It’s hard to believe at over half a century old, but I just made my first loaf of bread! Yeah, I know it’s a weird shape for raisin bread but don’t bakers use this shape for sourdough bread?
I’ve been wanting an automatic breadmaker for a long time but wasn’t willing to pay over $100 for one & when they were on sale didn’t have the spare money.
Finally, London Drugs had a Black & Decker model on sale for $60 & I got it. It took 3 weeks until I was organized enough & my counter was clear enough so I could get it working. I had already purchased supplies to make raisin bread — my favourite & a pretty expensive bread to buy at the stores. The only change I made was getting mixed grain flour instead of white — my favourite for sandwiches.
It was a little exciting putting all the ingredients in the pan without stirring — liquids first, then dry, then make a little indentation & put in the dry yeast without touching liquid — easy! Easier than pie!! Start the machine up & 3 hrs later I should have a loaf of bread — wow, my grandmother & great-grandmother would be astonished at what appliances we have. Well, I do have to add the raisins when it beeps at the end of the kneading cycle — no problem — everything looks good with a nice, round ball of dough in the machine. Now, it goes through the rise cycle.
Of course I kept looking in the window every once in awhile — sure is rising fast, and a lot! A few minutes later & it’s still rising — I’m not supposed to raise the lid but the dough sure looks close — oh my, it’s sticking to the top & flowing like lava over the edge but held together like a big doughy cloud. Okay, this is a total mess — turn it off & get the dough before it pours over the side onto the heating element!! There’s so much of it — where do I put it?
Throw it into the biggest plastic bowl I have & now what? It seems a waste to throw it all away but I can’t eat it the way it is. I know, my old standby, the microwave! I know it won’t brown the dough, but it’ll cook it, right? So, I tried a few cycles of “nuking” for 1-1/2 min then waiting 4-6 min (microwaved food continues to cook for a few minutes). Finally, it was starting to sink & looking “microwaved” stiff — empty it on the rack & wait until it cools.
Delicious — heavy & a bit doughy — hee hee!! Still, my first loaf — and it is edible!! My sons will not belief it! Well, of course, only I would nuke my loaf. But I learned an important lesson about changing ingredients — make sure they’re “equal”!! When I look at the recipes using whole wheat flour, I notice it’s usually 1 to 2 ratio whole wheat to white flour — oh, whole wheat rises more! Of course, everything makes sense afterward, but I never thought whole wheat flour would “behave” any different than white — taste different, yes.
A couple of days later, I tried again. Still wanted raisin bread, so I used the Sweet cycle, not the Whole Wheat — a very hard decision — longer rise cycle or whatever difference because I was using egg & sugar. But this time, only 1 cup of grain flour to over 2 cups white, and set to 2 lb loaf but use same amount of yeast — surely that’ll work.
Okay, everything fine, until, I look up & I feel like “Quick Draw McGraw” (he was a real favourite cartoon character of mine — Warner Bros I think) — “Hot Diggity Dog” it’s rising to the top of the window again! This time I am determined to cook a loaf in this machine — I quickly take a big lump of dough off the top & shut the door again. A few minutes later & it’s still rising — another lump gets pulled off! A few minutes later & the cooking cycle starts & I breathe a sigh of relief — okay, I have a loaf but it’s not going to have a nice fluffy top — it’s got a dip in it where I dug out the dough the second time.
An hour or so later, I have my second loaf of bread — looks like a loaf this time — yeah!!
This bread had a much nicer texture — not doughy at all. I had set the crust to medium & found it a bit crunchy but very soft & fresh inside. I had a piece with butter when it was still warm & it was definitely more delicious than my first loaf! And, the best part is it still tastes like grain bread — excellent. And cheaper than store bought bread.