Thursday, July 31, 2008

If All Else Fails...

Today, I am a baker, again.

I got a new bread maker. Yes, yes, another one, you know I am a Gadgeteer. Yes, that makes 3 of them. Soooo? It was on clearance at Walmart for $29.95 - a great deal. I am one of those people who ALWAYS read the instruction booklet first even though I am already familiar with the pieces and parts. Bread maker instruction books usually include extensive operation information as well as several recipes to use as a guideline. This one shall I put this...has a few diagrams, some notes, and one tiny page, with 11 tiny recipes - referred to as PROG. 1 through PROG. 11 for the different programs on the bread machine - on it that are half in Imperial measure and half in metric measure and half (ok, if you are keeping track that would be 1/3 and 1/3 and 1/3 here) little teeny tiny pictograms. Hmmmmm.

Kate had been here for a few days and mentioned wanting to learn to make Bread Maker Brioche. Recipe number 4 on that page was Brioche and of course I just have to try it out so I can explain to Kate how easy it was to make and that I just know she will have no trouble. The tiny recipe says it makes a 500g loaf. "Um, ok, well, isn't that about a 1 pound loaf?" I think to myself. 1 pound will be the perfect test loaf. Ingredients include eggs, milk, butter, sugar, salt, flour and yeast. No need to consult other bread books or the Internet, the book is accurate...right? Say it with me now "What could possibley go wrong???" Siiiiggghh.

In the instruction booklet the ingredients are written like this:
Eggs 2
Milk 2+ 1/2 and then here is a tiny drawing of a double ended measuring spoon with an arrow pointing at the larger end to what I assume is a tablespoon.
Butter 3/4 and here a tiny drawing of a measuring cup.
And so on to the end of the recipe with measures and tiny drawings. You see my dilemma here, don't you?

First off, I admit, I have never made Brioche before. This is one of those "someday I must make Brioche" things that I have never done and only decided to do on a whim today because of the new bread maker and the recipe in the book. Yes, I should have researched making Brioche first. Yes, I should have discovered whether or not 3/4 cup of butter was the right amount or waaaaaaaaay too much. Yes, I should have done that, but I didn't...well, I DID but that was only after the dough was mixed and starting on it's rise in the pan and...

...I checked through the large window on the top of the bread maker to see how the dough was doing, was it rising yet, and something looked, well, odd. The books always say not to lift the lid, but I have been using bread maker's for 18 years and I always lift the lid if I want to and I lifted the lid - oh, um, gee, er, isn't that, ah, MELTED BUTTER IN ALL FOUR CORNERS OF THE PAN!!!! Lots of melted butter! Ok, no, don't panic. Maybe it's supposed to do that, melt all the butter and then as it bakes, um, coat the bread, make the outside crispy...maybe.

Quick, check the internet. I find a recipe for bread maker brioche that says:
"Brioche Dough is very well suited to a Bread Maker because it's so oily and sticky." Ok, but, does that mean all the butter in it should melt out of it and fill the four corners of the bread machine...or not? Now I check the dough again. Hmmmmm, well the dough has risen, there doesn't appear to be quite as much melted butter everywhere. Oh my, does that mean that the melted butter has all slid to the bottom of the pan and the dough is floating in it?

Back to the Internet for further research. Find a recipe that says:
"Add ingredients in the order specified in your bread machine owner's manual, adding just 4 tablespoons of butter to start. Do not use delay bake function. Select Manual/Dough. Add the remaining butter during the first kneading, 2 tablespoons at a time after the dough comes together in a ball."

So the butter melted because I added it, all 3/4 of a cup of it, right at the start with the liquid ingredients, is that it? And there are 16 tablespoons in a cup so that means that...carry the 1, um...I put 12 tablespoons of butter in that small loaf of bread. Go to the bread recipe books on the shelf, thumb through for a Brioche recipe, find that most of them call for either 6 or 8 tablespoons of butter for that amount of flour. Oh. Well then.

The bread has finished baking. I use my instant read thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the bread is between 190F and 200F. I remove the pan and let the Brioche cool in it for 10 minutes. Looks not too bad. Remove it from the pan to finish cooling on the rack. I touch it and it feels very light and airy, if a little "greasy"...ok a lot "greasy"...from all that butter.

So, what did we learn from all this:
  1. If you look at the directions and some of the measures of the ingredients look a little wrong, they probably are. Go and do research before making your recipe, save yourself some grief.
  2. Don't assume that an instruction book for a bread maker manufactured in a foreign country where English is NOT their first language is accurate or that 1 (diagram of measure, arrow pointing to large end) + 1 + 1/2 (diagram of measure, arrow pointing to small end) is the same as 1 and 1/2 tablespoons.
Oh, look the book has a recipe for, um, something referred to as PROG. 11: BAKING. Looks like quickbread. Says it takes 1:00 hour. Ingredients include eggs, butter, sugar, salt, flour, lemon, yeast...hmmmm, does that mean we put the first 5 ingredients in the pan and then toss in a whole lemon? Or, do we toss in the juice of a lemon? Or, hey, yeast? Maybe they mean baking powder. You don't put yeast in a quickbread recipe. And, oh, look, the measurement for the "yeast" is 2,5 (yes, that's 2 comma 5) then a diagram of tiny measure with arrow pointing to small end. I'm guessing 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. Sounds yummy, think I'll give it a try.

Say it with me now:

"What could possibly go wrong?"

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