Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Prepper Bread - Part 1 - Bread Machines

Bread is often referred to as the life giving staple of humanity.  Every culture on earth has it's own version and they feed it to prisoners right?  Well, OK, maybe that last part is just folklore, but let's face it, there simply is no better way to enjoy all that peanut butter and home made jam you have stored up in the pantry.

The problem can you make bread during or just after a disaster?  The stores are closed, the power is out, and the stove doesn't work!  Well, there are a few ways you can turn your stored up flour into golden loaves.

Many of us see the need to mitigate short and medium term situations with a gas, diesel, or propane generator.  The best way to use them is to start them up and run for a couple of hours, say twice a day.  During these times, we can plug in the fridge to cool it down, charge our deep cycle batteries or NiMh cells, or any number of things.  One thing we can do is to plug in a bread machine.  I know, that's cheating right?  Nope..anything that helps is not cheating, it's surviving.

Most bread machines use 500 to 700 watts of power, so there should be no problem powering one from a genset.  There are 3 ways you can use one.
1 - basic bread setting.  These setting usually last about 3 hours and produce a pretty good quality loaf from some very basic ingredients.  There are plenty of recipes out there that use no milk, eggs, or other perishable items, with the exception of yeast.  That problem can be solved by buying individual packets of yeast that can be stored in the pantry.
2 - Rapid bread setting.  These settings last about an hour and are great time savers.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find a recipe that produces a good loaf.  Most of the time I get a very dense and sweet lump that barely rose, even though these recipes call for lots of yeast and sugar in an attempt to overcome the time restriction.  However, in a pinch they work and will at least bake a bread like substance.
3 - Dough Setting.  This is by far the most used setting on my bread machine.  In about 90 minutes, all the mixing, kneading, rising, knocking down, re rising labour intensive work is done for me.  Although bread machines are generally limited to 1.5 or 2 pound loaves, I can easily get a 3 pound dough done this way, which when turned out and put into pans, gives me 2 good sized loaves that I can bake in a dutch oven, outdoor bread oven, or even the sun oven...enough to go around the table filled with my prepper group.

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