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Kitchenware - Bread Machines

A guide to choosing and buying Breadmakers

Jump to: Benefits of using Breadmakers  |  What you need  | How Much to spend  | Cooking & Safety Tips

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Breadmakers have become a popular addition to many households. Once thought of as just a fad piece of equipment, many people have now substituted commercially made bread with fresh homemade bread cooked in a domestic breadmaker on a regular basis.

This guide to breadmakers will tell you everything you need to know to understand, choose and use this useful appliance. This guide will help you to choose a suitable bread maker and will give you lots of ideas for home made breads, some of which can be made in under 1 hours (depending on the machine you buy) with no need for you to knead or "punch down" or even hang about whilst it's rising and baking.

 

What are the Benefits of Using a Breadmakers?

  • Control over the ingredients used including salt or additives
     

  • Can save you money especially if you like speciality breads containing more unusual ingredients which are more expensive if shop bought
     

  • Flexibility and choice of what type of fresh bread you want and when you want it.  Most machines can also be used to just make dough e.g. for pizzas or rolls
     

  • Cleaner and often quicker than conventional bread making
     

  • A sense of comfort, satisfaction and fun - this may sound odd but most people who use breadmakers will agree that the feeling they get when smelling freshly baked bread and turning out a wonderful home cooked loaf is very satisfying, especially if some experimenting has been done with regards to the ingredients used.

 

 

 

 

What Should you look for in a Breadmaker?

 

Most breadmakers on the market have much the same features. The main differences are in the size and shape of loaf produced and added functions such as alarms and fruit dispensers.

 

To ensure you make full use of this handy appliance,  below are some things that you should consider before making a purchase.

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The Right Size  The size of your family should be considered when determining which breadmaker you buy.  Many bread machines are classed at 1lb, 1.5lb or 2lb which loosely refers to the weight of the cooked loaf. The larger machines can make smaller loaves, although some believe the best loaves are obtained when the machine is used at full capacity.  If you have a large family, there are models available which bake two loaves at a time however  it should be remembered that homemade bread may not last as long as shop bought bread due to the absence of additives or preservatives.

 

Type of bread pan Bread pans come in various shapes and sizes from round to square to rectangular and both horizontal and vertical. A little thought should therefore be given as to what type of bread you want to make. For example, if you will only be making bread for sandwiches, it's best to get a horizontal shape. However if you want to make the light Italian ciabatta types breads, then a vertical pan would probably be better as it allows for more rising.   Also consider whether the pan is removable. Removable pans make life a lot easier, for filling, removing the baked loaf and cleaning.

 

Additional Features and Programs  Most breadmakers now offer several a choice of programs to provide a combination of mixing, kneading, resting, and rising times suitable for various types of bread.  Depending on what you are planning to bake, below are some programs which you should look out for:

  • Basic -  for most white breads 
  • Rapid bake - enables bread to be made in a fraction of the normal cycle time
  • Whole wheat - has a longer knead cycle imperative if you'll be using whole grain flours
  •  Italian - excellent for ciabatta types of bread
  •  Raisin - automatically adds fruits, nuts, etc. at the right time to prevent  crushing
  •  Dough - just mixes the dough so you can then shape the bread to your liking e.g. croissants
  • Keep warm/cool down - these are handy features if you won't be present when the baking cycle has finished

 

Standard Safety Marks, Warranties, Manual.   Look for a breadmaker with a recognised safety mark for your particular country which is a sign that the manufacturer follows the best safety precautions and for a model with at least a 1 year warranty. Take a good look at the manual and choose a model with clear concise instructions and preferably, with a recipe booklet specifically for that model to get you on the way.

 

Good Reviews.  Check cooking magazines and websites to read microwave reviews from other consumers and businesses.

 

 

How much should you spend on your bread machine?

 

Although there are some very cheap and very expensive models on the market, always be guided by what you think you will need based on the above criteria, rather than on price. If you are unsure, it's best to pay a little extra and get more functions as once you start using your bread machine, you'll probably want to expand and experiment with different types of breads and flours.

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Breadmakers Cooking and Safety Tips

  • Make sure you leave air vents clear when the machine is running;

  • Take note of the order in which you add ingredients to the pan as this could have dramatic effects on how your bread turns out;

  • Don't be tempted to use more yeast than the recipe calls for;

  • When using shop bought bread "mixes", make allowances for your particular machine's capacity which you will find in the manual. Many mixes come in 500g packets, but this amount will be too much for some machines;

  • Unless you have a machine with a "keep warm" setting, remove your bread from the machine as soon as possible;

  • Bread straight from breadmakers is deceptively HOT as is any removable baking pan. Use a tea towel or other protection when handling;

  • When leaving bread to cool, if it has a hole in the bottom of the loaf which has been left by the mixing paddle, place the loaf hole-upwards so the steam can escape.

 

 

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