Nancy bought an Oster bread maker at a yard sale for $3.00. She downloaded a 50 page instruction booklet so we can make our own bread. Translate we to me.

The machine gathered dust for more than 2 years. “When are you going to make bread? That was my prompt to try the automatic break maker and read the instructions first. “Today” I responded. This should be easy. Load the ingredients and press start.

The machine was brand spanking new.  I read ten pages of the instructions. The rest of it were recipes. I picked the first recipe on the list – white bread. If I followed the instructions, all I had to do to make bread was to press one red button and wait 3 and ½ hours.

I found a recipe for white bread.I needed yeast and powdered milk which I didn’t have. I went shopping. After not finding powdered milk at three super markets, I finally found powdered goats milk. Close enough. So far I’ve spent an hour and no bread yet. I read the instructions again after assembling all the ingredients. The recipe called for Gold Metal (better for machine bread) flour. We only had King Arthur flour.  I drove back to the super market to visit the baking isle. The baking isle had four brands of flour. Finally I found Heckers unbleached flour “perfect for bread machines because of its higher gluten” content. I liked Heckers for two other reasons…the picture on the front is of a little boy with a huge knife carving a huge loaf of bread. the fact that their company started way back in 1853 suggesting to me that this was the flour the bread machine.  Now it was bread making time. My mouth started to water just looking at the little boy with the huge knife.

There were a few warnings in the instruction book. Don’t let the yeast get wet. All ingredients must be measured accurately.  The ingredients called for water first followed by the flower, sugar, salt, goats milk, soft butter, and finally yeast on top as far away from the water as possible. I measured everything very carefully. So far I’d vested in 2 hours time and 20 dollars and I had to made an expensive loaf of bread.

I closed the top and pressed start. There is a small window on top. I looked in with a small flashlight and the mixture turned into a white wad slowly turning. The kneading process was taking place. The machine does everything. I’ve measured and loaded and now the wait begins 3 1/3hours.

The house slowly smelled like a bakery. I checked after two hours, then three hours, then hung out in the kitchen waiting for the “ding” sound the machine made. By this time, the machine and I had become friends.

The busied myself in the kitchen, washing dishes, putting away the left over ingredients, arranging things in the refrigerator. Another peek…ten seconds to go. The countdown, a drum roll. Ding! Ah, now let’s see my very first loaf of bread with the help of technology. I raised the lid and saw a loaf of bread. I lifted the pan and slid it out onto the counter. It had a nice brown crust, spongy interior, and smelled like BREAD! The loaf looked like a block a big square block, not like a store bought loaf of Wonder bread.

I let the bread cool, then cut two slices that were equal to a slice and a half of a regular   bread slice. I made two open faced sandwiches with turkey, cheese, mayo, and lettuce.

That loaf of bread cost $20 and took two hours of my time and my friend, the automatic bread maker 3 ½ hours. I now have a new respect for supermarket bread. While passing pushing my shopping cart, I grab a loaf and keep going. Total time? One second. Total cost? $3.50.  But the taste, the crust, a freshness… this is far superior bread. I approached the bread machine, patted it and said “Thank you.”

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.