I have never been a baker. I do not like baking. I am awful with dough and I hate measuring things out. All my cooking consists of estimating amounts. Gregg, on the other hand, loves working with dough. He makes the dough to make his own pizzas. The dough was usually made in our bread-maker which we got as a wedding present in 2007. In fact, though we made some bread in our bread-maker, it primarily served as a dough-maker. Well, this piece of equipment which has been with us for over 4 years, broke about a month ago. It moved with us from Charlottesville to Farmville to Lancaster to Lititz. After mourning it for about a week, Gregg and I started talking about replacements. I wanted another bread-maker but Gregg suggested a KitchenAid Stand Mixer which we have always wanted but never bought. However, there are a few reasons why we hesitated:
1) It is expensive.
2) How much do you need to use it to justify the purchase?
3) Since we only make doughs for pizza, it does not seem worth the money.
However, we saw one on a huge sale at Kohl’s and bought it anyway. We bought the black 4.5 quart artisan one and saved over a $100 on its actual price. Then, against Gregg’s inclination, I bought a very cheap loaf pan. Now all I can say is: how did we ever live without this gadget?
In the last month, Gregg has made 3-4 pizza doughs, I have made 4 loaves of white bread and 2 of banana bread. The bread from the bread maker was definitely inferior to store-bought while the bread made from the KitchenAid recipe book is definitely superior. This loaf comes out evenly shaped and baked and is great for making sandwiches. I also made banana bread for the first time – this recipe is from epicurious and I really like it. It is not too banana-y. We also made a gingerbread cake from scratch – I say “we” because it was Gregg’s idea and he did most of the work. It is absolutely amazing. It uses both fresh and ground ginger which gives it a bite which ground ginger alone does not. However, the beer and the brown sugar balance the ginger wonderfully well. This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated. Gingerbread cookies are next on the fall baking list.
My next venture will be pie crusts and pastry – since I need them to make home-made samosas and apple pies. I usually buy them from the store but I want to stop that. We have a cheap $20 pasta maker and Gregg has been making the pasta dough in the mixer too. I must say, in spite of the costly nature of this purchase, I think we may end up saving money in the long run. Bread, pasta and pizzas as well as pie crusts are expensive at the store.
One of these days, I want to list my favorite kitchen gadgets. But this one will definitely be one of them. I am so excited. I have always loved the smell of a house with fresh baked bread, cake etc and I want it to be one of Asha’s memories too. Love love love this purchase.