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Food & Drink

Bread machine or purist?

January 27, 2011
Bread machine or puristI couldn’t resist sharing the photo of the loaf of bread our trusty old machine churned out this week. Made in exactly the same way as usual, it beats all previous rising records.
We started using a machine to bake our bread about five years ago.  A Panasonic SD-256 had been my on my wish list for a long while having read a review by the Good Housekeeping Institute, but the price tag kept it out of the kitchen cupboard.
Then out of the blue my parents bought me an Argos Cookworks bread machine (no link available) for Christmas and away we went (and wastelines too). The machine came with a handy little recipe book, and we tried them all until we settled down to a few favourite recipes.

Although very basic the Cookworks machine really is a great little workhorse. We lost the paddle for it for a couple of years – it eventually turned up in our son’s bedroom drawer ((??)) – so in the interim we bought a cheap replacement, but that eventually burnt out so back we went to the Cookworks.

So what do we make in the bread machine?

On average we bake about three loaves of  bread a week (every day when we’re snowed in). It also makes the dough to make home-made rolls that we eat with bowls of wholesome soup. I love that you can make standard, quick or rapid loaves – handy when we’ve run out of bread and need a loaf for the table in just over an hour.

We also make white, brown or wholemeal loaves, depending upon circumstance.

Homemade pizza is on our menu every fortnight or so – a doubled up portion of dough will make three 45cm (18″) pizzas – great when we have a house full of children as the pizzas can be custom-built.

Our recent favourite however is the Focaccia. Mr G was cheeky enough to ask me if I’d been to the bakery the first time I put it on the table as “it looks so professional”.
(apologies for picture quality – taken on phone)

Containing three tablespoons of olive oil it’s a bit on the naughty side (only if you eat the whole loaf on your own I guess) but it’s very adaptable.

The machine makes the dough and we add the toppings.

It could be as simple as pesto spread over the top (as in picture) or a bit more elaborate with sprigs of rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt and olives. Whichever way we choose, if it’s sitting on the bread board when the children walk in from school,it won’t be there 20 minutes later!

Sometime I roll it into a round pizza shape for equal shares (important for children that nobody gets more than them), or when it’s for adults it tends to be more of an igledy pigledy shape that we tear and share.
Have I convinced any purists? As much as I love the idea of the therapeutic qualities of kneading bread I don’t think I’d ever find the time to make it from scratch. This way we get to eat great tasting loaves without the hassle.
I’d love to hear whether others bake their own and their methods…
… and if anybody wants the recipe for the bread machine Focaccia, just leave a comment below.