Saturday, July 18, 2009
Woman vs. Machine
Ever since we got married a little over 22 years ago, I've been working on learning to bake homemade bread. You know, a really tall, finely textured loaf. My first loaves were about two or three inches tall and pretty coarse. I found out that I was probably getting the water too hot, so after leaving the candy thermometer in the drawer and testing the liquid's temperature with my finger, the height improved, though it still wasn't like that of some of the homemade loaves I'd seen. The taste was all right, the height and texture were what needed improvement. A couple of months ago I thought maybe I should try a bread machine...maybe that would help. But I'm one of those people who think that anything made from scratch is probably better than store bought. (Except for cake mix. I can probably get a better cake from a mix than most I would make from scratch.) Anyway, I considered buying a bread maker. The pictures of the machine-made loaves looked really nice. After all these years of working on it, though, I kind of hated to be defeated by a machine. But then I realized that if the bread maker would make a really nice loaf of bread, it was only my stubbornness that was keeping our family from enjoying fresh homemade bread. So I researched different kinds, decided on one, and ordered it. Soon, it came. I took it out of the box. There it was. The Machine. Could it really make better bread than I could by hand?? I had to find out. I eyed it suspiciously and read through the instruction manual. I used the recipe for a simple white bread first. The loaf came out tasty, but not perfect. I wasn't sure whether to say "Ha! You couldn't do it either!" or be disappointed that it didn't make the loaf I was looking for. Some of the first few loaves fell a little on top, which after reading in the manual and on some cooking websites, was probably due to not using enough flour (or adding too much water). It seems that the amount of flour needed changes along with the weather and humidity. But after several tries, the loaves started staying tall. Really tall. And most with a very nice texture. I've hardly bought any bread since, even for sandwiches. It also has a dough cycle for mixing hot rolls and cinnamon rolls and such.
So, even though The Machine needs a little help from me in making sure the dough is the right consistency, I guess I'll have to send up the white flag in surrender. Could someone pass the butter, please?