Recently, John and I took a leisure trip to Macy’s in search of things on which we could use the last of our registry Star Rewards credit. Ever since the Paris part of our honeymoon, John has been on a French baguette kick. About a month ago, he decided to finally give baguette baking a try. He bought bread flour, looked up recipes, rolled up his sleeves, and started kneading. The first baguette looked awesome but wasn’t fluffy like a true baguette. The second attempt looked unappetizing and hardened into a rock within two days. Then our friend, Mei-Mei, said, “Why don’t you just buy a bread maker?”
At first, John was reluctant; he knew that now, when any bread turned out delicious, it wouldn’t be due to his blood, sweat, and tears. He would have to give most of the credit to the boxy machine on our kitchen counter. But we had leftover credit at Macy’s and opted for the Cuisinart CBK-200, a 2-pound convection automatic bread maker. The thing is heavy-duty, taking up a fourth of our counter space, but what it lacks in sleekness, it makes up for in efficiency and convenience. Now all John has to do is pour the measured ingredients into the machine, close the lid, and turn it on. It’ll beep when it’s ready for mix-ins (e.g. nuts) and beep again once it’s done. Like a slow cooker, we can just throw everything in and forget about it for a few hours. Then later when we return to it, we’ll have a freshly baked bread. A bonus is how nice the house smells when you’ve got something baking. Mouth-watering, I say.
In the month we’ve had it, John’s used it to make a French loaf, banana bread, pizza dough, and the latest creation, pumpkin walnut bread. Except for the French loaf (which still turned out edible), everything has been pretty damn delicious. He’s gotten a lot of compliments for his breads, and while our friend Daniel said that with all this baking, John’s lost his nuts in his bread, John says real men bake.
The truth is I’m happy John’s been spending more time in the kitchen. It gives the Blind Cook a much needed break. The following recipe is one he found online for banana nut bread. He used the same recipe to make both the banana bread and the pumpkin walnut bread; for the former, he baked it sans nuts since we didn’t have any on hand, and for the latter, he simply substituted the bananas with the fresh pumpkin he had spent five hours the other evening preparing. (That in itself was a whole ordeal. First he had to cut open the pumpkin, roast it in the oven with a layer of brown sugar on top to sweeten the field pumpkin, puree it in the food processor. That wasn’t all. Then I had to stand there with a knee-high sock in hand, which we read was an acceptable substitute for cheesecloth, while he spooned globs of pumpkin puree into it in order to extract all the water from the orange mass. Craziness, I tell you.)
But what we got out of it was a pumpkin walnut bread truly made from scratch. I’m so proud of my hubby. If a computer geek can bake it, so can you. You just may need to throw some money down for a bread machine first.
Summary: Original recipe from the Bread Maker section of All Recipes
- 1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
- 2/3 c. milk
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. white sugar
- 2.5 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. mashed bananas or pumpkin puree
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
- Spray bread machine pan with vegetable oil spray.
- Pre-mix ingredients in the order listed. Place mixture in bread machine pan.
- Select the “Quick Bread/Cake” cycle. Press “Start.” Check after 1 min. to see if dough is well-blended.
- Cook until cycle ends. Remove pan and cool completely before removing bread from pan.
For best results, use King Arthur flour. It’s more expensive but seems worth it for quality breads.
Baking powder = 2 parts cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda. This will be further explained in my snickerdoodles post.
The prep time listed below only accounts for the mixing of ingredients and does not include the time it spends in the bread machine.
We’ve used this same recipe to make both banana bread and pumpkin nut bread. I’m sure there are other mushy fruits/purees that could be added into this bread. Why not try?
Cooking time (duration): 10
Diet type: Vegetarian
Meal type: snack
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
Microformatting by hRecipe.