I have a confession to make. Clutter makes me nuts.
Having grown up in a house where kitchen space was at a premium, I made it a mission to keep my own kitchen appliances, gadgets and other paraphernalia to a minimum in order to minimize clutter and help me better manage my own space. Over the years my mother-in-law begged me to take an entire set of pareve pots, which I (hopefully) politely refused. If I didn’t feel the need for something, I didn’t want it taking up valuable kitchen space.
Now that my family and my kitchen space have both grown, I still try to keep my stuff to a minimum and I am not one of those who feels the need to have every small appliance out there. A cake pop maker? No thank you. A Keurig? Takes up too much counter space. But perhaps my all-time favorite kitchen appliance is one that I literally had kitchen drawers built around in order to accommodate its massive bulk and space requirements. I’m talking about my breadmaker.
I think at this point in time I am on possibly my fifth breadmaker, having burned through quite a few of these babies over the years. I have probably killed a motor or two by forgetting to add liquid one time too many and others have been replaced because I wore out the gasket on the bottom that keeps all the ingredients from leaking out because I use my breadmaker so frequently. But each time one of my breadmakers goes up to small appliance heaven up in the sky, I go out and replace it, because despite its size, it is still the machine that I take out most often.
Initially, I bought a breadmaker figuring I was going to stop buying bread. I can tell you now, that didn’t happen. We still buy bread, though store bought can’t compare to those incredibly delicious loaves that come from my breadmaker and make my entire house smell like paradise. Oftentimes, I am just too lazy to go through the process of baking bread, cooling a loaf and slicing it just to make lunches for the kids, although I can tell you now, it is well worth the time and effort. And I should warn you: having a breadmaker may kill your diet, because the finished product is so good, you will likely eat more slices, and thicker ones, too.
Over the years we have experimented with just about everything and if I wanted to be fancy I guess I could tell my kids they are having artisan loaves for lunch. We have replaced some of our flour with instant potato flakes and/or oatmeal, substituted dill pickle juice for water to make an excellent dill loaf and thrown in salsa and cornmeal for a Tex-Mex corn bread. We have used the breadmaker for just about any type of baked goods you can think of: English muffins, pita, focaccia, pizza dough, rolls, cookies and, of course, challah.
I don’t think I remember anyone who made their own challah when I was growing up, but today, you are practically an abusive mother if you serve your family store bought challah. To me, making challah in the breadmaker gives me the best of both worlds, because it takes advantage of one of the breadmaker’s best advantages: convenience. I take all my challah ingredients, throw them in the breadmaker, turn on the machine and walk out of my kitchen. Ninety minutes later, I have a gorgeous batch of challah dough with no work and practically no mess to clean up. Given that most breadmakers make two pounds of dough or less, I usually run two cycles through the machine, but it is all relatively painless. I don’t know why the breadmaker seems so much easier to clean that the mixer, but trust me, it does. The mess is minimal and in just three hours, time spent tackling my to do list or cooking for Shabbos, I have about four pounds of soft, squishy challah dough to work with.