Introduction: Machine Bread, Simple and Delightful
My friends declare me Luddite. Hopelessly lost in the late 20th Century. I know no Book of Faces, reveal nothing in 140 characters of cheeping, and while I might snap or even chat with my smart phone I do not do them at the one and same time.
Yes, I have no talking ice maker, video conferencing refrigerator, wifi connected toaster but I do have that ancient and much maligned Machina Pan. That’s right, the horror of horrors, my kitchen harbors a BREAD MACHINE.
I use the term harbors advisedly, like sanctuary in the ancient world safe haven for the weak and despised should not be taken lightly.
In fact I love that this vessel of baking goodness has decided to make shelter here. I ransomed it from the local Armies of Salvation for a mere $5 and that puts the current cost per loaf somewhere in the 2 cent each range before factoring in ingredients and power consumption.
My non Luddite friends have recently boasted of finding the perfect loaf for a measly $5.50 at the high falutin, millennial attracting Boulangerie.
Take that my Scottish self declares as I whack them upside the head with the perfect loaf that took me all of 5 minutes to create.
To you I say, open that bottom cabinet door. Reach to the back, pull out, dust off, plug in the hidden baker in your life. Also, make sure the little paddle can be found, that my friend may be the true secret to a harmonious life.
Step 1: The Ingredients: Luscious and Wholesome
This recipe is a perfect bread. Wholesome and luscious fresh from the machine. Crisp and nuttily crackling when toasted and slathered with butter. Amazingly aromatic and herbaceous when served with pasta, no need to slather with garlic butter and burn the edges in the broiler although it tastes pretty darn good served that way too.
The ingredients are simple, timeless and ageless:
1 and 1/4 cup water, warm but not hot
3 cups bread flour
1 cup yesterdays cooked rice (white, brown, black or red)
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon sugar (I am using Agave Nectar - honey works as well)
2 teaspoons of salt (sea salt or kosher)
2 tablespoons of Herbes de Provence or Fines Herbes
Step 2: The Process: Easier Than One Two Three
The process is direct and unbelievably simple.
First the highly technical bits to prove you know some of the secrets of the world:
Put the paddle in the pan and be sure it is seated properly
Next exercise the vast knowledge of the ageless baker:
Put the water in the pan
Put the flour in the pan
Put the rice in the pan
Put the yeast in one corner of the pan
Put the salt in another corner of the pan
Put the sugar in a third corner of the pan
Dump the herbs atop it all
Finally demonstrate you mastery of arcana:
Fit the pan into the machine making sure the fiddly mechanism in the bottom grabs tight. If you can lift the pan straight out you are not successful. Try again
Push the appropriate button for basic loaf START.
Come back four hours or so later.
Step 3: Success!
Decant your loaf onto a cooling rack and let it set for a few minutes while you salivate and grumble that you want to eat it RIGHT NOW
Carve a piece and eat it RIGHT NOW. Do not carve the little paddle, don’t lose it either. My advice? Put the paddle back in the pan now, put the pan back in the machine now. Slice another piece because obviously that first one is gone by now.
Thank the Deus Ex Machina that you have that bottom cabinet, do not put the machine back, be prepared to make another loaf tomorrow.
Extra credence points are granted to those who figure out the delayed start setting on their machine and manage to work 5 minutes in the morning and come home to hot fresh bread in the evening. Extra extra points if you figure out how to set it before you go to bed and wake up to a steaming hot fresh loaf in the morning.