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The aroma of fresh bread coming out of a bread machine is simply amazing. It’s why you get cravings each time you pass outside a bakery. No one can resist it. It’s mouth-watering.
You can now bring it into your kitchen. Bread makers are appliances that allow you to bake bread in the comfort of your own home. Do you want to control the quality of bread you eat? Are you tired of buying bread from the store?
Maybe you just want fresh bread any time of the day or night. Whether you want a delicious and nutritional loaf in the morning, or waiting for you after you get home from work, you can enjoy it all.
You can have the recipe of your choice- from fixing up a wholegrain raisin toast for yourself to baking some banana bread with your kids. This is the freedom that bread makers give you.
A couple of years ago these machines were a luxury and only found in a few high-end outlets. Today the bread maker is a necessity in almost every kitchen. You can make bread of all kinds, shapes and sizes.
They come with numerous pre programmed settings that give you versatility in your recipes. You can even mix it up with ingredients like fruits cheese and nuts. Bake your bread exactly the way you like it.
There are bread makers designed for singles and small households, and others can serve huge family gatherings. You can make horizontal bread and even gluten-free or whole-wheat bread, for those with health concerns.
And the machines don’t only focus on bread. You can make anything from jam and dough for pizza, cookies to even cakes. They are affordable, consistent, and getting the right machine can saves more money in the long run.
Basically, you can turn your kitchen into a bakery. When you go to purchase a bread maker, you’ll be drowned in options. There’s a flood of products available in the market today.
There are also numerous features to consider- from the weight and baking options to price and convenience of use. This guide will walk you through the ins-and-outs of bread machines, and equip you with the necessary knowledge that you need to purchase the best bread maker for your specific needs.
Best Selling Bread Machines
Before we dive in, here are some of the best selling bread makers.
- Bakes a large traditional rectangular...
- Bakes a large traditional rectangular...
- Dual kneading blades to knead the dough...
- Programmable breadmaker produces 1 pound...
- Settings for cookie/pasta dough and...
- 13-hour delay timer; LCD control panel;...
- Programmable bread machine with...
- 16 preset menu options including Low...
- 3 crust colors and 3 loaf sizes; over...
Types Of Bread Makers
Bread machines typically consist of a bread pan, built-in paddles and a special purpose oven. They can be generally categorized based on their size, shape of the bread they make, and then there are those that are designed for specific purposes.
When it comes to this, there are 2 kinds:
i. Small bread machines – These are designed for singles, couples or small families. They also work well for places with limited kitchen space, and you won’t find them cumbersome. They are usually used to bake 1 – 1.5 lb. loaves.
They are lightweight, and some weigh as little as 9 pounds. See our list of small bread machines.
ii. Large bread machines – They have the capacity to bake anything from a 1 lb. loaf to a 3 lb. loaf. They can serve large families. To give you some perspective, a 2.5-pound loaf can feed 4-6 adults.
Check out our reviews on large bread machines.
Shape of bread
There are 2 general shapes:
i. Vertical bread machines – Most bread makers are of this kind. They bake vertical loaves that results in almost “round” slices when you cut them. These kind of loaf is popular because it saves on space. It’s the same logic that is used to put up high rise building in cities.
ii. Horizontal bread machines – They are specifically designed to make horizontal loaves like the ones usually bought from bakeries. Thus the bread comes with a more traditional feel. It’s easy to make bread for sandwiches and toasting.
Find out more about horizontal bread makers.
Special purpose bread makers
Gluten-free bread machines – These ones have dedicated gluten-free settings, which takes out the hassle of figuring out the appropriate baking cycles, unlike with the other bread makers.
Check this list of gluten free bread makers.
Choosing The Best Bread Machine
What do you look for in a bread maker? These are the features that you should be concerned about:
There are 2 factors to consider: How much bread you need and how much space you have. Remember that the fresh bread you’ll be making won’t have the preservatives that you find in store-bought bread.
So when you’re baking bread you should plan on creating enough for a maximum of 1 or 2 days. Bread that lasts beyond that is likely to get spoiled. So you should know how much bread your family will eat.
The bread machines make various sizes of loaves, from 1 pounds to 3 pounds. The best bread makers give you options of various sizes. That way, you can bake different kids of loaves for different occasions.
Look at the size of the bread maker and how much space you have in your kitchen. If the is machine large, ensure that you have enough counter space to keep it.
2. Bread shape
This is purely based on your preference. Do you want the traditional rectangular loaf of bread? Perhaps you prefer bread that’s round or square.
Do you want bread that stand vertically or lays horizontally? Note that in order to make horizontal loaves, the machine needs to have 2 kneading blades in order to properly mix and knead ingredients.
3. Programs and Settings
Any bread maker worth your time has to have some degree of programmability. For instance, there are the crust control settings, where you can pick from light or dark options.
Sometimes you can bake dough without kneading, or knead dough without baking (like for pizza dough). In more advanced machines you have pre-programmed settings for different types of bread.
These controls are set to the requirements of various recipes, taking into account the type of flour that you’ll use and adjusting the necessary times for kneading, baking and proofing.
There are also setting for special types of bread- from whole-wheat and gluten-free bread to French bread, sweet breads and artisan bread. You can also get machines with programs allowing you to make anything from pasta dough to homemade jam.
Some machines even allow you to pre-program your own settings. Do you like making bread with additional ingredients like dried fruit or nuts?
There are bread makers that come with indicators to alert you when the time reaches to add them. Some even have trap doors to automatically add the ingredients for you.
There are bread makers that come with time delay settings- some going as long as 20 hours. They allow you to conveniently plan and schedule the baking process.
For instance, you can add the ingredients to your bread maker just before going to bed and then set the timer to start baking at 3 a.m. You can set it to prepare bread in time for an event, or come home from work to find your freshly baked bread waiting for you.
4. Bread pan
Go for a bread machine with a removable bread pan. The ones that aren’t removable are hard to clean. Also look for a bread pan that has a non-stick coating. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan and not kneading properly.
[See: Bread Making Accessories]
5. Kneading paddles
They come in different shapes. Some machines have more than one in order to knead the dough better. There are bread makers that have a paddle that’s specifically for dough, and another for pasta. Some also come with spare paddles. That way you can continue making your bread as the other paddle gets washed.
Check if the paddle can be removed before the baking cycle. This is especially for those who don’t want there to be a hole at the bottom of the loaf.
All bread makers mix and knead dough, so they make noise to some extent. How much noise they make depends on the quality of the machine. Low quality ones will be very noisy.
They may also vibrate and move on your counter, and risk falling to the floor and getting damaged. High quality bread machines are made of sturdier materials and make less noise.
Naturally, the more the features and programmable options a bread maker has, the more it will cost you. When it comes to bread machines, you get what you pay for.
There are products that meet all budget needs. They can range from $55 to around $350 (see price comparison chart). Set your price limit after you’ve determined what you need from your bread maker.
8. Product reviews
Different people have various opinions about each bread maker. Go through consumer reviews and check out what other people had to say about the machines they purchased. It’s undoubtedly part of the reason why you’re here. Check out our review below.
Review of the 5 Top Bread Machines
We’ve compiled a list of the best 5 bread makers based on the considerations stipulated when choosing the best bread machine.
1. Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread Maker
- Automatic fruit and nut dispenser...
- Unique collapsible kneading paddle...
- Smart lcd screen with progress indicator...
It has everything that you’d want from a bread maker. Its features are so many that you may never try them all. It comes with 46 step by step recipes that cover everything from basic, whole wheat and gluten free to sweet and yeast free bread.
It even has custom recipe charts. In addition to the pre-programmed settings, you can manually input selections for preheating, kneading, rising, punching-down, baking and warming phases.
It’s fully programmable, with 3 crust colors and 13 automatic settings. It has 4 loaf sizes – 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 pounds. It has rubber legs to protect your counter top from damage.
At its top there’s a holder for nuts and fruits, where the extra ingredients are kept until they are needed. A unique feature it has is its collapsible kneading paddle. After the kneading process, the paddle collapses into the unit, to prevent the bread from being baked with holes.
- Sleek design- it has a stainless steel outer shell with black accents.
- Doesn’t scratch the counter top.
- Small size hence it can be easily stored.
- Large ingredient holder.
- Bread doesn’t have holes.
- 13 hour delay timer.
- Clear display.
- Easy to control.
- It’s expensive. But that it what you expect for all the extra features. It retails at $243.97 on Amazon.
- Customized settings are saved, so you’ll have to program them every time.
2. Breadman TR520 Programmable Bread Maker
- Paddle comes attached to electrical...
- Programmable breadmaker bakes 1-,...
- 3 crust shades; 8 functions for breads...
This automatic bread maker is fully programmable and comes with 3 crust settings and 8 functions for bread and dough. You can make bread of 1, 1.5 and 2 pounds. It has a removable single paddle that’s is easy to clean. It’s 14″ wide, meaning that it won’t take up much counter space. The Breadman TR520 has a non-stick interior baking pan that can be easily removed using its carrying handle.
- Easy to wash.
- A long, flexible timer delay (13 hours).
- It’s affordable. It retails at $74.53 on Amazon.
- Comes with a view window on top where you can keep track of the progress of the baking.
- Comes with a signal bell to prompt you when you can throw in extra ingredients.
- The casing gets quite hot. Take note of this if you have small children at home.
3. Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker
- Up to a 2.0 lb. loaf capacity, ideal...
- 12 bread settings and 3 crust settings...
- Expressbake setting bakes bread in under...
This 2 lb. loaf capacity bread maker is currently Amazon’s best seller. Its programmable menu is easy to use and the LCD screen is clear. It comes with 9 bread settings and 3 crust settings. It can make everything from whole-wheat and sweet bread to gluten-free and French bread.
- User friendly.
- Low cost (Amazon price: $59.99).
- Warm setting that enable you to keep the bread in the unit after baking it.
- Its ExpressBake setting prepares fully baked bread in under an hour.
- You can add extra ingredients at any time in the cooking process.
- 13-hour delay-start timer that’s easy to program.
- It’s a single-paddle design that leaves a hole in the bread after baking.
4. Conair Cuisinart CBK-100
- Programmable bread machine with...
- 16 preset menu options including Low...
- 3 crust colors and 3 loaf sizes; over...
This bread machine comes with 12 preprogrammed menu options, 3 crust settings. Its lid, pan and paddle are removable, which makes it convenient for washing. It has a viewing window where you can watch the baking process. The Conair Cuisinart CBK-100 bakes 1, 1.5 and 2 pound loaves. It’s rather huge (18″ length and 15″ height). It comes with a gluten-free setting.
- Easy to clean.
- Carrying handles on the side make it easy to carry.
- User-friendly LCD screen.
- Can make horizontal bread.
- It’s affordable, and retails at $75.00 on Amazon.
- Strong and sturdy construction with stainless still outer shell makes it durable.
- Long, flexible 13-hour delay-start timer.
- It’s large and requires a lot of space.
- The beep after the kneading cycle is really loud, and you can’t silence it or reduce its volume until you’ve removed the paddle.
5. Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29882 Breadmaker
- Makes homemade bread without...
- 12 settings include: French,...
- Light, medium or dark crust settings.
It’s simple and straightforward- add ingredients, select the settings, and start the baking process. It has 12 different program cycles and 3 crust settings. It bakes 1, 1.5 and 2 pound loaves.
- It’s affordable, retailing at $58.99 on Amazon.
- Easy to use.
- Baking pan has a carrying handle for removing bread from the unit.
- Rubber feet to prevent scratches on counter top.
- Comes with extra paddle.
- Low maintenance. The bread pan and kneading paddles are dishwasher safe.
- When you use its express feature the bread is smaller and has a thicker crust
How to Buy the Best Bread Machine?
Go for a bread machine that makes the most appropriate-size loaf for your needs, and has just the right set of features. The other major features that you should consider include the delay timer, the crust color, and how easy the bread maker is to program.
Don’t go for the lowest costs. Quality and price go hand in hand.
First settle for the features you want, then look at the products that are in that price range. Cost should be the last determinant. It will ensure that you get a value return for the money you spend.
Get your bread maker online. It’s more convenient. You can easily view similar products and compare their features. It’s also cheaper- the online retail price is lower than what you’ll get on shelves. You can also get discounts and free shipping.
You can read more about it here.
Advantages of Using A Bread Machine
Why should you get a bread maker? It will transform your life. Here are the benefits it has in store for you:
You have the freedom to come up with the bread you desire.
You can make basic white bread, whole-wheat bread, batter breads, and even French or continental bread. If there isn’t a specific program for the type of bread you want to bake, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s off the menu.
The machines come with recipe books that offer alternative baking modes for your favorite bread. You can even go and check online. There are thousands of recipes available, so your choices aren’t limited to what you can find on the shelves. You can have the crust of your choice- whether it’s light, medium or dark.
You’re in control of the bread you eat.
Check out the bread on supermarket shelves- it’s full of preservatives, sweeteners to add flavor, and dough conditioners to get the desired texture. Many of these are harmful to your health.
For instance, they have partially hydrogenated oil which is primarily used to extend shelf life- such trans fats are dangerous to your heart, and the FDA even requires food manufacturers to list the amount contaminated in products on the food labels.
Even the sugar is a problem. Bread producers use it as a sweetener and to increase bread volume by providing food for yeast. Taking too much sugar increases triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which predisposes you to heart disease.
There’s also weight gain, hormone disruption and diabetes to contend with. With your bread maker, you can use purely natural ingredients. You will decide what goes into your body. As such, you can make more nutritional bread and improve the quality of your life.
You get better texture and higher bread yield.
When you use the bread maker, instead of making bread by hand. The machine gets everything right- from the recipe and mixing all through to the baking.
You make great savings.
The bread machine is an investment. The price of bread has risen exponentially in the past few years, thus expanding your budget. When you purchase a bread maker, you’ll get your money back after making about a dozen loaves. It literally buys itself back.
It’s like how solar panels slash your power bills and get you more savings- only that bread makers are astronomically cheaper. The cost of ingredients-like flour and yeast- is often less than store-bought bread.
Bread makers are user-friendly.
In fact, it’s arguably the easiest appliance to use in your kitchen. Simply dump the ingredients into the machine, choose your preferred settings and press start.
You can then forget about it completely until you here the beep indicating your bread is ready to be eaten.
They are convenient.
No one likes the hassle of making bread by hand- all that kneading is tedious and time consuming. The bread machines have automated the entire process, and at the end of everything you get a high quality fresh loaf of bread.
The bread machine can be used in place of many appliances in the kitchen.
Take the cake setting for instance. It allows you to make cake from scratch. Consequently, it has taken the place of the stand mixer, hand mixer and the oven;
A Guide to Using Bread Machine
The first thing you should do is to go through the instruction book or manual that comes with the bread maker. Learn about the times and settings of your machine.
Understand how it works, and take note of the manufacturer’s warnings (like weight limits, whether parts are dishwasher-safe, how to add ingredients, etc.). Before you use the bread maker, ensure you clean it thoroughly.
Pick your desired recipe. The bread makers are automated, so all you have to do is add the ingredients and input the settings. Ensure that you measure all the ingredients correctly; and set the controls to match the type of bread you want.
When you’re setting a delayed cycle that goes for several hours, don’t use perishable ingredients like milk and eggs. Bacteria might grow which can result in food poisoning.
Match the flour you use to the result you desire. For instance, if you want high rising bread, use all-purpose or bread flour. If you want dense and heavy bread, use whole-grain flours.
The Guide to Maintaining Your Bread Machine
Ensure that you wash it after every baking process. Use warm, soapy water. Some sections such as the kneading paddle are removable so you can wash them separately.
To wash the pan, put water inside it and leave it to soak for 15 minutes. Empty it and wipe it using a clean cloth. Don’t throw your bread maker into the dishwasher before confirming that it’s dishwasher-safe.
Never use anything abrasive when cleaning the inside of your machine. This can cause scratches that make the bread maker to be less attractive. It also makes the next cleaning harder, since there will be many more pits and scratches for crumbs, flour dust or dough to stick to.
Oil the shafts of the kneading blades at least once every 6 months. This will enable the bread maker to run smoothly and extend its life. Confirm the specific oil you can use from the product’s manufacturer. Don’t use cooking oil or mineral oil, as they can damage the mechanism.
Applying the oil is easy – simply turn over the baking pan and put a 1-2 drops around the center bolt and bearings. You can learn more about routine bread machine maintenance here.