10 years ago when I got engaged we were asked what we wanted as an engagement gift by my parents and my first request was a bread maker. I love the smell of fresh bread and waking up to it first thing in the morning is even better. That bread maker has been used regularly until a couple of years ago when it started to burn most loaves I made in it but even then I still used it to make the dough and then bake the dough in my oven. My Belgium Bun recipe can be made on the dough setting of most bread makers and then baked in the oven. With it going wrong and at the point when even proving the dough was hit and miss when asked whether we would like to review Sage Appliances Custom Loaf from their Heston Blumenthal range I was eager to see if it would do what we needed a bread maker in our house where I cook a lot of different things.
Starting out 10 years ago my bread making was restricted to whichever packet mix I picked off the shelf in the supermarket - I'll let you onto a little-known fact, but in school I failed home economics. I've spoken about it before but the fact that I couldn't pass that really knocked my confidence with cooking so my bread maker was only used for making the packet mixes from the store. Over the last 10 years though with some time and some successes I have started to experiment getting to the stage where I buy my Strong Bread Flour from our local farmer's market and have switched from using easy yeast to dried active yeast, I even tried some active yeast may save that for another day, though.
The Custom Loaf Pro by Sage Appliances
So - appearance wise the Custom Loaf Pro is stunning - we have some stainless steel appliances in our kitchen and with the brushed stainless steel appearance of this it fits in nicely - it is larger than our former bread maker but unlike that which I used to hide away this is taking pride of place on the kitchen surface a great reminder that I can cook with it.
There are 9 different settings and each has many different options as well - so many that I can't wait to explore - take just the dough function which as I said before I would use for our Belgium Bun Recipe - there are 3 different settings just for dough - dough, pizza, and pasta. Now I know the pizza dough function will be one that I will be using weekly as Friday night in our house is homemade pizza night.
Under the Basic Loaf option probably the one that we will use most often I was able to select the size - from 4 different loaf sizes to the crust how dark it is - light, medium or dark. An added extra an extra ingredient dispenser that you fill up and then it opens automatically at the right time in the cycle - no more waiting around for the right moment and the beep to add in the fruit to a fruit loaf and means that you can use the machine on delay for more complex recipes as well.
One of the problems I've always found with any appliance you buy for the kitchen like a mixer, food processor, bread maker or jam maker is that you get a recipe book and it may have 1 recipe per setting or 3 to 6 recipes in total. With the Custom Loaf Pro there is a recipe book with over 90 pages of recipes for you to try and - and this is a fantastic idea - at the back of the machine is a recipe book holder so no more hunting through my recipes books to find it every time I want to find the basic white loaf recipe late at night to make for breakfast.
I'm still exploring and I can see that over the coming months you will see a lot more bread and dough recipes on the site as I experiment with new recipes and ingredients in my cooking.
Testing the Custom Loaf Pro - A Basic White Loaf
So it looks good, it comes with some fabulous settings and the recipes look delicious but will it actually work. I thought I would give it a go using the basic white loaf recipe from the recipe book. Of course, I would have to get my testers to try it out afterwards and give their verdict.
So how easy was it to work out - with the instruction manual and the recipe book I quickly hunted out for the ingredients (missing out the bread improver it is an optional ingredient but I may look at getting some after reading Heston Blumenthal's tip in the recipe book about using it) and measured it. The instruction book gives you a guide of which order to put the ingredients in and in the recipe book you put them in the order in which they are listed.
Once the bowl was set up with the right paddle and the ingredients added it was time to programme. Using an LED screen you select the bread type - basic, crust type - light for us I wanted to see whether the kids would finally eat their crusts (never done before!) and then the size of the loaf - we went for the 2nd smallest size. Then press go.
I love the added feature of a window to see through and a light so you can actually see what is going on - it meant that as it worked I could check on what was happening throughout. With a beep at the end the machine, was ready and I took the loaf out to cool before serving slightly warm with butter and jam. Perfect for an after-school treat for the kids.
Compared to my old bread maker - the collapsable paddle meant no hole in the bottom of the loaf, the top crust was soft not crispy perfect for the kids and it was cooked all the way through. The smell coming from the machine was delicious and something I look forward to waking up to in the morning. The loaf cut easily as well - something which I appreciate with a loaf when it doesn't disintegrate as you cut.
The taste test - well - BOTH kids plates were completely empty - no crusts, they had even picked up the crumbs and T well she asked for seconds as well but wanting to try the bread with cheese and ham just to check that it tasted as nice with her other favourite combination.
So I guess that means it's gone down well and now I can't wait to get experimenting with the bread maker, watch out for a recipe next week.
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