Early riser The bread machine allows you to loaf through your baking

September 01, 1993|By Dotty Griffith | Dotty Griffith,Dallas Morning News Universal Press Syndicate

Bread machine bakers, get your hands on some dough.

The bread machine takes the mess out of involved recipes such as sweet rolls and pizza crust. The machine mixes and kneads dough, then lets it rise, all in about two hours. The baker gets to do the fun part -- shaping the dough and baking it in the real oven.

It's the next level for bakers who've gotten into bread-making via the bread-baking machine. In case you haven't heard, bread machines are turning out bread bakers by the millions.

Sales have soared in recent years. Industry sources expect about 1 million machines to be sold in 1993. Add that to the 3 million sold since 1989, and you've got a lot of bread machines kneading and baking.

Bread bakers love the machines and the fresh bread they turn out. But last year's novices want to be this year's experts, upgrading the complexity of their bread.

"Almost everybody gets tired of the way the loaf looks," says Linda West Eckhardt, co-author of "Bread in Half the Time" (Crown Publishing Group, $25), one of the first cookbooks to include bread machine recipes.

Because bread machines mix, knead, allow rising and bake the dough in the same container, the loaves are vertical rectangles or rounds. Bread made by hand is baked in horizontal loaf pans or shaped into twists, mounds, baguettes or rolls.

General Mills spokeswoman Julie Hooker says the company is developing bread machine recipes for the holidays that will call for the dough to be mixed, kneaded and allowed to rise in the machine, then removed for shaping and baking.

"During the holidays, you'll see a lot of shaping," predicts Ms. Hooker.

Some machines have a dough cycle that ends after the first rise. Other machines have to be stopped so the dough can be removed after the first rise.

Most bread machine cookbooks have a section of recipes using the dough option. Pizza crust, pita bread, bagels and pretzels are among the possibilities. In addition, the basic dough can be molded into rolls, braids or other shapes.

Shaping the dough by hand is a natural progression, says Ms. Eckhardt. Even purists have found the bread machine a convenience because "you can let the bread machine do the tedious part," avoiding the worst of the clean-up.

The "spiritual quality of kneading" has been vastly overrated, she believes.

Bread machines can do some things better than all but the most experienced bread bakers, Ms. Eckhardt says. Brioche, the rich bread full of eggs and butter, is much easier to make using a machine, she says, because the dough is so soft and sticky. Bakers have a tendency to add more flour to make it easier to handle when mixing and kneading by hand. That can ruin the texture, she warns.

Ms. Eckhardt is working on new recipes to produce breads that look handmade. "I'm working to develop recipes to make European-style breads from your bread machine," she says.

Often, those recipes will call for the dough to be made in the machine, then shaped by hand and baked on a stone in the oven. A baking stone is a flat tile that gives bread or pizza a crisp crust when the dough is laid directly on it.

"I want people to get beyond the basics," she says. "Once you learn the ratios (of flour to liquids) you can do anything." Most recipes for bread machines are written to make 1- or 1 1/2 -pound loaves, using two to three cups of flour.

Multistep breads such as bagels seem much less daunting because half the work is done by the machine. There's still some work left to do, but shaping the dough makes it handmade, not just homemade.

Angel biscuits

Makes 16 biscuits.

1/3 cup shortening

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon soda

1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

Combine ingredients in bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer. Place on dough cycle. When dough cycle is complete, remove dough and roll about 1/2 -inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares and place in lightly greased 9-inch cake pan.

Allow to rise about 30 minutes.

The sides should touch. Lightly dust with flour, if desired, for that homemade look.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Source: Adapted from "1902 Wunsche Bros. Cafe Cookbook" by Brenda Greene Mitchell (self-published, 1993)

Pizza dough

For 1 1/2 -pound loaf (amounts for 1 pound are in parentheses):

1 cup water ( 3/4 cup for 1-pound loaf)

3 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups)

1 teaspoon salt ( 1/2 teaspoon)

2 tablespoons olive oil (1 1/2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon sugar (2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Combine ingredients in bread machine on dough cycle setting or remove from bread machine after the first rise is complete.

After removing the dough from the bread machine, turn out onto a floured surface. Form dough into a mound and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

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