Now the purists among you might wonder why I didn’t opt for the first possibility and make bread from scratch. I can forgive the question, because you couldn’t possibly know of the struggles I went through 30 years ago, as I attempted to make consistently edible bread by hand. I tried different recipes, different flours, even different methods, but more often than not my loaves still came out of the oven resembling slightly flexible house-bricks, but bricks we couldn’t afford to throw out.
So it was that our first bread-maker came to live with us and life changed for ever. It was a Hinari and its tiny recipe book was filled with recipes that worked every time. I wouldn’t like to try to calculate how many loaves it made for us before it finally expired, but we had it for some 14 years, so it must have been a lot. Sadly we couldn’t replace it with the same model, which is how we came to buy my beloved Baker’s Oven.
Now, after much research, and not being willing to break the bank for a machine that does everything but slice the bread for you, I have a shiny new bread-maker, but things just aren’t the same. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice machine and can make beautiful bread if it tries, but I honestly don’t think it tries hard enough. Sad to say, it’s a machine with attitude, a temperamental bread-maker, liable to throw a hissy fit if the ingredients aren’t measured completely accurately, and sometimes even when they are.
At the moment DH and I are valiantly chewing our way through something I thought I would never see again in my own kitchen – a slightly flexible house-brick! It tastes great, which is some consolation, but the amount of mastication required to be able to swallow a slice probably more than offsets the calories it contains. The previous loaf I made went to the other extreme and was so crumbly that it almost disintegrated when I tried to slice it.
However, the new machine has one saving grace: it makes superb dough. I made rolls last week, using dough it had kneaded for me, and they were wonderful, as they always are. This fact, combined with the recent crumbs versus house-brick contest, has led me to decide on a sneaky but very workable solution.
I will let the machine do the hard work of kneading. I couldn’t knead properly 30 years ago and certainly don’t think age will have increased my ability. I will than knock the dough back, shape it and bake it in my own tins, thus giving unsuspecting visitors the impression that my perfect bread is all down to my own hard work and superlative skill as a baker. Shhh – don’t tell anyone……
Images via Wylio