There was a time when everything had to be made by hand, when appliances were limited and you had to make most of your foods by yourself, which meant a lot of time and effort on your part. Luckily, nowadays, you can use your time for something more appealing than cooking, due to all the help you can get in the kitchen from smart and intuitive appliances such as the bread machine. You can forget about kneading and rising thanks to this helpful little fellow that can give you the fluffiest loaf of bread with minimum effort. However, despite all the obvious advantages, there are still people who wonder whether or not a bread maker is really a necessity or more of caprice. We hope we will clear this mystery for everyone in the following lines.
- 1 Bread machine or the oven?
- 2 The electricity costs of a bread machine
- 3 Does the bread turn out tastier and healthier?
- 4 The downsides of bread machines
- 5 What to look for in a bread machine
- 6 Conclusion
Bread machine or the oven?
This choice depends on what are your criteria, whether you refer to the time and effort involved, the taste, the recipe, or the maintenance. Bread machines are time-savers, no matter how you look at the problem. All you have to do is add the ingredients in a specific order, push a button, and allow it to do the kneading, rising, and baking. It’s ten times simpler than hand kneading and it surely means less time in the kitchen. However, some people are not happy with the idea of letting a machine do all the work for them and state that the oven delivers more delicious bread.
- The first invoked reason is the flour used, which influences the texture of the resulted loaf. Most recipes require special machine flour but in many cases, plain flour was good enough to make bread in the bread machine. The texture is also influenced by the space available for the dough to rise and bake, which is more limited in a bread maker than in the oven. Therefore, the machine loaf is heavier and denser than the oven loaf that tends to be softer and lighter.
- In terms of the time and effort from your part, the bread machine scores bigger points because it practically does all the hard work for you. It’s also more intuitive because it is set at exact times for each part of the bread-making process, from mixing to rising and eventually baking.
- A bread machine is also more useful due to the multitude of included programs and features it comes with. It doesn’t limit you to baking bread, it also allows you to knead the dough for pizza, for example, bake a cake, make jam or yogurt. Yes, you read right: a good bread machine comes with programs that let you cook other things aside from bread.
The electricity costs of a bread machine
The main concern regarding using a bread maker is the energy consumption that will add to the already-long monthly bill. With all the other more essential appliances that require energy in order to work, it’s common sense to wonder if you really need the bread machine to add to the cost. Fortunately, this is a concern you can take off your mind because the bread machine reviews we have analyzed ensure that the majority of the models available on the market are designed to save energy and to use only a small amount during an average baking program. Most models use less energy than a coffee machine, no matter how surreal that might sound. If you use it for, let’s say, 15 hours a week, it will consume around 9kwh per month.
Since we have reached the financial field and money saving, it’s useful to say that you can also save money from not buying bread that is more expensive than the one made at home. Regular white bread costs around $2, while gluten-free bread can reach $5-7, and you eat around 80 loaves of bread per year. Flour is less expensive, and so is yeast, and these are the basic ingredients you need in order to make bread. This also applies to gluten-free bread made at home, which turns out to be more affordable than the one in stores. Meaning you will be saving around $80 to $300 per person every year. If you do the math for a family of 3 or 4, it will sum up to around $1000 a year, which is an attractive amount.
Does the bread turn out tastier and healthier?
Although it’s a matter of taste, you can decide for yourself whether or not you will like the homemade bread more than the store-bought one. First of all, you have the choice of ingredients, meaning you can adjust the recipe to your own taste. You can add nuts, oils, even milk to the loaf so that you will enjoy more flavors. Secondly, there is the health matter that should concern all of us. It’s not a secret that the bread we buy contains dangerous additives, preservatives, and other ingredients that shouldn’t be in our daily diet. With the help of a bread machine, your bread will only include the basic ingredients which are flour, yeast, and water. Therefore, you will surely improve your eating habits.
The downsides of bread machines
Now that we have analyzed the good sides of having a bread machine, it’s time to take a look at the not so good ones, because we can’t actually call them “bad sides”.
- The first impediment is the fact that you can’t always control how the recipe goes. The bread can collapse, it could not rise evenly, the interior could be gummy or it could turn out to be too heavy. All these are aspects that have to do with the choice of ingredients and the correct amounts. Since you add them to the pan and turn it on, you can’t check on the texture and add more later, once the cycle has turned on. Also, it’s essential that you place the ingredients in the correct order, as specified in the recipe.
- Another con is that the majority of the models are bulky, almost as large as a food processor, so it means more space taken on the counter. Unless you have a storage room for it, it will soon start to bother you.
- Compared to the oven, the bread maker is a little noisy during the kneading process, which could be a downside if, let’s say, you set it to start baking early in the morning so that it will be ready by the time you get up.
What to look for in a bread machine
If it’s the first time you are digging into the specifications and features of a bread machine, chances are you won’t know which are the things to pay attention to in order to make the best choice. After analyzing your needs and deciding you really want this helpful asset in your kitchen, it’s time to have a look at the important aspects that weigh in buying the best model for you.
1. Loaf size
Depending on how much bread you normally eat and the number of family members, you can pick the right machine to meet your needs. You can choose from the small 1-lb size or the family-size 2-lb loaf, meaning you will always be able to bake the perfect size of loaf. Most people go for the large version and adjust the recipe by reducing the ingredients so that they will be able to bake both size versions.
2. Number of programs
Most models come with different bread cycles, including regular, French, whole wheat, sweet, or gluten-free bread. But you don’t need a bread machine only for making bread, you can also use it for other stuff like cakes or simply kneading dough that you will be using for donuts, cinnamon rolls, or homemade pasta. What’s really amazing is that you can use the non-stick pan to make jams or yogurt with the specially-designed cycles.
3. Crust choice
The freedom of choice in baking the perfect loaf of bread goes all the way to the crust. You can opt for the lighter and softer crust or you can choose the dark crust that will add some crisp to every slice of bread.
4. Accessories included
A good bread making machine comes with all the required accessories, from kneading paddles to measuring cups. This way, the success of making fine bread is guaranteed. Keep in mind that models with a horizontal pan come with two kneading paddles to ensure proper mixing of the ingredients.
Some people don’t have too much room on their counter for any bread machine size, so the dimensions and shape matter a lot when choosing one. Some models have a rectangular vertical pan so that the shape of the machine is more compact, hence it takes less space in the kitchen. Other models have a horizontal pan so that the overall design is larger.
6. Added features
Basic programs come with all the models, but there are other features that add to the convenience of a bread machine. The delay start, for example, allows you to set the time when you want it to make bread so that you will come home to freshly-baked bread or you can find it steaming hot in the morning. If you want to add seeds, fruits or nuts, go for a model that allows you to do so with the help of a dispenser that adds them at the right time during the recipe. There are also fast baking programs that reduce the time for when you are in a hurry.
Let’s face it, any item that makes our life easier and allows us to enjoy more time for ourselves is a must-have. Therefore, no wonder the bread machine has gained so much popularity over time. If you are still debating whether or not you need one at home, you might make up your mind and buy one once you check out all the advantages it comes with.