We have to admit to having a bit of a failure recently, thankfully not on the miniatures or pattern designing front. No, on lifting the lid on the bread maker the contents can only be described as resembling dry grey mud. Tipping out the ‘loaf ‘ with a resounding thud made one wonder how so much weight could reside in such a small blob. Evidently something had gone wrong either with the ingredients or the method.
Bread baking machines are a modern labour saving device which allow for quick, foolproof home baking. Bread making itself goes back up to 30,000 years as, evidence suggests starch found on rocks in Europe was from the pounding of plants to make flour.
Bread is a staple of the diets of people around the world. Though there are many types of bread the basic ingredient is a wheat flour dough. Yeast may be added to make the bread rise, but where not it is referred to as unleavened bread, though not all flat breads, such as tortilla, are unleavened.
There is a wide choice of bread types today. White, brown, wholemeal, wheat germ, pita and rye are but a few and that is before some of the more specialised breads are considered.
So where did it go wrong? Well, the basics are quite easy in bread baking but getting it wrong can be disastrous. Firstly, a good strong flour is required, a liquid such as water and a leavening agent such as yeast. Using what is known as the bakers percentage method where water, yeast, milk and salt are expressed as a percentage of the flour content the correct proportions are mixed or kneaded together. A time for proving follows where the yeast ferments allowing the bread to rise followed by the baking. This should all be achieved automatically in the bread maker, but traditionally was done by hand. Given the state of the failed loaf it looks like the yeast was dead.
Finally, presentation can make a run of the mill loaf look a little bit more special. Sliced into a bread basket on the centre of the table can make it that little bit more tempting Of course one of the benefits of home baking is cost, but there is no price to put on the wonderful taste and aroma of freshly baked bread however you do it.