Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When your Bread Machine gives you rocks

It's the simple things in life!! I've always been a fan of practical gifts. Maybe it's because we lived a quiet, humbled existence as children or because I'd started working at the age of 13, but I have always appreciated useful/practical gifts. When I got a waffle maker for Christmas when I was 21, I'm pretty sure the friend who gave it to me thought I was nuts because of how truly excited I was about getting it. (I still use it to this day!!)

Steve knows this all too well. So he chose a wonderful gift for our 5th Wedding Anniversary in October!! A Panasonic Automatic Bread Maker. I had been talking to him for a few months about how I'd like to start making our own bread, but doing it by scratch made me nervous with needing the water to be the exact right temperature and how long to knead the dough...I can cook pretty well, but making bread wasn't something I was ready for.

a beautiful loaf

I love how easy it is to use!! After a few tries using the machine to not only make the dough, but cook the bread as well, I learned that we liked the texture better when I baked it myself in the oven. I was on quite a roll averaging a loaf every three days or so (if we had french toast, I needed to make more) and how wonderful does the house smell!!

The flavor is so fresh and light with homemade bread. Even a simple Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich is better on homemade bread. When I use it for French toast, It's heavenly!!

 Then it went wrong

 January was a tough month for me for whatever reason I couldn't remember to make bread, so a few times Steve had to pick up bread at the store. It just didn't taste the same. So I resolved to get back on track!!
Got all of my ingredients out for our favorite Egg Bread. Measured and poured exactly as usual and set the machine on Dough. When it beeped 2 hours and 20 minutes later, it looked wrong. It was too dense, too small and weighed what felt like 50 pounds. I kneaded it a little more to reshape the dough and continued to do what I've always done....that didn't help. I needed a chainsaw to cut through it since it hadn't risen properly and it was hard for the boys to eat being so dense.
I tried again the next day with the SAME results! Now I had to become a detective. What was causing this? I immediately thought of the yeast. I've been storing it in the freezer and using it regularly until my 3 week hiatus. Maybe the yeast went bad. So i replaced the yeast AND flour and tried again yesterday. The photo below is my end result...just like the last two loaves.

the dud
Connor really wanted a sandwich, so I sliced a few pieces for him and kept it open faced, so it would be easier to tear through.
I wasn't going to waste this! One of the biggest reasons we like homemade bread is it's lightened the purse strings a bit, not when I am wasting ingredients though. Sure I could slice it and make sandwiches with it or toast, but it tastes so doughy. Then it hit me! I could cube it up and hold onto it for stuffing. I keep a bag in the freezer of nubs from specialty loaves, bagels that went a little too stale before we ate it etc. All the bread gets tossed together with butter and stock so this would work well since it's so dense...

I'm making another loaf tomorrow. With the new flour, new yeast and real butter. (had used Smart Balance the last three, this may be the problem!) We shall see what happens!!

Have you had any kitchen oops that turned into something awesome?

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