Monday, November 15, 2010

Bread Machine

I bought a bread machine on Saturday.  I got it at the thrift store for $5.  Then I bought about $40 worth of flour and yeast and other ingredients to make the bread.  My main goal with the bread machine was to get more sleep.  Instead of getting up at 6:00 to make oatmeal, eat it, and wash the pot, I could get up at 6:50, grab a fresh loaf of bread, and eat it in the car or my office. ( I am, in fact, still munching the bread as I write this.  Not even I can eat a 2 pound loaf of bread in one sitting. )

I know how to use a bread machine because I got one for my mother one for Christmas in 2005.  The one I got her was a really nice two-paddle machine that cost significantly more than $5.  It is quiet, reliable, and makes things that look like a real loaf of bread.  After experimenting with it, I developed a real taste for fresh bread.  The nice thing about bread machines is that you can make bread exactly the way you want it.  I usually make a dense, German-style loaf full of fruit and nuts, like the kind of artisanal breads that cost $5 a loaf

Mine is a one-paddle machine, which means that it makes a 'loaf' of bread that looks like a massive mutant muffin.  I tested the machine Saturday night, putting it on my kitchen table and setting it to finish making the bread at 9:00 AM Sunday.  But at 6:00 Sunday morning, I was awakened by a horrible racket in the kitchen.  It sounded like a cudgel-wielding dwarf barbarian locked in mortal combat with a steam-powered mechanical spider.  The noise was, of course, generated by the high-torque motor of the machine kneading the bread, which caused the machine to rock like an unbalanced washing machine.

The loaf of bread it produced in the end was perfectly good.  The appearance did not bother me and it tasted just like the bread from my mother's machine.  It was also much easier to get the loaf out of this machine than my mother's.  Because of the geometry, with more weight and less surface area, it slid right out, whereas with my mother's you sometimes have to bang the bread pan down to get the loaf out.  It also may have helped that this machine was very new; the previous owner had obviously used it very few times.

I am fairly sure that the noise was not due to a flaw of any kind; cheaper bread machines are usually loud like that.  If you had two closed doors and most of a house between your bed and the kitchen, it would not be a problem.  But I live in a one-bedroom apartment with no door, and maybe ten feet of distance, between my bed and the kitchen table.  Running the bread machine on the table every night would not have helped my goal of getting more sleep.

So I put the bread machine in my refrigerator.  This is not as crazy as it sounds.  I do not keep my refrigerator running; I have found that the noise and power consumption are not worth the benefits.  I do most of my cooking with nonperishable items, supplemented with the occasional trip to the store for the kind of fresh veggies that can be left out a few days.

This worked great.  The refrigerator muffled almost all of the noise, I did not lose any sleep, and I got a nice loaf of bread at 6:50.  When I opened the refrigerator door, a blast of hot, moist air fogged my glasses, but I did not notice any kind of condensation on the machine or the bread.

So my apartment now features a refrigerator that is not plugged in, with an extension cord running from behind the refrigerator and plugged into a smaller white power cord that disappears into the fridge door.  The vegetable drawer unit from the bottom of the fridge is sitting on top if the fridge; I had to remove it in order to make the bread machine fit.

The bread machine reinforces my decision not to run the fridge, because its function as a noise muffler is far more valuable than its function as a way to keep food cool.

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