Like what seems like half the population, I bought a bread machine years ago after graduating from college. It seemed like a great idea. Everyone likes fresh bread, and it’s so convenient! But inevitably, the bread machine always ends up in storage unused. The slice or two seems so rewarding, but it’s not quite great, and eventually we’re faced with a half-finshed loaf sitting on the counter. A few days old, it lacks that fresh-bread appeal. The allure fades.
A few years ago, realizing that technology always marches forward, I concluded that bread machines must have come a long way. With a young child in my house regularly consuming bread, perhaps it was time to give it another chance. After scanning Amazon reviews, it seemed the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 would fit the bill. As before, the first few loaves came out reasonably well baked, but lackluster. The pattern began to repeat itself and the bread maker returned to the basement.
In recent years, I’ve searched for a way to make decent sandwich bread that my kindergartener would eat (and that my wife and I would also enjoy). After many attempts, I finally was able to produce a pillowy white bread that was easy to eat and went great with sandwiches. It tasted great, but took a lot of time to prepare, and careful planning to ensure I had enough time for the various rising steps.
What if, I wondered, my prior failures with the Zojirushi were not due to the machine, but just the lack of a good recipe. The results speak for themselves: we haven’t bought a loaf of bread in months and the Z is in near constant use. The 1 pound loaves finish quickly, but that ensures that the bread is always relatively fresh.
Super Soft White Bread
In a bowl, mix:
- 280 g bread flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons dry milk powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
In a separate bowl or mixing cup, combine
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 egg, beaten
Take out the bread pan from the machine. Add in the liquid mixture, then the flour mixture. In a small well in the flour, add:
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
Return the pan to the machine, set the crust control to “light” and start the machine. I’ve also set the machine to delay so it will be ready in the morning. There are warnings about doing this with egg-based recipes, but I’m still alive (hey, the bread’s cooked!).
Here’s the key:
As soon as the bread is done, remove it from the pan immediately and brush with about 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter, then wrap with a kitchen towel until the bread cools. Don’t try to cut into the bread while warm…it’s difficult and still tastes excellent when cool.