Rising Star Bread machine eliminates need for kneading

May 15, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

I'VE FALLEN IN love.

She's not beautiful. As a matter of fact, she's short, squat and waddles like a duck when she really gets revved up.

But she bakes great homemade bread and I'll never let her go.

She's my new bread-baking machine, and ever since she arrived, mail-order, on my doorstep in April, my house has been filled with the heavenly aroma of fresh-baked bread.

And, except perhaps for the day I tried the chocolate-chip bread, my family hasn't stopped raving about the fabulous loaves my new passion has produced almost nightly -- warm as a shared bed and flavor to die for.

And best of all, especially for a guy who won notoriety among his college roommates for repeatedly screwing up the instant pudding recipe, it's easy. You dump in all the yeast, flour, salt, sugar, butter and whatever else is called for in the recipe, close the lid and -- pay close attention here -- push the button.

Now walk away, come back four hours later and the place smells like a bakery. Your bread is golden brown, still warm and ready to eat.

All by itself, the R2-D2 look-alike automatically mixes the dough, pauses to let it rise, then kneads it again. Then it stops to let it rise a second time. In a little bit, the dough has risen to the top of the 174-cubic-inch cylindrical pan. You can watch it all through the glass dome.

At just the right moment, a circular heating element switches on and bakes the bread to perfection. And when that's done, it shifts into a cooling mode, and a little fan cools the loaf until it can be bare-handed, all the while filling the house with the aroma of cinnamon or banana or whatever the flavor of the day happens to be.

The whole process is controlled by a little computer that can be programmed like a VCR -- no, easier than that. You can throw in all the ingredients before bed, set it to turn on a 3 a.m., and have warm, fresh bread waiting for you in the kitchen by breakfast.

There are also settings for French bread and sweet breads, which I haven't yet had time to try; I'm still working my way through all the white bread recipes.

Calling it "white" bread, though, is misleading. This bread is not to be confused with Wonder Bread and other ersatz bread-oids that crowd supermarket shelves.

My "white" breads have included a rich, simple, fragrant white bread; a hearty whole wheat and honey loaf; a seductive cinnamon and raisin; the infamous chocolate chip number nevertheless devoured by my kids at breakfast, and a terrific Cheddar cheese and beer bread that disappeared at a `f neighbor's house before I got more than a whiff.

The recipe book that came with my "Auto Bakery" promises me three or four dozen more possibilities, from ryes, multi-grains and pumpernickels to some more questionable concoctions like oat bran and prune bread that I'll probably save for my old age. And the mail-order house I bought the machine from has enrolled me in their bread "club" and pledged to send me more recipes periodically. I can't wait.

Does my new love have her faults? Of course. But I'm hard-pressed to think of many.

She is demanding; she takes up considerable counter space and there'd be no room for her in our kitchen cupboards if I could ever bring myself to put her away. And when she's kneading my dough, she waddles a bit on the counter and her feet leave scuff marks on the Formica.

But she cleans up nicely; there are only three parts to take out and wash -- the cylindrical pan, the dough paddle and a rubber gasket -- and none needs more than a soapy sponge. The interior accumulates little more than crumbs; most vanish into my Dustbuster, the rest clean up with a damp sponge.

For really complicated recipes, my Auto Bakery even calls me with a series of ten beeps during the second kneading when it's time to add the raisins or nuts.

I figure she consumes far less electricity than it would take to heat up my conventional oven. And the bread she produces is far cheaper per loaf (if you can ignore the $129-plus-shipping purchase price) than anything comparable I could get at a bakery. So she's both ecologically correct and economically sound, right?

Sure, my wife thinks I'm "cute" with my new plaything, rummaging in the drawers for the measuring spoons and rushing out to the store for more yeast.

And my boss says I'm a "hopeless yuppie."

But I don't care. I can't help myself. I'm in love.

The Auto Bakery is available from DAK Industries Inc., 8200 Remmet Ave., PO Box 7120 Canoga Park, Calif. 91304-9955. Call 1-800-DAK-0800.

These two recipes are from DAK Industries Inc., distributers of the DAK Auto Bakery.

Banana Wheat Bread

1 package yeast

1 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 medium ripe bananas, sliced into pan

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup warm water

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Place ingredients into the Auto Bakery pan in order. Select "white bread" cycle. Push START.

Rye Bread with Beer and Orange

1 package yeast

1 cup medium rye flour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons wheat germ

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup beer, flat

2 tablespoons molasses

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup warm water

Place ingredients into the Auto Bakery pan in order. Select "white bread" cycle. Push START.

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