Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Breadmaker Addiction

I got a new Breadmaker for Christmas, and she's a beauty. A Black & Decker Ultimate Plus 2 Pound Convection Breadmaker. The Lamborghini of Breadmakers.

What's that you say? Don't I already have a breadmaker? TWO other breadmakers?


So? What's your point?

Last summer I got a little Durabrand one from Walmart that was on clearance. It's a nice little breadmaker, but the manual is totally incomprehensible, written by someone who does not use English as their first language, nor even their second language and you have to guess at things. Makes good Brioche dough though.

And last Christmas, I purchased a beautiful machine from Canadian Tire with some Christmas money, another Black & Decker machine, a Cadillac of Breadmakers, an All-In-One Horizontal Deluxe 3 Pound Breadmaker. It makes a 2, 2.5, or 3 pound loaf of bread. It also has twin paddles and a nice long pan for mixing dough. I got it for half price - $50.00 - on a Boxing Day special and I love it. It makes gorgeous Brioche Dough...smooth, silky, satiny, perfect, tacky-but-not-sticky-to-the-touch Brioche Dough. Perhaps you are detecting a theme here. The manual for this machine is quite limited too, just a few recipes, some directions and that is it.

Back to my new breadmaker. This machine is amazing. It does so many things, I haven't even tried a tenth of them yet. And it has a great manual/recipe book. The first thing I always do is make a small loaf of white bread and let it bake in the machine to make sure it does the basics...sort of kick the tires, if you get my drift. It did ok, but I am not a big fan of bread baked in the breadmaker, I prefer to mix & knead the dough in the machine, then form it, let it rise and bake in the oven. But this machine has many other new features that appeal to my gadget-loving self. It is customizable. It has several built-in programs and you can program in 5 of your own recipes if you want to. Also, and this is one of my favorite features, it has a PAUSE button. What's a Pause button for, you ask? Wellllll, let me explain...

...say you want to make a beautiful loaf of braided Challah, you put the ingredients in the pan, start the cycle, and just before the 3rd rise, you press the PAUSE button. Remove the pan from the machine, dump out the dough, divide into 3 pieces, roll them into ropes, braid them together, tuck the ends under, place the dough back in the pan and pan back in the machine and press START. The machine resumes it's cycle, letting your loaf rise and bake. TOO COOL! You can also make Monkey Bread, or a Pull Apart as I call it. And a Mediterranean Rustic loaf, stuffed with cheese, garlic, meat and sun-dried tomatoes. Oh Yum! And did I mention the Batter Bread Cycle, or the Fruit and Nut dispenser? Or the 24 hour delay bake cycle? Or the French, Fruit & Nut, Gluten Free, and Low Carb Bread Cycles? Of course it makes Jam too, but most of them have that cycle.

My very first breadmaker, a Hitachi HB-B201 had a jam and a cooked rice cycle, and I bought it in 1991. That was a great machine too. After that one I had a Sunbeam. It died last year, or rather the pan died, the mechanism that turns the paddle seized up. It would have cost more to purchase a new pan than to purchase a new machine, that is why I bought the little Durabrand from Walmart. And Christmas of 2006, I bought a Toastmaster one that was really nice too, got it on a Boxing Day sale, again at Walmart. I gave it to Bente last Christmas when I bought my Black & Decker Horizontal machine. Hers was ancient and giving up the ghost and I knew she would give it a really good home.

So, yes, I have 3 breadmakers. And yes, at any given time, you might find two of them mixing dough. Today was Brioche day. Why today? Because I got my Christmas present from Kate today...a real honest-to-gosh Brioche Pan! Oh it is sooooooooooo pretty! And it's non-stick, and I mean truly non-stick. I baked my first ever loaf of Brioche a Tete in it and when it came out of the oven, I let it sit a minute and then after muttering "oh well, the Lord hates a coward" or words to that effect, I tipped it over and the loaf just slid right out. Not one crumb stuck to the pan.

Of course, this being my first ever Brioche a Tete, I made the dough ball to big. Next time will make it half that size and will glaze it as you are supposed to do. I didn't bother with the glaze because this was my "test" loaf. It's more like a basketball with a knob on top than a Brioche with a Tete on it, blush. But hey, it will taste incredible, I just know it.

The Brioche I make falls under the category of Poor Man's Brioche. I read somewhere that there are 3 categories for Brioche depending on how much butter and eggs there is in the loaf, Poor Man's Brioche having the least amount of both. My recipe has 3 eggs and 6 tablespoons of butter, plenty rich enough for me. I will make the Rich Man's Brioche someday, just to try. I am sure it is amazing.

Bente finally made it over today for a short visit. We have both been rather housebound for the last 3 weeks, ever since this horrible snow and cold weather hit. Max drove her over and she stayed for an hour and a half. It was so great to see her and we had a great visit. She enjoyed hearing about my new breadmaker and all the things it can do. We talked about all the things we want to do once the snow and cold are gone and our seasonal temperatures and rain are back. She brought me over some frozen peaches that she picked up for me at Quality Foods before Christmas. 5 bags of them. In the winter I prefer frozen fruit - with the exception of apples, oranges & bananas - as opposed to the fresh that you find in local stores. Somehow, a peach from Chile does not quite have the cachet it once did for me. I buy my raspberries and strawberries frozen too. There is nothing quite like a Galette made with those frozen fruits in the winter. Why don't I just buy fresh raspberries or strawberries from the grocery store imported from California? Have you SEEN the prices of them in the winter? Enough said.

Anyway, time to get the last loaf of Brioche out of the oven. This is the test Brioche dough I made in the new breadmaker. The Brioche a Tete dough was made in the Horizontal breadmaker.

What in the world am I going to do with all that Brioche?


...Baked Brioche Bread Pudding; Chocolate stuffed Brioche French Toast; plain Brioche French Toast; Baked Brioche French Toast; toast; fresh with butter; Cheese on slices of Brioche....

Yeah, I know...


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