Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Obsessed With Bread by Allison Silver
Each summer it seems like I pick something to obsess over. Last summer I was obsessed with making homemade organic baby food for our daughter with the hope being that she would have a broader experience and would not be a picky eater. Well that kinda blew up in my face! She’s almost two and we go day by day over here not knowing what she will or won’t eat. And inevitably she loves Annie’s mac and cheese, applesauce pouches, pizza, and bread! I keep telling myself that all of the time and effort I spent making organic baby food was not done in vain. At least she’s had the experience of having different foods, right??
Since bread is one food my daughter does eat fairly regularly I decided to give bread making a try. In fact I have done more then try it has become a bit of an obsession! This whole obsession began in May when my mom gave me my dad’s old Sunbeam bread machine for my birthday. After receiving the machine I was determined that we were not going to buy packaged bread anymore! I even bought 40 pounds of flour so there was no turning back!
I was much too ambitious when I made my first loaf and instead of making a traditional white loaf of bread (like the booklet suggested) I made whole wheat. It didn’t look half bad for my first attempt but it was a bit too dense and too dark for my husband’s liking. After my first loaf of whole wheat I decided to find a recipe for a lighter wheat bread. I scoured the internet looking for the best recipe. I thought I found one, it was even titled the “Best bread machine recipe”! So I tried it and during the bake cycle my poor bread sank and looked like someone sat on it! I thought perhaps it was just the recipe so I tried a few others and they all sank too!
I really had no idea how much of a science was behind bread making when I began this journey! But being a full blooded Taurus I refused to be defeated so I started researching and reading article after article about making bread. I read articles, personal blogs, and forum after forum about bread! With my new found knowledge I continued to experiment; I added ingredients, I decreased ingredients, I substituted ingredients, but nothing I did seemed to help. Every loaf sank!
Just when I was beginning to think that I wasn’t cut out to be a bread maker an idea popped in my head! Maybe it’s not me! Maybe it’s the machine? So to test out my theory I borrowed my Mother-in-law’s boyfriend’s 20 year old bread maker. He had a Zojirushi that smelled like moth balls but in good condition. So what the hell, I gave it a try and lo and behold the bread baked up great!! It didn’t fall! It didn’t look like an elephant sat on it but it did look like a bread pillar. Which is what the twenty year old bread machines are kind of notorious for. Now don’t get me wrong, we liked it and it tasted great but it just didn’t look like a “traditional” loaf of bread. My husband even commented, “Don’t they make newer machines that make normal looking bread.”
This got me thinking so I began to do more research and found that the top of the line new machines do make more traditional looking loaves. Up to this point all of the machines I had used were old and had been given to me by others so our initial investment in this new obsession was fairly minimal. Truth be told I am a total kitchen whore and I love all kinds of kitchen gadgets! I was super excited about trying a new machine but could I sell the idea to my hubby? After doing my research I told my husband about the new machine and without hesitation he said, “We should get it.” In fact he was the one who was trying to talk me into getting it! After getting the thumbs up from him I ordered my new fancy Zojirushi Virtuoso.
I was so excited (yes, these are the things that I get excited about these days) that I even made a home for it on the counter. No hiding this baby in the closet! When it arrived we even watched the instructional DVD, which really wasn’t necessary! If the twenty year old Zojirushi was a good machine this had to be the best right? I made my first loaf, this time using a recipe for white bread that came with the instructional booklet, and anxiously waited to see how it turned out. After it finished baking I carefully opened the lid. No, angels did not come flying out holding a beautiful looking loaf. In fact it really wasn’t beautiful at all! I was happy to see that my bread didn’t fall but it wasn’t perfect either! In fact one side was definitely higher than the other!! Ugh!! I was a bit crushed and I actually contemplated returning the machine.
Luckily during all of my research I had found an online forum specifically for this bread machine. After looking through several of the postings I realized that I was not the first person to have this problem. Believe it or not there is even a term for it, boot bread! Several people suggested making sure the paddles were aligned properly and several more said not to give up! I tried several attempts with manipulating the paddles and moving the dough before the baking cycle. With each change each loaf was looking slightly better than the first but still one side was definitely higher. Maybe we were just destined to have boot bread!
This past week I decided to try manipulating the ingredients and replaced the suggested butter with olive oil not thinking it would alter the appearance but just hoping for a slightly better texture. The beauty of the bread machine is that you can pile the ingredients in and leave it. Which is the only way I can make homemade bread with a toddler. So I put the ingredients in the machine and left it to do it’s thing. Several hours later, I got a text from my husband. Not only did our house smell wonderful but my loaf of bread looked perfect! All of my persistence had paid off! I had finally made a perfect loaf of bread and just before the end of the summer!
Here it is my perfect loaf! Now if I can just recreate it!!