I have been making my own bread for awhile now. It started with making my own pizza dough and then progressed to learning about the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" method. Their master recipe is basically fool-proof and involves making a simple dough then storing it in the fridge and ripping off pieces whenever you want to make a loaf. Of course we're always looking for simpler and faster ways of doing anything these days.
I got a bread machine for Christmas last year and have been looking for recipes to try. The bread machine is great: dump the ingredients into the machine, press a button and let it do the work. I didn't know it can get any easier than "bread in five minutes a day." With a bread machine, the amount of work you don't have to do is almost astonishing.
I got 300 Best Canadian Bread Machine Recipes in the mail recently from Robert Rose. The book--by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt--is THE comprehensive bread machine book full of recipes, instructions and techniques and everything you need to know about making bread in a machine.
I didn't realize there were that many variations of flour, water and yeast--300 in this book to be exact. There are all sorts of bread recipes, such as low-fat, international and gluten-free, and even recipes for pitas, bagels, pizza dough and dessert loaves. Each recipe even has measurements to make different size loaves, so you know exactly what you need to make a 1.5 or 2 lb loaf and how many servings each recipe yields.
My kitchen is starting to look like a little bit like a space station control panel. I have a Burr coffee grinder that takes up quite a bit of space, plus a coffee machine, espresso machine, kettle and toaster. The thing with appliances is you seem to accumulate them, but never get rid of them. The bread machine is quite large, so it doesn't actually fit in the kitchen. I have to plug it in on the floor when I want to make bread. The cat was quite curious about the machine and its constant whirring:
Remember Tim Horton's soup in a bread bowl? I think every Canadian does. For a brief period of time they offered chicken stew or chilli in a bread bowl and the country rejoiced at the concept that you could "eat the bowl too!" It really was a glorious moment for Canada.
These bread bowls are just as good although they are quite dense. Be prepared for a heavy meal, especially if you're filling them with chilli or a thick soup.
Soup-in-a-bread-bowl (pg. 306)
Makes 4 bowls
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour or bread flour
3/4 cup cracked wheat
1/2 cup buttermilk powder
1 1/4 tsp breach machine or instant yeast
Measure ingredients into baking pan. Insert pan into the oven chamber. Select Dough Cycle. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface. Cover with a large bowl and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 portions. Form into balls 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) in diameter and at least 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) high. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in volume. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. When cool, cut out the center, leaving at least a 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness of bread on the bottom and the sides. Fill with hot soup and serve.
I also made the Tomato Rosemary Ciabatta recipe (pg. 201) from the book. The recipe includes sun-dried tomatoes and dried rosemary for extra flavour.
The method was similar to the bread bowls. Pour the ingredients into the pan and set the bread machine to the dough cycle.
Then let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes and bake for 25-30 minutes. The recipe made enough dough for two ciabatta flatbreads.
Both recipes tasted great and didn't have too much of that "soda" or "yeast" taste for homemade bread. There are so many more recipes I want to try from this book, such as Greek-style pitas, parmesan rosemary bread sticks and maple banana flaxseed bread. I have a feeling the bread machine will be making an appearance and churning out the smell of freshly baked bread for awhile now.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experiences.