What is artisanal? Artisanal is one of those words that are catching on like wildfire in the United States. If a bread manufacturer uses that word, you can bet that they can charge a lot more money for their wares. The word artisanal is definitely very powerful because it’s a great marketing device.
So what is the essence of artisanal? Artisanal is really all about specialized manufacturing processes and attention to detail. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do everything by hand. This doesn’t mean that you have to use primitive procedures to produce a piece of food. It just means attention to detail.
You can semi automate or even fully automate the process, but you have to produce in small amounts and it must be clear that the product that you produced is superior to other products in terms of attention to detail and overall quality. As you can probably already tell, artisanal breads command a higher price than your typical mass produced white loaf bread.
Artisanal Breads are Great, But…
Artisanal breads are awesome. In fact, if you go to any specialized food fair in the United States, there are tons of artisanal bakers. There are lots of great tasting artisanal breads to sample. It’s just good stuff, but it does definitely have its big problem.
Artisanal Breads Require Time and Attention to Detail
If you want to bake your own artisanal breads, you better have a lot of time. You can’t just sit down, follow a recipe, and voila, come up with an amazing piece of artisanal bread. It doesn’t work that way.
Artisans become artisans because they took the time, effort and bother to do things just right. This requires sacrifice. This requires a tremendous amount of control. This requires a tremendous amount of discipline, and most people simply don’t have the time. So if you are really serious about producing artisanal bread, either for yourself or people you know, you need to put in the time and attention to to detail.
Now, how can you produce an artisanal loaf of bread with a bread machine? A lot of artisans would say that you can’t. Let’s just be honest. A lot of purists would say that this is just impossible. It’s like trying to mass produce a work of art. It’s not going to end well.
Well, they’re entitled to their opinion, but if used properly, bread machines would be able to help you at least get part of the process done. In other words, they can help automate parts of the process, but there’s still parts that you need to pay close attention to and possibly do by hand.
Here are just some of the parts of the artisanal bread baking process that typical bread machine can help with.
The Right Machine Handles the Bread’s Ingredients
Most bread machines can handle artisanal bread recipe’s ingredients just right. They have the right measurements and they have the right heat. Now, pay close attention, however, to the specific recipe because what happens next after the dough is mixed is crucial.
The Right Machine is the Right Size
If you want to bake high quality, unusual breads, the machine that you use must be the right size. It cannot be too big, it cannot be too small, it cannot be oriented or shaped in a way that gets in the way of the proper shape of the artisanal bread that you’re trying to produce.
The Right Machine Delivers the Right Amount of Heat
The essence of any bread machine is really the heat. That’s all it does really. It basically mixes the dough and delivers the heat to the dough and out comes a nice, steaming loaf of freshly baked bread. Sound awesome, right? And if you look at the process, it really all boils down to delivering the right amount of heat to the dough. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to read the best bread machine reviews to find the right machine.
Your artisanal bread recipe might require a certain temperature. It may require a certain mix of cooling and heat. This can be a deal killer for really specific types of breads. Some breads are very crusty outside and very fluffy and soft inside. You have to have the right machine to deliver the right kind of heat, otherwise, the bread is going to be a disaster. Despite the fact that you used the right ingredients, it doesn’t matter. The heat was wrong, so the bread comes out wrong.
The Right Machine Can Provide the Right Cool Down Time
Complicating all of this is the fact that some artisanal recipes require an elaborate cool down process. It’s like an elaborate dance. You have to heat it up just right. You have to make sure that the dough rises, and then heat the dough properly and then cool it down properly.
Talk about a headache. Talk about attention to detail. This is why you have to have the right machine with the right cool down process, otherwise, it’s just not going to work out.