Boy, I'll bet someone is sorry that asked this! <VBG> I have been
following this thread with interest, and have hesitated offering my
opinion. Although I agree with what many people have already said (I
only go through one or two loaves a week, I am busy, etc), I don't
think I've seen a post that reflects why *I* use a machine. So here goes.
I grew up with a mom who baked bread by hand - ground her own flour, the
whole 9 yards. She made awesome whole-wheat bread. However, it was a
whole day - it seemed to take forever! Not only that, but it was always
such a big production. Grind the flour, make the bread, knead, rise,
punchdown, rise, etc. We had a small kitchen, so other kitchen activity
tended to come to a stand-still. There was no other place in the house
to let 5 loaves of bread rise, except in the kitchen. So we couldn't
really cook or bake until the whole process was over.
Anyway, it all seemed too much work. However, I did try my hand at
making cinnamon braids and some other stuff, but consistently killed the
yeast, or I couldn't get the ambient temperature warm enough for the
dough to rise well. I gave up, and for years figured it was a culinary
mystery to which I was never going to be privy. I really bummed me out,
but I religiously avoided ANYTHING that contained yeast in it.
Yeasr later, I bought a bread machine for my boyfriend, who really wanted
one. To make a long story short, I dumped the boyfriend and kept the
bread machine (he never used it anyway, but I did). I lucked onto the
Bread Machine Magic cookbooks, and consistently turned out yummy bread
(all the while chanting "Yeast is my friend"). I took the advice of the
authors and watched the machine knead the dough, and started to learn how
the dough should look and act. I overcame my fear of touching the dough
(I thought I would kill the yeast but over-kneading it), and am almost
ready to start TRYING to make a loaf or two by hand. The machine has
held my hand and taught me that I am not a complete klutz and serial
yeast-killer. Now, even if my hand-made bread flops, I know I can still
do bread in the machine.
I apologize for going on and on - I have nothing but admiration and awe
for people who make bread by hand. It seems to me that it is truly an
art, as well as an act of love (not to mention time! :). So, maybe I am
not as artistic, but I feel privileged to be able to finally be able to
make bread myself (with the help of my loveable machine, of course!).
BTW, a loaf of 1.5 pound bread only takes 2 1/2 hours on my machine (my
machine won't even DO 5 hours!).
Thanks for listening!
Berkeley, California (USA)