Bread Machine at Altitude

My baby is a Zojirushi BB-PAC20. It does everything you’d want and a few things I’m not sure I’d ever need. Bread, cake, meatloaf, jam…you name it.

The one problem is that the altitude adjustments in the Zoji cookbook aren’t very helpful or clear. I had mixed results with them, so I did some experiments. I’ve already said the key is to use fast rise yeast on the regular rise setting in another post and I swear to you that is the fastest way to make sure things come out light and fluffy.

BUT there are some other things you need to do to ensure your recipes come out. First and foremost, you need to reduce your amount of yeast by 1/4 to 1/3, depending on how high up you are. I’m in Denver, and if a recipe says 2 1/2 tsp yeast, I put 2 tsp or so. I also put in a little less sugar or honey. More liquid is also a good idea if you’re in a very dry climate like I am. Finally, I almost always add a whole egg. The extra protein and structure REALLY helps to keep everything lofty and chewy and delicious. I crack my egg into my liquid measuring cup and then add more water or milk to the line.

If you’re using sourdough starter, I HIGHLY recommend feeding it the day before and keeping it very very runny. It seems to really help.

Without further ado, here’s my basic Zojirushi bread recipe. I’ll add some more as I get them perfected, but this one WORKS. If all you have is active dry yeast, I suggest using the regular dough course and then letting it rise a little longer before throwing it in the oven.

Basic white bread (for a 2lb bread machine)

1.25 cups water/milk (or watery sourdough starter if you’re feeling daring)
1 egg
4.25 cups bread flour
3.5 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Dry Milk (omit if you’re using actual milk)
2 tsp Salt
2.5 Tbsp butter
2 tsp Rapid Rise Yeast

Use the regular basic setting and let ‘er rip. I keep an eye on everything as it mixes, and add a little more liquid if it doesn’t look wet enough. If you can’t watch it, err on the side of more liquid and just add a tablespoon or two of extra water or milk. Too wet is better than too dry in my experience.

The machine will do the rest, but if you want a more evenly shaped loaf, you can muck with it a bit after the final rise. You can also remove the paddles if you want a prettier loaf, but I don’t care enough to bother with that crap.

High Altitude Baking with Zoji Bread Machine

So I’m going to do a big post on my Zoji now that I’ve kinda gotten to the point where I’m good at using it, but I’m putting this out into the world because I had SUCH a problem with getting the adjustments right. I finally figured out the secret to baking in Denver with a Zoji Virtuoso and it ain’t what’s in the stupid books.

Come closer.

Closer.

You’re standing on my toes. Ok. Good.

Use the fast rise bread machine yeast on the regular bread setting. Subtract about 1/4 to 1/3 of the yeast from the recipe (I’ll post my exact recipes soon) and add a little extra liquid (a tbsp or so depending on your recipe). Once I started doing this my bread started coming out flawlessly every time. Check your dough and add liquid or flour as necessary but for some reason just the fast rise yeast with the normal setting seems to have fixed all my major problems.

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara with Mushrooms

This is a recipe that does not photograph well. I’ve tried dozens of times and it always looks terrible. However anyone who’s ever eaten spaghetti carbonara will tell you it is delicious, quick, and will appeal to almost anyone. I eat it the night before most races because it tends to sit well for me. And I REALLY love mushrooms.

Ingredients:
6 or more thick cut slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced very finely
1 box of mushrooms, sliced (I prefer baby bellas, but buttons work too)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 2 tbsp milk
1 and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of spaghetti, cooked al dente

Instructions:

  1. Cook spaghetti in lightly salted water according to package directions until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium/large bowl, stir together milk, eggs, salt, and cheese until well combined. Add more milk if needed to ensure all the cheese is combined with the eggs. You can also add a little sour cream or plain yogurt if you like your carbonara to be creamier.
  3. Using a large dutch oven heated to medium high heat, cook the bacon until desired crispiness. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook them in the bacon grease. It may be necessary to add olive oil (or more bacon grease from your jar o’ bacon grease) to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Cook them until they are giving off their juices.
  5. Lower the heat to medium low and add the garlic, and stir with mushrooms for about 2 minutes. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BURN. It may be necessary (depending on your stove) to take your dutch oven off the heat for a minute to let it cool before you add the garlic. If in doubt, let it cool more than you think it needs to before adding your garlic.
  6. Once the garlic is cooked, add your spaghetti to the dutch oven and stir until incorporated.
  7. Slowly increase heat to medium and pour cheese/egg/milk mixture over the top. Stir continuously until well-combined, and continue stirring for between 4 and 10 minutes, depending on your stove and how thoroughly cook you want the egg mixture. Some people really like a creamy carbonara (aim for less time) while I prefer mine a bit “dry” with little eggy bits in it (more time). Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve topped with more Parmesan.

Once you cook this dish once, you’ll have a better idea of how you prefer it. No matter how it comes out it is delicious, and it all comes down to your preferred customization methods. (I SWEAR I WILL GET A GOOD PHOTO SOME DAY.)