Feb 3, 2013

Machine-Made Love

An old friend that I had cast aside without care for lack of appreciation has returned. All is forgiven and I will promise to nurture and value our relationship. I look forward again to how our friendship enhanced my life and those I love.

I am speaking of bread baking. Specifically bread-baking by machine.

Hot out of the Machine oven
 My first machine was an Hitachi HB-B102 Home Bakery II purchased when they first hit the shelves back in the late 80's. (That sounds positively pre-historic, doesn't it?) We lived in Pennsylvania at the time, country decor was the rage, and back-to-basics was the watch-word.We had neighbors that had one and I knew others that went so far as to grind their own grain. It baked those awkward vertical loaves that look like pencil erasers. But they were tasty erasers.
The Hitachi HB-B102. Ebay for it.

When it came to time to sell that house, I followed good advice, and set the machine to bake cinnamon bread while the potential buyers toured. During one of the worst winters in Mid-Atlantic history, when the snow was piled up so high out front of our duplex that you couldn't park and photos were needed to envision the buried back yard, that house sold in less than five weeks. I give the bread machine the credit.

But then I gradually lost interest, its space was taken over by other newer appliances, and after another move, it finally was relegated to the garage. The end was near. It was transported to the local thrift store and dumped unwanted at the front door like an abandoned old dog.

But now, with tighter times again, I was cringing at the weekly expense of my husband's crack-like addiction to crusty bakery-baked loaves. I figured an investment in a bread machine would pay for itself in a matter of months.

The West Bend Hi-Rise Breadmaker
An obsessive review-reader by nature (read: anxiety-ridden perfectionist), I studied many brands to define my personal needs and features. It must blend with my kitchen decor if it is to stay on the counter all the time, it should preferably bake horizontal loaves, be reliable, and be affordable. The winner was the West Bend Hi-Rise Breadmaker. It's black and chrome--perfect--, looks elegant on the counter, bakes horizontally in 4 sizes, even has an extra pan for purchase that bakes two small loaves simultaneously, and all for the amazingly low price of $75. Act now and you get a free packet of yeast! (jk :-)   )

I found it on my door step at 11 PM, two days after I placed my order--Go, Amazon!--and snuck it in. I still had bread flour in the freezer and some fresh-enough yeast, so I thought I'd surprise the unsuspecting Father R with that unforgettable wake-up smell. I followed the directions for Basic Bread in the manual, set it for Delay, and went to bed all aflutter.

The HORIZONTAL pan, ready for baking
At 6:45, I detected a waft. Father R did not. (Disappointment.) But the surprised delight on his face from, first the look, and then the TASTE, and I knew it was a great move. (That's the finished result at the top of the page.)

Three days later, and we have made white bread, buttermilk bread, cinnamon-cranberry-orange bread, pizza dough, and sandwich rolls for our Super Bowl Pork BBQ.  I've gained two pounds, but I'll just have to cut out something else. This time I'm going to be a trustworthy friend.

Look here for the yummy recipes.
Got Bread? Got Machine? Got Questions? Tell Mother All About It!

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