Holey moley! Bread machine update

Continuing the saga of our bread machine.

Hopefully the Kenwood/DeLonghi apparatus with its sticky non-stick paddle has now reached Amazon. I shall miss it. Ornamentally it was a fine embellishment to the kitchen surface. A reminder of its beauty:

And a reminder of the hole it made in the loaf.

Anyway, the reason we bought it was to replace the previous machine that had started producing bricks instead of loaves after nearly two years of faithful service and delicious breads.  No matter what combination of yeast/sugar/salt/water, I just couldn’t get a risen loaf out of it, but at least the paddle came out. The dough had recently become stodgy despite careful measuring. It is a very humble machine, and cost £24.99 from Sainsbury’s. We phoned Sainsbury’s to see what they had to say. Their Customer Service were polite, helpful and keen to please a customer. They apologised that they could not supply a replacement as the machine was no longer available, but kindly offered us a gift voucher for £25 in compensation.

Now there is a twist to this story. While weighing out half a kilo of rice from a one-kilo bag, I noticed that by the time the digital scales registered the half-kilo mark, the bag was two-thirds empty. That’s not right. It should have been only half-empty. Testing the scales  showed that they were wildly inaccurate, giving different readings all the time for the same weight.

So I bought a mechanical set. Then I dug out the old bread machine which had been destined for the dump, and baked a loaf. Which rose perfectly. And came out of the pan perfectly. Leaving a small hole. And the paddle came out of the pan. So all was well, and the Sainsbury’s bread machine is back on the surface.

Now, here is the hole left in the Sainsbury’s loaf – can you spot the difference?

Which leaves one mystery, and one small matter to clear up.

Why did the Kenwood/DeLongi machine produce good loaves – there was nothing wrong with the bread per se. Maybe it was less fastidious regarding the quantities, or maybe the scales were in one of their less-erratic periods. Maybe, with the right measurement of flour, it would have produced an even better loaf to stick to the non-stick paddle.

As far as Sainsbury’s is concerned, we had received £25 in compensation for a faulty machine that turned out to be not faulty. This  morning we telephoned to ask them what we should do. I had already given the voucher to one of our granddaughters, but we would have been happy to send a cheque to Sainsbury’s.

However, their Customer Service were once again brilliant, said they were delighted to hear that their machine was giving satisfaction, and we were welcome to keep and enjoy the voucher. Result: Satisfied customers. Perhaps Kenwood/DeLonghi should take a leaf out of their book.


It happens fairly frequently that something I bake doesn’t turn out as it should, and I’ve always put it down to either our oven which can be erratic, or a general lack of baking skills. But now I’m suspecting that those digital scales may have been the culprit. From now on, it’s mechanical all the way.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bring me sunshine!

The nights are drawing in. The temperatures are in free-fall. The leaves are dropping. The skies are grey. It’s only going to get worse. Get out your gloves, scarves, woolly hats, and the de-icer and snow-scraper for the car. Don’t forget salt for the drive when the ice arrives. Is the 50 tog duvet ready for the bed? Thermal undies to hand? All those draughts blocked up? Stocked up with cold remedies? Ugh.

But wait! It need not be thus. Let me take you to a place of sunshine, exotic flowers and birds. Crazed neighbours and wonderful friendships. Lovable bureaucrats. Occasional earthquakes. Snuggle up with a cup of Costa Rican coffee, and come with me to the land where those coffee beans were born.

File:Red eyed tree frog edit2.jpg

Welcome to Costa Rica! Simply brilliant expat blog by a former French resident who relocated to warmer climes and a new way of life. Have a peep, read a couple of her posts, and feel the glow. Costa Rica’s motto is “Full of Life,” and Fly’s blog certainly lives up to that. Here is a pictorial guide to some of San Jose’s varied architecture, and a train mingling nonchalantly with rush hour traffic. 🙂

And if you agree (how could you not?) that her blog deserves to win an award, you could click the link and say so.


Living in Costa Rica


Enhanced by Zemanta

Drunken Harry

Meet Harry.

Harry the Hornet.

Harry the Hornet who spent all yesterday blundering about in a drunken stupor.

Because Harry and his legions of friends have been gorging themselves on grapes. And I think Harry had one too many. Because he staggered up the window, and then gently slid down the window. Over and over again. Until he was completely exhausted. And so he sat on the window ledge in the sunshine, twiddling his antennae for a while. Gradually his head dropped until his chin rested on the ledge and his legs gave way, and there he stayed for several hours, sleeping off his headache. Then he flew away. 🙂

He’s rather handsome even in his inebriated state, don’t you think?Enhanced by Zemanta

So longy, DeLonghi!

Would you agree that this is a particularly handsome bread machine?


Would you agree that this an acceptable loaf, judging by its appearance?







It looks pretty good, yes?

So, it’s a handsome machine, and a good loaf, agreed?

Right. Now, and please be honest here, would you be happy if the underside of the loaf looked like this?


Yes? Then call me difficult, demanding, fussy, awkward, one of those people who’s never satisfied, but I don’t find it acceptable. At all.

It’s the fourth bread machine I’ve owned. The previous three all left a modest paddle-shaped slot where the non-stick paddle had been. A relatively small slot that hardly showed. None of them gouged out a giant cavern from the loaf.

After baking three loaves with the handsome new Kenwood machine, all with the same result – the non-stick paddle firmly wedged into the pan and the loaf firmly stuck to the paddle – it took vigorous shaking to dislodge the loaf, leaving the aforesaid cavern – I wrote politely to Kenwood Customer Care asking if they could help. Liberal coatings of oil to the non-stick paddle before baking had done nothing to solve the problem.

The following reply arrived within a few minutes:

Thank you for your email however as you are not in the UK, I am afraid that I cannot assist you.

 Please contact our office in France for further assistance.” They gave the address of DeLonghi in Paris. (DeLonghi bought out Kenwood in 2001).

Note the absence of any expression of concern for a dissatisfied customer.

I wrote back, perhaps a little acerbically, saying I was surprised that they were unable to offer any written advice to one of their customers, no matter where in the world they might be.

The “Senior Customer Experience Advisor” replied:

“The only advice I could provide would be to rub a very small amount of oil onto the kneader which you have already done therefore I can only refer you to our office in France for further assistance.”

Note the lack of commas in this long sentence. Perhaps they are rationed by Kenwood. And still no “We are sorry …..” or “We hope to help ….”

So I telephoned DeLonghi in Paris and asked to speak to their Service Clientele. How could they help me, they asked in a tone that suggested they had no particular interest in doing so.

I explained about the machine, the non-stick paddle, the gaping hole.

“That is perfectly normal,” replied the SC person.

“No,” I said. “It is not. It is not normal that the non-stick paddle will not come out of the tin, and that the loaf will not come off the non-stick paddle without leaving a hole big enough for me to put my fist in.”

“It is normal,” repeated the SC person. “The paddle is not meant to come out of the tin.”

We debated the issue for several minutes, neither side giving any ground.”Well,” said I, beginning to become somewhat exasperated, “if your machine cannot produce a loaf without a large proportion of it remaining stuck in the pan, and you assure me that is normal, then it is no use to me, and I’ll have to return it.”

“As you wish,” replied SC.

And so today back it went, neatly packed up in its box, with its tenacious non-stick paddle, sensible plastic measuring jug and spoon and instruction manual in about eleven languages.

Had Kenwood/DeLonghi shown even a flicker of interest in the defect of their machine; if they had said they were sorry that it was not functioning correctly; if they had said they would do everything they could to help find a solution, I might have been persuaded to keep trying with the machine in the hope that the non-stick paddle would eventually become non-stick, and the pan would eventually learn how to release the non-stick paddle. But they did not. They gave the impression that they knew there was no hope that it would ever give satisfaction, and that they really couldn’t care less.

So after 40 years as a customer and fan of Kenwood since my first Kenwood Mixer bought in the 1960s, I have to say that my Kenwood Customer Experience merits 0/10.

They could perhaps learn something from Amazon Customer Service, which I have always found to be faultless. I’m so pleased I bought the machine through them, and was able to return it, post-free, for a full refund. Heaven forbid I’d bought the thing from a store here in France, where you have as much chance of getting a refund or replacement as you have of growing feathers.

Bouquet to Amazon. Adieu to Kenwood/DeLonghi.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Poitiers train station and multi-storey car park, 9th October

Family face-lift

Somebody who I don’t know emailed this to me yesterday. They have taken the photo of my great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother from my blog post, and given it this fancy frame. Aren’t people nice?

Enhanced by Zemanta