At some point in every housewife’s life she gets the urge to make her own bread. This sets her off on a lifetime’s journey in quest of the perfect loaf which I shall occasionally chronicle here. My journey began with a bread maker.
We may have got it as a wedding present, I can’t remember, but at some point early in our married life we acquired a bread maker. It’s a pretty simple machine. There’s a rectangular bucket at the bottom of which is a paddle that does all the hard work. You fill this up with the ingredients, insert the bucket into the machine, set it going and in the morning you have hot fresh bread. The very first morning the hot fresh bread slides easily out of the bucket and off the paddle, but never again.
There are many problems with making bread this way. I never like the shape of the loaf, the cross section was too large, the crust was too chewy. The loaf in itself was OK, especially if you’d added all the ingredients. I used to put it on last thing at night, and because it only had very few ingredients I’d do it from memory which meant that we’d sometimes end up with a bucket of well mixed ingredients that hadn’t turned into bread. You had to make sure that the paddle was inserted correctly and the bucket was locked into the machine, otherwise sludge would ensue. The machine was quite noisy, so I had it on the back verandah, not a desirable location first thing in the morning in the winter months.
What finally made me give it up was the paddle. It was always firmly embedded in the end of the bread. So you’d eat your way to the end of the loaf, then push the paddle out and wash it for the next loaf. Or alternatively, get to the end of the loaf and throw it in the bin. If this happened on bin night, it meant a trip to the creepy appliance shop up the road which was always inexplicably stacked to the roof with toasters. How could anyone hope to sell that many toasters? But they were always happy to get me in a new bread maker paddle.
The last time this happened I gave up. It was time for me to start making my own bread by hand, the next step on the Bread Journey. Anyone who makes bread ends up turning it into a journey, try it yourself and see if you can stop with the first method you try. What prompted me to dig up this story from the vault is something that the dogs dug out of the compost bin today while searching for a rat.