Christmas. A time to eat, drink and be merry, but that last bit can be quite tricky when you’re in charge of the kitchen. However, help is at hand from a rather unlikely source – a bread maker. Or, more specifically, the SD-ZB2502XBC bread maker, £134.99 from Panasonic (available here). Here are just a few of the things it can do to save the day over the festive season:
1. Make cranberry sauce
Impress guests with a delicious sauce made from scratch. Remove the kneading blade from the pan, then add 800g of cranberries followed by 75g of castor sugar and 75ml of orange juice.
Select Menu 27 (Compote) and enter 1 hour on the timer. Go and have a lie down. Return at the end of the cooking time, give the pan a stir and yourself a pat on the back.
2. Bake gluten-free bread
Cater for a wheat-intolerant visitor with this handy mode. You could either use a gluten-free packet mix and Menu 12 or create your own.
For the latter, add 300g brown rice flour, 100g potato starch, 50g skimmed milk powder, 1tsp salt, 1tbsp sugar and 1tbsp xanthum gum to the bread pan. Then mix 1 egg and 1 egg white with warm water to make it up to 430ml and pour this in with 60ml melted butter and 1tsp of cider vinegar. Finally add 1tsp of yeast to the dispenser and cook on Menu 1 (Medium Crust) for 4hrs. The SD-ZB2502XBC also makes tasty rye and spelt loaves.
3. Whizz up a last-minute mulled wine fruit cake
If there’s not enough Christmas cake to go round, pad out your dessert trolley with this easy bake. Put 350g of mixed dried fruit, 50g chopped dates, 50g chopped walnut, 100g dried cranberries, 75g of butter and 300ml of mulled wine into a bowl and pop it in the microwave on full blast for 3-4 minutes.
Leave the mix to cool slightly, then add three medium eggs, 250g plain flour and 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda and stir well. Remove the kneading blade from the bread maker, line the pan with parchment and add the mixture. Finally, select Bake Only and enter 1 hour 15mins on the timer. Leave it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes before taking it out of the tin… then tuck in!
4. Wow them with an Italian panettone
This light tea time treat from Milan is the perfect antidote to all that Christmas stodge. Add 1.5tsp yeast, 400g strong white flour, 4tbsp sugar, 1tsp salt, 50g chilled butter cut into cubes, 2 medium eggs and 200ml milk to the pan. Choose Menu 3 (Brioche) and set the timer to 3 hours 30 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of sherry.
When you hear the ‘beep’, add 70g chilled butter cut into cubes, 50g chopped peel, 50g sultanas and 50g currants, and wait for the programme to finish.
5. Create the dough for a turkey-topped pizza
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Rustling up dough is easy in this machine, and a pizza is a tasty way to use up festive leftovers. Add 300g strong white flour, 1tsp salt, 170ml water, 1tbsp olive oil and 1/2tsp yeast to the pan and put the bread maker on Menu 22 for 45 minutes.
When it’s ready, press out the dough into 1 or 2 25cm circles (depending on how thick you want your pizzas) and leave to prove at 40°C for about 20 minutes. then it’s just a case of adding your toppings and baking at 220°C. I love Cheddar cheese with turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing balls!