1. Buy a bread maker on Craig’s List for $10.
It seems that 50% of the population has a bread maker in their garage that they have used 0-5 times.  There are usually several for sale on Craig’s List within my city at any given time.  You may even already have a bread maker yourself in the garage, or have a family member who would love to get rid of theirs.  If this whole homemade bread thing doesn’t work out for you, you’ve lost very little money on the experiment.

Bob's Red Mill, Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 22 oz (1 lb 6 oz) 623 g

2. Buy a few ingredients.
You probably already have salt and oil.  To make my recipe, you will also need whole wheat flour, honey, gluten (I buy Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten at Whole Foods), and active dry yeast (not instant).  You also need measuring cups and spoons.

3. Choose a recipe.
I found a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread with honey as a sweetener with 200+ positive reviews on, and used that along with my sisters' recipes as a starting point.  You can find variations and substitutions other folks have tried in the comments.  Your bread maker instruction book probably has a few recipes as well.  Or you can just try my recipe at the end of this post.

4. Make the bread a few times.
You’ll want to watch the first time and make sure the dough looks right a few minutes into the kneading process.  Is it wet, sticky but forming into a ball?  Good.  Otherwise, add 1 T water or 1 T flour until it looks right.  There will be some trial and error to make a loaf that you love.  All of my loaves were edible.  After 2 or 3, my husband said the bread was good enough to replace our favorite store-bought whole wheat bread.  Here is a troubleshooting guide if you encounter other difficulties (your bread maker’s instruction guide will have something like this too).

5. Enjoy your delicious, nutritious, homemade bread.
My husband, sister, toddler, baby and I all love our homemade bread.  I make it every 2-3 days.  It takes me about 5 minutes to prepare and less than 3 hours to knead/rise/bake in the machine.  If you let your toddler press the START button on the bread maker, he or she will most certainly eat the bread that comes out of it.

My toddler eating homemade whole wheat bread.

Betsy’s Recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Bread (using a Bread Machine)

1 1/8 c warm milk or soy milk (45 sec. microwave)
2 T oil
2T - 1/3 c honey (I use 1/3 c and my bread is yummy)
1 1/2 t salt
1 pound whole wheat (2.5 cups berries ground into flour OR about 3 - 3.5 cups whole wheat flour)
3 T gluten
1 T + 1 t yeast

I fill the 1/3 c measuring cup about half full with oil, then coat the cup as I pour it out, then use that same measuring cup for the honey (so it comes out easily). Check dough after first kneading – should be moist and sticky. Add 1T water or flour if necessary.

Basic cycle, 1.5 lb. loaf, light crust (take it out 5-10 minutes early if you have the chance). I have a Sunbeam/Oster bread maker (which is the lowest end one you can buy).

Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread

Questions?  Comments?  Grievances?  Leave a comment below.


  1. We used to spend a lot on fancy sandwich breads every month. I've been making all of our bread for the past few months and it's great! I mostly use the bread machine, although I've made flatbreads and tortillas, to. It's great that I can load the machine the night before and wake up to the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house. My basically recipe doesn't use milk, honey, or gluten, as that would make it too expensive. It does sound delicious, though!

  2. Over spring break I brought my moms bread machine home and have used it a few times. I finally got my yeast at Costco. It's huge and it cost just over $3. I want the whole wheat bread, so I am going to get the rest of the ingredients you have listed. Can't wait to try it.

  3. I'm so relieved that you did not buy the rip-off yeast at the supermarket. I talk about buying ingredients in bulk in Part 2. I also buy my yeast at Costco. I'm about to buy some more gluten, in bulk this time!

  4. Just bought a brand-new in box Breadman bread maker at the thrift store today for $10 (it was marked $19.99 but today is half off day, of course, and it's still wrapped up in plastic--score!). I have been hunting for a $10 option since you wrote this post originally, and now I have one of my very own! As soon as I get some gluten and check to make sure my wheat flour in the fridge isn't rancid (cause who knows how long its been there!), AND stop this insane diet competition I'm in, I am going to make your recipe! I can't wait!!


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