Creative Act V — Breadmaking

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.

And it was still delicious the next day toasted in a ham and gouda sandwich.

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.

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