I like to spend a bit of time in the kitchen, not because the wife orders me too but because I find cooking food quite relaxing, sort of therapeutic, in a way, so long as no one enters my domain whilst I'm busy inventing a new type of dish to test on my family.
So, when I'm in my kitchen I like to have devices that come in handy and maybe help my life in the room of heat and swearing so that there is a little less heat and swearing coming from with-in that room.
One particular device that I have, and one which I have used many many times, due to reasons such as better taste, less money spent and the delicious odour whilst it is working, is in the shape of a bread maker. This is not just any old bread maker, this one is a bread maker that is as old as the hills even though it has a well known company name behind it, but regardless of how old this one is, it has out lasted many of my more modern kitchen appliances, and it seems to be telling me that it may in fact out live me.
The bread maker I am talking about is in fact the box shaped monster from Electrolux, with it's full title being the Electrolux BR 3000.
* What does this bread maker look like then..?
As I said, it's a little box shaped, which takes up quite a bit of room when you're using it, being about 250mm long by 250mm wide by about 400mm high.
On the side of the machine there is a vent to allow some of the excess heat away from the machine, keeping the motor cool so that it doesn't overheat and 'blow up' on long journeys, sort of 'over cooking' your perfect loaf.
There is a hinged lid sitting on top of the main body with a rather nice 'window' section towards the rear so that you can see the bread actually being made, if you've nothing else to do that is.
Open the lid and you'll be met by what is called the Bread pan, which sits inside the 'Baking chamber'. in the centre of this bread pan is a small 'knob' which is where the kneading blade attaches to so that you can, well, knead the dough before baking it.
There is a control panel on the front, just in front of the lid, which let's you take full control of the machine.
This control panel is easy to understand and even easier to get the hang of, especially after a few uses.
So that's basically what it looks like.
There's no NASA control panel; no tubes and mixer blades; it's just a tub within a box with a few buttons slapped onto the front, giving you a simple way to make a loaf that may just rival Warburtons themselves.
* What about using it..?
This can seem a little daunting at first but once you've made your first loaf you'll be amazed just how easy this bread maker actually is to use, I know I was.
It has 8 settings which should cater for most people, or maybe experimenting for others.
It also has a 1 hour 'keep warm' option which, well, keeps your bread warm after it's been baked... although I prefer to get the bread out of the bread pan as soon as possible as I find that the longer that you leave the finished bread in there the softer and 'soggier' it becomes. But if you take it out and sit it on a cooling tray the bread cools off and feels firm, yet 'spongy', like the bread you squeeze on the shelves as you go shopping in Asda
* How does one use this then..?
Firstly, it's best to take out the bread pan from the machine so that you don't spill anything over the machine itself. This saves on having to clean all those nooks and crannies.
Once the pan is out you fix in the kneading blade, if needs be, and then simply add the ingredients that you need to make bread, such as flour, butter, yeast, water and maybe a pinch of salt.
Next, you carefully place the pan back into the machine, locking it into position. Once it's clicked into place you close the lid and then plug the machine into the mains, waiting for the display on the control panel to show up.
Then, using the menu selection, choose the right setting and the machine should then begin to make your bread, starting with mixing, kneading then baking.
You can even choose what type of crust you want by pressing a button, from a light crust to a dark crust, giving you more choice of how you want your finished loaf.
Once you've chosen the settings and you're happy with what you've picked, you then simply press the start button and step back.
That's it, you're job in the making of bread is done. All you have to do now is wait, be patient, maybe go off and find something to do for a couple of hours, take the dog for a walk, make yourself a cup of tea, clean the house... do what ever you want as this bread maker will not need any attention at all as it does all the bread making from with in.
In other words...
A quick press of the colour button gives you the choice of how you want the crust to end up, be it light and easy to chew or even so hard that you may risk losing a tooth biting through it.
The two up and down buttons below the timer/countdown, allowing you to select the exact time you want the machine to run, and for how long.
This timing function which allows you to delay the beginning of your bread making by up to 13 hours, (although I've never really had to use the full 13 hour timing so far).
* The finished product...
On average making a good quality loaf of bread takes about 2 ½ hours, give or take, depending on which selection you go for, but once the bread is made you then simply open the lid of the machine, take out the pan carefully, using oven gloves, and gently pat the freshly made bread onto a cooling tray.
Allow to cool and you'll be left with a lovely tasting loaf of bread.
* The dreaded cleaning process...
Cleaning the bread maker is a 'doddle', especially as the only section that gets really 'dirty' is the bread pan, unless you spill half the ingredients over the maker itself. So it's a simple matter of wiping the pan out, maybe even soaking it in a bowl of hot soapy water if necessary. But what ever you do don't use any abrasive scrubbing implements on this as they will scratch the surface and your dough will stick to the little scratches, causing no end of trouble.
That's it; that's all you have to do really to clean it: only make sure that you rinse it out as well as the last thing you want to have is freshly made bread with a hint of Persil washing up liquid.
* My opinion...
As I mentioned I have had this bread maker for quite some time now and it has made me a lot of loaves of fresh bread without me having to spend what seems like hours kneading the dough until it's ready to rise, then waiting until it's tripled in size, making sure it stays moist so that it rises nicely.
This machine takes all that 'nuisance hassle' away from the bread making process, although some people may enjoy that bread making process. All you have to do it pop in the correct amount of ingredients into the bowl and away you go.
Plus, with there being no real manual work, there's very little flour drifting around the kitchen, over your clothes and even up your nose.
The simple to read countdown timer shows just how long is left before you can get the finished bread from the machine, waiting patiently for that moment that you can slice the bread into thick pieces so that you can put your freshly grilled bacon on top of a slice, pouring brown sauce onto the bubbling grease of the pink/brown meat, then slapping a second slice on top.... Time to eat that home made bacon butty to get your stomach nicely filled.
The settings are so simple to understand, especially after you've used this s few times, as it's just a matter of pressing the menu button a few times, listening for the bleeping as you go along, until your selected setting light glows up along the left of the menu/select button.
I particularly like the little clear section on the lid which lets you see the bread 'working', watching it grow as the yeast activates with the rest of the ingredients. Sometimes it's even looked like the dough is about to burst through, pushing the lid open as the dough expands like a fat mans stomach as he sits happily munching through his seventh Big Mac.
The timer reminder...
I do have to mention the timer option once more as I don't want you thinking that you simply input a time for the machine to start the kneading process before baking the bread.
This timer option is a 'timer', or more a countdown, which basically means that you input a set amount of time that you want the machine to wait before beginning bread making process.
For example, if you're going out at 10 in the morning and won't be back until 8pm, wanting that freshly made bread aroma to welcome you on your return, then you want to have the bread maker starting its work at around 5.30pm, which is 7 hours after you go out. So you simply input 7 hours into the timer so that the machine knows to come on in 7 hours.
Simple really, but the timings will depend on what type of bread you are making of course.
I nearly forgot to mention...
You also get a lovely little measuring cup and spoon to help you get the right amount of ingredients into the machine.
So, what about the price of this loaf making device..?
I think I paid about £25.00 for this when I bought it but, as I said, I've owned this for a while now and I honestly can't find it on sale at most electrical retailers that I usually shop at. But I have seen it, or very similar ones, for sale in smaller retailers.
In all, this is a great way to make a loaf of bread that you know exactly what is in it, making it exactly how you want it without too much 'nasty' things like salt and those horrid 'e' numbers.
Plus, with the price of a good loaf of bread standing at near £2 these days making your own bread will, in the long run, after buying all the ingredients, will save you a few quid as you go on.
Short name: Electrolux 3000