27 January 2011

Bread machine or purist?

I couldn't resist sharing the photo of the loaf of bread our trusty old machine churned out this week. Made in exactly the same way as usual, it beats all previous rising records.

We started using a machine to bake our bread about five years ago.  A Panasonic SD-256 had been my on my wish list for a long while having read a review by the Good Housekeeping Institute, but the price tag kept it out of the kitchen cupboard.

Then out of the blue my parents bought me an Argos Cookworks bread machine (no link available) for Christmas and away we went (and wastelines too). The machine came with a handy little recipe book, and we tried them all until we settled down to a few favourite recipes.

Although very basic the Cookworks machine really is a great little workhorse. We lost the paddle for it for a couple of years - it eventually turned up in our son's bedroom drawer ((??)) - so in the interim we bought a cheap replacement, but that eventually burnt out so back we went to the Cookworks.

So what do we make in the bread machine?

On average we bake about three loaves of  bread a week (every day when we're snowed in). It also makes the dough to make home made rolls that we eat with bowls of wholesome soup. I love the fact that you can make standard, quick or rapid loaves - handy when we've run out of bread and need a loaf for the table in just over an hour.

We also make white, brown or wholemeal loaves, depending upon circumstance.

Homemade pizza is on our menu every fortnight or so - a doubled up portion of dough will make three 45cm (18") pizzas - great when we have a house full of children as the pizzas can be custom built.

Our recent favourite however is the Focaccia. Mr Greenside Up was cheeky enough to ask me if I'd been to the bakery the first time I put it on the table as "it looks so professional". 

(apologies for picture quality - taken on phone)
Containing three tablespoons of olive oil it's a bit on the naughty side (only if you eat the whole loaf on your own I guess) but it's very adaptable.

The machine makes the dough and we add the toppings.

It could be as simple as pesto spread over the top (as in picture) or a bit more elaborate with sprigs of rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, sea salt and olives. Whichever way we choose, if it's sitting on the bread board when the children walk in from school,it won't be there 20 minutes later!

Sometime I roll it into a round pizza shape for equal shares (important for children that nobody gets more than them), or when it's for adults it tends to be more of an igledy pigledy shape that we tear and share.

Have I convinced any purists? As much as I love the idea of the therapeutic qualities of kneading bread I don't think I'd ever find the time to make it from scratch. This way we get to eat great tasting loaves without the hassle.

I'd love to hear whether others bake their own and their methods...

... and if anybody wants the recipe for the bread machine Focaccia, just leave a comment below.


  1. This is great! I am all for breadmakers as long as it means fewer people are buying industrial sliced bread in a plastic bag. You are doing such innovative stuff too! Well done! Tell us what you think about breadmakers here: http://www.virtuousbread.com/issue/two/the-list/

  2. Thanks for your comment Jane. I took the poll (guess my answer!) Great web page too. I've never tried sourdough but will have to give it a go.

  3. my breadmaker doesnt get used enough, yeah we eat too much cos its so nice. these machines use less power than a large oven so it gets a tick there.

  4. I got my first breadmaker (Russell Hobbs) 10 years ago. I had just started working for a local flour mill. As well as bulk flour, we sold a lot to people who came to the mill. As I was involved in the company's marketing, I bought the breadmaker so I could talk intelligently about it / them to the customers. I don't do gadgets - but this was love at first loaf!

    We don't buy bread at all now. I'm now on my 2nd machine and again went with the Russell Hobbs, because it was so reliable. I did buy a Kenwood Chef with the intention of making bigger batches of bread & freezing it, but the bread from the machine is just so good, I never got round to doing it.

    I still buy flour from the mill where I worked and they do a great selection including sour dough mixes, brioche mix and their Cotswold Crunch malted grain flour is fabulous (mixed 50/50 with white flour). (They have a website and do online sales - just Google 'FWP Matthews')

    So yes - my breadmaker is just my best friend in the kitchen and I wouldn't be without it!

  5. Brendie, that's a good point about the power - and Joy - how lovely to have a mill close by! The malted grain sounds fab.

  6. I did borrow my mum's bread maker once and it turned out bullets!! but this might persuade me to get it off her again and have another go as I think it is just languishing in her attic. I'd love the recipe for the foccaccia bread :-)

  7. Glad it's inspired you Lorna! The ingredients list that are placed in the tin in order for the foccacia are:

    230ml tepid water
    3 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp sugar
    450g strong white flour
    1 sachet dried active yeast.

    When the dough cycle has finished, remove it from the machine and spread it out onto an oiled baking try (sometimes I stretch it by hand, others (as above) roll it out).

    If you're using a pesto topping spread it on top of the dough with any other bits and pieces, dimple the surface with a teaspoon and leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

    Bake the dough in a pre-heated over at 190oC for 15 - 20 mins.

    Good luck and let me know how you get on :0)


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