Did You Know?The first slice-and-wrap bread machine was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1928.
There is nothing as amazing as freshly-baked bread. Nothing compares to the smell, the amazing taste, and unmatched nutrition of homemade bread. This is why people love making bread at home, right from scratch, even though it involves a lot of work. Now, what if you could just toss all the bread-making ingredients in a machine and get fresh, savory bread without any effort? Sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it? Well, this is what a bread machine essentially does.
All you need to do is add the ingredients, such as flour, water, yeast and salt, in the machine, adjust the settings, and wait for a few hours to get lovely fresh bread. No need of measuring, mixing, and kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise. The bread maker does all your hard work in a cinch, giving you a fresh brown loaf, just the way you like it. There are many cutting-edge bread makers in the market that mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and produce bakery-quality bread without any effort. If you are planning to get one of these wonderful appliances, and do not know how to choose a bread maker that is just right for you, then here are some tips to help you make the right choice.
Tips for Choosing a Bread Maker
The capacity of the bread maker and the loaf size depends on the amount of bread that your family consumes regularly. For a family of two to three, a bread maker with a 1.5 pounds loaf capacity should be enough. For a bigger family that consumes bread regularly, a bread maker that makes loaves ranging from 2 to 3 pounds would be needed. It is a good idea to look for a machine that offers two to three loaf size options so that you get the right-sized loaf for your needs.
Material of Baking Pan
It is important to note that all bread pans are made of non-stick coated aluminum. If you need breads with thicker, harder crusts, then the bread pan should be made of thick cast aluminum. For lighter thinner crusts, thin aluminum pans would suffice. Ensure that you choose a bread maker with removable pans that make cleaning much easier.
While old bread makers could produce only vertical loaves, the newer models can make horizontal loves that look like normal grocery store bread and is much easier to slice and serve. However, these horizontal bread makers are expensive and take up much more space than models producing vertical loaves. Moreover, they don't always knead the dough thoroughly, leaving small amounts of flour in the corners of the pan, which can be extremely annoying. If you plan to buy a horizontal bread maker, then ensure that it has two kneading blades so that the ingredients are properly mixed and kneaded.
It is a good idea to select a bread maker with delay timings. Some machines can be programmed so that the bread is ready at the appropriate time. So if you want warm, fresh bread early in the morning, you can program the bread machine at night to give you fresh bread ten hours later. Most machines provide this feature, and they can be programmed to bake bread up to 13 hours in advance. Some machines also have a 'rapid' feature for quick breakfast loaves, and the ability to pre-program your own recipes.
Kneading blades are small paddles located in the center of the bread bucket. They are responsible for mixing all the ingredients and kneading the dough. When the dough is baked, it bakes around the kneading blade. This is why you often find the blade stuck to the bottom of the bread. Once the bread has cooled, the blade needs to be removed. If you plan to use a horizontal bread maker, then look for ones with two kneading blades.
Ingredient Dispensing Feature
Some bread makers have an additional ingredient dispensing feature that allows you to add additional ingredients, such as nuts and dried fruits, later in the bread-making process. The bread maker signals when the ingredient has to be added. Certain bread makers like the Panasonic SD-RD250
have special compartments that dispense the additional ingredients when needed.
Crust Control Feature
This common feature allows a user to control the browning of the crust. Depending on how brown you want the crust, a bread maker provides three crust settings―regular, medium, dark. So, whether you like the bread crust dark brown and hard or light brown and soft, the bread maker provides the perfect crust.
Bakes Different Types of Bread
Do you want to bake different types of breads such as gluten-free bread, whole wheat bread, pizza dough, artisan bread, dessert loaves, or cakes? Then choose a bread maker with additional settings and preset cycles that allow you to bake different types of breads. The specific programs for the different breads take into account the type of flour and other ingredients to adjust the mixing, kneading, and baking time accordingly. For example, for gluten-free breads, you would need to adjust the baking temperature.
A bread maker is a large appliance that requires quite a bit of storage space. Ensure that you have free countertop space to house this appliance in your kitchen. It is important to note that a horizontal bread maker will be wider and will take up more space than a vertical model.
Bread makers may be priced anywhere between USD 40 to USD 200. You can find a good one in the price range of USD 100 to USD 130 range. A pricier machine does not mean better performance. More often than not, the high price is for the additional bells and whistles. Choose a machine that produces the most appropriate-sized loaf for your needs and has features that you use often. Do not pay extra for features that you probably will never use.
Some extra features to watch out for are:
A viewing window that lets you monitor the bread making process.
Indicator lights that let you know when the cycles are over.
Bread makers with a good external finish, digital LCD, and a secure base score some additional points.
Some bread makers have a "keep warm" function that keeps the bread warm while in the machine.
Look for additional accessories such as measuring cups, spoons, and cookbooks.
Some excellent bread makers include:
Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker BB-PAC20
Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker BB-HAC10
Sunbeam 2lb Breadmaker 5891-33
Breadman 2 lb Professional Bread Machine
Panasonic Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser SD-YD250
West Bend 41300 - Hi-Rise Bread Maker
Do check the warranty and service options before buying the machine. If you are a beginner, then choose a machine that is easy enough to use. Do compare the unique features of the different bread makers in your budget, and choose one that fits your needs perfectly. Buying the right bread maker will ensure that you have fresh bread any time of the year.