I've mentioned before, growing up, my household had nearly every latest kitchen appliance and gadget. Few families could say they had an ice cream maker, dehydrator, and bread maker in the early 90s; but Momma was a wizard in the kitchen, and Pop was happy to indulge her taste in expensive equipment so long as she indulged his with the results. Next to the DAK ice cream maker, our household's bread machine was my favorite. It had a state of the art timing system that would start the yeast introduction and rising process 4 hours prior to your 'wake up' time, so the very first thing you smelled the following day was freshly baked bread. The scent was almost as intoxicating as a just brewed pot of coffee, and I always got the first slice.
Today, modern bread makers are much more affordable and mainstream, with even more, simplistic, operations and functions. I bought one when we moved in here over a year and a half ago- it hadn't been out of the box yet. I'll admit, I'm terrible when it comes to reading instructions and learning new appliances; I'm sure it's easy enough to master, but I've simply put it off. So, naturally, when Shirley J offered to send me some box mixes with simple 'hand' instructions, I jumped at the chance.
I'll admit, I first brought a box over to my father's, out of nostalgia- He was tempted to throw the mix in the old bread maker, and I agreed in the spirit of experimentation. Well, these Shirley J boxed mixes are made for convenience- while we did end up with a delicious, fluffy, Sourdough Bread, the process took over 4 hours in the machine, and is not recommended via the package instructions. Regardless, I brought half the loaf home (which was a generous 6" at that), and Jay proceeded to consume the entire portion in the wee hours of the night. Knowing the bread, itself, was a hit, I set out to follow the instructions to the 'T' the following attempt.
I'd never made bread by hand before, with the exception of crust/pizza dough (believe it or not), so I was initially intimidated. It turns out the Shirley J baking instructions are very easy to follow; the most important part is patience between kneading and rising. I don't have a 'stand' mixer, just a handheld, so the initial introduction of the dough, warm water, and yeast was a bit drawn out. With a suggested 15 minutes of initial kneading, I ended up doing the last 5 by hand. I then placed the dough in a warm place, where I removed it and spend more time kneading it on a floured surface, before allowing it to rise one final time. The preparation process, including rise time, allotted near an hour, though the bake time was about 12 minutes.
What Daughter Says: You don't have to own a professional bakery to enjoy fresh baked bread in your home, thanks to Shirley J.