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The Lost Art of Using a Bread Maker

I’m on my third bread machine. They are one of the greatest yet most unappreciated inventions ever made. Okay, maybe I got carried away with the superlatives, but I have a point.

In Murder at Barclay Meadow, the first of the Rosalie Hart mystery series, I share Aunt Charlotte’s five grain bread recipe. It’s a complicated recipe and although I have made it by hand, enjoying the sensory input kneading bread can ignite, the bread itself is just as delicious out of a machine.

While raising my children, Sunday nights were designated soup and homemade bread night. I would start the bread in the early afternoon, adding the ingredients and plugging in the machine, and then maybe curling up on the sofa reading the Times while this miraculous invention plugged away at an organic whole wheat loaf of bread.

The soup would vary, lentil, black bean, chick pea and tomato, pesto vegetable. But the ritual was the same. A cloth on the table, candles that my two daughters would always light, practicing their match striking skills after setting the table. The rest of the house would be dark, no TV, just glowing faces. These were some of our best conversations. The subdued light lowering inhibitions, the desire to linger longer than most nights at the table, and laughter to stoke the soul.

I’ve heard that most people have either donated or stored their bread machines in a dusty forgotten closet. I have often felt like a bit of a relic myself when I lift mine out of the closet and gather the ingredients for onion rolls, pizza dough, or rustic corn bread.

This winter I learned I am not alone. While vacationing on Anna Maria Island in Florida, I was lucky enough to spend the week at Harrington House, a lovely Bed and Breakfast on the Gulf of Mexico.

Included in your stay are free bike rentals, unlimited coffee, and a delicious breakfast each morning al fresco. During my first meal I decided to taste the bread they had delivered to us in a delicate wicker basket. I slathered it with butter and took a bite.

“Whoa,” I said. “This is amazing.”

When I asked the waitress what kind of bread it was, she offered to get me a copy of the recipe. “Wait, do you have a bread machine?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said enthusiastically.

“Then you’ll be good to go.”

“You make it in a bread machine?”

“We have four going just about all day.”

As we finished our delicious meal, the owner approached with a copy of the oatmeal bread recipe. “We get asked for this all the time,” she said. “I can’t say it’s original, I don’t have a clue where we got it, but here you go.

In Death at the Day Lily Café, the second in the series, Rosalie opens a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. You can bet the Harrington House oatmeal bread will be on the menu.

Harrington House Oatmeal Break

2 LB Loaf/Medium Crust In a bread maker add in this order:

1 packet dry active yeast 1 cup instant 1 minute oatmeal 3 cups bread flour 1 Tablespoon margarine (I used butter) 1 teaspoon salt 1 Tablespoon sugar 1 1/2 cups warm water Press Start

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