I bought my first bread machine in 1992. I've always been into carby things, but I soon discovered that bread was more than flour and yeast. It appeals to our senses and evokes comfort. The scent of sourdough always pulled my guests into the kitchen.
I adored that old bread machine. I even took it with me on a vacation to Perdido Key, Florida. Then I developed high blood pressure and went on a diet. I gave my beloved machine to an elderly friend who could no longer knead bread, then I embraced a breadless life (well, almost).
Twenty years later, my friend, author Shirley Hailstock, renewed my interest in breadmaking. She told me how she wakes up to the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon bread--she assembles the ingredients the night before and sets the timer function on her machine.
With Shirley's lush descriptions firmly in my mind, I bought another machine. Now, after two decades of denying my olfactory cravings, I am "making" bread every day. I'm especially fond of potato bread. It has that just-right flavor. It's dense enough to stand up to a juicy BLT, yet it's soft enough to melt on the tongue. I use the leftovers for croutons and bread crumbs.
Bread Machine Potato Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 c. mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to 80 degrees
1/4 c. whole milk, room temperature
1/3 c. warm water (80 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
. . .
Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the water and butter. Place ingredients in the bread machine pan. The order will depend on your machine's instructions. I start with wet ingredients, then I add the dry. The yeast goes on top (the very last ingredient). Start the machine.
When the baking cycle ends, remove the bread from the pan and cool on a rack. Brush rosemary butter over the top and sides of the bread. Sprinkle with sea salt.
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
Into a bowl add chopped rosemary and a pinch of sea salt to butter. Blend. Slather on warm potato bread.
If you're an olfactory-oriented person like myself, then you know the smell of browning bread sends a message to anyone who enters your kitchen.
"You're home," the aroma says. "Come on inside and get cozy."