If you are going to invest in one kitchen gadget this year, we recommend that you make it a bread maker!
Purists can look on them as a bit of a cheat. If you’re accustomed to making bread by hand, you may be a bit sceptical about the need to replace your own kneading, proving, knocking back and shaping with a machine. But if time is limited and you still want to fill the house with wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread, it’s time you got yourself a bread maker!
Filling your house with the smell of home baked bread is a great reason to invest, but it doesn’t stop there. Bread makers get our vote because you can:
- Avoid the additives, preservatives and high salt levels that can lurk in shop-bought loaves.
- Make bread to suit different dietary requirements – if you have a gluten intolerance for example, you can make delicious breads at a fraction of the cost of shop bought versions.
- Decide what goes into your recipe. That means you can get rid of the harmful stuff and give your bread a healthy boost by adding your favourite seeds and nuts.
- Save energy – bread makers use less energy than baking in a domestic oven
The first bread maker appeared on the market in the 1980s, designed by the company now known as Panasonic. They have come along way in the last 40 years, but Panasonic still make some of the best machines on the market.
Versatile and simple-to-use kitchen appliances, bread makers take the time and the guesswork out of baking your own loaves. The newest models can make a range of bread types, from basic white loaves to hearty wholemeal loaves and fruit breads. Some models also feature settings for pizza dough and brioche. You can now do an awful lot with this handy machine.
What should you look for when buying a bread maker?
There are a number of features that some bread makers have which really enhance the range of bakes you can do. Many of them come at little extra cost.
1. Delay timer
This means that ingredients can be added to the mixing bowl hours before you actually want the bake to start. You can do the prep at a time convenient to you and have freshly baked bread exactly when you need it. Great if you want bread when you get home from work, or want to wake up to a fresh loaf.
2. Automatic ingredient dispenser
This is a small dispenser where add-ins such as seeds, nuts, fruit and others, are held. No need to stop the kneading process and manually add the ingredients, the bread maker will do it for you at the right time.
Warm, freshly baked bread is a wonderful thing. A keep-warm setting will keep your bread warm for up to an hour after the programme has finished. Not essential, but a great added extra in a machine.
4. Speciality bread setting
Where all bread makers will have the standard white and wholemeal settings, many of them come with much more. To make the most of your machine look out for bread makers that make brioche, pizza dough, spelt, rye and gluten-free breads.
5. Check the size!
Bread makers are quite bulky, so you need to make sure you’ve got enough counter space and the space to store them when you’re not using them. Make sure you check the size dimensions before you invest.
How much should I pay for a bread maker?
Bread makers vary greatly in cost, from £40 to about £250. It can sometimes be tricky to decide just how much to spend.
Consider what’s important to you when deciding how much to spend. A higher price tends to mean more features, greater versatility and often a longer life span. What it doesn’t necessarily mean is that it makes better bread!
If all you want to do is to make white or wholemeal loaves, a good quality machine around £100 mark will fit the bill very nicely. If you want to experiment with different flours and recipes, such as spelt breads, brioche and pizza doughs, then you will need a more expensive appliance.
We have reviewed the bread makers on the market and have come up with our top picks
Top picks for budget bread makers for basic bakes
Russell Hobbs 23620 Compact Fast Breadmaker
Functions: 13-hour delay, keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam and compote, fast bake, three sizes of loaf up to 1kg
This is a relatively small machine which means it is ideal for a small kitchen and still makes a great 1Kg loaf.
Smart black appearance, clear instructions, a variety of functions and good baking results – it ticks all the boxes.
Dimensions: 32.2 x 29 x 30 centimetres
Lakeland white compact 1lb daily loaf bread maker
Functions: 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, fast bake, dough, cake, one loaf size (500g)
The smallest bread makers we would recommend.
An ideal choice if you’re short on space and don’t have lots of mouths to feed. You could keep on the kitchen counter and use daily.
Bakes a a really good 500g loaf. Simple functions, no fuss or frills.
Morphy Richards Homebake Breadmaker 502001
Functions: 14 different settings. 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, fast bake, french, cake, yoghurt.
Has a viewing window, so you can see how your loaf is coming along.
Slight negative… It doesn’t come with an ingredient dispenser but does make a noise when it’s time to add extra ingredients.
Dimensions: 36 x 26.5 x 28.5 centimetres
Top picks for premium bread makers
Panasonic SD-ZB2512KXC Bread Maker
Functions: 37 programmes from baked goods, to doughs for pizza and pasta. It also does jam! 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, brioche, sourdough, fast bake
Ingredient dispenser, so it can add other ingredients or yeast later on during the mixing process.
This model doesn’t have a viewing window, which we were a little disappointed about, so you can’t check on the progress of your loaves.
Dimensions: H38.2, W25.6, D38.9 cms
Panasonic SD-2511WXC Fully Automated Breadmaker with Nut Dispenser
Functions: 37 programmes. 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, brioche, sourdough, fast bake. Creates a wide variety of different breads, cakes, scones and jams
Can use a variety of wet ingredients including cheese, olives and sundried tomatoes
Great for Family use
Dimensions: H38.2, W25.6, D38.9 cm
Take a look!
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You may also want to take a look at our range of top quality baker’s ingredients