Back in the day when I was still working, my boss gave me a bread maker for a Christmas present. Not exactly something you’d expect from your boss, but apparently one of his partners found a ‘great deal’ thus a lot of their wives and I received one. At least my boss knew that I loved to bake and he remembered that I baked bread by hand at times. Thinking this would be a time-saver for me and kind of running out of ideas after 12 years of Christmas presents, he thought it was a great gift. It turned out he was right. Even though ‘back in the day’ the bread maker machines seemed to be a fad, that fad has remained with me.
The original machine was great but only made loaves that looked like giant mushrooms and if you were careful you could prevent that “cap” from forming. Despite that, Nat and I enjoyed the bread produced, but with experience and the onset of newly styled machines, I replaced the original with one that made regular-shaped loaves. Even more doodads than the first machine, but with outstanding loaves that looked like they came from an actual bakery.
With time I began to experiment by making an Italian or French loaf, where you made your bread to the ‘dough’ stage and after the first short rise, you’d roll and shape your loaf into the desired Italian or French baquette style. With even more experience, I began to divide the dough into thirds and get even smaller, more manageable loaves for Nat and I. Freezing the loaves made it easier and more convenient to us to use as and when we wanted. We’ve enjoyed a lot of nice light meals on a hot summer’s day with just a ‘kitchen-sink’ salad and a slice of homemade French loaf all toasted and garlicky.
Getting to know these machines pretty good I’ve now come full circle and now just go to the ‘dough’ stage and get creative on my own. Of late the easiest way is to still divide the dough into thirds, but leave each third in it’s original round state, thus making for a nice loaf of round bread just large enough for one good meal, along with a couple of sandwiches the next day.
I’ve experimented with making dinner rolls but can’t quite get them to that really light and airy interior some rolls have. So I’ll keep on trying, ’cause testing the results is half the fun!
This past week my second machine has given up the ghost and as we’ve become accustom to having homemade bread when we want, a new machine was a necessity. Sadly, this second machine was going to be irreplaceable. For love nor money, the West Bend model couldn’t be found anymore and we had to compromise and get another brand. No bother, I suppose, as this newer machine is a bit smaller and more easily stored in our space-less kitchen.
Aside from one day when I forgot to add the water, as called for in my recipe, ending up with a rock solid brick that Nat had to literally chisel out of the basket, I’m still very gratified with my results. Besides what other therapy gives you something to eat afterwards??