Since not everyone is familiar with how a bread maker functions, here are a few features that play an important role and you should be aware of. These features will help you bake the best bread that you must have ever tasted. Let’s learn about them in detail.
1. Bread Maker Types
There are two types of bread makers available in the market. They are as follows:
a. Vertical Bread Makers
Unlike the regular-shaped bread, these bread makers bake bread that is tall and looks like a brick. You simply get a loaf of bread with a fluffy top. These bread makers come with one kneading paddle and are the best choice for those who are looking for a compact and affordable option.
It is very important to use the right set of ingredients to prepare tasty and fluffy loaves of bread. Try using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, and of course, active yeast.
b. Horizontal Bread Makers
If you like to bake good-looking loaves of bread, we would suggest you to buy a horizontal bread maker. The loaves of bread that are baked in these machines look like the ones that you buy from a grocery store.
The horizontal bread makers come with a set of two kneading paddles. You can bake all kinds of bread here, including all-purpose flour loaves and gluten-free loaves.
2. Bread Pan or Loaf size
The capacity of bread that you intend to make varies from family to family. Buying a small-sized pan might not be sufficient for a large family. On the other hand, baking too much bread at once can lead to wastage too.
Here is a rough estimation that can help you determine the pan size that you should look for:
- 500 grams of bread pan gives 8 slices
- 700 grams of bread pan gives 12 slices
- 1000 grams of bread pan gives 16 slices
- 1200 grams of bread pan gives 20 slices
3. Pan Material
You get either thin aluminum or heavy cast aluminum pans to make bread. The type of pan used determines the crust of your bread. Machines that use thin aluminum pans make light and thin crusts whereas the machines that use thick-cast pans make dark and thick crusts.
Knowing the right type of bread that you would like to make in the bread making machine can help you buy the best one for you.
If you plan to bake only white bread, you can go for a simple model as it requires only the basic cycle to get the best results.
However, if you plan to make the bread using wheat, whole grains, and sourdough or if you want to bake French bread or pizza dough, you might want to buy a machine with extra “cycles.”
Whole wheat or whole grain cycles give you denser loaves as they allow longer rising times. French bread cycles, on the other hand, decrease the kneading time and accommodates extra time for rising.
5. Pre-programmed Settings
Almost all the bread-making machines come with a set of pre-programmed settings. Some of the most common settings available are whole wheat bread, gluten-free bread, pizza dough, sourdough bread with different crust options.
You can access these settings from the control panel. However, the important point here that needs to be considered is whether these settings can be modified or not.
A programmable model lets you customize the baking course and adjust the kneading, rising, baking times as per your wish.
Since not everyone is an expert when it comes to operating these pre-programmed settings, most of the high-quality bread machines come with an elaborative manual guide. All the functions are explained in detail in this guide.
6. Time to Bake A Single Loaf
One of the major concerns of any user is how long does it take to make a single loaf of bread. No one prefers buying a machine that takes forever to cook, especially when you are in a hurry.
It takes around 3-4 hours for a regular white bread cycle including mix/knead, rise, punch down, rise, and bake time. The baking time varies depending on the type of bread that you are baking. Whole wheat bread takes a long time to bake than regular white bread.
7. Automatic Dispenser
There are certain types of bread where you need to add a few ingredients in the later steps like dry fruits or nuts. For this, some models feature automatic dispensers. Here, you can add the ingredients in the starting itself and when the right time arrives, the door of the dispenser opens automatically and dispenses the ingredients to the bread.
However, not many models have this automatic dispenser. Instead, the users have to rely on the beep sound. When the right time arrives, you can open the machine and add all the extra ingredients.
8. Delayed Timer
It is a very popular and useful feature in all the bread-making machines. Some models even offer timers that can be set 13 hours in advance. If you prefer eating freshly baked bread in the morning as breakfast, you can set the timer in the night and get a fresh loaf of bread as soon as you wake up.
9. Bread Pan
In all the good and high-quality bread making machines, you get a non-stick bread pan. This bread pan includes a set of kneading paddle, rotating shaft, and a handle that can be used to lift the pan.
Some bread making machines also comes with the detachable bread tin. This feature is helpful while you are cleaning the machine.
A removable bread pan with handles also makes it easy to remove the loaf of the bread from the machine. Using this, you can simply remove the whole bread tin and keep the loaf aside to cool down.
You must take good care of the bread pan and keep it clean. Try to use plastic utensils to protect the non-stick surface of the pan and later wash it gently using your hands.
10. Kneading Paddles
Kneading paddles are present at the bottom of the bread tin and are helpful in kneading the dough. While most machines come with a single paddle, you can find double paddles in wide pans.
Some brands even offer special kneading paddles for making pasta along with normal paddles. Apart from this, some machines with a single paddle also offer an additional paddle.
One thing that you should check for is whether these paddles are removable or not. It is important because sometimes you might have to detach the paddles before starting to bake to avoid having holes in the loaf of bread. Some machines even have a special feature that provides a signal to remove the paddles.
The paddle is a part of bread making machine that is easily prone to wear out and needs to be replaced after a couple of years. You can check with the manufacturers regarding the availability of the kneading paddle.
11. Bread Ready Alert
In most of the top-rated bread machines, you will find an alert sound feature. As soon as the bread is ready, you will hear a beep sound.
This feature is important for every user as you might get busy and forget about checking the machine after a point.
12. “Keep Warm” Option
Some machines have this special feature where you can let your bread stay warm even after it is cooked. It is a useful feature for those who like to eat their bread warm and fresh.
13. Quick Baking
If you don’t have the patience to wait for hours, some machines also offer a quick baking alternative. Here, you can bake a loaf of bread within an hour or so. However, you might notice a drop in the quality of the bread.
14. Gluten-Free Settings
While most of the bread-making machines offer these gluten-free settings, you should check for machines that keep this functionality as a priority if you want only gluten-free bread. While making gluten-free bread, make sure that you clean the baking chamber properly to remove any leftover gluten residue.
15. A Control Panel
Almost all the bread-making machines have an LCD screen with a dial or push buttons. Some models even have preset options like basic white bread, gluten-free, or whole wheat bread. Some LCDs are backlit to assist you with the baking process.
The modern and advanced bread baking machines have microprocessors. They help in ensuring that you bake delicious and evenly-cooked slices of bread all the time.
Unlike older machines that used to feature only simple heating elements, these modern machines with microprocessors make subtle adjustments automatically while the bread is baking.
Machines with a first-rate microprocessor help in getting a consistent result every time.
17. Cool Wall
Most of the good-quality bread making machines also have a cold wall that protects the surface from turning hot while baking the bread. Sometimes the walls get warm, especially if the outer body of the bread maker is made up of stainless steel. Thus, be careful when you are using the machine. While removing the pan after the baking process is done, use a heat protector glove or a towel.
18. Viewing Window
Even though it has nothing to do with the efficiency of the bread making machine, a viewing window can make it interesting for you to watch whatever is happening inside.
It also allows you to monitor the baking process and you can see if the bread is baking fine or if the color of the crust is looking fine or not.
Note: Avoid opening the lid of the machine in between the process to check if the bread is baking fine or not. Doing this can lead to a decrease in temperature inside the machine and this can affect the quality of the bread.
A bread making machine with quiet operation and subtle sound indicators is always preferred, especially if you use the delay timer option frequently.
Some cheaper models generate a loud noise while baking. This is majorly due to the type of materials used to make the machine. Look for a machine that is made using high-quality materials with a strong build-quality.
20. Bread Maker Size
Usually, bread makers are bulky in size and require a dedicated space where you can keep it. When not in use, you should plan for a place for it in advance. Choose a bread maker keeping the size of your kitchen and space in mind.
Look for the height of the cabinets and see if the machine will fit in their or not. If you have space constraints, we would suggest you to go for the compact models.
You need to be very precise with the measurements while making the bread. An extra spoon of any ingredient can mess with the ratio and spoil the entire loaf of bread.
Most of the bread-making machines come with a complimentary measuring spoon and beaker to help you with the measurements.
No matter how beautiful the machine looks or how advanced settings it offers, don’t fall for an option that doesn’t come with a warranty. Most of brands offer a warranty period of 6 months to 2 years. The more the warranty period is, the better it is for the future.
How to use a Bread Maker?
It is quite simple to use a bread maker as most of the options are automatic and the control panel lets you do the adjustments if required. To prepare a loaf of bread, you simply have to add all the ingredients in the correct quantity in the bread pan.
First, add all the liquid ingredients followed by the solid ones.
Generally, it takes several hours to prepare a proper loaf of bread. To get the best results, you must know how to adjust the temperature properly.
Once the loaf of bread is baked properly, you can take it out from the machine and serve it hot.
Advantages of Owning a Bread Machine
It is always a great feeling to bake your own bread and have it fresh. Some of the other advantages of having a bread maker at your home are as follows:
- You can decide what all ingredients you want in the bread.
- If you are on a specific diet, the bread making machine allows you easy access to the type of bread that you must eat.
- If the consumption of bread is high at your home, it will be cheaper, in the long run, to have a machine at home rather than buying it from outside.
- If it is difficult for you to go outside always, having a bread maker at home can be convenient. It also saves you from the painful process of kneading the dough.
- You can adjust gluten or yeast volume keeping your diet and health as a priority.
Tips for Using a Bread Machine
Even though making perfect loaves of bread is not everyone’s cup of tea, regular practice along with the following tips can help you be a pro soon. Read the manual properly and follow the instructions as mentioned. Each machine performs differently. So read properly before using it.
- Add the ingredients in the correct volume and in the correct order. The general rule says liquids first followed by solid ingredients and yeast at the last. Always buy fresh ingredients and then make the bread. Also, don’t go by the assumptions. Rather, take a measuring scale and then add the ingredients.
- Most of the recipes mentioned online are prepared for low elevations. However, if you live in hilly areas or higher elevation, reduce the amount of yeast that you are going to add. In humid areas, water content should be low whereas, in drier areas, you must add a bit of extra water. Use liquids at room temperature.
- Keep monitoring the process. If you feel that the ingredients are not mixing properly, you can use a spoon and get all the ingredients together. Or if you feel that the dough is looking dry, you can add extra water and so on.
- Also, check if the paddle is working fine or it got stuck in the dough. If yes, remove it carefully clean and put it back. It is suggested that before making the bread, you should spray a non-stick cooking spray over the paddle and then use it.
- After making the bread, wash the pan gently as it is made up of non-stick materials.
You might take some time to understand the machine and perfect the art of baking the bread. This is why be patient and follow the recipe properly. If it doesn’t come out well, go through the steps again to learn what went wrong so that you don’t repeat the same mistake again.
Safety and Cautions
Many users don’t consider safety as an important pointer but it is equally important. We have mentioned a few safety tips that you must follow while baking the bread.
- Don’t touch the surface of the bread maker with bare hands. Always use baking gloves or a towel.
- Take care of the cord of the machine and keep it away from any hot surface.
- Once you are done with the baking process, remove the plug from the electric socket and keep it aside.
- Let the bread pan cool down first and then take it for washing.
- Dry your hands properly before using the bread maker. Using wet hands is a strict no-no.
- Don’t place the bread maker near a hot oven, hot gas, or induction.
- If you are facing any issues with the machine, don’t try to repair or disassemble the parts by yourself.
- Keep your kids and pets away from the bread maker.
Like any electric appliance, a bread maker requires some assistance too. Here are a few pointers that can be helpful to you:
- Use Plastic Utensils
Always use plastic utensils while adding the ingredients to the bread pan. Metal utensils can damage the non-stick surface of the pan easily.
- Avoid using dishwashers
Using a dishwasher can cause damage to the non-stick pan. Don’t use any dishwasher. Rather, clean it using lukewarm water and your hands or a soft soapy piece of cloth. If there is something hard stuck on the pan, soak it for some time in the soapy water and then wash it off gently.
Frequently Asked Questions?
The bread maker comprises a container which is non-sticky in nature and one or two kneading paddles which help in the preparation of the dough. Now you will not have to get the dough kneaded by hand and by the time it stops, it will be ready for baking. Once you put it in the baker, the dough will end up rising with perfection to give you the best bread that you created for.
The cheap bread maker will not give you any control over the kind of bread that is being produced because it will not have the customizing options. But if you are going for the expensive one, then you will be able to get several programmability options. Actually, the expensive ones are highly durable and if you are making a good investment, then it will definitely be worth the price.
It does take a little bit of time when you are trying to make a single loaf of bread- around 3 to 4 hours. But it also depends on the kind of bread that is being used to bake the bread- but you should take note that the whole wheat bread takes a lot more time than the white bread. But in the high-end models, it will take a maximum of 58 minutes.
Apart from the normal breadmaking process, you will be able to determine the kind of thickness that the crust should have. It should also help you with various kinds of flours and for getting different types of bread made. Also, there are a number of bread machines with indicators that will help you in adding you whatever you want to add so that they can remain intact even after the baking has been done. In some machines, you will be able to find racks to give a specific shape to the loaf and bring out the perfect consistency to the same.
No, absolutely not! It is a very easy thing to use bread machines and the best factor about it is that it is not at all a messy thing. In fact, the pan is non-sticky so that it will be easier to clean.
It is a question that has been asked by many. It is a sheer concern of a number of people that they cannot determine the perfect size that would be ideal so let us help you out. If you have a small family then you should get a machine that can bake 1-1.5 lbs of bread. If it is a middle-sized family, then 2lbs would be great. And if you need more than 12 slices in a loaf, then 3-5lbs capacity will be convenient for you. But of course, you need to think about the kind of kitchen space that you actually have to buy according to the space availability.
The durability of the product definitely depends on the kind of pressure that is being put on the same. If you use the nonstick pan and the paddles efficiently and clean it every single day, then you will be able to use the product for at least 2 years without any hassles.
It is true that now you can find a lot of features that are fully automated but for the regular use you would not need to use each and every one of them. But in case of special occasions, definitely, you will be entitled to use the same. So instead of the high-end models, it is always a good thing to have the average models of good brands.
You should definitely have some of the settings as mentioned below- Delay timer- for getting the baking done according to your convenience – and the baking will be done even without your presence. Dough Setting- to help you determine the consistency of the dough and the crust thickness. So your handwork burden will be lessened to a great extent. Express Cycle- to make the baking a lot faster. Pre-programming- This is used specifically when you indulge in a variety of bread, and there can be consistency in the quality. Non-stick paddle- So that the dough does not stick to the surface and the kneading can be smooth. Automated timer for nuts and raisin addition- There are machines in which there is a specific compartment for the additives- you just have to pour them in and add the timer- it will put them in time without crushing them.
If you want to indulge only in the two main types of bread, then you should definitely get hold of a normal bread maker. But if you need some more settings, then the cost will also be higher. It is also recommended that create three types of bread like- white bread, whole wheat bread and multigrain. The other specific kinds of dough settings that you can have are gluten free, sour dough and rye.
It depends from person to person- while some people want their bread loaves to be perfect and horizontal in shape, the others might not need their bread shape to be perfect and it can be baked in brick shape as well. On the basis of the space that you have on the countertop, you can have the bread shape option. If the space is small, then you will have to settle for vertical bread shape and if the space is good enough, then the horizontal bread makers can be obtained.