Old-fashioned skills in the age of small appliances

My youngest brother recently moved to an apartment with less cupboard space, and so I inherited his breadmaking machine. The manual got lost a long time ago, and it doesn't seem to be available on-line, but I found some tips for "operating any bread machine" and some basic recipes.

This morning I threw all the ingredients into the machine, set it for a basic whole wheat loaf, and pressed the start button. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until I followed the recipe instructions about checking the dough's consistency.

The instructions said that you were supposed to pause the bread machine (like lifting the lid on a washing machine, I suppose) and check how sticky the dough was, then add either water (for dry dough) or flour (for too-sticky dough) until the correct consistency had been achieved.

So I opened the lid... and the bread machine kept kneading away. I poked at a part that was nice and far away from the mixer blade, and it was definitely too sticky, so I added some flour and closed the lid.

After a few minutes, just like the instructions said, I checked again — still too sticky. This time I pressed the Stop button to make the machine stop long enough so I could be super extra sure that the machine would mix in the new infusion of flour properly.

But when I pressed the Start button, the machine screamed at me and started blinking "H-E", which I guess is some sort of error. It wouldn't start no matter what. Apparently on this model, Stop really means "something awful is happening! STOP!"

I dug the dough out of the machine's baker thingy, threw it in my favourite bread-mixing bowl with some flour, and kneaded it until it was the right consistency. Then I tossed a tea towel over the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes, before shaping the loaf and putting it in a loaf pan. 45 minutes later I had a perfectly nice loaf of bread with a crumb density that is perfect for sandwiches:


Next time: must remember not to push the button, or not use the machine.