Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ah, Love, Thy Name is Bread Machine.

I got a bread machine for my birthday (Thanks, Mom!).
This is the one I got. Photo from
 I've been wanting to make my own bread.  Like most processed or prepared foods, the ingredients on loaves of bread in the store contain a LOT of ingredients.  I've been thinking a lot about the ingredients in prepared or processed foods. When I read the back of a package, I wonder why there are so many ingredients listed when the recipe for making the same thing contains half (or fewer than) that number.

     Example, Wonder Bread (which despite being made by the defunct Hostess Foods is not gone forever as it has been sold to another company) has 29 ingredients listed on its package--29!  Now, not all store-bought breads contain this many ingredients, but even Milton's 100% Whole Wheat Bread, arguably a much healthier choice than Wonder, contains 14 ingredients. Also, all store-bought breads seem to contain soy in one form or another.  Now, I'm not anti-soy.  I like soy sauce and the occasional bean curd stir fry. I do have a problem with the fact that so much of soy is GMO. Also, it's the general problem I have with all these added ingredients in food.

     How many ingredients are there in a homemade loaf of bread?  I'm glad you asked.  It depends on the recipe you are making, but for a basic white loaf, the bread cookbook I have calls for 9.  Some of the bread recipes call for fewer, but 6 - 10 ingredients is usual among the recipes.  Also, all of these ingredients are recognizable.  Water, honey and/or sugar, butter or oil, flour, yeast, and salt are the basics. Some recipes call for dry milk powder for added protein and wheat gluten for protein and to make the bread softer. However, no artificial ingredients or colors are called for and no weird fillers either.

     I've made bread before, but it never turned out all that well.  It was edible, but not super tasty.  I never seem to be able to knead the dough properly.  The bread machine solves that.  The first thing I made with my bread machine was a loaf of the above mentioned white bread.  I ran the whole bread machine cycle from mixing to baking.  It turned out well. My problem was that I had no bread knife.  That didn't deter me for long, I just hacked off pieces and ate them.  I ended up freezing half the loaf until I got a chance to find a good bread knife.

     The next thing I made was pizza dough. This time I just ran the dough cycle on the bread machine, which mixes, kneads, and rises the dough, but doesn't bake it.  I made one batch with all white flour and one batch with half white and half whole wheat flour.  They both turned out great.  Perfectly chewy, crusty pizza dough.  I had a couple of friends over, and we made individual pizzas with lots of yummy toppings including pepperoni, sausage, zucchini, onions, and lots of cheese.  Makes me hungry just thinking of them.

     Then I made sticky buns.  Oh my goodness, these were stunningly delicious.  I found the recipe for Morning Sticky Buns in Beth Hensperger's The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000).  The buns came out perfect.  I couldn't believe it.  The best thing about these was that the insides didn't end up too gooey.  The caramel topping was wonderfully gooey, but the bun itself was soft, but fully cooked, not underdone and doughy like they can be.  I highly recommend them for a special treat.

Morning Sticky Buns

Recipe by Beth Hensperger from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook


For the dough:
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

For the cinnamon filling:
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the caramel:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans

1. To make the dough, place all the dough ingredients in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions.  Program for the Dough cycle; press Start.  The dough ball will be soft, yet at the same time smooth and springy.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the filling in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2. To make the caramel, 10 minutes before the end of the Dough cycle, grease the sides and bottoms of a 13-by-9 inch glass or metal baking pan. (I prefer to use a metal or disposable aluminum pan if I will be rising the buns overnight in the refrigerator--a glass pan cold from the refrigerator could break when placed in a hot oven.)  Combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a small skillet or heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.  When the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat.  Immediately pour into the baking pan.  Spread evenly over the bottom with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle with the nuts.  Set aside.

3. When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, press Stop and unplug the machine.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Roll it into a 12-by-15 inch rectangle.  Add the filling:  Leaving a 1-inch border around all the edges-spread the surface evenly with the 6 tablespoons soft butter, then sprinkle evenly with the sugar and cinnamon, which will be quite a light filling.  Roll up jelly-roll fashion starting from a long edge, and pinch the seam to seal.  With a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion, cut the roll into 12 equal portions, each slice about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place the slices close together on top of the caramel, spiral cut side down.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until puffy and even with the rim of the pan.  (The rolls can be refrigerated before this last rise, covered tightly with a double layer of plastic wrap, leaving the rolls to rise to rise slowly and be baked in the morning.  Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let rest for 20 minutes before baking.)

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Bake the buns until the tops are brown, 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand no more than 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Place the cooling rack on top of the pan and, securely holding the hot pan with oven mitts, invert the pan on top of the rack, taking care not to touch the not caramel.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes, then transfer to a serving plate.  Pull the buns apart and serve warm.

Sorry for the lack of photos.  I never seem to plan ahead these days for taking pictures for the blog.  I'll try to do better in the future.

Some references:
Wonder breads 29 ingredients:
Milton's 14 ingredients:
The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook on

1 comment:

  1. I would have loved some sticky buns, but I can wait. Oh, yes, it's very hard to wait.