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Bread Maker vs The Baker

I was given a bread maker for my birthday. I am torn as to whether I like this or not.

However, having a machine do it for me defies the whole point of baking, which for me, is a recreational activity. I like the tangible feeling of the bread rising and being kneaded, dough being rolled, and peaking into a hot oven. My dad, who gave me the bread-maker, doesn’t understand this concept. But then, my dad also doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t never get an electric piano.

I read the instruction book for about an hour. It didn’t make any sense to me. According to the book, I throw all the bread-mix in on top of the water in one go and it will make it for me. But what about letting the yeast froth up beforehand? Where’s about the butter? Where’s the milk? Does it rise, knead and prove or just rise it once? Which setting to I choose for normal bread? My anxiety was compounded by the clear fact that the instructions were written by someone whose first language was not English. The descriptions of the process made no sense whatsoever. Do they even know how to make bread the old fashioned way in the country this machine was manufactured? Or have they just taken a motorbike engine and such a bread pan in it?? (I am assured they have not, as it is one of the most reputable bread-makers on the market).

I left it for a few days before going back.

I put in my first loaf yesterday. With the machine, I was given a bread mix. First of all, I have no idea what sort of ingredients are in these packets. Being it is designed to bake perfectly every time, I can only hazard a guess as to what enhancements this flour has. I put it in, and it got half way through the process, which was great. However, as is my habit, as I switched off the toaster at the wall I switched off the bread-maker as well. After flicking it back on it appeared to still be on the half-way setting, however I couldn’t get it to start again. I also didn’t know what stage it was in. It looked kneaded and risen, but do they do a second kneading and leave it to prove like real baking? I had no idea, so I put it on rapid bake, which did the whole process again, but quicker. Goodness knows how the mechanism felt about that.

The bread did come out fully cooked and soft looking in the end. It is an odd shape though; short and high. It has to be toasted in the grill, so it seems what effort I’ve saved in baking the bread, I have lost in toasting it.

I will use the machine again on days when I don’t have time to bake myself. I will experiment with my own recipe (which has butter and milk) over the weekend, to see if the machine likes non-pre-prepared mixes, and report back to you.

I also was given a pasta maker, much more a step back to basics, than away from it. I will leave that experimentation for when I have plenty of time to vacuum afterwards.

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