Although bread makers are not exactly a necessity in the kitchen, they undoubtedly make the process of making delicious homemade dough effortless. They are ridiculously easy to use and they do all the hard work for you, it’s no wonder why so many people invest in a bread machine.
But are bread makers worth it?
Let’s find out!
Why Use a Bread Maker?
There is one simple benefit to using a bread maker and that’s because they are ridiculously convenient. If you have a busy lifestyle or are new to baking yet want your house to flood with the aroma of a homemade loaf, then bread makers are ideal.
You simply add the water, flour, oil, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bread tin, press the start button, and it does all the hard work for you. In a few hours, you will have freshly made bread and all you had to do was put the ingredients in the pan. No arm aching work at all, your trusty bread machine will mix the ingredients, knead the dough, rise, and bake your bread to perfection.
Many bread machines also have a delayed timer which makes it even more convenient. A delayed timer means that you can put all the ingredients in the machine and set it to start baking up to 13 hours later. You can even do this before you go to sleep and you will wake up to freshly baked bread every morning!
Another great reason to own a bread machine is that they can do more than just knead dough. You can make cakes, jams, pastries, pizza dough and many more in bread makers! Who would have thought bread makers would be so multifunctional?!
Are Bread Makers Worth it: Machine v Hand
Kneading dough by hand can take up a lot of time and leave you with a stiff arm. Sure, you could use a hand mixer for kneading bread dough, although the bread machine does all the hard work for you. Even if you just use your bread maker to knead the dough and then do the rest by hand then it’s still worth it.
It is also very easy for things to go wrong when kneading dough by hand. You can over-knead it, or not knead it enough, which will ruin the texture of your loaf. Bread makers knead dough the right amount of time and prove it at the right temperature, so chances of things going wrong are very slim (as long as you measure your ingredients right).
Making bread by hand gives you the freedom to shape your bread any way you want. You can braid it, knot it, make small bread rolls or just shape it into a nice round loaf.
A bread machine will only make a rectangular loaf or square loaf, depending on the size of the pan. If your bread tin is horizontal you might be able to shape your bread into a braid or two small rolls. But generally, you are very limited in how you can shape your loaf in the bread machine.
In terms of adding extra ingredients, it’s easy to do this by hand and through a bread machine. Many modern bread makers automatically dispense ingredients such as dried nuts, fruits, or herbs during the kneading stage.
By hand, you simply incorporate your extra ingredients before the second rise. Add your favorite ingredients, shape your dough and set it aside for the second rise.
Bread machines do not make bread any faster than making bread by hand. Bread machines can take 3 to 5 hours, depending on the type of loaf you are making. Bread by hand, including kneading, proving, shaping and baking can also take up to 3 hours. So you won’t be saving yourself on time with a bread maker.
That said, many bread machines do have a ‘quick’ or ‘rapid’ bake which is useful if you are in a rush, but the quality of the loaf will not be great. You can’t rush the art of making bread!
You might be thinking what is the point in getting a bread machine when you can just bake bread in the oven. Baking bread in the oven is much more efficient especially if you want to make more than one loaf.
A bread machine will only yield one loaf at a time. If you want to make multiple loaves with your bread machine then you’ll either have to get multiple machines or have it constantly working away!
An oven is great as it has more space and shelves, making batch baking much easier and efficient.
Top baking tip: If you want to make multiple loaves but don’t want to spend time kneading and proving, let the bread machine knead the dough for you and bake your loaves in the oven.
I think we can all agree the crust is the best part of homemade bread. There is certainly a fight for it in my house! Unless you get a bread machine with a top heating function, then you won’t get a good quality crust to your bread as you would out of an oven. The top crust especially doesn’t get much heat when baking in the bread machine, so it can come out very soft, or even soggy, depending on how good your machine is.
This can easily be fixed by letting your bread machine do most of the work for you but before it starts baking, remove your dough and bake it in the oven. This will ensure that you get perfectly kneaded dough with the perfect crust.
Bread Maker v Store Bought Bread
If you have a look at your bread package, you will see in the ingredients list that there is the obvious flour, sugar, and yeast, but there are also loads of other ingredients that you have probably never heard of. Store-bought bread contains so many additives, preservatives, and salt to make it bake faster and have a longer shelf life, and therefore making it quite unhealthy.
With homemade bread, you can control the quality and quantity of the ingredients that go into your loaf. If you want to reduce your salt intake then you can choose not to put salt in your dough, or you can substitute sugar with honey. These things are not possible to do when you buy bread from the supermarket.
Store-bought bread is not as healthy and the quality is not that great. When you make bread in a bread machine you get the quality you desire each time by choosing what ingredients go in the bread pan.
What is cheaper, buying bread or making bread? This really depends on the type of bread you buy from the grocery store. If you buy the cheapest loaf you can get your hands on then you won’t make your money back any time soon if you invest in a bread maker.
Bread makers can cost $60 to $400 and even more. Bread loaves can range between $1.50 all the way up to $6. The cheapest flour can cost around $1.05 to the more expensive flour which can cost up to $5. Whether it is worth buying a bread maker in terms of the price depends on how much bread you will be making, the type of bread maker you will get and the type of ingredients you use.
Bread makers that are worth the investment
Ready to get your hands on your first bread machine? There are loads of great machines to choose from, all with different features and price points. To help you on your hunt, here are a few machines that get my seal of approval.
This Breville bread maker is one of the best in the market and definitely my personal favorite. It has 13 settings, ranging from a basic loaf setting, whole wheat, yeast-free and even jam. It’s one of the most versatile bread makers out there with 3 crust settings and 4 loaf sizes ranging between 1 to 2.5 pounds.
If you love nuts and dried fruit in your bread, you will love the dispenser. It allows you to add the dried fruit or nuts into the little compartment at the top of the machine and it will automatically release the ingredients during the kneading process. Many bread makers don’t have an automatic dispenser, so this is a great feature.
Another great feature is the collapsible paddle. One of the biggest downfalls of using a bread maker is the large paddle hole it creates at the bottom of the loaf. You can remove the paddle from the bread machine manually, but it is a bit of an inconvenience. Breville has tried to tackle this pet peeve by creating collapsible paddles that collapse automatically before the baking process.
Because this is one of my favorite bread makers, I have dedicated a whole review to it, so if you want to find out more, take a look at my Breville BBM800XL review.
- Stainless Steel
- 13 settings and adjustable times/temperature
- 4 loaf sizes
- Collapsible paddle
- Automatic dispenser
- LCD screen
- Built in light
- Power failure back up
- 46 step by step recipes in manual
- Delayed timer
- Big and bulky
- A little bit noisy
- No top heating element
Zojirushi Home Virtuoso Bread Maker
Another great machine, the Zojirushi bread maker. It might look a little outdated, but what it lacks in style, it makes up in performance. The feature that really stands out from the Zojirushi is its dual paddle mechanism. Most bread makers tend to have one paddle in the center of the bread pan. This machine has two.
Dual paddle action means ingredients are mixed and kneaded more efficiently and effectively. The top heating element is another great feature that many bread makers lack. This top heating ability means your bread will bake and have an even color all over.
Most bread machines tend to have just a bottom heating element and the bread comes out uneven color, so having this top heating element is great.
- Large, rectangular loaf tin
- 10 pre programmed settings
- Top heating element
- Removable paddles
- Adjustable timing
- Quieter than other bread makers
- Quick bake cycle
- Delayed timer
- Old design
- No dispenser
Cuisinart is a very respected brand and brings out some of the best kitchen appliances. This bread maker is no different. It is sleek, minimal and won’t break the bank with its very budget-friendly price tag. It is made out of durable stainless steel, has 16 pre-programmed settings and 3 crust options.
The large viewing window allows you to take a peek at your bread while you patiently wait for it to bake and the LCD screen lets you navigate through all the settings with ease. It has 3 loaf sizes and boasts 100 bread, dough, cake and jam combinations.
- 16 pre programmed settings
- 3 crust settings
- Power failure back up
- Stay cool handles
- 12 hour delay
- LCD screen with big viewing window
- Long bake cycles
- No dispenser
So, are bread makers worth it? Definitely! They are ultra-convenient, they do all the hard work for you and guarantee perfectly baked bread every time with no effort whatsoever. Who doesn’t want that?
The quality of a loaf from a bread maker beats store-bought bread any day of the week. You just don’t get the same quality from bread that comes out of a package compared to the fresh, warm loaf that comes out of your maker.
Truth be said, a bread maker does take away the element of personal touch if you were to make your bread by hand. Making bread is a skill and you definitely feel like you have achieved something if you make the perfect loaf by hand. But if you are a busy person who wants to wake up to a warm, fluffy, soft loaf every morning then a bread maker is worth every penny!