Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

What Did I do Wrong?

p2041139-640x480 Tim and I got a bread machine as a wedding gift from parents of a childhood friend of mine…and we LOVE it. It was the first thing to come out of it’s box when I arrived, and I was immediately making bread in it. We even scored organic locally milled (at a real windmill) wheat flour for our first loaf, and it was delicious. For our second loaf, I picked up a Hovel bread mix for white bread, and that went quickly!

While we were doing our weekly shopping at Tesco, we saw that there were several types of bread machine mixes, so we picked up one of each to have a go and see what we liked. Yesterday, I decided to make the Ciabatta. And the photo above is how it turned out. I followed the instructions exactly – 250g of mix, 175ml water, 2tsp olive oil. The only “difference” was that the machine was moved to the end of the counter (it’s the sticking out bit not supported by cabinets) and I was also doing a load of wash at the same time.

Do you think the vibrations from the washer (particularly that spin cycle!) could have caused the bread to not rise (or mix!) properly? I tried it a second time with another Hovel Mix, and while that bread turned out edible, the top isn’t smooth the way the first two loaves turned out, it’s all bumpy. Edible, but kind of ugly looking.

I can’t put the bread machine where it had been for the first two loaves, as that was on top of the old dryer we’ve gotten rid of (well, it’s as far as the front garden, we’re waiting for pick up).

Any ideas?

PS – we also determined that making our own bread will cost much less than buying a loaf. The mixes cost from 30-75p/loaf, but if we make it from scratch, we’re spending less than 30p/loaf. It does take 3 hours, but the machine also has a timer, so we can set it at night to wake up to fresh bread or even have bread waiting when we come home from a day out!

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4 Comments so far

  1. Jeni February 5th, 2010 11:22

    I’m not very good at the troubleshooting thing. But some possibilities:

    Bread will not rise well in damp weather.

    Did the mixes have their own yeast packets, or was this the same stuff you’d been using? Maybe the yeast is a bit old on some.

    Do the mixes have sugar? Sweeter loaves rise better.

    Good uses for imperfect bread are homemade bread crumbs or croutons. 🙂

  2. Rebecca February 5th, 2010 12:31

    Well, yesterday was a really wet day….

    The mix had it’s own yeast and specifically stated not to add yeast, only water + olive oil. I’m not sure if it had sugar in it or not. I know the recipe from scratch had 2TBSP sugar. The first loaf we made was from scratch and I opened a new packet of yeast – perfect bread. The first Hovel mix I made was done on a really sunny/nice day…perfect bread. The Ciabatta….flat and powdery and just kind of gross all around. the second Hovel loaf baked okay and is edible, it’s just not nice and round over the top like it should have been (know what I mean, or should I take a pic?)

    I was going to turn the Ciabatta into croutons, but it was just awful and powdery so we just binned it.

  3. Virginia February 5th, 2010 14:18

    I agree that yeast is a likely culprit (and it makes sense to me that the weather would affect it, too). With our bread machine, I usually have trouble with the kneading cycles. I have to stand there and hold the pan down, because it pops up out of its clips. Before I realized that this was happening, I ended up with a small, heavy (yet tasty!) lump of a loaf. Now I know it’s got to go through the kneading cycle properly AND have fresh yeast.

  4. Rebecca February 5th, 2010 14:47

    Thanks Va. The mix said “this mix contains high yeast”, but I guess if it was sitting on the shelf for too long before we bought it, it could have gone bad.

    Ours stays in the clips and it’s actually almost hard to get them OUT of the clips when the bread is done!

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