Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Our daily bread

Today I want to introduce you to my very special friend. I love him very much. He has been with me during the bad times and the good. He is reliable and very little trouble. I bless the day he came to my door in a large brown box via the Home Delivery Network.
I'm afraid the CD at the side is just as naff as you are suspecting
It is my Panasonic SD-255 breadmaker. It is wonderful. Do any of you have one? I cannot understand why every kitchen doesn’t have a breadmaker when we all have microwaves which take up as much room and aren’t nearly as useful. Frankly I think there should be national announcements on News at Ten or an ad campaign like for the digital switchover. I love my breadmaker.

Now, one of my talents is, I am actually not bad at baking. My mum taught me when I was very small, and I can bake nice bread by hand. However. If I had to make all my own bread, I would not eat homemade bread nearly as often, because I do find it a bit of a performance. I know there’s a method where you just spend 5 minutes on it a day, but, even so. We all have different tolerances for these things, and I would rather be sewing, or, boring all you lovely people on my blog. Besides, my breadmaker makes better bread than I do and with the same ingredients (in fact, it uses less yeast). Since I had the breadmaker, I have made at least two loaves in it every week and mostly more. In fact, I use it so much, that I gave the first one I bought to my mum and I bought the version that also makes rye bread (I used to have more money). My mum did that special mother thing whereby you give them something slightly grubby and used and the next time you see it, it is all clean and buffed and shiny and looking better than when you first bought it, and you think, how did she manage that. She makes four loaves a week (I don’t know how they get through four loaves, I have to say. Possibly she sells them on the black market).
If it isn't good enough for the wildfowl i.e. the ducks, it isn't good enough for you
Now, I think you would probably have to go a long way to find someone who would say to you that they found commercial sliced bread completely delicious, despite those silly adverts where a woman reacts in a feeble passive-aggressive way when her husband nibbles her Kingsmill (whereas breadmaker bread genuinely is delicious. The smell!). But, what I didn’t realise, was that it is not just crap because it has been industrially produced and there is some taste-loss-through-scale thing going on, it is produced through a specific industrial method which is quite unlike how bread is produced by hand. Yes, they had to use science to get it to taste that bad. They squash all the grains up, add loads of water, and keep the resulting spongey strange thing hanging together with hard fat and chemicals. It is called The Chorleywood Process (I am not convinced this article is unbiased, however, I always go by the principle with food of, the less processing the better, so, you know). And to make it rise they suck it up. Literally! They apply a vacuum. It makes me think of those pumps to cure impotence. And apparently 80% of commercial bread is produced like this now, so, even if you buy bread from the supermarket bakery, it may have been produced like this and I think often they just bake the prepared dough from frozen (although. I used to work in Tesco bakery years ago and I am sure they used to make it normally, because we had big mixers. However apparently this is not always the case now with all supermarket bread. It does taste pappy to me, much more than it used to).

So I say, avoid Chorleywood dodgy bread, buy a breadmaker, be happy ever after! There are a couple of issues that you might call drawbacks, but which I don't mind: firstly, a standard loaf takes about 4 hours to bake, so you have to plan ahead. I just set the timer and put it on the night before, or, there is a special rapid bake programme which takes just less than 2 hours and is fine. The loaf has a small hole in the middle of the bottom because of the paddle – I just don’t mind this: it is only small.
A bonus picture of choccy cake I made. The white bits in the icing are where I didn't sieve the icing sugar properly and are nothing sinister. Sieve your icing sugar!
You wouldn’t believe the difference having really delicious bread always on hand makes. It changes the way you eat. Boring things like toast and sandwiches become a gourmet meal. You find yourself wanting to do things with your leftovers, like, french onion soup, or bread and butter pudding, just to finish the nice bread. You can make dough in it as well, so you can make pizzas, pitta breads, bread rolls, it is great. I am so much a convert I am like someone who has been Saved and is determined that everyone else is going to be Saved as well. Whether they like it or not.

Here endeth the party political broadcast on behalf of the Go And Buy A Panasonic Breadmaker Party. Look, I just want you all to be happy and have nice sandwiches. It is all I ask. Is that so wrong?


CraftyCripple said...

I would adore a breadmaker. But I daren't. I would balloon to the size of a bungalow. I am addicted to bread and when it is freshly baked I am powerless to resist. Homebaked bread is for treats when I visit my brother and my sis in law has used her breadmaker. I then stand at the bread board, slice, spread and eat until my sides split. THIS is why I do not buy a breadmaker.

Ms C said...

I did used to have a breadmaker but I gave up on it pretty quickly as the loaves were awful. It was a cheapy cheap one so I'm wondering if it's a false economy. I was also required to add odd things like powdered milk. I've noticed that shop bought bread has started to taste very odd to me lately, and since I didn't love it in the first place I've given up buying it. The instore bakery stuff isn't much better, especially Sainsburys.

I am going to have to give this breadmaker thing more thought.

Susie said...

Yes I put weight on when I got my breadmaker, the bungalow effect is a problem and I will grant you that ;-).

Ms C, this one doesn't use powdered milk or anything odd, I think the panasonic one is Universally Loved ;-). The only thing is, I realised when I linked to it just how much they cost, I got mine on offer and I think it was only about £80 (only!). It is just great though.

I wuv it.

Marushka C. said...

I have one too and love it. Many of the recipes do call for powdered milk, but it is worth keeping that on hand since it lasts for ages and is not very expensive. I was just thinking the other day that I should use it more, I have somewhat lost the habit since discovering a German bread bakery in our town. (The bread machine would definitely be a more cost-effective approach in the long run!)

Maria S said...

I looovvveee homemade bread. Even living here, in France, where nice bread is all around, I prefer our own. The sad thing for me, at the moment, is that I have no kitchen to speak of. No oven. No worktops to knead on. Not even a sink. So the breadmaking will have to wait another month or so. But then... ooh, I'll be making all sorts of things. (As an aside, have you made your own crumpets? They are truly truly wonderful. And you have to buy nice crumpet rings from Lakeland and everything... :-))
I'll stop now. I'm hungry.

Susie said...

Marushka, because I am very sad and also used to work in accounts, I actually worked out how much it costs per loaf loaf, and it is reasonably cost-effective but not dead cheap. It worked out at about 45p per loaf but that was depreciating the cost of the breadmaker over three years. I told you I was sad. Your German bakery sounds lovely though. I bet they don't use the Chorleywood process! ;-).

Maria S! Crumpets! I once tried them but cocked it up - I think the recipe wasn't quite right (they went solid and strange). I will have to try again with a different recipe.

I love crumpets possibly more than anything in the world.

West/CJ said...

I have a similar panasonic, and I just love it. I did have to start limiting how much I made, as my already extra-large ass expanded to planetary proportions, but I still pull it out fairly frequently. I love all the variations you can do with, and although it doesn't really work out to be less expensive, I get what I want without all the chemicals (if I can't pronounce it, I shouldn't eat it), so the tradeoff is worth it to me.