Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making bread, part two

We flew back from Manitoba last month with a suitcase that weighed 98 pounds. It was full of frozen lamb, canned vegetables from the farm, and … a Black & Decker bread maker.

My mum bought it for us at the second hand store in Steinbach, Manitoba, which is run by the Mennonite Central Committee. It cost her twenty dollars. It came with a handwritten recipe, an add-on from the MCC volunteer who kindly tested the bread machine before putting on the shelf.

Now, I’ve written about another bread I’ve been making – a Nigel Slater loaf – and of course proper homemade bread is beautiful and therapeutic in its kneading, punching, and rising. I’ll keep that recipe close too. But machine bread is a snap to make. And it’s also a good recipe to have up your sleeve.

Since I brought this baby home, I’ve been baking all my one loaves, tweaking that recipe ever so slightly each time. More than a month and a dozen loaves later, I can tell you, confidently, that I’ve got the recipe I like.

Automatic Bread

This, of course, is only the kind of recipe that works if you have a bread maker. And if you have a bread maker, you know that the recipe “instructions” are unbelievably simple: 1) put the ingredients, in the order listed, in the baking pan; 2) insert the pan into the machine; 3) turn the machine on, according to the manufacturer’s instructions; 4) go away. This recipe is perfect for the machine’s 2 lb setting.

1 ¼ cup water

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 heaping tsp salt

2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup mix of interesting dry bits (seeds/chopped nuts/cornmeal/wheat germ/steel cut oats, etc)

1 tsp traditional yeast

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