Still struggling with this horrible throat infection so I thought I'd share some pearls of wisdom I've accrued re: bread machines.
My first attempt at baking bread in my bread machine were disastrous. Simon bought me a breadmaker as a christmas present a couple of years ago because I'd been going on about wanting one and I was so excited to give it a try. So I bought some bread mixes from the supermarket. Failure after failure ensued until I gave up and packed it away. I didn't want to admit to Simon that either it was broken or I couldn't use it.
Long story short, my Uncle interceded and rescued my poor abandoned bread machine with some simple advice:
1) Use the recipes included in the instruction booklet - they are made and tested with the machine.
2) Put the ingredients in in the order in which they are written in the booklet. From this I then discovered that the secret is to put liquids in first.
3) Add Vitamin C powder (about 1/4 of a tsp) to the mix.
This was then added to by a work colleague: Add extra yeast - whatever the recipe says add an extra gram or 2
Following these simple steps gave me instant success. Having been successful I was then free to experiment slightly.
The first problem I found was that whilst letting the machine bake the bread is faster and easier, it ends up with a massive hole in the middle from the kneading blade. But like all good bread machines, my machine has a dough setting - this is brilliant. Put all the ingredients in, let it do the hard work of mixing and kneading and proving, then pop the dough out of the machine and into the oven - you can shape it however you like that way - rolls, loaves, plaits, sticks. Whatever you like. I use this setting more often than anything else.
I tend to follow the oven settings in the recipe book, but if you're not sure, bread tends to be baked high - around 230°C
Having discovered that putting the liquids in first makes for successful baking, and having decided to only use the dough setting, I realised that the possibilities were endless - almost all bread recipes in any cook book can be made in my bread machine if I follow these simple rules:
- Put the liquids in first - if a recipe calls for butter, melt it in the microwave and include it with the liquids. As oil and butter should be added first.
- Add additional yeast - 2 or 3 grams
- Add Vitamin C powder to the mix
I have found that some recipes tend not to mix well unless you poke a hole through the flour into the liquids and force them to mix. This need only be done briefly at the start of the mixing process.
I have also found that using the timer to set the machine to start mixing while I'm out at work means I'll get home to a puffy ready-to-bake dough as the machine keeps the dough warm.
This post might seem obvious, but I didn't know any of these things and had nothing but failures. 3 simple rules later and every single recipe I try comes out successfully!
I thought that was worth sharing.