Monday, 4 April 2011

Getting the Most out of your Bread Machine

People are always surprised to find out that I have a bread machine. It's true, I make a lot of artisan breads by hand, but the machine is a very handy tool to have in the kitchen. Even I don't always have the hours to tend to a dough, the bread machine takes the steps off my hands while I can get the rest of dinner ready or do something really important, like nap.

We are inured to scary movies now, we know the real scary stuff is in packaged foods these days. Better to make as much as you can from scratch, and that includes your bread.

I know, you have your Aunt Gertie's bread machine book from 1986, and I am sure it is interesting, especially with the hand-drawn illustrations. But bread machines and bread machine recipes have come a long way since then.

People are making "artisan" breads. Home crafted with interesting ingredients. Whole grains and even gluten-free breads. Allergies seem to be the norm now for many families and some people want to craft their own bread so that they know exactly what goes into it. For some it is a matter of life and death.

For me it is a matter of freshness and great taste. There's nothing like biting into fresh baked bread, still warm and slathered with a bit of butter... hmm, where was I?

The Artisan Bread Machine
250 Recipes for Breads, Rolls, Flatbreads and Pizzas

Judith Fertig
Softcover, 320 pages

Ah yes, The Artisan Bread Machine. Best-selling author Judith Fertig brings us up-to-date recipes for the modern bread machine, with chapters including:

    * Classic white breads
    * Whole-grain breads
    * Flavored breads
    * Sourdough breads
    * Flatbreads and pizzas
    * Gluten-free breads
    * Sweet breads
    * Savory rolls
    * Sweet rolls
    * Festive breads

She includes temperature information on the leading brands of bread machines, a thorough explanation of all the steps in the bread machine process and even each ingredient used.

There are "walk-away" breads, that bake right in the machine, and hand-shaped ones in which you let the machine make the dough and you do the shaping and baking in the oven.

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we did one of each. A delicious cinnamon raisin bread - soft and pillowy and scented with cinnamon. It makes a delicious peanut butter sandwich, if you can stop yourself from munching on it long enough to slather peanut butter on it.
And a focaccia, because if there is one thing I love as much as bread, it is salt. Focaccia is a bit like pizza, without all the toppings. Some herbs, olive oil and sea salt is all you need. Absolutely delicious, and so easy with the help of the bread machine!

The Miller’s Cinnamon and Raisin Bread
Makes 1 loaf

“People love my cinnamon and raisin bread because it’s got a very soft, tender crumb,” says Alvin Brensing, the octogenarian miller in charge of producing Hudson Cream Flour, a premium all-purpose flour from Stafford County, Kansas. His home economist daughter helped him perfect this recipe. If you wish, you can substitute bread flour and omit the vital wheat gluten, but the bread won’t be as tender. The cinnamon turns this bread a rich, warm brown. Any leftovers make delicious French toast or bread pudding.

Tips
When you’re making the 1-lb (500 g) loaf, if you can’t find small eggs, beat 2 large eggs until blended, then measure 1⁄4 cup + 2 tsp (70 mL) to equal the volume of 2 small eggs, reserving any remaining egg for another use.
To plump raisins, place them in a bowl and add enough hot water to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes or until plump. Drain well and let cool, then pat dry.

1 lb (500 g)
3⁄4 cup    milk    175 mL
11⁄2 tbsp    unsalted butter, softened    22 mL
2 tbsp    packed light or dark brown sugar    30 mL
1 tsp    salt    5 mL
2    small eggs, beaten    2
2 cups    all-purpose flour    500 mL
4 tsp    vital wheat gluten    20 mL
4 tsp    ground cinnamon    20 mL
1 tsp    instant or bread machine yeast    5 mL
1⁄2 cup    raisins, plumped and drained     125 mL

11⁄2 lb (750 g)
3⁄4 cup     milk    175 mL
21⁄2 tbsp    unsalted butter, softened    37 mL
3 tbsp    packed light or dark brown sugar    45 mL
11⁄2 tsp    salt    7 mL
2    large eggs, beaten    2
22⁄3 cups    all-purpose flour    650 mL
11⁄2 tbsp    vital wheat gluten    22 mL
11⁄2 tbsp    ground cinnamon    22 mL
11⁄2 tsp    instant or bread machine yeast    7 mL
2⁄3 cup    raisins, plumped and drained    150 mL

2 lb (1 kg)
1 cup    milk    250 mL
3 tbsp    unsalted butter, softened    45 mL
1⁄4 cup    packed light or dark brown sugar    60 mL
2 tsp    salt    10 mL
3    large eggs, beaten    3
33⁄4 cups    all-purpose flour    925 mL
2 tbsp    vital wheat gluten    30 mL
2 tbsp    ground cinnamon    30 mL
11⁄2 tsp    instant or bread machine yeast    7 mL
3⁄4 cup    raisins, plumped and drained    175 mL
   
3 lb (1.5 kg)
12⁄3 cups     milk    400 mL
1⁄4 cup    unsalted butter, softened    60 mL
1⁄3 cup    packed light or dark brown sugar    75 mL
21⁄2 tsp    salt    12 mL
3    large eggs, beaten    3
5 cups    all-purpose flour    1.25 L
8 tsp    vital wheat gluten    40 mL
8 tsp    ground cinnamon    40 mL
13⁄4 tsp    instant or bread machine yeast    8 mL
1 cup    raisins, plumped and drained     250 mL
    (see tip, page 114)

1.    In a medium saucepan, scald milk over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and stir in butter and brown sugar. Transfer to the bread pan and let cool to lukewarm (between 86°F and 95°F/30°C and 35°C).
2.    Add salt and eggs to the bread pan. Spoon flour on top of liquid. Add wheat gluten, cinnamon and yeast. Place raisins in the dispenser (or add at the “add ingredient” or “mix in” signal).
3.    Select the Basic/White cycle and the Light Crust setting and press Start.

Tips
For a more delicate cinnamon flavor, decrease the amount called for by half.
If your machine has a dispenser, check the manual for the correct operating instructions.
If your dough does not form a ball during the first few minutes of kneading, do one of two things: if the dough looks dry and crumbly, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) water at 1-minute intervals until the dough forms a ball; if the dough looks wet, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour at 1-minute intervals until the dough forms a ball.

Excerpted from The Artisan Bread Machine by Judith Fertig © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Authentic Focaccia
Makes 1 flatbread, to serve 8

To make authentic focaccia, you need to use doppio zero flour, which is milled from a soft red wheat that has just 8% to 8.5% protein, giving the bread a lighter texture and a finer crumb. The slurry of water, olive oil and salt provides the true focaccia flavor.

Tips
Ideally, the water should be between 86°F and 95°F (30°C and 35°C), the temperature range in which yeast is most active. Warm it in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove, and check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
If your dough does not form a ball during the first few minutes of kneading, do one of two things: if the dough looks dry and crumbly, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) water at 1-minute intervals until the dough forms a ball; if the dough looks wet, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) doppio zero flour at 1-minute intervals until the dough forms a ball.

Dough
1 tsp    fine kosher salt or sea salt    5 mL
3⁄4 cup    lukewarm water (see tip, at left)    175 mL
21⁄2 cups    doppio zero flour    625 mL
11⁄4 tsp    instant or bread machine yeast    6 mL
Topping
1 tbsp    water    15 mL
1 tbsp    olive oil    15 mL
1⁄2 tsp    fine kosher salt or sea salt    2 mL
1 tbsp    fresh rosemary leaves    15 mL

1.    Dough: Add salt and water to the bread pan. Spoon flour on top of liquid. Add yeast.
2.    Select the Dough cycle and press Start. (Small loaf)
3.    When the cycle is finished, transfer dough to the prepared pan. Using your hands, spread dough to fit the pan. Press the surface of the dough with your fingertip or knuckle to make random dimples. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
4.    Topping: In a small bowl, combine water, oil and salt. Brush over dough. Sprinkle with rosemary. Let rise while oven is preheating.
5.    Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until top of dough is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf registers 190°F (90°C). Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes, then cut into 8 pieces and serve.

Excerpted from The Artisan Bread Machine by Judith Fertig © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.