After a long hiatus, I am back to using my bread machine. It’s been staring at me long enough anyway on the kitchen counter.
Of course the other reason is, I ran out of bread flour. Can’t make bread without bread flour. So I had to wait until I went downtown (meaning go into George Town) before I could bake some bread.
The place I normally go to is Sim Company on Carnavon Street. This shop is an institution for baking supplies – you name it, they probably have it. They are the old school type of baking supplies store and if you look at their “staff”, you will know why. They’re all in their 60s. Some can be grouchy as hell. But if you know what you want, you just go and grab what you want and pay.
By now you would’ve known that I got myself a bread machine if all those bread recipes haven’t clued you in yet.
Yes. It was either this or the magic thermal cooker (which I figured would help me make soups without watching the fire on the stove). In the end I chose the bread machine because I love bread!
And the best part, I didn’t have to buy the bread machine either.
I’d accumulated that many points on my credit card that I could redeem a Lebensstil Bread Machine from CIMB. I still don’t know how much the bread machine actually costs but I really don’t care. It’s a machine that helps me make bread so that’s that, right?
As I’m typing this, the smell of baking bread is wafting around. I don’t know about most people but I love the smell of baking bread. It’s so comforting and so homey. It makes me feel like some domestic goddess (not Nigella, mind you, she’s pretty much the ultimate domestic goddess) somehow. Even though I did not roll up my sleeves and knead away at the bread.
Purists will sniff at having a bread machine but I’ve made bread prior to getting a bread machine and I tell you, it was tough. Kneading bread is not exactly easy. It takes strong arms and lots of determination to make a good loaf of edible bread.
While I don’t mind eating ‘gwai lo’ bread, you know, the type that is chewy and full of mind-expanding goodness (oats, rye, barley etc), after sometime I want some soft textured bread. The kind that is similar to Gardenia and perhaps now Massimmo.
And while I do live near to a local bakery called Amei which bakes bread without preservatives, I somehow think I should be making bread. Call it an intense fascination with bread or the desire to cross one more thing off my list.
So, let’s see – how long have I had the machine? Possibly 5 months.
In that span of time, I’ve tried like 5 different types of bread recipes. You name it, I’ve tried it. Thanks to reading Flavours magazine and my bread bible, trawling King Arthur Flour’s website and a bunch of helpful blogs out there, I’ve experienced bread-making at its maniacal.
I tried the water roux method (tang zhong method which is clearly a favourite for most people who love Asian style soft breads and buns) and also the much-talked about Alex Goh’s sponge method. The sponge method is similar to tang zhong; the only difference is you don’t need to cook the flour and water mix, you just pour boiling water over the bread flour.
Both methods are good. They create breads which are soft like pillows. I even made sausage rolls. The only drawback was, the bread tasted good the day it got out of the oven. The day after, the rolls were a tad hard.
With a bread machine, it wasn’t that difficult to use either tang zhong or sponge method. I just put all the ingredients into the machine (all liquid ingredients plus tang zhong or sponge followed by the dry ingredients) and set it to the DOUGH programme. It kneads the dough and even proofs it. It does take a while though so this is not something you want to do on a day when you’re rushing around.
I finally tested a bread recipe which I really liked – the bread smells heavenly when it’s baking, it tastes soft and buttery (even without pats of butter) and fragrant and the best part, it retains its lovely softness the day after! Even Nic gave this a thumbs-up – we polished off the whole loaf in two sittings. That’s how amazing this recipe is.
And to think I almost passed it over!
I looked at the ingredients and didn’t see what made it so exceptional. And to think it is made entirely in the bread machine. All I did was eat the bread.
Here’s the recipe for the Pullman Loaf. It’s called Pullman because it’s supposed to be baked in the oven in a pullman tin (a bread tin with a sliding cover so that the bread is square shaped – like the kind of roti you get from your roti shop). I didn’t have one so I just decided to do it all in the bread machine.
Put the ingredients in this order in your bread machine:
190 ml chilled UHT milk
330 gm bread flour
30 gm caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt (do not put the salt near the yeast; salt inhibits the yeast)
Set your machine to BASIC and let it knead.
About five minutes into the kneading, open up your machine and add 25 gm of cut up butter.
Close the lid and let the machine do its work. After 3 hours, your bread is ready!
It will have a lovely brown crust (choose MEDIUM crust setting on your machine).
You won’t be able to resist slicing into this bread the moment it comes out of the bread pan. But resist you must. At least let the bread cool for 30 minutes. It will be eaten up with relish!
This is definitely the kind of no-fail bread recipe any newbie bread enthusiast can try.
Of course you can knead this bread by hand. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t tell you how it’s made but trust me, if you swoon over bread like me, go get a bread machine.
As you know, I’ve been in a bread-baking mode ever since I got my bread machine.
I’ve had it for a few months now and I’ve made bread for my aunts and mom who are often surprised that homemade bread tastes rather good and yes, it is possible to make bread at home.
See? That’s one myth de-bunked and thrown out of the window.
After years and years of eating commercial breads, we think making bread is like climbing the Great Wall of China. Possible only for the mad ones. Our breads will never taste like store-bought breads.
Our breads, the homemade kind, will taste even BETTER than store-bought bread. And have less preservatives.
And it tastes gobs better because at least we made it. Artisan bread – though in this case – bread machine bread can also lay its claim to fame as semi-artisan bread.
Actually truthfully, I was pretty unconvinced too about homemade bread. I had the same thoughts as my aunts and mom before I embarked on this bread-making craze. (By the way, if you’re not a fan of loaves and such, how about a cinnamon bread roll recipe? Pretty darn good.)
I always thought it would be hard to replicate commercial bread. I had tried the European types of breads and while I enjoyed a good chew, I am frankly a Malaysian at heart.
I’ve been brought up on soft bread – the softer, the better. Like pillows, you know.
Although European breads are what I go for sometimes, nothing can beat a real pillow-soft bun or bread. Top that with dabs of good butter and my breakfast is all set and done!
So it was very much a surprise that I managed to make good loaves of bread using my bread machine.
The thing about commercial bread is its preservatives (yes, mentioning it for a second time!).
I somehow feel that if I could make my own breads, I can at least control a little less preservatives going into my body. I am not a super health freak but I am trying my best not to ingest too much preservatives.
With homemade bread, you can only keep them out on the kitchen counter for 2 days maximum. Otherwise, they will go moldy. I have bought and left commercial bread out for more than 5 days and still they never went moldy!
Actually this recipe preceded the cinnamon roll recipe by a long way. I started experimenting with wholemeal bread before doing all those fancier bread.
So this wholemeal bread is a sure winner – I have not made this the traditional way with lots of kneading and such. I do know that if you have a bread machine, it is easy and though not exactly fast (3 hours is what it needs), you can make start making it early in the morning (say 5am if you have a pre-set timer on the bread machine) and by 8am, you have bread for breakfast! How cool is that!
OK, onwards with the recipe which I’ve tried for a few times now. Like all homemade bread, it tastes great the moment it pops out of the bread machine. Once it cools enough to slice, you can have it with butter.
Then you need to put it into an airtight plastic container (Daiso sells bread containers for RM5 which fits the bread machine loaf just nice) and you can leave it at room temperature for a day at best. You should place the bread into the fridge the next day if you don’t want mold.
The next day, just lightly toast your bread and you will have a nice, crisp toast for breakfast. Or use the leftover bread to make bread pudding. It’s all up to you how you choose to eat or upcycle your bread.
Wholemeal Bread Recipe
Note: This is a soft textured wholemeal bread. There are 2 parts to this bread. Mix Part 1, cover and let it proof in a warm corner for 90 minutes. Then you can put the ingredients for Part 2 into your bread machine and add in Part 1 and let the machine knead and bake the bread (3 hours duration).
Part 1: Mix these ingredients to form a dough. Cover and proof for 90 minutes.
120 gm wholemeal flour
85 gm bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
130 ml water
Into your bread machine, place ingredients for Part 2 in this particular order.
50 ml water
10 gm milk powder
1 tsp salt
15 gm caster sugar
85 gm bread flour
Add the proofed dough from Part 1. Set your machine for “Basic” and let it knead and mix. About 5 minutes later, open up your machine and add 15 gm of softened butter.
Then let your machine do the rest.
In 3 hours’ time, you will have perfectly baked soft wholemeal bread!
Enjoy this recipe and let me know how it turns out!
(Just in case you want those European chewy bread, here’s a no-knead bread recipe from a friend. If you want to roll up your sleeves and knead some bread, here’s a rosemary raisin bread recipe. And for more bread recipes, you can check out this friend’s blog. He bakes bread. And if you like chef Michael Smith, you might want to check out one of his recipes which I managed to scribble down one night after watching his TV programme.)
Next up, I shall share with you a soft as silk, milky and buttery loaf called a Pullman Loaf.