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Buyers’ guide: the bread maker

Bread makerIf you long to enjoy a nice thick slice of warm fresh bread whenever it takes your fancy then the humble bread maker is a device well worth considering. At one point in time, bread makers had a largely cult status, with premium prices often putting off many potential converts from buying them here in the UK.

Today though, the world of making bread at home is a totally different experience and, thanks to increased demand for eating healthy food with clearly defined origins, it’s now easier than ever to compare different models and bread maker reviews to find one that can supply you with your very own freshly baked items.

Bread makers come in all shapes, sizes and configurations, while manufacturers include the likes of Panasonic, Morphy Richards and Kenwood; while in recent years there has been an increase in cheap bread maker models too. Although the cheapest examples you can buy will obviously be lighter on features and specification, they can be worth a look if you’re concerned about high prices.

What does a bread maker do?

A seemingly obvious answer in that your shiny new bread maker will deliver freshly-baked loaves for sure, but the models in production today can also deliver rolls, buns, baps and all manner of other bread-based treats. They can do more than that too though, allowing in many cases for dough to be produced and, in some models, jams too.

Look at any breadmaker when you’re comparing them though and it’s likely they’ll share common characteristics. You’ll have an eye-catching design, hopefully that will be good enough to grace any cooking area for starters. Meanwhile, at the core of any bread maker is the bread pan, or tin, which will feature a paddle for doing all of the hard work.

Your bread maker checklist should include at least a few of the following:

• What can you bake with it?

• How much bread can you bake?

• Can you make different sized bread?

• Can you just mix dough with it?

• Can it mix pasta dough and mix cakes?

• Does it have a flexible timer?

• Is there a delay timer?

Bread making controls and options

The device will also need to have a variety of cooking options, plus a series of controls and settings for cooking your food to the correct requirements. And, naturally, variations on this theme will be the case depending on prices and models that you’re looking to buy. Here's a look at a fairly typical example of a popular bread maker:

 

 

Bread makers first came onto the market in the eighties, and the root of what they do is basically the same today, although with a degree more sophistication and flexibility involved. You’ll generally find that loaves and other produce created in a bread maker will tend to go stale quicker, which is largely down to the lack of preservatives, but it’s likely that this slight downside will be cancelled out by the fact that it’s often too tasty to try and keep anyway.

The great plus point about bread makers is their speed, and the fact that you can set a timer on your chosen device and have the machine do the work while you’re asleep so it’s ready at breakfast time, or cook your loaf while you’re out getting ingredients for the next batch of unsliced heaven.

Modern bread makers can do all that stuff with ease, but many now also offer the added convenience of being able to add selected nuts, seeds and even chocolate chips into your next freshly baked effort.

Bread makers: features to look for

Buying the right model of bread maker can transform the way you cook in the kitchen because today’s models are wonderfully easy to use, and can often carry out a multitude of other chores, such as making pizza dough.

They can also allow you to customise your loaf-making activities with add-on features, such as allowing you to dispense nuts and raisins into your next healthy creation as outlined above.

However, when carrying out a comparison of features, you’ll want to tick off at least a few of the following on top of the points raised earlier:

• Is it easy to keep clean?

• Does it have a viewing window?

• How big is the unit itself?

• What is the weight of it?

• What are the dimensions?

• Is it easy to use?

• Is it energy efficient?

Will my bread maker be easy to use?

Bread makerAlthough a raft of great features is certainly a big way to persuade you to buy a particular model of bread maker, the other highly important aspect of purchasing any device is the ease of use involved in making your bread and other culinary treats. You’ll generally find though that the bread makers of today require minimal attention from yourself once the process has been activated.

Bear in mind you might well need to pay close attention to the ingredients and mixing beforehand though, as a loaf that hasn’t had weights and measures adhered to might emerge as less than desirable. Modern features and adaptable cooking controls can help, but making your own bread needs the basic ingredients to be right too, so be prepared to put a little legwork in before you set that timer.

You’ll certainly come to appreciate the winning formula of the best bread makers on the market as they fill your home with tantalising smells and then reveal their delicious contents, ready for eating. If you’ve invested in a bread maker that has all of the tools and options, then the same can be said for the likes of making pizza dough and even jam in some cases!

Finding the best bread maker

Deciding on the right bread maker generally needs to involve a careful comparison of the features including those we’ve outlined above, but it’s also worth keeping an eye out for deals and offers that might be available too. As older models are surpassed by newer ones with more sophisticated features, there can earlier incarnations of the bread maker up for grabs online.

However, if you’re on the lookout for latest models and aren’t too worried about prices just as long as you can get the feature set that you’re after, then it’s also quick and easy to compare just those devices that meet your search criteria before you buy. This can include everything from the material that the bread maker is constructed from – stainless steel is popular and durable – through to the array of features on offer.

Even if you end up plumping for a pricey but state-of-the-art bread maker, you could actually find that it ends up paying for itself over time. After all, buying bread in supermarkets and shops has become worryingly expensive in the last couple of years, as ingredients and production costs have risen. So, buy yourself a keenly priced bread maker that can earn it’s keep and you could save money along with eating healthier too.

Is a cheap bread maker wise?

While there are certainly deals and offers out there in comparison-land that will get you a bread maker, it has to be said that the cheapest models will have obvious shortcomings. Along with boasting less of a technical specification, you might also want to pay attention to the design aesthetics of the models that you compare.

After all, kitchen appliances can lend a certain air of sophistication to your cooking area, so as long as prices aren't too important to you, then it’s well worth carefully considering the design of the models you look at. Some of the higher end units can be very eye-catching indeed, and if you’re particular about colours then be sure to compare those outside styling flourishes so your shiny bread maker will blend in with the surroundings when you get it home.

And, of course, the other key actor is one of overall dimensions because there’s nothing worse than buying what appears to be the best bread maker then deciding that it doesn’t actually fit conformably into any part of your cooking area. When you compare models it’s possible to check this kind of criteria, along with all of the other options such as if the appliance is energy efficient and easily recyclable at the end of its life.

Ready to buy your bread maker?

Bread makerWhen you’re all done with carrying out your comparison and have also read a fair share of consumer reviews of your preferred products too, you can go straight ahead and order. It couldn’t be easier either, because all you need to do is click on the link that you have selected and you’ll be taken seamlessly through the online buying process.

Then, once your shiny new bread maker arrives, you can whip it out of the box, read the instructions and then load in the ingredients in order to produce your first, and hopefully just one of many, delicious loaves of bread. As most people who own bread makers are quick to point out – the overall taste and freshness of a loaf produced in a bread maker is pretty hard to beat.