JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Machine bread, local flour

Until yesterday, I felt a little embarrassed to have bought a bread machine ... truth to tell, though, my handmade (artisan?!) bread has always been a little hit and miss: either delicious - or else so heavy as to be barely edible (even using the same recipe). I've inflicted this on my family for years, and they have put up with it with characteristic humour (also on occasion other characteristic reactions which I think I will not share).

The bread machine makes it all so simple. And edible. Every time. Every single time. And you don't have to bake your dough in the funny machine shape, you can whip out the dough and shape it however you'd like. Last week I made dough sticks, foccacia, fougasse, pizza, and rolls. All delicious, light, airy - also no trouble. (Hence, I suspect, my embarrassment.)

Yesterday, I bought flour from Wessex Mills, ground from wheat mostly grown around half an hour from here, at five named farms, one of which I can picture, and at least two more of which I have driven past. And the resulting bread, made in under two hours automatically on the rapid setting while I was at a meeting, was ... wonderful. The wheat was grown at Ash Farm, West Hagbourne; Manor Farm, Westcott Barton; Shalstone Manor, Shalstone; Woodway Farm, Aston Rowant; Church Farm, Lewknor. How's that for traceability?

Quick white bread in a machine

1 tsp quick yeast
400g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
280 ml water

I used demerara sugar because it was there. In future I plan to use honey or maple syrup (lovely lovely Christmas present) or molasses, all of which will add depth of flavour. I use Maldon salt for everything.

My machine is Panasonic, so I always start with yeast then flour, adding liquids last. I gather other machines require you to add ingredients in other ways.

Set the machine to basic/rapid/medium. That takes just under two hours in mine.

Related posts:

Antioxidant teabread
White pizzas with fennel seeds


Eleanor said...

I would love to have homemade, local bread (to spread with my homemade, local forced rhubarb jam!) - yours looks fabulous.

Do you know of anywhere online that compares the virtues, or otherwise, of various bread machines? I've started clicking around but am bewildered by the choice.

Joanna said...

No, but somehow I got the idea that a Panasonic was one of the best. In the end, I went to the shop, looked at what was on offer, and chose (from 3) on the shape of the loaf ... and I can recommend it, easy instructions, good recipes (although I have a couple of other books), fuss-free, easy to clean, etc etc.

Love the sound of your rhubarb jam ...


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I would love to get my hands on flour like that Joanna.
No cause for embarrass, we should be happy with what works for us. My advice is always: the best advice is what works for you.
Your bread looks beautiful.

Baking Soda said...

I agree Joanna, I accidently bought Panasonic 3yrs ago (it was there, it was on offer, I had some birthday money and I suddenly decided I really needed a bread machine) but soon found out it was one of the best on the market.

A good and simple comparison can be made on how much time it takes to bake a simple white loaf. Some machines state it takes 1.1/2 hr.... not good.

Also flour to water ratio is near what you would take for hand made bread which is a good thing. Panasonic requires very little yeast, I use less than 1 ts for 500 gr of flour. I would recommend Beth Henspergers the bread lovers breadmachine cookbook for recipes!