You may recall that I had a potential “bad bread event“. I hadn’t posted the results (which we’re still in play at the time). In the interest of full disclosure I offer my update:
At the time, it appeared that the bread machine had completed it’s cycle. Clearly I was wrong. The bread didn’t properly rise. (Note: it tasted surprisingly good for a brick. In the event of a zombie apocalypse I’d be happily munching on it without complaint. Life is all about compromise.)
Nor was I upset it didn’t work. One does not scale the peaks of culinary manufacture (I do not “cook” I “manufacture”) without a few failures and the theory I’d been working on was “fuck it… let’s see what happens” (a direct quote).
My real concern was the machine which is cheaper than a wood splitter but no less loved. It seemed none the worse for wear. Huzzah! I cleaned the bread machine and tossed the brick to the chickens. (Here’s a note: chickens will devour a two pound loaf of rock in less time than you think. Those little bastards are land piranhas!)
Unlike politicians, I can learn. If attempt one went down in flames that means nothing! Nothing I say! Attempt two shall be better, faster, stronger.
I have decided to try a bread race. I’m going to bake another loaf using the mix I’ve bought but resort to hands on work and the oven (which is tragically unautomated). This will be in direct competition with a loaf based on cheap store bought flour in my trusty bread machine.
Remember, this is not about making the best bread, it’s about controlling labor inputs while producing something that’s “good enough”. Also competition makes us stronger. (Cue the theme from Rocky!)
Concerning chickens, AD: yes, they’ll eat damned near anything–belay that, they’ll eat anything including one another! I must presume you’re country enough to already know their anti-insect capabilities: they’ll bug out a row of beans like nobody’s business. If you didn’t know, too late for this year, but good for next. Guineas or ducks are better at it, but I can’t abide guineas. Some like them as warning animals, but there’s too much extraneous noise associated with the damned things. I don’t like ducks, either. They seem to have a sense of importance out of proportion to their place. They’re cats that waddle.
Yes the chickens are excellent tick reduction devices. This is in addition to their duties at egg and meat production coupled with being the best roving compost heaps known to man. I also use them to keep the weeds down where I’m too lazy to trim/mow.
I don’t like the sound of Guineas but had a couple ducks that were pleasant enough. They produced little of value so I didn’t get more.
A couple big turkeys wandering around was fun. They didn’t make much noise and in their attempts to be friendly they freaked out visitors. Apparently people aren’t used to be approached by waist high creatures that wonder if you’ve got food in your pocket. They’re in the freezer now.
Real men don’t use yuppy bread machines. They punch the dough, imagining people they are not fond of. Try this recipe for honey oatmeal whole wheat bread.
3 cups all purpose flour. 2 cups whole wheat flour. 1 cup oatmeal. 1 tablespoon salt.
1 warm water, 1 cup milk, 2 1/4 teas Fleishman or Red Star yeast. 2 Tablespoons of Molasses, 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup. 4 tablespoons of butter or shortening.
Mix the milk, water, yeast, molasses and honey in a medium bowl. It will start to foam after a few minutes. Foam is good; it means your yeast are alive eating the sugars, burping carbon dioxide, and peeing alcohol. While the yeasty beasties are doing their thing mix the flours and salt. Add the foamy yeast liquid to the flour. Stir until all the flour is wet and add the softened butter or shortening to the mix. Wet your hands with some oil and start kneading. Sprinkle a little flour or the surface you kneading and add a little more flour if the dough sticks. 5 minutes will do it. Cover with a towel and let it rise for about an hour. Form into loaves the size of your greased, lightly floured bread pan. I roll them out a rectangle 3 times the width of the pan by the length of the pan. Then I fold into thrids and place in pan. This makes two 8 x 4 loaves. Cover and let it rise again until it has doubled in size–about an hour. You do not want let this go too long or your bread will be airy and dry. Pop in the oven preheated to 400 F and bake 40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from pans. Let cool an hour or so before slicing. This freezes well.
I’d bet even you could do this, and without power tools! steve
Wait, I’m confused. Are you saying it’s better when I do something without power tools? Not always.
There are pros and cons to that machinery. For one thing, machinery is fun and it keeps people from running off with my measuring cups and stuff. If I could knead with my hydraulic wood splitter I’d do it. For another thing I can dump crap in a bread machine and have it do the work while I’m sleeping. Waking up to fresh baked bread is just about heaven. The only real problem is that machinery is expensive overkill for something as simple as bread.
What it comes down to is an apples to oranges comparison. A lazy Saturday morning to knead bread while sipping coffee can’t (and shouldn’t) be compared to dumping shit in a machine Tuesday night so I can make a peanut butter sandwich the following dawn and stuff it in my pocket for lunch as I head to work in a big hurry.
I was (mostly) pulling your chain. You know, grunt, grunt, Tim Allen, power tools ooh-ah! It tales about 10 minute hands on time to mix the stuff, knead the dough, and form the loaves. Then there is the waiting for the dough to rise (twice) and the baking. Time you could spend splitting wood or sucking on a beer. I must have a lot nervous energy or laten latent hostility in me, because I love pushing that dough around. I find it relaxing. You could try a scaled down version of the recipe for your machine. IMHO, 100% whole wheat dough will usually come out like a brick. I don’t know what yours was, but for me 33% whole wheat is enough to make it taste like whole wheat and still feel like bread. Good luck! I love your blog!
Dear Mr. Curmudgeon,
After reading about your dilemma with the “bread brick” I have a mathematical challenge for you. Say I want to build a shit house out of bread bricks. Looking for answers to the following three questions:
1. How many bread bricks will I need in total to build my shit house based on the dimensions listed below.
2. How much time does it take from the time the raw ingredients are dumped into the mixer until a finished brick is extracted? How much time in total to “bake” enough bricks to finish the project?
3. What is the approximate cost of the complete amount of raw ingredients to finish the project?
Shit House Dimensions:
– Assume door, roof and interior seat are made of wood and will not affect wall dimensions.
– For purposes of argument ignore the additional height mortar lines will add to the overall height.
– Walls are solid with no windows or other openings.
Left and Right Side Walls: 4’-6″ wide by 6’-6″ (minimum height)
Rear Wall: 4’ wide by 6’-6″ (minimum height)
While I laud the concept of bread brick shithouses the chickens will eat the sucker faster than you can build it.
Although… You know I’m not sure but wheat might actually cost less than cement. Hmmm… You’re on to something!
Errata: Sorry. Should read one cup warm water, one cup warm milk. You want to mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Thrids is dyslexic for thirds. Senility is a cruel condition. steve
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