When it comes to baking bread, there are plenty of brilliant tools that you can lend a helping hand. Some people still prefer the traditional way of doing things and opt for a hand kneading and oven combination to get the job done. Others – who often don’t have the luxury of time – opt for a bread maker. Some might even prefer to use a stand mixer. While both of these appliances are extremely helpful in the kitchen, bread machines and stand mixers are worlds apart from one another. That said, there is one thing they do have in common: they both make the bread-making process a breeze.
A bread maker will turn all your ingredients into a freshly baked loaf without you ever needing to lift a finger. These amazing machines can do everything from mixing, kneading, rising, and baking. A stand mixer, on the other hand, mixes ingredients to make the raw dough and requires slightly more input from the baker.
If you are not sure which one is right for you, then keep reading to find out which is better; bread maker vs stand mixer?
What is a Bread Machine?
First things first, let’s get back to basics.
A bread machine is a small kitchen appliance that is used to make bread. These appliances might not be as new as you might first think. The first bread machine was actually invented in the late 1800s by Joseph Lee who was a pioneer in the automatic bread kneading machine.
Panasonic made the bread machine popular in the late 1980s with its automatic bread maker. Since then, bread makers have grown massively in popularity and have made the art of making bread accessible to all without needing to be an expert baker.
Bread machines come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one common goal; to make hassle-free, fresh bread. They can be round, square, or rectangular in shape and usually have a viewing window so you can see the bread as it’s being made.
Bread machines usually have a variety of programs that you can choose from, depending on what type of bread you want to make. There are programs for making white bread, whole wheat bread, French Bread, gluten-free, pizza dough, and even cake!
Bread makers are fully automated and take all of the guesswork out of making bread – you simply put in the ingredients and press the start button. The bread machine will mix, knead, rise and bake bread without you needing to lift a finger.
The bread pan doubles up as the baking tin and the kneading blade kneads the dough for you. All you need to do is add the ingredients, press start, and walk away.
Bread makers most often come with a recipe book that has all sorts of recipes for different types of bread, so you’ll never get bored of making the same thing over and over again.
How Do Bread Makers Work?
Think about how time-consuming it is to make a loaf of bread by hand. Measuring the ingredients out, mixing them together, kneading the dough for 20 minutes, waiting for it to rise, and then baking it takes the best part of a day to do. The end result is a delicious bread loaf accompanied by a pair of sore biceps.
Now, imagine being able to make a fresh loaf of bread with the press of a button. That’s what a bread maker does!
A bread maker takes all of the hard work out of making bread. It does everything for you; from mixing to kneading to rising and baking.
Bread makers work by using a combination of heat and moisture to create the perfect environment for bread making. The kneading blade will mix the ingredients together and then the bread maker will knead the dough for you.
The baking pan is round and has a non-stick coating, which helps to make removing the bread from the pan really easy. The baking process usually takes around 2 to 3 hours, but it will depend on the type of bread you are making.
The process is easy, clip the kneading blade in place, add your ingredients to the bread pan and lock it into the bread machine. Most machines let you pick a loaf size, so you can make either a small, medium or large loaf. Choose the program that matches the recipe you are using and press start. In no time at all, you’ll have a delicious, fresh loaf of bread to enjoy!
I have dedicated a whole article on how breadmakers work if you want a little bit more information on the bread-making process.
Pros of a Bread Maker
I personally can’t live without my bread machine so I will sing its praises all day long. Here are a few major advantages of a bread machine.
- It saves time. I can’t stress enough how much time a bread machine saves. Making bread by hand needs your attention constantly, whereas with a bread maker you can literally walk away from it and forget about it until you hear the beep.
- It saves on labor. It takes a lot of effort on your part to make bread by hand. A bread machine is a robot, let it do all the hard work for you.
- It saves money. Bread makers can cost as little as $60, so you have no excuse not to buy one. It is an upfront cost, but if you buy a lot of store-bought bread, it will save you money in the long run.
- It’s versatile. Not many people know this but there are other uses for a bread machine that isn’t bread. You can make jam, yogurt, rice, meatloaf, cake, mochi, you name it. This little machine can do it all.
- Gives you control. Take a quick look at the ingredients list on the back of a bread packet. Shocking, right? There are so many additives in store-bought bread that it will make your head spin. With a bread machine, you control every ingredient that goes into your loaf. This is extremely useful for people will allergies or who are gluten-free.
- Consistent results. You know what you are getting with a bread machine.
- Easy to use. It’s a simple and user-friendly process. You don’t need to be a professional baker to make a perfect loaf.
- Allows you to prepare ahead of time. The delayed timer has to be one of my favorite features on bread makers. This feature lets you set your bread maker to have the bread ready for exactly when you need it. Something a stand mixer cannot offer.
Cons of a Bread Maker
I don’t have anything bad to say about bread machines but I need to be impartial for the sake of this blog, so here goes!
- Noisy. I must admit this is a little annoying. They do have the tendency to be a little loud, especially when they are kneading the dough. I am yet to find a silent bread maker.
- One loaf at a time. We can’t have it all, unfortunately, so if you want to make multiple loaves at once, the bread machine can’t offer this. Having said that, the Breadman BK2000B is the only machine on the market that can make two loaves at once!
- No personality. Yes, you can add in fruit and nuts if you want, but one thing the bread maker lacks is personality. You can’t shape the loaf any way you want and make cool designs. You also can’t make individual loaves. But one thing you can do is to use the bread machine to knead the dough, shape it any way you like, and bake it in the oven.
What is a Stand Mixer?
A stand mixer is a kitchen appliance that has been used in the United States since the 1900s. It is something every baker must have and you’ll struggle to find a household without one.
A stand mixer is a kitchen appliance that is used to mix, knead and whip ingredients. It has a bowl that sits on the base and the attachments are clipped in just above the bowl.
Many different attachments can be fitted to the mixer, such as a dough hook, whisk, or beater. The beater is used to make cake and cupcake batter, the whisk is used to whip things like egg whites or heavy cream and the dough hook is used to knead bread dough.
When it comes to making bread, the dough hook has this amazing ability to mimic the hand kneading motion, so you don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. Most stand mixers now use planetary motion to knead the dough more efficiently.
A stand mixer is a brilliant tool but other than kneading the dough, the rest of the bread-making process is down to you. The mixer doesn’t automate the process but it does take over the kneading part, which is arguably the most tedious and tiring part of making bread by hand.
So, once the dough has been kneaded, you’ll need to remove it from the bowl, let it rise, and bake it in the oven.
How To Use a Stand Mixer
To use a stand mixer, you first need to fit the attachment that you want to use. The bowl is fitted onto the base and then the attachments are clipped in just above the bowl.
To knead the dough, add your dough hook and tip all your ingredients into the bowl. Turn your mixer on a low speed and let it knead the dough. This can take anything between 10 to 20 minutes. After 10 minutes check if your dough is ready by using the windowpane test.
When the dough is ready, tip it out on a floured surface, give it one last knead with your hands and shape it into a bowl. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with cling film. Let it rise at room temperature or in a warm oven until doubled in size.
When doubled in size, knock the dough back, shape it any way you want and let it rise one last time for around 30 minutes to one hour.
Preheat your oven to 350F and bake until golden brown.
As you can see, the stand mixer offers less hands-on kneading time, but you are still in charge of the whole bread-making process, which doesn’t make it any different from making the dough by hand.
Pros of a Stand Mixer
- Versatile. You can’t get a more versatile kitchen appliance than a stand mixer. You can make cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bread, mashed potatoes, you name it.
- Offers lots of attachments. This ties in with its versatility. If you get a more advanced stand mixer with a universal hub like KitchenAid, you can attach pasta rollers, blenders, meat grinders, and vegetable spiralizers.
- Batch baking. Stand mixers allow you to make more than one loaf at once.
- More control over your loaf. You can shape the loaf any way you want, make smaller individual loaves, and add all your favorite ingredients.
Cons of a Stand Mixer
- Doesn’t save much time. It doesn’t really save much time on baking as you still need to do most things by hand.
- It only kneads dough. It doesn’t rise the dough and it doesn’t bake the dough. The only thing you get out of your stand mixer is kneading.
- Needs attention. Much like making bread by hand, it needs your full attention. You can’t just walk away and expect the dough to bake itself.
- Things can go wrong. Again, similar to making the dough by hand, if you’re not careful, things can go wrong. Dough that’s too wet or dry can ruin your bread and the mixer might overmix your ingredients if you’re not paying attention.
Bread Maker vs Stand Mixer: The In-Depth Comparison
The cost of things becomes a definitive factor when making a purchase, and this is especially true when it comes to appliances that you may only use every once in a while.
There are always budget-friendly options and high-end options on everything we buy and this is no different from the two appliances we are comparing today.
There are many budget-friendly stand mixers as there are budget-friendly bread makers. You can find a bread maker for as little as $60 all the way up to $450. The cheapest stand mixer will also cost around the same, but a high-end one can set you back at almost $800.
So, there is no winner in this category as how much you choose to spend on a kitchen appliance is a personal preference.
Ease of Use
A bread machine is extremely easy to use – simply add your ingredients, press a button and wait for your bread to be ready.
Stand mixers are also easy to use, but as we’ve mentioned before, it requires a lot of effort on your part which can be daunting for a first-time user.
Winner: Bread Maker
This is where the bread maker really shines. How long a bread maker takes to make bread really depends on the type of bread maker you have and the type of bread you are making. Typically, a bread machine won’t take longer than 3 or so hours to make a regular white loaf. Whole wheat or gluten-free can take a bit longer but not by much.
A stand mixer takes around 20 minutes to knead the dough and after that, it will need around 2 hours to rise, depending on how hot or warm the climate is in your kitchen. This doesn’t take into account measuring out the ingredients or needing to activate the yeast beforehand which can add another 15 minutes on top of that.
The second proof needs to be around 1 hour and by that time you have wasted almost half your morning. By the time you have baked your bread, you might have wasted a total of 5 or so hours on it. But, this all depends on a lot of factors so it is possible to make bread in less time than that.
Purely on the fact that the bread maker does everything without human intervention, I think it’s only fair to give the point.
Winner: Bread Maker
As you can see from what we’ve discussed above, both gadgets are really versatile. Bread makers can do so much more than what its name suggests and a stand mixer, with the help of additional attachments, can go from whipping up meringues one minute and the next rolling out sheets of pasta.
Although bread makers do have cake and jam settings, I wouldn’t necessarily use them for any other purpose other than to just make bread. I think it’s great that a bread maker can offer all these amazing additional settings and uses, but if I were to make a cake, I would definitely reach for my stand mixer.
Winner: Stand Mixer
Which One Should You Get?
My honest answer? Both. If you are a dedicated baker, you need both of these machines in your life. I use my bread machine just as much as I use my stand mixer and I can’t live without them.
A bread machine is great if you want a fuss-free option for making bread from start to finish. It is fully automated and does all the hard work.
If you like to make bread by hand but need some help with the kneading, then a stand mixer would do you just fine. But, if you could only pick one, I would definitely go for the bread machine. It is far superior at making bread than a bread machine and you’ll have consistently great bread every single time.