I was given a preloved but almost brand new bread machine a few months ago. It came just in time, as my own bread machine refused to work right after the newcomer arrived, 一山不能容二虎 (literal translation: there can't be two tigers in one territory) ;)
This Zojirushi bread machine is very compact in size, much smaller than my China brand bread machine. It doesn't take up much space and doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on the kitchen counter, in fact it is slightly smaller than my rice cooker!
As compared to my old machine, the programming function of this newcomer is not as 'flexible'. Unlike my old machine, I can't stop and re-start the machine to let it run the kneading cycle for another round. This is due to the fact that after the machine is turned on, it has this 20 minutes 'rest' cycle before it starts the kneading cycle. If I were to re-start the machine, the dough would have to be left sitting (which means left to rise) for 20 minutes. I have learned a technique to over come this limitation, but I will elaborate more in a separate post.
In terms of the quality of the finished bread, both machines gave satisfactory results. I would think it is more using the right recipe to suit your bread machine than its functions or quality.
However, having said that, I choose to think that this Japanese brand should have a longer life span hopefully the belt that makes the kneading blade spin would not damage that easily. It is 5 times more expensive than my previous bread machines (which had a life span of around 3 years each), so I would expect this one to last for at least another 10 years ;)
One plus point of this Zojirushi machine is that the kneading blade will not stick to the bread loaf. Just give the pan a few shakes and the loaf will be released from the blade and slide out with ease, leaving the blade in the pan.
Here's sharing with you a bread machine Wholemeal Bread recipe which I took from Carol 自在生活. I have been using this exact recipe ever since I got hold of the new machine. I probably made at least 10 loaves. Why? The reasons are:
- It uses the most basic ingredients, water, flour, sugar, salt, butter and yeast. No eggs, no milk, yoghurt or other ingredients are needed to enhance the texture or flavour.
- The bread is made using a straight dough method, no tangzhong or water roux is required to yield a soft texture.
- Most bread recipes would call for adding the butter only after the dough has been kneaded to a smooth dough, however, it is not necessary to do so for this recipe, the butter is added together with the rest of the recipes.
- The finished loaf has a nice thin crust, with a light and fluffy texture that stays soft for 2 days when stored in an airtight container.
- Since it is a straightforward recipe, I usually set the machine to run in the late afternoon just before I start preparing dinner. The loaf will be ready in about 3.5hrs, upon cooling for an hour, I would either slice it or store it as a whole loaf. The timing works really well for me as we could have almost fresh loaf of bread the next morning.
The texture of the bread speaks for itself...
The dough rose high and mighty, almost hitting the lid. The resulting loaf is light and airy, similar to those made with kneading by hand or a kitchen mixer. I tend to forget about the machine when it is running, but I will certainly know when the loaf is almost ready as I could smell the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen. It feels really great when it is time to retrieve the loaf from the machine, without much effort, I could have a nicely baked homemade loaf :D
The recipe has never failed me and it is now our everyday bread.
Bread Machine Wholemeal Bread
(makes 450g/1 lb loaf)
30g wholemeal flour
250g bread flour
14g caster sugar
2.5 g (about 1/2 teaspoon) salt
28g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2.5g (about 3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
* Place water, wholemeal flour, bread flour, sugar, salt and butter in the pan of the bread machine (according to the sequence as stated in the instruction manual of your bread machine). Make an indentation on the flour with your finger and add in the instant yeast. Select the Basic or Regular function of the bread machine. Select Light crust function and press start. When the cycle completes, lift the pan out of the machine and carefully shake the loaf out of the pan. Leave the loaf to cool for at least an hour before cutting and remove the blade/paddle, if necessary. Store in airtight container.
Recipe source: Carol 自在生活