Saturday, 23 April 2011

Our daily bread

I bought a breadmaker last weekend.

Before last weekend I had thought I might benefit from one. I was also worried that I'd buy the wrong one, wouldn't be able to work it, wouldn't know where to store it etc.

So if you're experiencing the same dilemma then this is what I did and what I discovered.

I decided to buy the Panasonic SD-256.  I could have bought the SD-257 but the only discernible differences between the two is about £50 in price and a raisin/nut/seed dispenser.  I think the raisin dispenser feature would be a useful feature but only when using the timer facility.  So far I have used the timer facility a lot.  My plan is to live with the SD-256 for a while and then think about upgrading.

I bought it for a bargain £70 and, if you buy at the moment, you can go to the Panasonic website and download a form to complete and send off for a "free" bread recipe book (written by someone who uses a Panasonic breadmaker).

So now I have one, what do I think?

Well Dave didn't want me to buy one but that's because I have too much stuff in the kitchen already.  He had a point.  It's a bit too big for a kitchen cupboard which is just as well as I don't have any space in any kitchen cupboards anyway. (I hate my kitchen)

However, it sort of fits if you balance it on top of the the microwave.  OK this is a rubbish storage solution but it gets used daily so storage is less of an issue and it just gets in the way.

And what have I used it for?

Well timer set baking is great for that freshly baked bread smell first thing in the morning.  But very fresh bread is difficult to slice. I've been making a wholemeal and white mix with seeds and it is delicious.  If I'd got the SD-257 model I might have used the dispenser to add the seeds.  As it is I just bung the seeds in on top of the other ingredients and it works perfectly.  There is an order in which the ingredients need to be added, mainly to separate the water, sugar and the yeast until the right moment, and the order does seem to be important.

Hannah has given up her usual order of cinnamon and raisin bagel in favour of fresh bread with honey.

I've also tried a few dough recipes and freestyled it a bit adding all sorts into the mix.  The olives I sliced got a bit mashed in the mixing process.  This may have been avoided by having the SD-257 or even figuring out how to select the raisin dough cycle which beeps when the stuff (raisins or olives or whatever) need adding.  I've figured this out now but I got very annoyed during the figuring it out process.

There are some recipes that require lining the bread tin with baking parchment.  This is simply ridiculous and I plan to use loaf tin and oven for those recipes, if I ever get there.

I did try panettone and the first time I forgot to put the kneading blade in first so tipped everything out, put the blade in and tipped everything back in again. Disaster. But when I tried again without screwing things up it was much better.

I can't see the point of using the bake only function.  Use an oven and a cake/loaf tin!

I've also used the rapid bake function and that worked really well for a bread mix but I'm equally confident it would work with a normal loaf.

There will be a hole in the bottom of every loaf you make because the kneading blade doesn't have a way of disappearing after it's done the kneading.

So I'm just off to bed, but I need to pop some ingredients in the breadmaker and press go and I know the ingredients list off by heart: 200g white flour (Canadian is best, try Marriages), 200g wholemeal or granary flour, 3/4tsp dried yeast, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp salt (I use less), 15g butter (I do this by eye so it's 15g ish) and 290ml water and a big handful of mixed seeds.


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