M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Saturday, February 14, 2009  

Less than Half Baked

Remember years ago when automatic bread makers were the big thing and everybody had to have one? Whatever happened to bread makers? Well, I know what happened to ours. We were using ours one day and at some apparently critical point in the cycle, something happened. Either we had a power failure, or someone unplugged it, or someone opened the lid at the wrong time. But whatever the case, it caused a honey-wheat loaf to collapse into a honey-wheat singularity. But not before it went quietly nova in a yeast-splosion that coated every interior surface in some kind of interdimensional polymer whose bonding properties would have been of interest to NASA. Needless to say the bread maker was kind of ruined after that.

But recently, Trash found a used bread maker while browsing Craigslist. We remembered how much we used to enjoy our homemade bread, especially the smell You know, that magic smell that realtors use to make you want to buy a house the minute you walk inside. Those things aren't cheap when they're new, but this one was like new and the dude only wanted twenty dollars for it. So I drove up into north Minneapolis, and took it off his hands -- for fifteen.

Clearly the term "used" was being used loosely here, since it was still in its original packaging, and although the exterior box was beat to shit, the bread maker itself still had the original label on the front that you're supposed to take off before using it.

The first week we had it, I wanted to make something before Trash got home from work to surprise her with that aroma, but we didn't have any yeast and I don't know how to make it. And unfortunately, all of the recipes that came with the bread maker seemed to call for it. I suppose I could have made banana bread, but I would have had to do it in the oven, which would have defeated the purpose.

The next week, when we had some yeast, I tried a small loaf, and it ended up smaller than I expected. And that was on the outside. On the inside, the top half of the loaf was completely absent; it didn't have a crust so much as it had a hollow shell.

But I figured I'd been too timid, so for my second loaf this week, I went medium. Ah, that lovely, yeasty smell filled the house for hours. Through two cycles, because the first time didn't work for some reason.

Here's what it looked like right before I tipped the perfect loaf out onto the counter:

And here's what it looked like on the counter:

Tempting, isn't it? Let me break off a hunk for you:

But let's not eat it all right now. Let's put it away so as to reduce the temptation.

I'm ready to make another loaf right now, how about you?

Seriously, though, I really don't know what happened. You program the thing with all of two buttons, so I don't see how I could have screwed it up. For a while I thought I'd forgotten to put the kneading and stirring blade in there, but I hadn't; it just never turned. But at least the heat came on and we got the smell I love so much. Twice, in fact.

So I'm not sure what to do now. Maybe I'll call that 800 number on the label for some "expert advise." Or maybe I'll offer some expert advise of my own.

posted by M. Giant 7:33 PM 6 comments


I sort of feel like a Movementarian on this --- but you need to commune with the no-knead. It's kind of a cult. An awesome cult that results in you being able to make tasty, bakery-quality bread.

Here's the original:


There is one single pain in the ass thing about this recipe: It takes time. You have to get it going the day before or at least the night before you actually want to bake it. Other than that, it takes five minutes to do, is so easy there are quite literally videos of five year old children making it, [1] and is totally flexible --- I've bumped the yeast a bit when I knew it wasn't going to have as much time to rise, I've done it with whole wheat and white, coated with sesame seeds, whatever. If you don't have a dutch oven you can just use any heavy pot with a lid that doesn't have plastic bits, I've even used the ceramic liner from a crock pot. It is awesome.

[1] http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/09/10/no-knead-bread-revisited/

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 14, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

You forgot one crucial step there Mr. M. You didn't watch the free video! No, joke, the bread maker knows if you watched.

Way to tell it who's boss though!

By Blogger supertoy, at February 15, 2009 at 7:18 AM  

Amen on the no-knead. It tastes more superlatively awesome if it has 18 hours or so to rise, but it's still tasty and well-textured if you up the amount of yeast and just let it rise for, say, 4 hours. If you do some googling, you can find an update to the original NY Times post, where they explore the speeded-up version.

The heavy pot with the well-fitting lid is key. But once you've made this a few times, you'll be ready to toss the bread machine. (I would be, if I could ever convince my husband to get rid of anything.)

By Blogger kmckee7, at February 15, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

re: no-knead bread

You don't even need the heavy pot/lid combo (although it's nice) - my husband did it as a command performance @ my grandparents - with a metal salad bowl and aluminum foil. So don't feel like you have go out & buy fancy accoutrements...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 15, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

I just unearthed my breadmaker this weekend and was planning on giving it to Goodwill - instead, you can have it for your future breadmaking since I don't think this bargain machine is going to cut the mustard.

Dabitch elder

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 17, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

Oh Lordy. Your breadmaker is actually an adobe brick maker! Wring label, that's all.

I do like your instructions at the end.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM  

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