There’s nothing like warm, freshly baked bread – especially the smell of it! Unfortunately, it’s a lot of work to make, with all the kneading and waiting for it to rise, plus flour flying everywhere around the kitchen. Buying fresh bread from the bakery every day can get pretty expensive, too. Luckily, there’s an easier way to get that fresh, warm bread for a fraction of the price.
Bread-making machines make the old-fashioned way of getting your daily bread more modern and convenient. You can make bread whenever you want, the way you like it, with little to no effort. It’s easy to customise your bread with fresh herbs and seasonings to make the perfect loaf. What’s more, bread making machines can make more than just bread. You can cook almost anything in what is essentially a small, robotic oven. So relax and enjoy our guide to bread makers.
What is a bread maker?
An automatic bread maker is a compact electrical oven that holds a single bread tin and goes through the entire process of mixing, kneading, proving, then finally baking a loaf of bread with just the touch of a button. It’s essentially a robot doing the same work that you would do to make bread by hand.
How do bread makers work?
With an automatic bread maker, all you need to do is measure out the right ingredients, load up the tin, select your desired program, and wait for your fresh bread to be baked.
Firstly, the bread maker uses the paddle in the tin to mix the ingredients into dough. After letting it rest for a few minutes, it then kneads the dough. Next, the bread maker will increase its internal temperature to allow the bread to rise. Once the rising is done, the temperature will increase again to bake the bread. When the predetermined baking time has elapsed, the machine will turn itself off. You should remove the bread from the hot tin as soon as possible, as it will continue to cook otherwise.
How much do bread makers cost?
Bread makers from well-known household brands including Sunbeam, Breville, Kambrook and Panasonic cost between $99 and $399, from the simple to the high-tech. Pictured is the Custom Loaf Pro from Breville which retails for $330.
How do you use a bread maker?
- Make sure the mixing paddle is properly attached inside the bread tin.
- Add your ingredients. You should add your liquids first, then carefully layer the dry ingredients on top, then add the yeast. It’s important not to let the yeast touch the water, as it is activated on contact with water and you don’t want it doing this before the machine cycle begins.
- Choose your machine settings, then press start.
- Wait until the program is over and remove your bread. Yum!
Are bread-making machines easy to use?
Traditional bread-making can be difficult to get right, but bread makers are very simple to use and generally deliver fine results. All you need to do is add your ingredients, select the setting for the kind of bread you want, and wait. Cleaning up is easy. If you’ve made your bread properly, all you’ll need to do is wash out the tin.
The only difficult part is getting your bread recipe right, especially if you’re experimenting with different recipes. You can buy pre-packaged bread mixes that you can pop straight into the bread machine along with some water. You can also experiment with different kinds of flavours and added-in bits – recipe websites are full of great ideas for your bread maker.
What can I make with a bread maker?
The variety of settings on a bread maker depends on the brand and appliance, but even the simplest devices have an amazing range of options.
You can make almost any type of bread. Variations in kneading and rising time can change the kind of bread produced. Also, different kinds of ingredient mixes require different processes to turn into a good loaf. There are both automated settings for common types (e.g. white, whole grain, French bread) and custom settings such as crust (light, medium, dark).
There’s usually a dough setting that just prepares the dough without any cooking, so you can make pizza dough and pasta dough ready to roll out. Just because a type of bread isn’t listed in the settings doesn’t mean that it’s off the menu. Check your device’s instruction manual or explore recipes to see what else you could make with your bread maker.
How do I choose a bread maker?
The main difference between bread makers is the range and quality of features available. A cheap bread maker may not be able to do as much, and may not produce the same quality of loaf as more expensive models. However, it’s a cheaper way to get fresh customisable bread in the long term. There’s also the satisfaction of making your own bread to consider! If it’s a cheap bread maker you want, the Sunbeam appliance pictured retails for a little over $100.
There are a few important features that you may want to look out for:
- Glass lid: It’s very helpful to be able to keep an eye on your loaf’s progress, in case it overcooks or overflows. It’s also just fascinating to watch dough transform into bread before your eyes!
- Settings: Not all bread makers have the same range of settings. For example, some have a rapid setting that can make a loaf of bread in under an hour. Bread made using this setting won’t be nearly as good as that made using the usual longer cycles, but it can be convenient if you’re in a hurry. Another useful setting is the timer. You could add your ingredients before you go to bed and set the timer so the machine will start later in perfect time for you to wake up to a freshly baked loaf. Imagine that smell!
- Add ingredients signal or automatic function: If you want to add some bits and pieces to your bread, such as fruit or chocolate chips, many bread makers come with a function which either tells you when you should add the extras, or has a holding tray that does it for you at the right time in the cycle. Clever!
Should I buy a bread maker?
If you really like your bread, a bread maker can pay for itself quite quickly compared to buying fresh loaves from the bakery every week. It’s also a great kitchen tool for a variety of other purposes such as making jam or doughnuts, or even full meals like risotto or soup. If you have kids, imagine the fun of them helping out with the bread-making and seeing their creation bake to life!
If you’re only likely to use a bread machine occasionally or for special occasions, perhaps one of the cheaper, simpler models would be a more cost-effective choice. Even a low-quality bread maker can make cooking so much easier.