Hold the phones, people.
Did you hear me?
STOP THE PRESSES, I SAY.
This thing (the T-fal Actibread) is witchcraft. And by “witchcraft” I obviously mean “shut up, I don’t know how it works” — but regardless of all that, we need to talk about some serious stuff, my friends.
John Mark, being the stout and brawny farm boy he is, knows the value of a hot, freshly baked loaf of homemade bread. Knows and reveres. His mom would pick one day out of the week and bake eight or ten loaves in an afternoon (which never lasted until the following week, because 1. she had eleven children and 2. certain friends of theirs made an uncanny habit of arriving at the house just as bread was leaving the oven), and it was always the perfect complement to any meal. My stomach problems are enduring and persistent, but even through the misery of 24 hour daily nausea, I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble tucking away a satisfactory helping of my mother in law’s bread. It is so. darn. good.
…which is why it didn’t take more than a few months for my dear husband to realize that, by deciding to sacrifice an oven in the planning and building of our tiny kitchen, we had in fact made a terrible, terrible mistake. It’s not one that we regret, really, considering the outrageous power draw of some electric models and the obvious dangers of fussing with propane in a small, enclosed space; but John was missing that bread, and I wasn’t going to argue with him. I knew he meant business when he took time out of his work day to research countertop bread machines and to choose the one he liked best, and within a few days, that sneaky Amazon had offered us a deal we couldn’t refuse: the T-fal Actibread, for just $75.
I made my first loaf today.
Now, I live with a man who can’t handle Minute Rice, because it requires being covered for a whopping seven minutes with no interference. He has ruined countless pots of rice by lifting the lid several minutes too early, and his excuse is always the same: “I can’t leave it alone! I just know it’s doing something sneaky and Chinese in there, and I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT!”
So whether you are a parent to very small children or you have a spouse like mine, the window in the top of the machine provides hours of magical entertainment. Every time it engaged in a new process and started making a different noise, John would drop whatever he was doing and sprint across the house shouting, “What’s it doing now?!”
I confess that it’s probably a little premature to gush about a product like this after only one use, but seriously, you guys. I put in the ingredients in the order the manual specified, closed the lid, and didn’t touch it again for three hours. AND THEN BREAD POPPED OUT. MY WHOLE LIFE HAS BEEN A LIE.
There are fifteen settings on this thing, and each one corresponds with a basic recipe in the accompanying booklet. It even makes gluten free bread! (I’m looking at you, Alison and Sarah and Lish!) It also makes cake, pizza dough, and jam. You can set it to make a 1, 1.5, or 2 pound loaf, though the sizes vary vertically and not horizontally. The non-stick bread pan is officially the single easiest thing in my kitchen to clean.
For folks who only need a small loaf of 6 to 12 generous slices, this bread machine is well worth the space it takes up, even in a tiny house kitchen. John is in a beef stew and French bread coma beside me as I write this, all tuckered out from raving (with a full mouth) about the perfect, crunchy crust and the fluffy hot center. There are four enthusiastic thumbs up between us. Good work, T-fal!