Friday, February 25, 2011

I Heart My Zo

When life is stressful or I'm just feeling blue, I want to go to my happy place. Sometimes my happy place is a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine, sometimes it's in front of my sewing machine, sometimes it's my kitchen, and some days it's the thrift store.

If you're not a member of the thrift store fan club, you might not understand how it can be a calming, uplifting experience to paw through someone else's cast-offs. It's like a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find. It might be a copy of that book you've been wanting to read, a glass soap dish holder that's perfect for the guest bathroom, a comforter to send away to college with your child, a DVD of your favorite movie, a 1,000 piece puzzle that's never been opened, or a sweater from your favorite brand. And you can get it all for under $10!

The truth of the matter is that some people give away ridiculous stuff. Brand new, with tags on, even. I don't find amazing things every visit, but I have found such great deals that I keep coming back.

My all-time, best ever, lucky find happened when I was in the appliance aisle. I was trying to describe to my husband what to look for, a bread machine to replace mine that was old and cranky. In particular, I wanted a Zojirushi, the larger one, that looks just like this one, this.....HOLY COW! It's a Zojirushi! And it looks brand new!! And it's $7! HOLY GRASS-FED ORGANIC COW!!!! I snatched that puppy up and cradled it to my chest throughout the store. No one else could touch this. It was MINE.

I got it home and examined it. It looked almost new, although there were some very light marks inside the loaf pan that indicated it had been used once or twice. What silly person would toss a $200 machine after using it once? Ah, I know what happened. They baked in it. Silly, silly, you never bake in a bread machine. Even a Zo, which has a much better loaf pan. The bread machine is for mixing and rising. Then you take the dough out of the machine, shape it into a loaf, put it into a greased loaf pan and bake it in the oven. It's so easy that I bake all of my family's bread (including hamburger buns) and most of that uses my Zo.

Yes, it is a bit cheaty, to a bread purist, to use a bread machine, but you know what? I don't have time to be snotty about getting food on the table. My life is busy, and it works really well for me to let a machine do the mixing and babysitting of the dough. And it works really well for my family who gets to enjoy fresh bread all the time. Mmmm, warm bread with melting butter. Now that's a happy place for me!

I wish my pictures for this post could be put up in scratch and sniff format. The loaf looks pretty boring. It's just bread, right? Oh, not if you can smell it. There's cinnamon in there and it smells up the kitchen in the most amazing way as it bakes. While it's baking, it wafts an enticing aroma around, drawing hungry, drooling family members to gather around the oven, asking, "When is the bread done?"

WARNING: If you have not been a bread maker, and you get a bread machine, you'll find it's addictive to make bread. And your family will probably gorge themselves on warm, fresh bread. Don't worry, after about 5 lbs, or a month, whichever comes first, they'll figure out that the good bread is here to stay.

Barley Cinnamon Bread
- adapted from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook (which I love!)

for a 1-1/2 lb loaf

1 cup plus 3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp dry butter milk powder
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp gluten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp SAF yeast

1- Place all the ingredients into the pan, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Select "dough" mode. Press start.

2- When the machine is done (1:50 minutes in my machine), remove the dough from the pan. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with baking spray. Gently press the dough into a rectangle (I don't use a rolling pin as I want to keep some of the rise), and roll up the dough into a loaf shape, pinching the dough together. Place the dough roll in the greased loaf pan, with the seam on the bottom. Cover the loaf with a towel.

3- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. When the loaf has risen so that the top of the loaf is at least even with the top of the pan, place the loaf in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If you're unsure whether or not the loaf is done, insert an instant read thermometer in the side. If it reads 190 deg. F or above, the loaf is done. If not, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes.

4- Remove loaf from pan and place on cooling rack. Now comes the really hard part. Let it cool - without cutting it! The structure of the bread is much better if the bread is allowed to cool all the way before you slice it. But if you can't wait, slice away, slathering each piece with lots of good butter. Then start another loaf going right away, since this one's toast. (Little bread joke there.)


Aveen said...

Funny, when you said Zojirushi I thought it was going to be a posh rice cooker! You're right about breadmakers being great for making and proving dough though. I use mine because my kitchen is draughty and it takes about two hours to prove dough that would take an hour in the breadmaker. Your bread looks tasty!

Jennifer Jo said...

I love to shop thrift stores...when I have the time. My mom is queen over all thrift store queens, and she comes home with some real doozies. That bread machine is certainly a find worth shouting about.

hobby baker said...

Okay, I am making a point to visit the thrift store once a week until I get that lucky! I would love a zo! My bread machine is 11 years old and starting to get tempermental. I think it's been around 2½ years since I've bought bread but I've loved making it for 20. You're right, it is addictive; I love the feel of bread dough - all different kinds. That loaf looks great, I'll have to try it out soon. (Just gotta stick the rock hard buttermilk powder in the processor to break it up again...) ☺

Baking Soda said...

Haha! I love it! (And my bread maker to knead dough and sometimes proof. Mine does knead the best dough, really!)
Ok so we're going to the States in the Summer... do you think I can convince my family to visit thrift stores? We never have such finds in Holland and I am a regular. Oh my greatest catch? Two pie plates for 1 euro, which is quite amazing in Holland because we don't do pies let alone pie plates. Which left me craving for the story behind...

grace said...

what a bulbous loaf--i love it, and not just because cinnamon is so heavily involved. :)

La Bella Vida said...

I LOVE my Zo, but of course paid full price for it. You got the deal of the year, of the decade on that one!!!

The bread looks amazing, Lynn! I will definitely have to try this one.

xoxoxoxo, Molly

Peabody said...

I love what you can find at Goodwill and places like that. You do have to commit some time to looking around though usually.
I once bought a pair of Prada pumps for $22, that originally were $700 when I lived in Scottsdale.