I Bake, Therefore I Am

breadmakerA while back I bought this bread-maker at a yard sale for $20. I’d been wanting a bread-maker for a long time and this one was brand-spanking new, never been used and a pretty good deal (after some negotiation).

I took it home and read the manual thoroughly, because whenever I buy anything  new that plugs into an electrical socket,  the first thing I always do is read the manual from cover to cover; highlighting the really important parts and then filing the manual away in my Appliance Manual file. (Alternatively, if you don’t want all those little booklets lying around, everybody has their manuals online now so you can keep an electronic file.)

Anyhooo, it wasn’t until last weekend that I finally got around to using it. I followed all the instructions carefully and then…then I made bread! It’s freakin’ magical. Who doesn’t love fresh bread? The smell of fresh bread. The taste of fresh bread. The texture of fresh bread. But who can actually do a good job baking fresh bread? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ve tried and to this day we still have the doorstops to prove it.

So, here’s this machine in my house now into which I dump a few ingredients, push the start button and then go away and live my life. A few hours later there’s a freshly baked loaf of delicious bread in my kitchen! I know, I know, the rest of the universe discovered the wonder of the bread-making machine a couple of decades ago, but it’s all so new and miraculous to me, so bear with me.

Right away I had to wonder who came up with this enchanting device?

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As usual, my bosom buddy, Google, had all the answers. Back in the late 19th century, an African-American guy by the name of Joseph Lee invented a machine that would mix and knead dough for bakeries. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that the Japanese first came up with a miniature of this machine for home use. Later that same decade, both Sanyo and Zojirushi began exporting bread-makers to North America.

Joseph Lee grew up in the food service industry in Boston, Massachusetts. He worked as a baker, cook, waiter, and hotel manager, and eventually become the owner of two restaurants and his own catering service called the Lee Catering Company. He died in 1905 of non-bread-related issues.

Thanks Joseph Lee! Now, not only can I make a dazzling variety of breads, I can also use the little machine to process the dough for buns, rolls, strudel (STRUDEL!!) pizza, pasta, baguettes and bagels. The world of yeasty delights is my oyster, so to speak. The Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme® breadmaker (not the one I have, unfortunately) even makes, cake, cookies, jam and meatloaf! Ah, it’s good to be alive in the 21st century, isn’t it?  I feel like Jane Jetson. 

jane-jetson

I see a lot of breadmakers at yard sales, though, so I’m thinking maybe the magic of making automatic bread wears off really quickly or something.

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25 responses to “I Bake, Therefore I Am

  1. My mother had one of those and was so enamoured of it, she was always trying to give my SIL and I one for Christmas and birthdays and every year we’d say NO. Not another appliance for a too tiny kitchen with no counter space and only one electrical outlet. Now that artisanal bread is getting to beyond $5 a loaf, I’m thinking to hell with counter space. So what interesting breads have you made?

  2. my folks bought me one for christmas (my request) and i returned it because i realized i would never get around to reading the manual and giving it a try. maybe i should reconsider. i looovvvvveeee fresh bread.

  3. I’m still debating buying a breadmaker because, like VioletSky, we don’t have a lot of space in our kitchen.

    Plus, there’s lots of bread you can make in a regular oven. But then again, maybe the ease of a breadmaker makes it a worthwhile purchase.

  4. I used to make bread by hand many years ago when I was a stay-at-home single mom on welfare. The good old days, ya know?

    Back when breadmakers first came out, my sister came to visit me for a weekend and we RENTED a breadmaker and made a dozen different kinds of bread. We made bread non-stop all weekend. We even programmed it to make bread while we slept so we could wake up to the smell of fresh bread.

    She got her fill of breadmaking from that weekend, but I bought a breadmaker after I got a job. Years later, I only use it for making pizza dough. It’s worth it for that purpose alone.

  5. I’ve been thinking of getting one of those, but I got a deep fryer (no doubt in a moment of PMS induced french fries craving), it gathered dust, I got a juicer, it gathered dust. I’m thinking of all those bread machines at yard sales and I’m thinking it would gather dust.

    Besides, I have an atrisan bakery near my place that makes the best breads in the world so… I’ll probably pass.

  6. I used to make bread all the time – those same good old days of being a mostly stay-at-home Mum. Someone gave me a breadmaker, too, and I used it to have freshly baked bread, and more importantly the smell of freshly baked bread, to wake up to. No alarm clock needed.
    Unfortunately, the loaves were too small, what with three kids all getting up to the same smell, so it is somewhere in the basement.
    Thanks for the reminder, I might haul it out now that there is just one of me!

  7. I LOVE fresh-baked bread. Just with butter alone. You don’t want to add anything else to dilute the taste.

    But (even though I realize the purists will have my head for saying this!) I also love squishy white chemical-laden astroturf Wonder Bread.

    Especially when it’s fresh, and it sticks to the roof of your mouth when you make peanut butter sammitches.

    Both have a place in my diet.

  8. My parents swear by their breadmaker. When they got a new, larger one a few years ago, they gave me their smaller machine. I used it once, about five years ago, and it’s been collecting dust ever since. My problem is primarily that I just never have baking ingredients (not even salt or sugar) on hand, and I never think to buy any while I’m out.

  9. Violetsky – I have limited counter space too and only one outlet in the kitchen! I just pack the thing away when I’m not using it. So far I’ve only made spelt bread, but I’ll expand my horizons soon. Then again there are only 2 of us and we can only eat so much bread without ballooning.

    Meanie – The manual is very simple. Most of it is taken up with recipes. The machine is basically “push start” and that’s it. Setting the timer might take a minute or two of focus, but it’s all not difficult. For a family of 4, I’d say it’s definitely worth it.

    Hannah – Hey, if you’re good at making bread go for it. I’m a terrible baker though — all that kneading and waiting for stuff to rise – very labour intensive and you have to be on the spot. The breadmaker does it all for you. Throw the ingredients in and bread comes out. For the fancier stuff the machine will get the dough all ready so all you have to do is shape it and bake it in your regular oven. They’re not very pricey anymore and worth a try, I think. They’re obviously not for everybody since there are so many of them at yard sales.

    Zoom – Ah ha! So that’s your pizza dough secret. You could have it make dough over night and get up a little early and turn it into cinnamon buns and pop them in the oven and then go back to bed and then 40 minutes later or so wake everybody up and act all surprised that there are fresh cinnamon buns in the oven for breakfast

    Laurie – Good to hear the things are still churning out happy bread for people.

    Jazz – Mmmm artisan bread. This wasn’t a sales pitch. If I had a great bakery next door, I wouldn’t be baking it myself either. Thing is my daughter can’t have wheat so I’m always hunting around for wheat-free buns and pizza and bread and stuff. If I do find it, it’s outrageously expensive, so I finally thought, “why not make my own” You should sell those appliances before they become obsolete. Free up some space.

    Nancy – I guess the idea of the small loaves is to eat it up in one day and make more the next. I wonder how much electricity these things suck up?

    Friar – You are truly a rennaisance man, what can I say.

    Louise – Hmmm – The ingredient list is pretty small for the breadmaker. And it’s loads of fun to watch it do its thing. AND it drives the cat crazy. Win. Win. Win.

  10. Ever wonder why it’s only chubby people selling breadmakers at garage sales.

    Yes, I’ve got one of those babies too. Was amazed at how simple it was to become one with the earth by baking my own loaves… used it everyday for 2 weeks… gained a whole bunch of weight. Now it sits in the furnace room waiting until I need to gain 20 pounds again.

  11. I want one.

    I’ve avoided attempting to make bread because I imagine it takes tons of practice to figure out the exact right consistency for the dough. And I don’t want to fail.

    Basically I’m a lazy perfectionist.

  12. Breadmakers are kind of like boats. They seem like a good idea and you think you’ll use it all the time, but then you end up hating your wife.

    At least that’s what happened to me.

  13. I ♥ my breadmaker. And since I don’t have a wife, I guess I’m not in the same boat as Mayopie. You know, the boat that’s like a breadmaker.

    I use mine as a dough maker rather than a bread maker. I don’t like the taste of the bread baked in the machine so much, but I do like making dough for cinnamon buns, pizza, and baguettes in the breadmaker and then baking them in the oven.

    Unfortunately, the model I have won’t let you set a timer for just the dough cycle, so I rarely have cinnamon buns before 11 a.m. But they’re worth the wait. One time I set the timer to bake multigrain bread so it would be ready for breakfast, only to be woken out of a dead sleep at 4 a.m. when the kneading cycle started up. That sucker is loud. Or, the bedroom is too close to the kitchen.

    About the only recipes I make all the way in the breadmaker, including the baking, are multigrain bread (Yum) and Italian bread, which is only so-so bread, but makes truly superior toast (buttered hot, of course, Bob).

    Don’t use all purpose flour in your breadmaker (for those of you using wheat flour) — not enough gluten. Recipes turn out much better if you use bread machine flour (like Robin Hood ‘Best for Bread’ flour. They’ll be lighter and less dense.

  14. Bob – I was wondering if someone was going to bring that up. Thanks for not letting me down.

    Skylark – I don’t think there’s a mandate with the breadmaker that says you have to eat 5 times as much bread just because you’re making it yourself. I eat just as much bread as I normally do, it’s just better bread. Hence and therefore the weight gain problem becomes null and void.

    Dave – That’s why I gave up making it myself. You can’t fail with the breadmaker. As long as you use the products they recommend you can’t fail. And it’s perfect every time!

    Mayopie – I guess I never stopped to really think about the many possible pitfalls of breadmakers. I will avoid acquiring a wife in order to keep my love of the breadmaker fresh.

    Alison – I’m still experimenting with non-traditional flours since one of the main reasons for getting the thing was to produce baked goods without wheat for the kid. I don’t mind dense bread though. I like a good hearty hunk of whole-grain cold toast.

  15. LOL, congrats on your first loaf … looking forward to further yeasty tales. 🙂 I use mine all the time … esp. for doughs … pizza dough and naan dough … and I make my banana bread in the bread machine so I don’t have to heat up the oven. Like zoom said above, it’s worth it for the dough alone.

  16. I hope you realize those things are the actual cause of global warming.
    It all seems good at first but then instead of commercial bakeries properly equipped to handle the problem you have all these civilians turning yeast loose all over the place.
    And what does yeast do?
    It creates carbon dioxide which is then released into the atmosphere destroying the world.
    I hope you’re happy with your little global warming generator.

  17. About the only time I eat bread is if I order a nice sandwich somewhere. I don’t even buy bread, why would I want to make it? Have fun though. Gadgets are always fun. I’ll stick with my rock tumbler.

  18. I have had a breadmaker for as long as they came out. Right now, it has to go and live on the back porch because of counter space but it comes back in for dinner.

    We love whole wheat bread and were even having daughter of eleven mill wheat for us to use; long, long ago.

    All you need is a little book called The Bread Machine Cook Book I, II, II, IV, etc and we use #1 (or I to be proper) the most.

    When mom lived with us, we made “Crusty Cuban” 90% of the time because she loves white bread and I bet I gained a bunch of pounds on buttered Crusty Cuban. It is Sooo good.

    I’m a carb lover and used to bake homemade bread. I still even make German Easter Bread each year by starting it in the breadmaker.

  19. Olivia – Ya, I think in the winter I’ll be using it more for dough to bake in the real oven. There are so many yummy recipes to try!!

    Bandobras – Oh no! From now on I’ll only buy Wonderbread that was made in a nice commercial bakery and flown here from China.

    Geewits – Wow. You don’t buy bread. That’s very unusual. And, PS I think I can tumble rocks in my breadmaker, too — they’re very advanced now.

    Savanvleck – I love carbs, too. I’m trying to cut down so have room for important stuff like protein, but it’s tough — especially with a new breadmaker in the house..Cuban crusty, eh?

  20. “But who can actually do a good job baking fresh bread? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ve tried and to this day we still have the doorstops to prove it.”

    HAHAHHAHAHAHA!!

    yeah, the rising part seems to defeat me. my mum didn’t ever master bread, either, so i have to learn from someone else i know who’s actually good at it. like my favorite cousin, for instance.

    too bad she’s four hours away! *grrr*

    i think it’s likely people either got tired of the weird, bread-machine-shaped loaves or else decided that with bread being $1.89 a loaf it wasn’t worth it. it totally is, and not just because bread (at least here) is approaching and exceeding $5 a loaf now. what smells better than bread baking?? (okay, bacon. but what *else*? yeah, exactly.)

    having the machine make dough for you that you can then put in a loaf pan or shape in a rustic european way and turn into a real loaf of bread is something else. (not all machines have the dough setting i think.)

    either way, they’re pretty frickin’ awesome.

    i’ve tried to pretend i would use my kitchenaid to make bread. i even got yeast and flour and everything. have i? no. i suppose i’m missing the everything-remote that ol’ jane has up there. sigh.

  21. I love how the whole post has an excited and upbeat energy and then the last line puts you right back to funny but practical.

  22. AuntieHallie- It’s been a long time since I paid $1.89 for a loaf of bread. But then I always tend to buy expensive bread anyway. It’s like chocolate and a lot of other food — if I’m going to eat it, I want the best; something that tastes good. The machine does make weird shaped loaves and I suspect you’re right that most people just end up using it to make the dough — which is the hardest part anyhow. Just rolling it into some shape and sticking it in an oven even I can do. I think pretty much all of the new machines have the dough setting now.

    Lola – Yes, I’m very clever with juxtaposition – ha ha ha (she says with a self-deprecating chuckle)

  23. I love bread. It’s my favourite food. However, my breadmaker has never seen the outside of it’s box. Maybe you’ve motivated me to try if though.

  24. i love the bread. the bread machine, when someone around here makes it, the smell, the texture, the ALL of it.

    bravo, bread machines rule.