Sunday, November 9, 2008

Take Your Automatic Breadmaker Out of Hibernation

Yesterday, while buying groceries from our favorite supermarket, I was struck with an incredible craving for fresh baked bread. No, I did not make a beeline to the deli. Instead, I plucked a box of Krusteaz Bread Mix from the cakes and baking section, an action that elicited a quizzical look on the faces of my wife and my daughter. But they withheld their comments until we got home.
Once we were home, I uncovered the Breadman automatic breadmaker, which has been hibernating in a corner of our diminutive kitchen, cleaned the outside and inside with a damp paper towel, and in a few minutes, I was ready to embark on a bread-making adventure once again. We've owned the Breadman (sounds like Walkman) for a few years now, having purchased the newfangled machine immediately after it made headlines in the Los Angeles Times' Food Section five years or so ago. It was a godsend for a gourmand like moi, who craved the aroma and taste of freshly-baked bread, but do not have the time and patience to go about making the multi-faceted preparations that precede baking one's own loaf of bread. You know, the measuring the flour, the kneading, and lastly, the baking, followed by the fidgeting until you realized that your baking adventure could be called a triumph.

The arrival of the automatic breadmaker put a stop to all that, as it put a small dent on the sale of breads made in traditional bakeries around the United States and elsewhere. But the novelty of the automatic breadmaker wore off after a couple of years, partly because it had limitations. My machine could bake a two-pound loaf in a little over three hours, and that time frame includes the mixing, kneading, the rising of the dough -- and the final step -- the baking, which is the best part of all as you could savor the emerging and blooming results of your labor.

Last night, when the machine began baking my Cinnamon Raisin Bread, around 10:30 p.m., the glorious aroma of baking bread wafted out of the machine and imbued our little apartment with the smell of success. It got me so excited, that I had to get up from bed to get a closer whiff of that aroma. The entire process took a little over three hours, and at 11:30, I got up for the final time to turn off the machine to stop it from giving off that special smell, which was preventing me from falling asleep.

This morning, I got up at 7 and I extricated the loaf (1-1/2 lb.) from the teflon coated pan, poked my fingers in the loaf's posterior (it is standing up in the pan) and retrieved a three-inch piece of teflon-coated spatula, which is the key to the Breadman's kneading and mixing prowess. That little component of the breadmaker, if lost, would spell the end of your bread-making nirvana. Which brings me to a very funny episode a couple of years ago, when I forgot to attach that little component at the bottom of the pan before I poured the bread mix and all the other ingredients and turned the machine on. In a few minutes, I found out that something was wrong because the machine did not make a tap-tapping sound, a sign that something has gone awry. It was not a dire situation, however, as I had time to pour the ingredients out from the pan, and then I attached that little part to the machine, making sure that I unplugged the breadmaker from the power outlet to prevent a possible electrical shock.

Last night, I had a relatively smooth baking experience. Nothing was forgotten, and the Krusteaz mix instructions was right on the money. I did my part, and the machine did what it was designed to do. I told my family that the machine would be back in operation once again. But first, I have to make that Lasagna that we are all craving for.

You know, I really enjoyed writing this blog. But maybe you didn't enjoy reading it. Please click on "comments" and tell me what you think.

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