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05 January 2010 @ 10:37 am
Bread!  
So, with some of the gift money I got for Christmas, I purchased a bread machine last night. This one, in fact.

I was of two minds about it. One, I come from a family of bakers and chefs. My sister worked for several years as a bread baker, and my Mom is a pastry chef, and both are trained for full on chef-dom, or whatever. In my family, when one acquires some neat kitchen gadget supposedly designed very specifically for one thing to make [insert here] a little easier, the invariable response is "[insert here] isn't that hard- why do you need some bulky machine to do that? You have a mixer. You have an oven." And so on.

I work full time. I also write in my free time, sew, and make jewelry in my other free time. And grocery shop, clean house, cook, do laundry and all of the other little things one does on a semi-daily basis in life. I love cooking. I come by it naturally. :) But I don't love it when I'm tired, or don't have time. But give me a few days off in a row, and I'm making homemade ravioli, or planning some baked thing I've never made before.

I've been waffling about a bread machine, on and off, for years. Mostly off, though, largely due to all of the above. Is it really that much easier than making it yourself? I mean, the time consuming part of bread is waiting for the dough to rise twice. You have to do that, whether it's in a bowl on your counter, or a bread machine on your counter.

But in the last year or so, I've suddenly developed a huge interest in homemade staples. For instance, canning fruit and making my own jams. (Next year, I plan on getting into vegetables.) As I've become more conscious of what goes into my body, these things have appealed to me all the more. And as gas became more expensive these past few years, and then the economy has slid, the price of groceries has gone up...and up. $4 for a loaf of bread?? $3 for a loaf of crappy Wonder bread like my husband prefers?? Really?

The idea of a bread machine had started to become more "on" than "off". I've always made homemade rolls for family gatherings. The husband's family loves this, as they are not bakers. The first year I brought some to Thanksgiving sealed my fate. But the idea of baking bread every week is daunting, and so I decided to take the plunge. (Sadly, I did not think of this before Christmas, when it could have gone on my Christmas list.)

Fred Meyer had the Breadman TR 875 on sale for $79.99, and since it was one of the two machines I was considering from amazon, and on sale for less, I went ahead and bought it. I got it home, unpacked it, and put it through an initial cycle for cleaning, as the manual recommended. Then I tried a basic white bread recipe, subbing the sugar for honey.




The dough on it's third and final rise...


The finished loaf.



It's a little denser than I'd like, but tastes quite good. I want a nice sandwich bread. I've found recipe people recommend for that, and plan to try it tonight. In the meantime, I brought this loaf into work with some jam, and it's disappearing fast.

The one downside: now that it's been used once, the pan will not come out of my machine. It's supposed to. A quick google search proves that is apparently a common issue with this particular machine (which rocks in all other ways). I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Purchase a different machine from amazon, perhaps, then take this one back and explain what's wrong, as I saved my receipt.

Anyone else out there enjoy their bread machine? what are some of your favorite things to make, or what tips do you have for me? I do think it's a little odd, how the directions want you to seaprate the water and the yeast with the flour layer. (Liquids in the bottom, then flour/dry goods/then yeast on top.) That's totally counter intuitive to what I was taught, and I can hear my family's protests even now.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
 
Caiserindrana on January 5th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
I've never used a bread machine and I'm just starting getting in to making bread, but yeah, that last bit does seem strange. Then again, I'm a huge fan of sponge and biga starters, which usually start with dissolving yeast in water, feeding it, and making sure it's alive before proceeding. I guess if the bread machine controls the water temperature, though, it would work.
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 6th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I am of the same school of thought. Especially since I've had yeast fail me enough times to be paranoid. I've seen some recipes, though, where people put everything in the order I'm more accustomed to (water/sugar yeast first, then dry goods.) I may try this. We'll see!
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty"kistha on January 5th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
The yeast thing has to do with how it mixes it, and when. There is/can be a delay between when you put it in, and when it begins to truly mix. Or that's what I think the book said way back when - when I got my new bread machine.

Mine is a Williams Sonoma (WS 0401) which apparently you can now pick up on ebay for 31 bucks. Used twice. It was what we had on the wedding registry, and I do really like mine. Works very nice.

Of course I bought mine to have my success rate go to 50/50. *shrug* Me and yeast breads, not so much the goodness. Anyway I have a very nice bread recipe with garlic and rosemary if you want it.

rhienellethrhienelleth on January 6th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
I have alos had problems with yeast breads. I can't quite seem to replicate the dinner rolls my Mom made growing up, despite following her recipe exactly. IDK. I guess we'll see how this goes!
purple_shoes on January 5th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Yummy!

My mum's had a bread machine for years, and after our last one pooped out, she recently got a new one. Now that's she getting ready to retire, she's of a similar mind as you, with groceries being so expensive, we have bought a lot of "do it yourself" cooking things to assist us in the kitchen (a pasta roller thing for homemade pastas, a dehydrator, an ice cream maker; my nana even sent us a latte machine so I can make my fancy coffees at home and not spend money at Starbucks!)

But we love our bread machine. Mum actually prefers to use the bread machine just to knead the dough and then bake it in the oven, so she can make rolls or small loaves. But it's nice because she can let the machine do the kneading work while she does other things, so it cuts down on the time it takes to make bread. So far, with the new one, she has made Italian loaves, jalapeño cheese rolls, hamburger buns... All sorts of things. It's really nice to have such an easy alternative to going to the store and buying expensive breads.

Ours is a Breadman Pro, and I think mum got it from Amazon. So far I haven't heard any complaints from her, and we've been up to our eyeballs is fantastic bread since. I hope you continue to enjoy yours!
rhienellethrhienelleth on January 6th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
does baking a whole loaf in the oven change anything about the bread, vs. baking it in the machine? Or is it just the versatility of shape she prefers? I plan to do the same thing with rolls, but I also see a lot of people reviewing recipes and stating they only use the bread mchaine to mix, then oven bake, to which I think "I could have just used my mixer for that!"

Ooooh, I want to try hamburger/hot dog buns! That sounds so much more delicious than store bought!
purple_shoes on January 6th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
I think most baking it in the oven is versatility with shape. And, like with the jalapeño cheese rolls, she actually made a plain bread mix and made half of it into the rolls and the other half into just a plain loaf. Also, the little mixing thing in the bottom of the bread maker on ours leaves a hole in the bread, and that really bothers my parents, lol. I don't know if it really affects the taste - my mum will be the expert on that so I will ask her when she gets home!

I didn't get the chance to try the hamburger buns because I was out that night, but they got rave reviews from my dad!