T-Fal Home and Baguette—Dumb Name, Good Bread Machine
I recently purchased the T-Fal Home and Baguette bread machine, known in the United States as the Emerilware Bread and Baguette. I had been wanting to buy another bread machine since my Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme rusted to death, but around town, the T-Fal was selling for 27,000 yen or $350 US, and other bread makers were too small. The local department store, unusually—unusual because Japanese companies are stingy—discounted it 64% to 9800 yen, so snapping one up was a no brainer. The machine has been in use now for a couple months, so time for a review.
People that really get into baking like to wax poetical about the magical connection to Mother Gaia, that can only be obtained through crafting something wholesomely good, from ingredients that are only a couple steps up from the dust of the Earth. “There’s nothing more stress relieving than kneading dough,” they say. They fail however to talk about the stress relieving benefits of scraping dough out of your fingernails, or cleaning up the mess of dusting flour that gets all over everything during the kneading process. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking, in fact, there are several strains of sourdough cultures kicking around in my fridge, but sometimes you just want a sandwich loaf without it turning into a production. Besides, in Japan, oven’s large enough to bake a sandwich loaf are rare, otherwise I’d have one. It’s ok to use a bread machine. Your bread will really be homemade.
T-Fal Bread and Baguette Review: Description:
The T-Fal Home and Baguette is a pretty big machine at 17.5” x 10.75” x 12.5.” Mine lives on top of the fridge between uses, which is 2-3 times per week. The pan size is 9.75” x 5.5” x 5.75” excluding the coupler that connects it to the machine, and it uses two kneading paddles. T-Fal claims the viewing window of the machine is the largest of any bread maker on the market. I can’t attest to that but it is larger than the Zojirushi. I’m pretty sure the window is made of plastic. A set of two trays and a rack also come with the machine which allow you to make baguettes. Inside the machine, there are two levels of heating elements. There are 14 menu options, three size options and three crust options, plus some delay timers. Other than that, it’s your basic bread machine.
Using the T-Fal:
Using the T-Fal Bread and Baguette machine is really easy and it’s even easier if you’ll use a electronic scale. Using an electronic scale, with a tare function, allows you to measure ingredients with any dish. Need 13 grams of salt? Put on a small bowl, hit the tare button to zero the scale out and pour in the salt until you hit 13 grams. Now you need 30 grams of sugar? Hit the tare button and add your sugar in with the salt. Anyways back to using the T-Fal bread machine… for their basic loaf recipe, water, milk, sugar, salt and butter go into the pan first. Dump on the flour and finally the yeast. Select the loaf size and crust you want and hit the on button. The machine’s menu option default is set for the basic loaf. After a couple of seconds, the machine will pulse to life, and when the countdown timer gets to the one-hour-remaining mark, the smell of fresh baked bread will start filling your home. Total time on the dark crust setting, 2:46 minutes with about 10 minutes of prep.
Using the baguette trays are nearly as easy, but with a couple of extra steps. For one, you start the dough in the regular pan but after the kneading finishes, you remove the pan and the dough for shaping. Your shaped dough goes into the baguette trays and the trays go into the machine. All of this is, of course, a different menu option. Using the menu is simple though, you press the menu button until the machine displays the menu option indicated by the recipe. The end result reminded me of the, “symphony of crackle,” line from Ratatouille.
Clean up is also easy, as long as you take a few steps as quickly as possible. After removing the baked bread and pan from the machine, use a towel to hold the pan and shake the bread out. It’ll take a bit of shaking because the kneading paddles will want to hold it in. Once the bread is out, fill the bread pan with hot water. If the kneading paddles were stuck in the bread, remove them, with the wire tool and place them in the hot water. Let the water sit for a bit and then rinse out, no soap, and no scrubbing necessary. In fact, I’d recommend against using anything other than your fingers inside the machine. Take care adding the ingredients and you can avoid having to clean the inside of the machine.
Are there any downsides to the machine? So far, there has only been one and that’s the lack of customization options in the menu. You get the menu options and that’s it. With the Zojirushi, you could pretty much customize to your hearts content. “Customize what?” you may say… Well specifically, how long the dough sits around before it gets baked. Why’s is that important? It’s not if you’re just wanting to bake breads leavened by baker’s yeast, but it is important if your wanting the machine to bake sourdough loaves which often have variable rising times depending on the health of the culture, type of culture etc. There may be a workaround but I haven’t had the machine long enough, nor enough free time to play around with it. Also, the biggest loaf size, produces a slice of bread too tall for a toaster. So you’ll have to flip your toast and do a partial toast to get everything even.
So far, my favorite recipe is a variation of the basic loaf, 155g rye flour, 155g bread flour, and 310g all purpose, plus a tablespoon of caraway seed. Total cost per loaf, $1.60 which is a huge discount over similar but inferior breads available at the store and the taste is well above average. Overall, even just for making sandwich loaves, the T-Fal Home and Baguette was a great purchase, and with the additional baguette option, it’s even more so.