National Real Bread Maker Week

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

May 1st to May 9th, 2010 is National Real Bread Maker Week in Britain. So why not get involved and get baking your own bread?

There are an estimated 10 million unused bread machines in British homes. They are languishing in kitchen cupboards, storage boxes, larders, and other such places, unloved and often never even used ones. Is you home to one of them?

If so, the first ever National Real Bread Maker Week is the time to dig it out and use it to bake Real Bread or pass it on to someone who will.

A bread machine allows anyone who might not otherwise bake at home to seize control and make genuinely fresh, genuinely good value Real Bread with ingredients of their choice.

I have only recently acquired a bread machine from Lidl's, the discount store company from Germany, found in many places now, thankfully, in Britain too.

Instead of paying nigh on £100 as some makers charge this machine was not even £30 and I would not want to ever be without one now again.

Years ago I used to bake my own bread – had more time and more space in the kitchen then – doing everything by hand and then baking the bread in the oven. Due to lack of time and space I gave that up and used to buy bread at bakeries, on the high street and instore at Sainsbury's but it was not really the way I liked my bread.

Then, when the opportunity arose and Lidl had a machine at such a great price I jumped to it and it is just great. You do start on a bit of a learning curve because the rates given in the manual, for instance, may not always be 100% for the flour you may be using.

I have found that, for instance, the quantity for the powdered yeast (the only type suitable for the machines) of 3/4 of a packet, is not enough to allow the bread made with 500g of flour (mixture of stoneground wholemeal and wholegrain) to rise enough and the amount of water of 350ml is just a tad too much.

You will have to employ a little trial and error, for all machines are different, but my rule of thumb is about 500g of flour (measured in this case in a Lidl large Bockwurst glass jar), the requirement is 340ml water, a tsp of salt and same of sugar, and 1 sachet of yeast, plus a chunk of butter. Don't use margarine as it will not work the same. You can use some olive oil though; a couple of table spoons full.

The bread machine allows me to put all the ingredients in, turn the machine on and then – basically – forget about the bread until the signal sounds telling me that is is done; a little over 3 1/2 hours later. This allows me to get on with what I want and need to do while at the same time creating some great tasting bread that is not full of flour improver and other chemicals, such as preservatives.

True, bread made in this way dos not keep as long as does some store bought bread but then again, it will not have a chance either. Everyone just will want to eat it and you will have to bake some more.

However, in a bread bin, using some food keeper bags from Lakeland, the bread will remain good for several days; by the end of which you will have finished it anyway.

© 2010