Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Bread Machine Secret

You can buy a bread machine, but that doesn't guarantee your bread will be any good.

It promises to be easy to do, but in reality, mmmmmmmmmm not so much!

There is a secret to making bread and I will share it with you. It involves no exotic ingredients, no special kitchen tools or the wearing of special underwear (although you may if you wish. The secret to great bread-making is knowing what a baby's butt feels like when you pat it!

Of course, you actually have to have taken a run at diaper changing at some point in your life. If you have not, then by all means, run straight out, find a baby, remove it's diaper and pat its butt. If you get home without being arrested, then you are ready to make Grandma's bread.


The "Bread Machine Recipes" cookbook says to measure all the ingredients carefully. If you ever watched you grandmother bake bread, you realize at once what balderdash that is. The truth is bread wants to be baked. The flour and yeast and stuff wants to become a beautiful loaf of golden crusted bread. It has no higher ambition. You, as the baker, are merely the facilitator of this exquisite transformation. So remember, the ingredients are merely a suggestion. It is the baby's butt that is the key!

  • Half cup or so of hot tap water (not boiling)
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • One egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey, Karo Syrup or a big handful 
    of brown sugar. (As you gain confidence - and weight 
    - you WILL later add more than this I promise you).
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup or so of white all-purpose flour
  • A big glop of butter or margarine, a couple of 
    tablespoons of Olive or vegetable oil or some Crisco, 
    whatever you have.
  • 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk (I've never done it this way 
    - I put this in for historical purposes). I use a quarter 
    can of evaporated milk.
  • 1/4 cup or so of wheat germ.  This was another of my 
    grandmother's secrets for making the bread the right 
    texture and adding nutritional value to it.  Wheat germ 
    is the heart of the grain and is very good for you and 
    also slightly crunchy, a quality which I like in my wheat bread.
  • 2 packages of rapid rise yeast or regular yeast or a yeast cake 
    - whatever works for you.

1. Dump everything into the bread machine in any order you want. They say it matters, but it doesn't. Just don't do the water yet. Make sure you screw in the twirler paddle dealy bob before you pour in the ingredients or it gets real messy trying to get the thing on there and rotating freely - I do that a lot (like tonight).

2. Program the machine for basic bread and a 1.5 pound loaf. If you want to not have the hole in the bottom from the paddle that you get when you bake it in the machine, then set it for dough. You'll have to pull out the loaf, reshape it and put it in a bread pan to bake in your oven, but you're on your own there. I make 3 of these babies or more a week on a good week and I don't want to have to watch the oven - am almost certain recipe for smoked bread if I'm watching it cook. Press Start.

3. Fiddle with the dough as it forms. The bread recipe book stopped at step 2. It is wrong to do so, especially since I haven't told you to put in the water yet. Once you press start, you must tend to the critical initial kneading of the loaf. Open the top of the bread machine. Watch the paddle dealy (no need to learn these technical names - it will be obvious to you what the paddle dealy is). Use a big wooden spoon and poke on the dough ball as it forms so that it picks up all the flour as you slowly add the hot water. Don't use all the hot water before it starts coalescing into dough. You may not need it all.

4. Be patient. At first it won't look like there's enough water, but keep poking the dough ball down to pick up the excess flour. You may need to add some flour if the dough ball is too sticky. Here's where the secret comes in!

5. Feel the dough. If it feels just like a baby's butt when you pat it, you have achieved doughy perfection. Add hot water or flour to achieve the perfect texture. Once you have done that, go away and let the machine do its job. Come back in about 3 and a half hours to witness the completion of the process.

6. Most bread machines use the paddle dealy to push the bread out when it is done. I try to get there before that happens so that the bottom of my bread doesn't get squashed. I take it out before the machine ejects it. It may just be my machine, but that's my recommendation.

7. Enjoy!

Tom King - Baker Extraordinaire
(and God bless whoever invented the bread machine!)


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  2. Thanks, I actually have 4 blogs. You might enjoy one of the other ones too. Check my Blog List in the right hand column.