One of the chief excuses for not making bread is the lack of time. But with a bread machine, you can throw the ingredients in the appliance in the morning, go off to work, and come home to a fresh-baked loaf ready for dinner.
As bread machines grow in popularity, so does the number of cookbooks written to help you take advantage of them. Here is a roundup of the best we've seen.
* "The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook," by Tom Lacalamita (Simon & Schuster. $25): A bread baker for years, Mr. Lacalamita was skeptical when, in 1987, his boss brought home a bread machine from Japan and asked him to check it out. How could a machine duplicate the hands-on skills needed to make bread, Mr. Lacalamita wondered. All it took was one weekend for this unbeliever to become hooked on the merits of the machine. Over the years, as Welbilt's product and marketing manager, Mr. Lacalamita has become an expert not only with his own company's bread machines, but with all brands on the market. His expertise in trouble-shooting as well as recipe development is evident throughout this book.
* "Bread Machine Baking Perfect Every Time," by Lora Brody and Millie Apter (William Morrow. $20): Bread machines differ just slightly from one another, but that small difference can sometimes be enough to produce poor results when a recipe was originally tested in a model different from yours. These authors tackled the problem by devising recipes for the 12 most popular bread machines. They take the guesswork out of every recipe by listing ingredients and directions for each type of machine so your bread will be perfect every time.
* "The Best Bread Machine Cookbook Ever," by Madge Rosenberg (HarperCollins, $15.95): Ms. Rosenberg, owner of the popular Bakery Soutine in New York's upper West Side, is a professional baker won over by the charms of the bread machine. She has adapted her favorite recipes to this counter-top appliance and the collection is a winner in every sense.
* "The Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints," by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway (St. Martin's Press, $10.95, paper): The recipes are delicious, but even more important are the chapters on helpful hints and trouble-shooting tips.
* "Bread Machine Sweets and Treats," by Richard W. Langer (Little, Brown and Company, $10.95): While bread machines are not designed to turn out dessert loaves, there's no reason that, with the right ingredients, they can't star at the end of the meal, as well as the beginning. Mr. Langer has come up with a variety of mouth-watering ways to increase the versatility of your bread machine.
* "The Bread Machine Gourmet," by Shea MacKenzie (Avery Publishing Group, $12.95): Ms. MacKenzie's European upbringing, where rich peasant loaves were served with every meal, inspired her to experiment with whole-grain bread-making, the bread machine way, and share the delicious results with us in this easy-to-follow cookbook.