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Cookies, Soup, Stir-Fry, and Bread (x2)

What is this?! That's right, it's a bread machine. We found it at Salvation Army for $13; it was missing its paddle, so add on another $10 to replace it and I still got a bread machine for under $30. Not bad. In front of it are the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive le Vegan! Otherwise known as the best cookies ever. I made a double batch, one for a friend's birthday and one for us to eat. They only lasted about a day and a half here at the apartment; my friend ate all of his during the party. I hate boys and their super fast metabolisms.

This is the first bread I made with the machine. I obviously didn't bake it in there, just mixing and kneading with it instead. I took it out to shape and rise before baking. My bread is always very flat. It's really annoying. I think I deflate it when I try to make the slashes.

The second loaf of bread from the machine. Oven-baked again. Flat again. I used a brand new exacto blade to make the slashes, and the first two were fine, but then I got cocky and made two more... and then it deflated. Is that my problem, oh experienced bread bakers? Why does my bread always go flat? And it's definitely not my yeast, because it rises wonderfully. I used Nic's recipe for Rustic Country Bread, except I halved everything and used agave nectar in place of honey. Flatness aside, it's a tasty loaf. Nice crust.

Curried Split Pea Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance, with fresh bread on the side. This stuff is awesome. I'm glad I made the whole recipe - lots of leftovers!

Aaaand another stir-fry. Second verse, same as the first. This one has peanut sauce on it, though. I've been eating so many of these lately.

Mmmmmmmm... fresh bread!! Flat or fluffy, nothin' smells better than homemade bread baking.

I've been on a stir fry kick lately too. Quick, easy and not too much heat needed.

Whattabargain on the bread machine there, vc. Way to go!

That looks so delicious.

kleo - It's true! I love the smell of bread baking. I even love the smell of bread rising. Yeasty goodness. :)

saoirse - Thanks!

The split pea soup looks soooo good! I apparently have been blind to that recipe in VWAV but now I've been told it actually exists I might make it this week.


alton just did a bread show where he talked about flat bread - i'd relay the reasons for it but i was too busy drooling to remember

Great find at the thrift store! :) When you slash the bread, do you use a lame? I find it works better than a sharp knife. The curried split pea soup looks really yummy.

katherine - Thanks! I was pretty blind to it as well, for some reason. Like I knew it was there, but I just kept flipping past it anyway. It's really good, though.

jessica - Now where is Alton when I need him? Of course I missed that one.

vegan diva - I don't use a lame. I'm not actually even sure what a lame is. I'm very new to making bread, obviously.

One thing that helps make your bread "big" is to put a cast iron skillet in the bottom shelf of your oven when you preheat your oven. Then when you put the bread pan in pour hot water into the skillet and close the door quickly. It creates a lot of steam in the oven. Then for the first 2 minutes open the oven door every 30 seconds and spray with water (out of a spray bottle) for about 5 seconds. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but steam is what is missing from a home oven vs. a bakery oven from what I have read. Hope that helps...also a great book about bread baking is called "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".


It may be that the dough's been rising just a little too long, so when you slash it, it falls a bit.
Just a thought!

I am so jealous of your breadmaker! Actually, what I really want is a KitchenAid with a dough hook, I’d be baking every weekend if I had one of those. I had the pleasure of working in a bakery for 3 years, I miss the constant access to fresh baked goods. Do you rise your dough 1 or 2 times? The way I make bread, I let the dough rise for about 2-3 hours, punch down a bit, let it rise for about 1 more hour, then shape into loaves/rolls/braids/etc. Then I make slashes if I want, and proof the dough in a slightly warm oven (150-ish) with a pan of water in the bottom. You want to be pretty gentle with the slashes, a small incision will open up when the bread proofs and bakes. Sorry, I just went on and on there, hope that helps a little.

I love split pea soup, unfortunately most restaurants make it way too salty and usually with ham. I may have to look up this recipe. I have some yellow split peas sitting around that I could use up. Tempeh stir fry with peanut sauce sounds really good too.

That stir fry is totally what I want for dinner. And for once I actually have tempeh marinading in the fridge for it!

What a steal on the breadmaker! Amazing.
I use my breadmaker all the time in the non-summer months. I even use it to do the kneeding in making seitan!

I second the suggesion that shananigans made. That's how I make bread and it seems to work for me.

what a score. and the bread lokos great--flat or fluffy.

anon - That book is one my wish list! I think my brother has it, actually, so I might borrow it from him soon. I actually did do the spray bottle thing, and it made the crust nice and crunchy but didn't help the flatness issue.

cheryl - You may be right. I always forget to turn the oven on soon enough, so it does rise for quite a while after I shape it. Hmmm.

shananigans - I would love a KitchenAid, but unless I win the lottery or get myself a sugar daddy that's not in the cards for a while. :) The way I've been making it is to knead it in the bread machine and let it rise until it doubles, then take it out, punch it down, shape it, let it rise again, slash it, and bake it. Next time I'll try it the way you describe. Feel free to go on all you like - that's why I ask! You guys always know stuff.

This split pea soup recipe is awesome. I can email you the recipe if you want.

jess - Yessss! Tempeh rules. I'm having the same thing for dinner again, pretty much.

megan - I've heard of people doing that! The seitan thing. I don't really care for seitan, but it's good to know I can do that should I ever want to make it again.

I'm totally taking everyone's advice next time I make bread. I know nothing, so this is very educational.

urban vegan - Thanks!

Oooo, a breadmaker for under $30. I very seldom ever find good stuff at the thrift store. My friend, Trish, on the other hand, is amazing. I would really like to get a breadmaker. If I ever make bread, it's the old fashioned way. I don't really have any tips because I'm not an expert by any means. Sometimes my bread turns out, sometimes not. Maybe you should cut the slits before it rises the second time? That might work.

I think slashing it before the final rise is a good idea. I've only ever made bread the traditional way two or three times, and none of it was phenomenal. Good, but not great. My brother makes the best bread ever - I really need to have him teach me.

Replace 1/2 cup of the flour with Vital Wheat Gluten.... and maybe add pinch of sugar instead of the agave.. it should rise nice and high for you.

Should I still use gluten if I'm using bread flour? This whole thing is very confusing.

Slash before the second rise -- I think that's the trick you're looking for. When you slash after the rise, you're deflating all of the yeast's last hour of work. :)

Very true! I never thought about it that way. :)

here's the transcript of the alton bread show, maybe it will help!

Awesome, thanks!

I slash my bread using a very long knife that I run under the faucet to wet before using. The water helps you not tear the bread and deflate it - even when I've let mine rise a little too long it doesn't deflate when I add the little bit of water - just use a gentle hand. Good luck! Oh, and check ebay for a kitchen aid mixer - I got mine for half what a new one is and is was acutally new just factory refurbished - still under warranty and everything!I use it all the time now.

Thanks for the tips! I would love a KitchenAid, but I seriously have nowhere to put it. I can dream, though...

Your pictures are phenomenal, as always.

Thank you!

I'll admit it has been over four years since I baked bread I'm more of a cake and pastry person. But I did go to baking school and spent two months studying and baking breads.

The following is a list of probable causes why your bread is flat.
1) Overproof: the dough spent too much time rising. There wasn't enough yeast left during the baking.
2) Underproof: the dough didn't spend enough time rising
3) Not enough sweetner to feed the yeast
4)Improper shaping of the bread
5) Too many or too big slashes

1 & 2) Rising times are estimates. If your kitchen is very hot then the dough "doubling" time will have to be shortern
If your kitchen is very cold then it may take twice as long for your dough to rise.
3) Agrave may not be as powerful as honey as a food for the yeast to feed. So you may want to add some dry sweetner. Oh, more "sugar" does make your bread darker
4)You may have shaped your dough too loosely and the dough spread in the oven before the crust formed. Treat your dough as if you are making a torilla wrap. Fold two sides over then roll it up and pinch the bottom close.
5)Instead of diagonal slashes how about one small vertical slash in the middle.

Sorry this is so long but I hope it helps.

P.S. This is a very good website for solutions to bread problems: http://www.baking911.com/bread/problems.htm

Wow, thank you! Those are all very helpful tips. Now I'm excited to make bread again.

I think here author did a great analysis about topic..Great efforts shown..Keep working and posting!!

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