What to consider when buying a bread maker
Maybe you think there are few things as satisfying as waking up to the smell of freshly baked
bread, savouring a thick slice spread with butter and perhaps a home made preserve. Perhaps
you prefer a crusty loaf, but the kids won't eat anything but sandwich loaves. Do you find yourself
often popping to the corner shop for a loaf of overpriced tasteless bread? You eat a lot of pizzas
but the cost of buying in the bases has risen significantly in recent months? If you answered "yes"
to any of the above, a bread maker could be the answer for you.
Modern bread makers are a quiet, efficient, all-in-one solution to the dilemma that is home made
bread. You love the taste and smell, the ingredients are cheaper than a store bought loaf, but you
just don't have the time to mix, knead, prove and bake by hand every day. As well as mixing,
kneading and proving the dough, the machine also bakes the bread for you, taking all that work off
your hands, leaving you free to savour the end product.
Bread Makers do come in more than one size, so consider mix capacity and loaf size before
deciding. Some have settings to produce loaves in two or more sizes, others will produce a single
size. If you have a large family you may need to consider an extra large capacity machine else you
may find yourself baking several times a day as bread maker loaves tend to be smaller than their
store bought equivalents.
The external dimensions can vary widely from machine to machine. If you have limited space in
your kitchen you will need to ensure you purchase a smaller model. Consider also that whilst in
bake mode the outside of the machine can become hot to the touch, so if you have small children
the machine will need to be sited out of reach whilst in use, but not to close to other appliances or
walls to allow for cooling.
Will you be experimenting with recipes or do you plan to stick to simple loaves. Many models
come with a variety of different settings to allow you to vary your baking style. For example,
French, Italian, rye, sandwich and gluten-free are popular options, allowing you a choice of various
types of loaves. If you plan to make a lot of pizza dough or to bake baguettes, rolls or croissants
you will need a machine with a dough-only setting. This allows you to leave the time consuming
mixing and kneading of the dough to the machine. You then step in to shape and finish and bake
the end products in your conventional oven. Of course the more options a bread maker has, the
higher the price is likely to be!
If you regularly bake seed, nut or fruit breads, another optional extra to consider is the facility to
add nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit mid cycle. Adding mid cycle ensures there is an even spread
throughout the loaf, rather than it all sinking to the bottom. Some machines will simply "beep" to let
you know it is time to manually add the fruit or nuts. Others come with an integral dispenser that
automatically adds the ingredients at the correct time in the cycle.
Finally, think about when you will be baking. Do you want to wake up to a fresh loaf? Perhaps you
would like your bread to be ready when you come home from work or collecting the kids from
school. In this case you need a bread maker with a timer. Check out whether the timer on the
machine you are considering lets you start the machine at a particular time or whether you need to
program it to have the bread ready at a specific time, as timer operation does vary from
manufacturer to manufacturer.
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Bread Making Machine
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