Monday, January 31, 2011

Working on: Bread

While the oven was out of commission for five weeks, I had a difficult time adjusting to life without fresh-baked bread. The night the oven died, my lovely neighbor Sarah allowed me to bake my five loaves that had risen on my counter at her house (last minute teacher and school friend gifts... gasp!). Later I baked at my parents' house, but nothing compares to hanging out in my robe, mug in hand, waiting for a hot loaf to come out of our oven.
I remembered finally that my brother and sister-in-law had given me their small bread machine and it was hiding in our basement, untouched. One day I decided that it might be worth it to try it, perhaps even using the timer feature and setting it to be ready in the morning. I dutifully followed the recipe one night for a hearty oatmeal loaf and set it up to be hot and ready at 6:00 a.m. as my coffee began sputtering in the pot adjacent to it on the counter. The smell? Amazing. The bread? Pasty white and not even worth mentioning. Am I looking forward to my first loaf in our new oven? Definitely!
Does anyone know of a good recipe for a bread machine? Or is this the reason why all thrift stores are filled with bread machines? Please share your tips!


Kerry said...

Sorry! No advice in this department. I'm always tempted to pick up one of those bread machines in the thrift shop but never do. Maybe that is a good thing?

Anonymous said...

I make a loaf of this bread every week, and sometimes it even lasts a day!

There are a couple of tips that may help you get a good outcome with a bread machine. (Hard lessons learned on this end!)

1. Scrupulously adhere to the recipe, especially the ratio of wheat flour to white. You CAN have success with 100% whole wheat, but your recipe must be specific for it.

2. Bread machines have some small variation in technique one from another, but in general just follow the basics and you should be fine. This would mean: Liquid ingredients in first. Flour next, making sure the volume of flour covers the water entirely, leaving no gaps. Avoid contacting the salt and the yeast. I slide the salt down one side of the pan, and then make a well with my finger on the other side in which to deposit the yeast.

It took me some real trial and error to finally land on this recipe. Your machine may be different, and also be aware that you can have loaves ranging from one to three pounds.

And as with everything else, your mileage may vary on every single element! Once you find a recipe that works with your machine, you will be in heaven!

Wasabi Honey Bee said...

Nothing like an oven! I didn't have a real one for years when we lived in the yurt, so I'd have to go to my parents when I wanted to bake. Now that I have a real kitchen with a real oven I don't know how I ever managed . . .

P.S. There is always Boston Brown Bread done on the stove top in a tin can : )

Sarah Jane said...

Argh! At least you got the smell part!:) When are you getting your new oven. I do have some decent recipes- though more sandwiches than the dense, yummy 5 minutes a day kind. Call me and I'll dictate a recipe or I'll try to write it down for you via e-mail.

Valerie said...

We usually make the dough in the machine & bake it in the oven. My husband complains that it is not good enough if machine baked. However when I want to make bread fresh for an early morning = complete machine cycle, I OVER bake it and obtain something that's like American bread (as opposed to French bread, oh well you know what I mean don't you ?) that we often toast. If I don't overbake it it will be too compact. Also I always mix two different flours.
I thought it was due to our machine, because it is an old model (at least 10 yo if not more) but it seems other people have the same problem.
Sorry my post doesn't solve the oven problem !!