When we were having oven problems a while back, M and I asked my parents if we could borrow their old bread machine. My parents and I remembered the two or three times we tried it before, getting round loaves with very hard-to-cut crust. But M and I, knowing our tendency to tinker with things until we get the results we like, figured we could get decent results after a couple of tries, and certainly better results than with a broken oven. Tonight, fresh from my parents' place, M made our first attempt, using the recipe in the machine's book. It called for bread flour, but we had none, so we substituted all-purpose flour and gluten. M also added butter, because he learned in our earlier attempts at bread baking that butter softens crusts.
Four and a half hours later, the bread was done. The top hadn't risen smoothly, but it was soft. The base, unfortunately, was a little burned and a little rubbery (but nothing like it was when the recipe was followed to the letter).
I started with the knife from the top down. It was a bit difficult to cut at the bottom, but the bread's crumb looked lovely--not consistent, but MOSTLY consistent. (Apologies for the yellow tint of the pictures. My camera does not appreciate the CFLs we use in the house.)
It smelled divine. It held together even while I spread peanut butter on it. And the strawberry jam smeared on looks like it was meant for this bread and no other. The crumb even held together when I spread the cold butter across it.
The verdict? Fantastic yeasty flavor, light and delicious. Buttered, it was delicious. With the strawberry jam, it was absolutely heavenly.
Next, I'll be using it to mix the ingredients and knead the dough, then I'll bake in the oven. I'm looking forward to this, and any visitors or neighbors should be too!
* Stringham high: More delicious bread!
* Stringham low: It's still winter?
* Stringham super-high: The happy and sad bread illustrations from the bread machine user manual!