Saturday, January 9, 2010

My New Favorite Thing

Monica and Terri both were surprised to realize it was there blog day. I’m usually that way. This was one of the first times I knew in advance what I was going to write about - my new Cusinart bread machine courtesy of my Costco rebate.

I had one before when bread machines first came out and used it a lot then stuck it away in a cabinet and forgot all about it. The old one made one size loaf and timed the whole thing for three hours no matter what. The new one has three loaf sizes and a number of settings for the kind of bread you’re making.

Coincidentally I read this book recently called In Defense of Food. It’s another eat this, not that, sort of book. I have been around long enough not to be swayed by what the current evil substance is or what the current hero one is either. However, one point the author made that made sense to me was to eat real food, not food like substances. He pointed out that previously when food was adulterated it had to be marked imitation, but no more. I bet if they still had to call adulterated food imitation, half the stuff in the grocery store would have imitation on its label. Non fat sour cream? C’mon call it what it is - fake. But before I start going on and on about things like fat free half and half and twinkies, I better get back to the bread machine.

After reading the book, I finally took all the packing stuff out of the bread machine and decided to make my maiden loaf. It came with a book of recipes and I chose challah, which is another name for egg bread, for my first try. The ingredients were all basic things like eggs, butter, flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Nothing with a long chemical sounding name, nothing fake.

I used to bake bread from scratch and recently made the cardamom rolls I’m including in the book I just turned in. All the kneading and rising and punching down and rising again, makes it an all day affair. Not so with the machine. I just put in the ingredients in the pan and plopped it in the machine and turned it on. Approximately three hours later, it was done.

It was hard to let it cool before tasting it. To say it was good is an understatement. It didn’t even seem like a relative to the bakery egg bread I’ve bought. It was as good as cake and didn’t need anything on it. It didn’t last long either.

My next loaf was peasant bread, which is just flour, water, a little sugar, salt and yeast. I put it in the machine before I went to yoga. By the time I did the class, stopped at the grocery story to buy more bread flour and took the dog for a walk, it was done. Warm, fragrant and chewy.

I went to Trader Joe’s and bought different kinds of fruit and nuts to put into future loaves. Next up, I’m going to try making my version of holiday bread. It’s something I have special ordered at Christmas from a local bakery. It’s a sweet egg bread with almonds and golden raisins. How cool if I can make it so easily myself. Any day will be a holiday then.

You don’t have to be into cooking to use a bread machine. The only trick is the temperature of the ingredients. Too cold and the bread won’t rise right, too hot and it kills the yeast.

The only bad thing about the bread machine is that once you’ve tasted the real stuff, it’s impossible to think of buying bread at the grocery store anymore where you don’t know what half the stuff on the label is.

I would have included a picture of what I’ve made, but it all disappeared before I had a chance.


09smithjame said...
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Camille Minichino said...

I wish I were your neighbor, Betty!

Mason Canyon said...

I'm with Camille. Don't you need some new neighbors to help with all that "extra" bread.

Your new machine sounds wonderful. I don't have much luck with machinery, except coffee makers

Betty Hechtman said...

The bread is really popular - evem the cats like it.

Mason, the bread machine is really easy because it does all the work. You just put the ingredients in the order they are in the recipe and it takes it from there.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds fantastic, Betty--maybe even easy enough for me!

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, I am sure you could.

Terri Thayer said...

I'm so afraid to get a bread machine. I love bread and I'm afraid I would eat nothing else. I do like the sounds of this, though. Very tempting!