Morphy Richards Breadmaker – Adventures in Baking:
OK, first of all, I’ve never used a breadmaker before. Although I have made bread – it was a labour of love. And, while it was always quite successful, the result has never seemed to warrant the effort. But, who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked bread? Anyway, when I was offered a Bread Machine to review by Morphy Richards I was curious to see if it worked and cut the effort to a level that would mean I got hooked on baking my own bread.
Well the best you can say about my first attempt was that the result was interesting. I’d suggest any other virgin Breadmaker users out there do things rather differently to me.
- Firstly, use a bread mix. Measuring the ingredients isn’t that complicated, but, you will need things that you may not have in your kitchen store cupboard (vitamin c tablets for example) and that you probably don’t use in normal bread baking. And, until you’ve got used to making bread in a breadmaker I think it’s important to ‘follow the rules’
- Secondly, as I found out to my cost, there’s no override on a breadmaker. If you get the settings wrong, you can’t adjust things mid cycle – even if you switch the machine off and back on again at the mains. So make sure you don’t ‘start’ the machine accidentally. Read the manual (I did, but I assumed wrongly that you’d be able to adjust settings as the machine was going. You can’t.)
- Finally, practice setting the machine up with no ingredients in the mixing bowl. That way, you can get used to the order of doing things and what now seems like an almost intuitive logic.
Now, I don’t think my doomed loaf was the fault of the bread machine. I tried to make a granary loaf, which is a little more complicated than a plain white loaf in terms of ingredients, and I somehow got the machine set on programme 18. CAKE. Well, I ended up with granary loaf cake…and honestly I did try eating a bit and it was really not a great experience.
Not to be defeated this morning I set out to make a basic white loaf, 1lb. In other words, the low risk option. And you know, having messed around a bit with the settings first, checked out exactly what to do and then set things up very carefully, I got pretty good results.
The only thing that didn’t work exactly as said on the can was that the ‘drop down kneading blade’ didn’t drop down, and I have a loaf of bread with a big hole in the middle. But the texture and taste is great.
I haven’t checked the delay function on the machine yet. I think I need to try ‘breadmaking for beginners’ for a bit longer before I try going to bed and leaving the bread to start baking in the middle of the night, however wonderful it sounds.
So to sum up the results so far
- It did produce a remarkably good loaf of bread on my second attempt. With no effort other than measuring the ingredients.
- You don’t need to watch it. The bread will stay warm for an hour after it is finished…so you can leave it without worrying
- The set-up is remarkably clear once you understand the logic. It allows 19 different programme settings, with size and ‘crust’ variations for many. My loaf was set to produce a slightly darker than standard crust.
- There are lots of things you can do with the machine other than make bread. Including making cakes, jam and rice pudding. And there are recipes to show you how to get started – over 50 of them. I suspect once you are used to the machine it is quite easy to adapt your own recipes.
- Although you can’t put the baking pan in the dishwasher, it is very easy to clean with a non-stick surface
- Everything you need to get started is included, measuring cups and spoons so you can follow the recipes.
- There’s a delay function, so you can set the breadmaker up and go to bed and wake up to hot, freshly baked bread.
- There’s no emergency stop. If you start a baking programme, that’s it, till the timer has worked through. And, you have to switch the machine on and off at the mains which may or may not work for you.
- The instruction book also contains the basic recipes. That means if you are trying to follow a recipe and are not familiar with the instructions, you are constantly turning backwards and forwards.
- The measurements appear to be biased toward ‘cups’ rather than weighed measures. Most UK bakers regard cups as a less accurate way of measurement, so not only does it mean using a method of measurement that is not common in the UK, instinctively it feels wrong. And even in the US, food writers are moving toward weight measures rather than away from them! check out this post for example…
For the most part the machine is great and, once you have worked out the logic, quite easy to use. I’d have preferred to see the recipes in a separate booklet to the instructions, simply so that a beginner like me can have both pages open at once. And, having extra measures in the form of spoons and cups when my own scales should do the job perfectly well is just slightly annoying. It’s a minor niggle, but for the UK market why not show the weights the way we expect them to be and add the volume measures ‘for those who are not sure how accurate their scales are’. Mine are electronic and measure to the gram…
But, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating…or should that be, the proof of the bread is in the making? And the (second) loaf of bread wot I made was pretty damned good!
Disclosure: I was sent the Morphy Richards Breadmaker as part of their Innovators programme. All views expressed are my own.