Trust me, if I could find a way of turning this into a Scratch 'n Sniff Blog I would - because if you were here right now with me you'd be breathing in one of the MOST delicious smells on the planet... the smell of bread baking. Ahhhhhhhhh.... heaven!
Let me give you a little glimpse into life at PhotoFairytales HQ: every Friday morning I bake bread. I do it during the week too, but on varying days. Whereas Friday morning has become a pattern because the whole bread eating thing becomes more frequent when everyone's home all day.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not elbow deep in flour, kneading and proving, and being all uber-houswifeish! Nope, I cheat, I've got a bread maker - in 5 minutes flat I have all the ingredients chucked in the pan and the machine is doing it all for me. It's on just shy of a 3 hour programme, which means that about this time on a Friday morning I'm getting both barrels of that gorgeous bread smell. It's almost ready!!
I started baking bread not long ago, so I'm just starting out. My mum kindly let me borrow her bread machine for a few months to see how I got on before making the commitment and buying my own machine. Within a month I was online and scouring the many different brands available having quickly made my mind up that there was no going back!
So what have I learnt in the 3 or 4 months since I started baking my own bread? Well, I know that mixing white and wholemeal flour works when I want to do my own version of that 50/50 type bread. I know that adding as much sugar as it states in the recipe is too much - I've cut down from 2tbsp to 1tbsp. I found 2tbsp made the bread far too sweet, but bread seems to need some sugar to help the yeast do its thing. I use just less than half of the recommended salt too - and I've used Low Salt and normal salt, and both work just as well. I've experimented with yeast amounts too - and found that cutting that back a tiny bit actually makes for a nicer loaf.
But my biggest tip of all? How to get a soft crust...
Don't get me wrong, we all like a nice crunchy loaf - but when you're using the bread for sandwiches, etc too you don't always necessarily want the loaf to be crunchy all the time. So, to get a nice soft crust that still has a bit of good 'chew factor' to it, and to stop the bread being a bit on the crumbly side, I've basically upped the fat content. The recipe told me to use water - but I now use roughly 2/3 milk to 1/3 water. And instead of using 2tbsp of butter I now use 2tbsp of oil. And it works every time :) When I get the bread out of the machine I wrap it in a clean tea towel which also seems to help it keep its softness as it cools.
Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a cooking and baking type blog this week, hasn't it? Ooh, the bread machine's just beeped - got to go!
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