Last night, I did it. Something I’d been wanting to do for over 12 years. Something I was too conventional to do before because I deeply appreciate interacting with food– admiring colors, inhaling aromas, experiencing textures– and being involved in the process of creating. So what I did last night was unconventional in the sense that it meant letting a machine interact with the food and aid in, well in this case totally handle, the process. All I had to do was measure the individual ingredients and add them to the machine in the order listed in the recipe, which meant, for the Sweet French Loaf that I made on my first go around, adding almond milk, then agave, then oil, followed by the dry ingredients– raw sugar, salt, flour, and yeast, which was to be added last to avoid contact with the wet ingredients until the actual mixing began. In addition to selecting the French bread setting, I chose medium for the crust and then hit start. Three and 1/2 hours later at about 2:47 a.m. I had made my very first loaf of bread from scratch and had done so while in a deep sleep.
Yet the bigger deal for me was not so much making tasty, crusted bread from whole ingredients while in a semi-dream state; It was finally using my bread machine. Every Spring, for the past 12 years, I’ve done some purging and had this inner conversation: “You know you should get rid of this bread machine. When was the last time you used it? Never. How long have you had it? Going on five years. . .going on eight years. . .12 years now. . . I am going to start making bread once a week. . .once a month. . . and if I don’t use it in the next 30 days, I’ll get rid of it. But this spring. the inner conversation was punctuated by finding not one, not two, but three bread making books at a school flea market and by readily finding the manual that came with the bread machine in a cabinet full of cookbooks. Youtube did not exist 12 years ago, but last night I was able to watch three bread making videos in under 15 minutes. With a supportive thirteen year-old daughter by my side whose patience has been worn thin by stories of the never-before-used bread machine that is almost as old as she is, I took a deep breath, gathered the ingredients, added them to the bread pan of the machine and, before I could dream deep enough to remember, heard a faint beep, indicating that deliciously warm greetings are possible each and every day and, more than that, its never too late to master something new.
Sweet French Loaf based on the French Honey Bread recipe from The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German
To make a medium sized loaf, I added the following ingredients in the order in which they are listed to the bread pan of my Nutritionist bread machine. I put the bread setting on French and the crust setting on medium, pressed start, and, 3 1/2 hrs later, had fresh bread.
2 tsp honey (For vegan version, I used 2 tsp of agave.)
2 tsp olive oil
2/3 tsp sea salt
2/3 tsp sugar (I used raw sugar.)
2 cups bread flour 1 1/2 tsp yeast