Thursday, February 16, 2012

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

As some of you may recall, last fall I was looking for a bread maker at WalMart, not so much because I needed one, but because they were offering one at a sale price I just couldn't resist.  Well, I never found the advertised item (see Luring the Public) but my search must have convinced my hubby I really wanted a bread machine. He managed to get a WalMart employee he knows to track this item down for me, and gave it to me as a Christmas gift. He insists he got it for the sale price, but I'm not so sure.

Well, that was Christmas and this is February and yesterday I finally made my first loaf of bread in that contraption.  This model has various modes, so the manual gives one sample recipe for each mode.  Each of them required powdered milk, which is not something I normally have in the house. I waited until I could go to the bulk store, to get enough for just one or two loaves, and was all set to create a treat for the man last week. Then I discovered that the yeast I had was not the right kind. I had to wait until this past weekend to pick that up, and by then he was so sick he was off his food. 

Finally, yesterday, I decided it was time to test this machine out.  As I was reading the manual I discovered the flour in Canada is different from the flour in the States. Ours is made from harder wheat and therefore has more gluten.  While the Americans have to use bread flour, our all purpose flour works just fine.  As none of the recipes in the book interested me, and I knew I'd want to experiment over time, I went looking for a good Canadian bread machine cookbook.  I found one at but I currently have a credit slip for, where the same book is only available second hand, but at the same price as a new one in Canada.  Nope. For the same money, I'd want the new one. Since I don't get to use my credit slip, I'll wait until I get to a bookstore so I don't have to pay shipping either.

Next I decided to check out some recipes online.  I found a good page related to Canadian bread machines and decided I'd start with the raisin bread. That would be a nice treat.

I dug out the machine, and after trying to figure out where I could place it, without it bubbling the paint on my cupboards, I carefully measured ingredients into the bread pan in the order given, as instructed. I wasn't sure when to add the cinnamon and other spices I wanted in my raisin bread, but by looking at the other recipes in the manual, I figured they went in before the flour. The online recipe nicely tells me not to add more than 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, as it inhibits the yeast action. 

Fruit, apparently, gets added when the kneading is almost finished.  But how am I supposed to know when that is?  Hmmmm.  So I watched the action through the window and when the dough formed into a ball and was getting tossed around nicely,  I opened the lid and sprinkled the raisins in.  They seemed to gather on the outside of the ball and I figured I did it wrong.  Later, when looking through the manual once again, I found out that the machine would beep at the 30 minute mark, and that's when I should have added the raisins.  Oh, and did I mention that I sprinkled the yeast over the top instead of making the indent on top of the flour where you are supposed to place it?

By that time I figured this first loaf was doomed.

But hey, it turned out not too bad.  Some of the raisins got chopped up, but I'll know better next time.  The bread could be cut amazingly thinly for fresh eating.  By the time we got to towards the middle of the loaf (it was a treat, after all!) we found the bread a bit moist,  so then it was sliced nice and thick for toast.  I added more cinnamon and sugar on top of the buttered toast, which improved it, I'm sure.

So, while the first loaf was not a screaming success, it was at least edible. And since we ate so much of it in one night, I guess it got some sort of passing grade.

Now, if I could just get the paddle out of the pan.  It's been soaking in water for a while now, since the manual says that might help.  Water and flour do make glue.  Hopefully more hot water will soften it up enough to get the parts separated for the next experiment.

If you have a favorite bread machine recipe, I'd be happy to hear from you.

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