I had one of those delightful things last night: a free evening. I took the opportunity to carry out a couple of kitchen experiments.
The first one was using my bread machine only as an oven rather than a mixer. I don’t particularly like the texture that is produced with a fully machined loaf and the mixing paddle frequently fails to perform its folding flat trick which leaves a large hole in the bottom. Bread dough is not particularly onerous to make so I knocked up a batch to my standard 100:70:2:2 (flour / water / salt / yeast) ratio and, after the knocking back stage put it in the (pre-warmed) machine for final rising.
After 40 minutes of cooking (in the 10 minute increments recommended), I decided that my squat, pale topped creation was probably done enough. Cutting it open this morning, it was cooked through and had a decent structure, solid enough to form reasonably thin slices which hold together. I suspect the sugar used in most bread machine recipes promotes better rising but also gives the very weak structure which forces thick slicing. I think I will try this experiment again but with a bit more rising time and 50 minutes in the machine (this time on an electricity monitor so I can start to gauge if it is a more efficient cooking tool).
The other experiment, trying to set my rather syrupy crabapple jelly, was less successful. To 330ml of would-be jelly, I added 10ml of lemon juice and 20g high pectin sugar, brought quickly to 105°C and held it boiling for a minute before pouring back to the re-sterilised jar. It might be a bit thicker than the rest of the batch but still appears to be on the runny side. I probably added too much water when I initially processed the crab apples — I had a lot of them and poured in enough to cover them. Next time I will have to be more careful at that stage; I could boil it thicker but might have to add further pectin to get a set and would probably have killed my chances of a result other than a nicely coloured sugar jelly.
At least the thin version will be easier to use than the overset version I came up with last year, although it robs me of the delight that comes with a perfectly set result.