Friday, 3 August 2012

My Adventures in Bread Making

When I was little, if I complained of being hungry, between meals, my mother would say, 'How about a piece of bread?' 

The Hub's most recent masterpiece
Such a simple mundane thing, it seemed back then. Surprise, surprise, my response was usually negative - I was really after a biscuit. These days I tend to view bread rather differently - I'd really like to be able to just pick up a piece of bread! 

It's not just about being dairy free - there are lots of breads out there that qualify as that. It's the whole gluten free thing... and something else - something that I have yet to identify that most shop bought gluten free loafs contain and I can't tolerate.  

I was alright, up until fairly recently, when Genius changed the formula for their gluten free loaf. Their new loaf just doesn't seem to agree with my gut. Now I can't find the old one anywhere - although it apparently still exists.

So, somewhat reluctantly, I have taken up bread making.

Don't worry! I've not morphed overnight into a super baker. I cheat. I use a bread maker. I can't be bothered with all the kneading you have to do, when you make it by hand.

I've no idea how good our bread making machine actually is. We bought ours because we got a good deal, it had good reviews online and was recommended by Which? magazine.

We've actually had it for a year or two, but up until now it's been The Hub's toy - mainly because my attempts so far have been pretty dire (read 'inedible' here, folks) and because, well... I couldn't be faffed. I'd much rather go out and buy one than do all the fiddly measuring out and then there's the extra washing-up (we don't have a dishwasher - it all gets done by hand).

However, the other week, I ran out of bread, and, facing the prospect of having nothing for lunch, decided to have another go - with Baby's 'help,' of course! 

Surprisingly good, for me, this was the result:

Like the gaping hole? That's where I ripped the paddle out.
Okay, some of you more accomplished bakers will be unimpressed. That's okay, by me, as it's got a great gaping hole in it - that's because the paddle got stuck inside the loaf and I had to rip the loaf out of the tin in chunks. But for me, the result was a bit of a miracle, especially as I didn't read the recipe properly (I used the one on the back of the flour packet) so added some ingredients in the wrong order and I didn't familiarise myself with the instructions for the machine either - the consequence to that being that it went off on completely the wrong program and wouldn't allow me to reset it (even when I unplugged it for ten minutes - as per The Hub's instructions). 

The actual loaf had a nice crust and seemed to be light enough, with even air bubbles and a pleasing texture. It gave me fresh hope. So yesterday, I gave bread making another go. Here's the loaf in the tin:

The loaf in the tin
It looks a bit pale, doesn't it? I closed the lid and left it for a bit longer and in the heat of the tin, it browned off a little more. So finally, it looked like this:

Looking better?
As you can see, there's still a little hole, from the paddle, but it's looking a whole lot better!
It cuts really well.
And it tasted good too! Even Baby (no real fan of bread) loved it and came back for more! Woo hoo! Huzzah! Success!

Think I'm converted. Maybe the effort was worth it after all.

Actually, I'm quite glad that Genius changed the recipe of their loaf now - necessity has challenged me and taught me something new, once again.

It brought to mind the famous phrase: 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!'

I'm not resting on my laurels though - even when you follow the instructions, carefully, results can vary, as The Hub (who is quite a good cook, really) has found out!

Anyone else planning to give bread making a go? Or perhaps you are an expert, what tips would you pass on?

By the way, I used Dove's Farm gluten free white bread flour (available in many UK supermarkets and online) the recipe was on the back of the packet. Instead of cow's milk I have used coconut and almond milk. I think both work well, but prefer the almond. Sunflower oil was my oil of choice, however, I think The Hub has used olive oil, in the past. It's all down to personal taste!

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