28 February 2008

Baking Bread

I used to buy all my bread. Ever since I became pregnant, and heard all about the side effects of many of the preservatives used, I was very careful to buy preservative free bread, but I still bought it. I don't eat that much, so I'd buy two loaves at a time, and freeze what I didn't eat immediately. It would last me about 2-3 weeks before I'd have to buy more. DH is gluten intolerant, so he can't eat it, and we haven't had much success in finding an edible gluten free bread yet.

Then we moved. There are no Brumbies or Bakers Delight bakeries here (those are the two that I know make preservative free bread). The only one is in the large shopping centre, that I try to avoid. This made buying bread a huge hassle, and I was continually running out.

Then one day at the markets, I saw a bread machine. $25, and I got it for $20, so I took it home to make some bread. I know breadmakers are the cheating way of making bread, and I would love to make bread by hand, but with a 3yo, the amount of time needed just isn't an option for me right now. Maybe when she is a little older, and able to follow directions, instead of tipping stuff into the bowl the moment my back is turned.

So far, I've made about half a dozen loaves, so I'm by no means an expert. I suspect I have a lot to learn. I'm just using a bread mix that I found in the supermarket, Lanuke wholemeal, and so far, nearly all of my loaves have been edible. They are a big heavy/moist, but heavenly hot from the breadmaker with butter and strawberry jam!

So, I thought I'd post a bit of a 'how to get started with breadmakers' thing, just for anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, but is unsure.

This is my breadmaker. It didn't come with a manual, so I had a look around online, and managed to find one that is from a more recent evolution of the same model. It has some differences, but I'm working on the fact that the basic procedures are the same.

Firstly, you need to choose a bread mix or recipe. I'm no help here, since I bought the only one that the supermarket had. I plan to try out more mixes, and hopefully eventually go for my own recipe, but this is a start.

Firstly, I like to get everything I'll need together. I put my flour and yeast into jars, since I had an attack of moths recently, but make sure I keep the packet for the measurements. If I happen to forget, my DD has written down what we need in her little notebook: water, flour, yeast. She likes to tick them off as we add them.

I also have a good variety of measuring cups/instruments. Apparently you have to be very exact with your measurement in breadmakers. The recipe I use calls for 415ml of water, so I used the graded measuring cup for that. My breadmaker instructions say to add the water first, then the flour, then the yeast in a well in the middle of the flour. That is so that the yeast doesn't begin to activate if you set it on the delay start function. The flour requires 3 1/2 cups, so I use both the 1 cup measure, and the half cup measure (whereas with making a cake, I'd just half fill the 1 cup).

That's all there is to it. Then it goes into the breadmaker, and you press a few buttons, and off it goes.

I like to check on it as it's rising, but be careful not to bump it, or it will sink. At about this stage, the fresh bread smell starts to permeate the house.

3 hours after the initial start, it beeps to tell me it's done. The insert comes out, and the bread sits in it for another 5 minutes.

Then I tip it out onto a rack, theoretically to cool.

But really, so that I can cut slices and slather them in butter and jam, and eat them while they're still hot. DD asks the whole time it's cooking if it's ready yet.

Does it get any better than this?


MyThreeDaughters said...

We want to have a go at making bread in a breadmaker sometime, and haven't really seen it done, thanks.

Rinelle said...

It's definately worth giving it a go! The taste of warm bread just can't be beat in my opinion!

I've since discovered though that you get much better results if you use scales instead of the cup measurements. Guess they're just not accurate enough. I just bought a second hand scale at the second hand shops, and it works fine.