The Bread Machine Saga

A few years ago, I bought a brand new Cuisine Art bread maker at Goodwill. I brought it home, used it a few times, but never got into the habit of using it. Then one day, I gave it to my friend Sunny. She was thrilled.

When I went to visit her, I’d often smell the aroma of freshly baked bread as I approached the house and I would want to run in. We’d do a ritual – slice off a piece, toast it, smear it with butter and enjoy one of those “just right” times where the conversation stops in order to savor the moment in silence. Sunny got really creative with her bread recipes. She made bread with spices, dried fruits and nuts, herbs and aged cheeses, seeds and sourdough. Sometimes I felt a twang of regret for having given it away thinking that’s mine! Then in the next breath I was happy she was the one who had it and not me.

One day, I was back at Goodwill and on a bottom shelf was a brand new Hitachi bread maker. So I bought it and there again it sat mostly unused. Recently, Sunny came to visit for a weekend and I seized the opportunity to have her show me how to use the machine her way with simplicity and ease. She uses this basic recipe:

E-Z Bread

3 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sweetener
3 tbsp oil or butter
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tsp salt

She encouraged me to switch the recipe up a bit, to try different kinds of flours, sweeteners and oils because bread making is not an exact science. Don’t be afraid, the bread maker does not bite. What is the worst thing that could happen? The bread might turn out like a dog biscuit? Well then, happy dog. I began to think of the bread machine as an adult toy – something that I could play with, be entertained by and experiment with. Oh what joy!

I bought several different brands and types of flour: King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, Navajo Pride, Stafford County Mills, Gold Medal. All-purpose, bread, whole wheat, rye, artisan bread flour, unbleached white. I used different sweeteners too – honey, raw sugar and date syrup. I mixed and matched the flours, acquired a sourdough starter. I’d shake the loaf out of the pan in anticipation of the first slice. How is the texture? Light or spongy? Chewy and dense, is the crust crunchy?

I put all the ingredients in one location so in four minutes I can put the ingredients together. Now I’m definitely in the habit of bread making.