Ambrose Bierce quipped a century ago in his Devil's Dictionary that the "French eat more bread per capita than any other country because only the French know how to make the stuff edible." When bread machines took kitchens by storm ten or fifteen years ago I was skeptical. I had three reasons to be so. At the time I did not cook. I have ever believed I need to eschew bread from my diet, and I knew that I could get bread at the supermarket. I had forgotten how much better fresh is than store-bought.
Well, now I cook. I am still trying to eat bread in responsible amounts. I will give it up for a week at a time a few times per year. Five years ago I had fresh baked bread from a bread machine. I discovered that it's not anything like what you get at the store. Not even close. So I bought a bread machine.
Now, I have a unique handicap. My wife never eats wheat. And I spend a considerable amount of effort trying to avoid the stuff. So even if I have a bread machine, I rarely make the material for which it was intended.
Despite all these handicaps of my own, I love the bread machine. I have used it to make my own style of dark pumpernickle bread with lots of caraway. I make millet bread with it almost every week which my wife prefers to store bought - even the slices that I freeze for later consumption. And I use the bread machine's 'Jam' cycle to make granola.
There are a number of special ingredients listed here. Almost any health food store will carry most of these. We list suppliers at the bottom of the page.
In a bowl combine :
Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Rest covered for 5 min. Uncover. Allow to cool uncovered for 15 min.
As it cools, put into the bread machine:
Set it for the shorter bread cycle and start it. When 15 min are up or when the bread machine beeps for additional ingredients, add the fruit and nuts.
This is a rather durable bread. Composed of whole grain, beans, fruit, and nuts it is high in balanced protien, and contains fruits high in vitamins A&C. It has fair amount of fiber, and is high in omega-3 oils. In other words, one could survive on this bread alone for a very long time. It has a dry texture and keeps pretty well, although freezing is recommended with this bread as it is with most here.
Place into the bread machine
Set on jam cycle and run. Near the end of the jam cycle, boil 2 1/4 cups of water. When the machine beeps, remove the contents to a stainless steel bowl, place the bowl in your sink, and add the boiling water. Mix this up well, and allow it to rest and cool for 1 hour . Make sure the lid of the bread machine is open, so it cools down. (This' malting' cycle makes the grain taste better, it helps soften the millet kernels, and it helps the bread to rise. )
Wipe out the bread machine.
When an hour is up, place the following into the bread machine in this order:
Set the machine for whole wheat flour, fast cycle, and start the machine.When it beeps for additional ingredients, in about 30 minutes, slowly add 1/2 to 1 cup rice flour to correct consistency. It should be firm, not like batter but the dough should hold together.
If you are a vegan, you can add 2 tsp arrowroot instead of the egg.
This bread is Not gluten-free. It is, however, dark and complex, and delicious. If you find bread bland and pasty, this will change your opinion.
Bake on whole wheat bread cycle. This recipe creates out a dark, complex rye that is tender but has a bit of chewiness in the crust. Those with an adventuresome streak should add 1/2 cup raisins and 1 T. water to the recipe. And if you want it a little softer and cakelike, add 2 T. butter
It would be a mistake to imagine that a bread machine can perfectly emulate a French bakery. One of the charms of the French baguette is its particular shape and its particular crusty texture. One can get reasonably close on texture, but, if one bakes bread in a bread machine one cannot create the baguette shape. This is a reasonable substitute. A more serious baker might make the dough in the bread machine, then shape it and bake it in the oven. A really serious one will buy a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook and make it from scratch. But before going down that path, this is a great way to start out.
Bake on the long bread cycle dark crust.
This recipe is adapted from the back of a King Arthur Flour bag. Set the bread machine for quick bake bread cycle, about an hour and a half, medium crust darkness. Place the following ingredients into the bread machine in this order (important) :
Run the bread machine. Check the dough consistency during the kneeding cycle and correct if needed.
The result is a tan bread with a soft texture that toasts very nicely. It tastes delicious with peach, apricot, or cherry jam, and is very nice with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Bread flours differ from biscuit or pastry flours. They are made from high protien wheat. The protien in wheat is gluten and it is gluten that gives the bread its springiness and crustiness. It is for this very reason that it is used for bread, but other flours are used for baking cakes and biscuits. Bread flours typically contain 12% protien by weight, though one can find ones up to 13 %.
Pastry flours are low protien, low gluten flours. They have as little as 2/3 the protien as bread flour, being typically 8% - 9% protein. All purpose flour is halfway between, and this makes it suitable for both breads and pastries, but less than ideal for either. A serious baker or cook is likely to stock bread flour for breads and pastry flour for biscuits and cakes, especially if she enjoys crusty bread and melt-in-the-mouth cakes.
In making millet bread, it seems mighty inconvenient to toast the millet and flour first. So why do it? There are two reasons. One is that it makes the millet grain a little bit softer. Without the soaking cycle, the millet in the bread will be too hard and crunchy. The second reason is that yeast - having a metabolic system that is not far different from our own - prefer toast to bread. Toasting the grain and soaking it in hot water uncoils the starches, breaks some down into maltose and other complex sugars, and makes them available for the yeast as food. This completely changes the texture of the bread, making it supple and airy where otherwise it would be dense and crumbly.
The Zojirushi bread machine has a Jam cycle. This cycle is ideally suited for a number of tasks. One is the making of Granola. Granola is a mixture of rolled grains and nuts that may or may not incorporate dried fruit. The ideal granola has a nice gentle toasted nut and grain flavor that is nutty and subtle. Most commercial granola is highly sweetened and misses the mark by quite a lot. Diabetics and others who want the goodness of granola but want to limit blood sugar levels will want to make their own granola. It's incredibly simple.
Place in the breadmaker:
Set to jam cycle and run. This will produce well-toasted but not burnt granola. If you like it a little less toasted, simply take it out before the time is up. One can, of course add dried fruit, but it is often best to do this after the cycle is finished: some dried fruit will turn hard in this cycle. One can also add a few tablespoons of orange juice concentrate if one wishes for an orangy flavor. This is an ideal variation if one is planning to add Craisins sweetened dried cranberries at the end.
If one craves crispy, lumpy granola then one must add some flour and some water or fruit juice. Add 1/2 cup of flour that has been mixed with 1/4 tsp baking soda. And add a quarter cup of fruit juice concentrate . If lumps are the goal, add the butter toward the end of the cycle. Or, one can simply load it up with honey.
The great advantages of bread machine granola are:
Eat Well and Prosper.
Bob's Red Mill
King Arthur Flour Co.
Pecans Plain and Fancy - Willson Nut Farm
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.