I’ve never considered myself to be much of a gadget person. I use the same cell phone until it gasps for mercy. My laptop is never the newest model, and I only retire it when it too, gasps for mercy. But lately, I’ve noticed that I have developed an absolute obsession with kitchen gadgets. It started with the ice cream maker, and now my most current purchase is the Panasonic SD-BMS 105T bread maker.
To be honest, I’ve had a bias against bread machine bread for the longest time, because the loaves I’ve tasted have been brick-like, and have a mishmash of strange ingredients. I’ve eaten loaves that have both corn niblets AND raisins in them, or with goji berries AND sunflower seeds, and a handful of other unidentifiable seeds. (it’s never a good sign when the baker never tells you what’s in the bread before your first bite. If you ask, and they say “Guess!” with a glint in their eye, just put down the slice and run away) So I’ve never been that eager to jump on the bread machine bandwagon. Until one fateful day, when a colleague brought in some bread from his brand new shiny bread machine. This bread! It had a light, cloud-like, tender texture, and a slightly chewy crust. Instead of a heavy floury taste, it was a delicate buttery aroma. Similar to bread that you can buy in a Japanese style bakery, or in the same family as brioche. I thought to achieve this texture, it would involve a ton of butter, but it turns out that each loaf only requires just a smidgeon of butter (about 15 grams. depending on the recipe you use) I struggled with the decision for a long time. But, but, I bake my own bread! I bake bread to relieve stress! How can I turn over such an important activity to a machine? But the temptation kept coming in… How can you not be tempted by a machine that makes 30 types of bread?! (and pasta! And bagels! And udon noodles! And mochi! AND CHEESECAKE!) With this machine, I would never have to leave the house again! I did some preliminary research about the product specifications and dimensions, and also read some reviews. I liked what I read, and the price seemed right, so one rainy afternoon, I went ahead and ordered it online at PC Home. And in the same burst of efficiency, I also ordered a 10 kilogram sack of flour at the same time. 最近廚房多了一個新玩具： 就是 Panasonic 的麵包機！ 本來一直猶豫不決 怕烤出來的麵包不好吃。 但有一天同事帶了用這個麵包機烤的麵包來辦公室請大家吃， 我發覺這個機器烤出來的麵包跟外 bakery的麵包很接近！ 有一天下午就下定決心 在 PC Home 訂了這一台。（為了 reinforce 我的決心， 我也順道訂了一袋 十公斤的麵粉）。 Usually I roll my eyes at the instruction manual that comes with the machine, because I know there’s an English version online. But no such luck with this model! I searched far and wide, (well, in cyberspace) and there is not an English manual. (if you find one, please let me know) So I had to gather my rudimentary Chinese reading skills and navigate the spaceship alone. This page in the instructional manual was extremely daunting. Fortunately, there were some step-by-step photos that I could kind of, sort of read. And the best part of the whole process is, at the end, there will be a steamy hot, fresh from the “oven” loaf of bread just waiting to be slathered with butter and honey.
麵包機送到家裡的時候我就迫不及待的拆箱~欣賞了一下就把說明書拿出來看看。 那時候心臟聽了一下～完了。 說明書全部都是中文。上網找了一下， 也沒有找到英文版的～所以只好硬著頭皮看中文。 （在這個過程， 發覺如果真的是自己感興趣的課題，真的是會想辦法把它看懂。 當然也是不停的問家人”what does this say?” 說明書不認識的字實在字太多了， 問到家人都有一點煩， 就會問我 “你中文不是有進步嗎？ 怎麼還有那麼多字看不懂？” 我也很理直氣壯的說 “I speak the language of bread, not machine, okay?” 😄 ） 但還好也有一些圖片， 我就這樣誤打誤撞的烤出第一個麵包。
The machine also came with some accessories; such as oven mitts, 2 types of measuring cups and a measuring spoon. Initially, I was really confused by the pink measuring spoon. Some of the recipes call for half of the small teaspoon, and that line is extremely hard to see.
In terms of the ingredients, most of them are pretty run of the mill; all purpose flour, butter, water. One unusual ingredient for me was milk powder, which is supposed to add both flavor and shelf life to the bread. Since milk powder is not a product I would normally buy, I omit it and just use milk in place of the water. (I think I would also use soy, almond or rice milk, which are also easily available in Taiwan)
Here is a photo of the bread machine in action! It’s pretty amazing to watch all these ingredients be whizzed together into one neat ball of dough. (The instruction manual strictly warns against lifting the lid while the machine is in use, but I couldn’t a resist a couple quick peeks!
最神奇的地方是看一堆食材變成麵團。 雖然我是很愛揉麵團的人， 但在炎熱的夏天時， 真的覺得太費力了。 麵包還沒進烤箱就是一頭大汗。在加上烤箱一開， 整個家裡溫度就標高好幾度。 但麵包機可以讓我很冷靜的把做麵包的步驟完成！ 而且完全不會散發熱氣， 所以夏天烤麵包也是很輕鬆的事。
The machine has only lived on my kitchen for about 3 months, and I’ve used up the 10 pound bag of flour. Once I got used to all the different buttons and functions, the machine has been incredibly easy to use. One time saving method I found is, I pre-measure the flour and put them into separate ziplock bags. I also pre-measure the butter, and wrap them in small individual portions. This has been particularly handy for those nights when I arrive home dead on my feet. I just dump in the flour, butter, quickly measure out the other ingredients and set the timer on the machine and go to bed. The next morning, I wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread. 這台麵包機在我家廚房只住了短短三個月， 但它真的是一個使用率很高的機器！ 這三個月以來， 我那袋十公斤的麵粉也全部用完了，因為我每一周至少會烤兩次麵包。
I’ve only had
one two minor mishaps, as seen here: (It was completely, and totally my fault. I forgot to put in the mixing blade) 烤了那麼多麵包的過程， 只出過兩次次的小插曲～就是忘了把 mixing blade 放進烤盤裡。 導致食材完全沒有攪拌， 烤出一堆熱麵粉。
Naturally, the ingredients didn’t mix, and I was greeted with a batch of very thoroughly heated flour, yeast, butter, craisins and pumpkin seeds. Yuck. Another more recent mishap was also due to human error. Can you guess what happened here?
第二次的小插曲是。。。忘了加發粉。導致麵包烤出來， 硬的像磚頭一樣， 堅固的能拿來蓋房子了！
I forgot to add in the yeast, so I ended up with a hard lump of solid dough. Ooops again. If I ever need bricks, this is one way of producing them. That loaf of “bread” was hefty enough to build houses.
Tiny blips aside, I’ve had much success. In all honestly, even thought I was initially excited by all 30 different types of bread that the machine can make, I usually make plain loaves, or simple loaves with dried fruit and nuts. I still haven’t gotten over the novelty of being able to eat fresh bread with the touch of a few buttons. Of course, there is a bit of wait involved (4-5 hours) but if you time it correctly, the wait is not usually an issue for me. 看心情， 會換不同的口味～有時候是不同的乾果搭配杏仁或是核桃，或是南瓜子，偶爾是巧克力。 最近發覺紅蘿蔔跟蔓約梅也是一個好吃的組合。也會烤白的或是全麥麵包， 再做成三明治或是 法國土司。
You would think all this bread making would stave off my desire for more machines… but now after making my own French toast a few times, I feel the need to expand my breakfast menu repertoire…. I think I now need a waffle maker… Look at this awesome one from Breville. Enjoy!
UPDATE: I’ve included some English translations for the basic bread recipe here!