Wednesday, August 24, 2016


It is ridiculous how much gluten free bread costs at the markets. And the loaves are tiny. I've been contemplating how to bake my own for a few years now. A well respected bread maker by Zojirushi of Japan became available to me. Purchased at a reasonable price. It had been at the 2nd hand store for a few months. I went on a particular day that made the price low with multiple discounts. A quick check on the internet showed these sell new for $200 or more, so I took a chance.

The n15 by Zojirushi
It is a bit industrial, lots of metal and an exposed heating element inside the baking compartment. Some clunky sounds while the dough is being prepared. One interesting aspect is that it only uses 500 watts of power. That means I can run it off my solar inverter. I've always been an advocate of solar cooking.

After getting it home, the internet revealed a user manual and some recipes. I wanted to try it out with a standard flour recipe first to determine if is working properly. So miraculously got all the right ingredients from our kitchen, and a couple from the store. Buttermilk and yeast was purchased.  I think the yeast was the problem on my first batch of standard white bread. I purposely purchased the yeast packages with the latest expiration dates, but that didn't seem to matter. It was dead for my purpose. The loaf didn't rise, only half a loaf, very dense and slightly burnt around the sides.
First attempt at bread making ingredients.
Ingredients placed into bread maker baking pan, yeast on top.
I went to the store to get some new yeast, instant yeast, a pound of it for less than $5.  While at the store, the puppy had jumped up on the stove and ate some of the first bread baking experience. He hasn't done anything like that since he was new born, a year ago. Bad dog.
Ingredients for second batch, salt (1t), sugar (2T), yeast (2.25t), butter (2T), flour (3C) by weight and buttermilk (1.25C).
The second loaf did the rising that it was supposed to, but for some reason collapsed. My son had been playing his euphonium at the loudest volume I had ever heard. After the second rise of the bread I had peeked into the maker and saw a nice dome on the loaf which had risen to near the top of the baking pan.When all the baking was finished, the dome had collapsed. No worries.
Collapsed bread next to baking pan.
Looks OK, right?
Taste testers indicated that the bread is good!
Bread, some eatin...
My next try will again be a white loaf during a quite part of the day, probably with powdered milk.  I am working towards the gluten free version very soon.

By the way, third try on the white bread was excellent.

Quick video of bread-maker completing and first look at white bread. still trying to upload the video.

Bread didn't collapse, yeah!
Looking better, and tastes....great!

********* Gluten Free *********
Customer service at Zojirushi said gluten free cannot be done with the n15. The recipes and instructions for gluten free are challenging.  The preset programs aren't right, and all the ingredients listed in any recipe were double what my breadmaker could handle, so I halved as best as possible. And I used a pre-packaged gluten free mix which included at least three of the parts needed. 

Ingredients with associated packages
From Left to Right: baking pan, yeast (1.5t), apple vinegar (1.5t), honey (1.5T), salt (0.75t), flour mix (2C), 2 eggs beaten, milk (0.75C). Not shown, vegetable oil (1.5T).

The program I selected does kneading, two rises for 2 hours, then 44 to 52 minutes of baking.
A newer model breadmaker with a specific program for gluten free shows 17 minutes knead, 5 minutes rise1, 5 minutes rise2, 25 minutes rise3 and 60 minute bake. So I'm just trying my best on this first attempt with a wrong program. Plus I was using some proven live instant yeast, instead of active dry yeast recommended on the newer model. This yeast stuff is quite complicated.

The first attempt for gluten free wasn't a success.
First rise took much too long, as did the second one. Note finger pressed into dough shows it had started to bake.
With at least 30 minutes left on the baking program, I took the loaf out because it looked done from the top.
Bread is edible, but not at all right.
This particular bread maker isn't set up for gluten free, unless you wanted to be uber creative and manually mix the yeast in an hour after the other ingredients were mixed, wait 5 minutes, punch it down, wait 5 minutes, punch it down and then keep an eye on the baking time. Let me know if you want me to try this.

So the moral of the gluten free breadmaker story is, get a bread making machine that specifically has a gluten free program, something like this: knead, rise for 5 minutes, knock down, rise for 5 minutes, knock down then wait a few minutes and bake. 

************ Back to White Bread ************
I purchased some powdered Buttermilk blend, 12 oz for $4.52: 1 C Buttermilk = 4 T blend + 1 C water. That is about $0.95 per loaf. I also picked up some flour at the bulk bin for $0.74/LB; about $0.60 per loaf. For powdered bread, just add water this is a very good scenario.

Successful Irish soda bread, with gluten.
A Irish Soda bread baking was successful using the following ingredients: salt (1t), sugar (2T), yeast (2.t), butter (2T), raisins (0.3C), flour (3.3C) by weight, caraway seeds (2t), water (1.3C) and buttermilk powder (1T). There were three rise sessions in the breadmaker. Took 260 watt-hours of energy, 4 hours to complete the cycle and 0.5 hour to cool down. The taste was dominated by the caraway seeds. Not like I remember as a child, perhaps it was coated in powdered sugar back then. Below is a picture. I ate that slice in the hopes that I can tolerate gluten if fresh baked.

I can now make a multitude of bread recipes with gluten in the old breadmaker. Trick for my high altitude of 6,000 feet is to use less yeast. Feel free to leave comments, hope this helps someone with their baking.