Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger (2000)

I got myself a bread maker last year when I found a super sale on and I bought The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger (2000) to help walk me through some of the science and art of bread machine baking.

I realize bread machines are a little out-of-fashion, and I do have non-machine bread baking experience -- I really enjoy it, but almost never do it because I don't feel like I have the time / don't want to heat up the kitchen / don't think about it. I also am not totally satisfied with the browning capabilities of my current oven -- it just doesn't do bread that well. My lovely bread machine though, is so easy! I get the feeling of accomplishment from making a homemade loaf of bread without getting myself and the kitchen totally covered with flour, and the enclosed little oven doesn't heat up the kitchen and browns the bread just the way I ask it to.

This book is an exhaustive look at all the things you can do in your bread machine and includes recipes for pretty much every kind of bread or roll or pastry or dough that I've ever heard of. Hensperger is an accomplished and enthusiastic baker (both with and without the machine) and her notes on ingredients, baking processes, baking science, and the history of different kinds of bread are fascinating. I actually read the whole cookbook!

One qualm is that she insists on using SAF or bread machine yeast, which is hard to find now that the bread machine is passé and no one wants to eats carbs or gluten anymore. I just wing it with regular yeast and it seems fine. The best tip I got from this book was to add in a tablespoon or so of gluten in with the flour. It really improves the texture of the bread in the machine and gives it more of a non-machine lift and texture. You can buy gluten in a bag in the baking aisle -- it felt so scandalous to buy an entire bag of gluten from a shelf right next to the gluten free baking mixes!

In short: I love bread, I love my bread machine, and I think if you like bread in any form, you'd probably like this book.

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