Many of us are now aware of the benefits of making homemade food. However, baking your own bread is still quite a challenge even for experienced home cooks.
Bread is one of the basic essentials for most folks, especially when it comes to having a healthy and fulfilling breakfast. Most of the loaves you can find on the market are full of preservatives, excess sugar, and other unwanted ingredients. Even if we do decide to go for the gluten-free or other healthy alternatives, chances are that these options will be difficult to procure on a regular basis. They may also be too expensive to consume daily.
Fortunately, we now have a relatively easy way to bake bread at home–namely, a bread making machine or break maker. This is an appliance that allows you to make all sorts of breads right at home. It usually has a bread pan with multiple paddles at the bottom, and the whole thing looks like a small oven. The benefits of bread makers have already been covered, so let’s now look at the features to consider before buying one.
Choosing a Bread Maker
Bread makers come in several designs, models, and from different companies. All of the manufacturers claim that their offering is the best, so which one are you going to choose?
Before reading the reviews for any bread maker, you first need to narrow down your options. This includes looking at various features offered by the different devices and deciding which one best suits your needs. After shortlisting the most likely options, one can then move forward to selecting the best bread maker for their own requirements:
1. Bread Pan Maintenance
In most of the top bread makers for 2021, you’re very likely to get a non-stick bread pan with a kneading paddle, lifting handle, and rotating shaft. It’s very important that we take good care of this bread pan, since that’s where the actual bread is baked.
When using this pan, make sure to use only plastic or silicone utensils, as metal will scratch its surface. Even if the manual says the pan is dishwasher-safe, it’s usually recommended that you wash it by hand to preserve its longevity.
2. Cool Wall
A cold wall is also present in most of the top bread makers on the market. This wall prevents the surface from getting too hot while the baking is going on. While the device will understandably get warm, we don’t want it getting hot enough to burn your hand.
Additionally, always make sure to use a baking love or tea towel while removing the bread pan after the process is complete.
3. Kneading Paddle
The paddle is a must for mixing the ingredients of the bread dough right inside the bread pan. Some models might be equipped with two paddles that help to make that rectangular-shaped load.
Always make sure that the paddles are cleaned properly. The best way is to wash them by hand using warm water and soap.
While this isn’t an essential feature, it’s nice to have a viewing window in a bread maker. This will help curious bakers to follow the process and see how things are going. You won’t be tempted to open up the lid too early in the game; as with ovens, exposing the baking bread to open air too often can easily ruin it.
As with high-tech toaster ovens and rice makers, a bread maker should ideally have a sound feature alerting you when the process is done. A beeping or some sort of melody is great for alerting someone when they’re busy with something else. This way, you can set up the bread maker, get on with your chores or relax. There’s no need to constantly monitor the device or remember to check it regularly.
6. Measuring Accessories
In order to make the perfect loaf of bread, your measurements also need to be perfect. This is why my bread makers will come with their own beakers and measure spoons or cups. Using these accessories will help in getting the recipe right every single time.
7. Vertical or Horizontal
Bread makers are available in vertical and horizontal varieties. These make different shapes of bread, so you can choose the one that caters to your preferences (or that of the whole family).
Vertical bread makers give you a brick-shaped loaf that’s quite tall and unlike regular bread from the market. However, these vertical devices are more affordable, compact, and give a fluffy top to the bread. If you use the correct ingredients, you can get a nice loaf of bread with these.
However, if you’d like the loaf to come out like the store bought kind, invest in a horizontal bread maker. These have two mixers or paddles and can use gluten free or all-purpose flour as well as the usual bread flour for making perfect loaves of bread.
Choose your bread maker capacity according to your usual needs. The small ones will make a one-pound loaf, which will give you roughly 8 slices. 1.5 pounds will give you 12 slices, and so one. The medium size of bread makers make a 2-pound load, while the large ones can give you 2.5 to 3 pounds.
If you’re going to use the bread maker for various loaf sizes, a flexible machine is also available. They can usually give you loaves in 1, 1.5, or 2-pound weights.
While choosing the capacity or size of the bread maker, keep the space you have in mind.
9. Price Range
The usual price range for bread makers is around $50 to $200 plus. With all its benefits, though, a high-end bread maker will pay for itself over time.
Simple bread makers will usually give you enough control to manage the color of the crust. You may also have options like just kneading the dough in the maker or just baking already kneaded dough.
If you want more versatility from your bread maker, you’ll have to get the kind that allows for baking different kinds of bread. Artisan, sweet, French, and gluten-free loaves are all possible when you have the right bread maker. There are even models that allow you to make jam, bake cakes, make pasta dough, and pizza dough inside them. Some have delay-start timers, allow you to add nuts or fruit, or have racks for baguettes.
Bread Maker Problems and Their Solutions
Using a bread maker can be tricky, though almost every obstacle you encounter will have a solution. Below are some of the potential problems that may occur while using a bread maker and their possible solutions:
|Problem||Possible Causes||Possible Solutions|
|Bread starts sticking to pan||Usually occurs after prolonged use||Replace bread pan
Grease pan with oil or shortening (not spray)
Leave bread in the pan for some minutes before lifting out
Replace bread pan if possible
|Burning smell when device is on||Leaks in the pan
Liquid spilled inside device
|Measure ingredients carefully
Replace bread pan
|Texture too heavy and dense||Excess flour
Not enough yeast or sugar
|Make sure to measure accurately|
|Texture too coarse or full of holes||Too much yeast or liquid
Omission of salt
|Needs accurate measurements|
|Collapse of loaf during process||Excess dough
Lack of salt
Wrong type of yeast or too much of it
|Look up instructions for baking at high altitude
Measure ingredients accurately
Try reducing a little of the yeast or liquid
With that covered, let’s now move on to the top bread maker models available on the market right now. Any of these will make a great choice for your kitchen:
This bread maker has several features, but it’s still one of the more reasonable options on the market. It’s known to be quite durable, easy to clean, and user-friendly to boot. The company behind it is a brand based in the United States. It’s been known for its electric home appliances since the year 1910. Since its other offerings are quite popular and efficient, we can expect this one to be the same.
With 12 baking functions, this device gets us a lot of bang for our buck. With a relatively large capacity, it will probably do for a small family that loves homemade bread.
- Several features at an affordable price
- Several baking functions for various recipes
- Offers all types of crust colors and bread options plus a jam cycle
- Audible signal at end of baking cycle
- Easy to read LED display
- Basic yet intuitive
- High quality, very durable
- Large and bulky, not aesthetic
- Recipes in manual may not work out well
- Could be very noisy
This is a versatile horizontal bread maker that’s highly programmable. It features two mixing paddles to get that familiar brand shape, with no holes in the bottom. You can also customize the settings without compromising on the pre-programmed ones.
Online reviews are full of praise about the bread maker, so it should be worth some serious consideration. The Zojirushi Corporation is based in Japan, but is known as a multinational marketer plus manufacturer of quality electric products.
This machine is flexible in capacity, producing loaves up to 2 pounds in weight. The bake modes include cake, homemade, basic water, and sourdough bread among many other options.
- Customizable Settings
- Flexible capacity
- Can bake several kinds of loaves
- Delay timer includes
- Indicator for adding ingredients and competing of baking/dough cycle
- Includes several cycles, including jam and cake
- Sturdy design
- Big viewing window
- Dual paddles
- Nonstick bread pan
- Instruction DVD included for guidance
- Includes measuring accessories and user manual with recipes
- Low noise during operation
- At risk of falling if not placed correctly
- Large and heavy design that might not fit into every cabinet
- Difficult to lift up
If someone is just starting out with bread makers, this machine will probably be the safest choice. It’s a basic model, but one that’s still programmable. The company it comes from has been in the kitchen appliance business for over 200 years and has a historical reputation in the industry.
In short, this machine may not be the cheapest one in the market but its performance is guaranteed. The Breadman company keeps updating and improving their software to align with customer expectations. It’s hence no surprise that this offering can help you make pasta dough, cinnamon raisin bread, and even dinner rolls among many other recipes.
- Safety fuse included
- Flexible loaf sizes
- Several baking modes, dough. and crust options
- Indicator for completion of bake/dough cycle and for adding fruit/nuts
- Multiple cycle included
- Paddle attached to cord
- Viewing window included
- White writing on yellow background makes the controls hard to read
This white bread machine with curved corners is one of the most economical options for such devices today. It’s a nice, solid machine that produces an even result and has not less than 13 settings for all your bread needs.
- Several cycles, including one for gluten-free bread
- Even rising and coloring on bread
- Three load size options
- Affordable price
- Compact size
- Viewing window included
- A bit noise
- Loaf size isn’t standard
- Resulting crust is slightly thick
|Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Bread Machine||Zojirushi BB–CEC20 Supreme 2-Pound Loaf Bread Maker||Breadman TR520 Programmable Bread Maker||Oster Expressbake Breadmaker|
|Vertical or Horizontal||Vertical||Horizontal||Vertical||Vertical|
|Size/Capacity||2 pounds||Up to 2 pounds||Up to 2 pounds||Up to 2 pounds|
|Delay Timer||13 hours||13 hours||13 hours||13 hours|
|Dimensions in inches||14× 9.75 × 9.5||17 × 8-1/2 × 12-1/4||13.0× 11.5× 11.5||14 x 12 x 13|
|Weight in pounds||19.4||17||12.75||8|
|Cooking Setting||600 watts||700 watts||560 watts||650 watts|
Those who have made the switch to homemade bread rarely look back, so there must be a lot to say for taking this step. Why not invest in your own bread maker today and start enjoying its benefits? While you’re at it, check out these pastry and dough blenders as well.