Hamilton Beach Breadbaker for a Newbie

Hamilton Beach Breadbaker for a Newbie

Hello!

I’m new to bread and have been wanting to start doing more baking for a few months now. Knowing this, my family gave me a bread machine for the holidays. Specifically, this guy, a Hamilton Beach Homebaker: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Hamilton-Beach-HomeBaker-2-lb-Breadmaker-in-White-29881/205439226?ds_e_ad_type=pla&cm_mmc=Shopping%7cG%7cBase%7cPLA%7cD29%7cAppliances&gclid=CIuAv8-F4sICFWxp7AodG3cAZg&gclsrc=aw.ds

I’m excited to try it out but I’m worried because it’s a bread mixer AND baker. I don’t know how I feel about not having control over the whole process. Has anyone used one of these things? Is it pretty flexible if I want to only use it for mixing and not baking, or is it really only good for shoving stuff in it and leaving it alone? 

Also, the recipes in the book call for machine yeast. Am I correct in thinking that that is instant yeast and can be substituted with a ratio of active dry yeast without any problems? 

I’m happy with the gift and we’re going to try it out soon, but I’m not sure how much utility I will get out of a machine if I can’t be flexible with its use. Mainly, I’m worried if I can’t just use it for good mixing without baking (it only has cycles and isn’t programmable) or if I’m restricted to only certain ingredients.

Any first hand experiences would be appreciated!

Source: Fresh Loaf