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Bread Makers

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What has been people's experience using bread makers? Are there certain features that are needed above the baseline model and are there certain brands that people have liked? And of course, how good are the types of bread that you have made using them?

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  1. The best bread we've made from them is the manufacturer's recipe for egg bread. Two different machines, two different cookbooks, it was still the best.

    I made up a dark rye recipe that turned out very well, proof that you CAN play around with recipes - the bread machine cookbooks make that sound impossible. But we've never been able to duplicate the texture of plain homemade light bread. And every box-mix for machines we've tried has been heavy, dry and & awful.

    As for features, I wouldn't get one that didn't have a window & an emergency stop or interrupt button, and get one that makes a good sized loaf.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Betty
      r
      Rachel Perlow

      "But we've never been able to duplicate the texture of plain homemade light bread." And, someone else said something about it never being as good as Pepperidge Farm bread.

      Using our bread machine from Williams Sonoma and the recipe on the back of a bag of King Arthur bread flour we had a loaf that tasted almost exactly like Pepperidge Farm white, but even fresher & yummier. I also liked making more interesting breads with whole wheat & dried fruits, but have to admit that after the first couple years, I don't use it nearly as much as I used to.

      The best is getting an "Italian" mix and add a little olive oil and grated parmesean and/or garlic. THE BEST and so easy. Now I feel like I must go home and make some to have with dinner tonight!

      1. re: Rachel Perlow

        King Arthur Flour is great stuff. I've never tried it in a bread machine, and it has only recently appeared on store shelves here. Have you tried any of their Armour spray-dried tomato, milk chocolate, orange juice or cheddar cheese powders in anything? They are so tempting in the catalogs.

        I like Earth Grains better then Pepperidge Farm as commercial grocery-store bread goes. No guar gum, etc. like PF, just normal bready ingredients.

        1. re: Betty
          r
          Rachel Perlow

          Nope, haven't used the powders. I think they're only available from King Arthur via mail order and I got the flour from the supermarket.

          BTW - I did go home and dig out the bread maker from storage. Used a sourdough for bread machines mix that's been sitting on the shelf for a while. I did not have an Italian mix on hand, but I added all the things I would have added to that. Good green olive oil, freshly grated real parmesean, ground black pepper and three justed-smashed-enough-to-get-the-peels-off garlic cloves.

          This last was rather an experiment (inspired by Bouley Bakery's whole garlic in the garlic loaf bread). If you've ever added raisins too early in a whole wheat bread mix and seen the pulvarized results, I figured it would work to add the garlic mostly whole and let the machine crush/mince it.

          Results: 1) the garlic thing worked, but I would reduce it to two cloves and 2) don't treat sourdough the same as italian, the bread wasn't bad, but the sourdough taste competes with the additions as opposed to Italian which welcomes them.

          1. re: Rachel Perlow

            The garlic & parmesan sound great, and a little oil really does improve the texture of bread. I grow way too much garlic to ever use, but had never thought of tossing it in bread. Wouldn't that make good croutons! They'd be flavored from the inside instead of the outside.

            1. re: Betty
              r
              Rachel Perlow

              The crouton idea sounds great, too bad none of the bread is left to make them! (It made really good sandwiches out of turkey breast.) You wouldn't even have to fry the croutons, they'd probably taste great just baked.

              1. re: Rachel Perlow

                Ok Rachel, I got the oil, I got the cheese, then I decided the garlic wasn't ready. But I've been working in the garden every evening and couldn't take gazing at the garlic any longer and dug up a couple of immature ones. Sure they aren't into papery cloves yet but it's still garlic. Bread will be made. I may have to add a pinch of fresh oregano and thyme.
                Speaking of herbs, I just planted Stevia and have no idea what to do with it except eat a leaf every time I walk past!

    2. To many of us chowhounds, bread machines are as much a heresay as--say: Ray's pizza, and H & H bagels. Especially in NYC and many parts of New Jersey where superb bread is a transit stop away. But if you're like me, you'll justify a slice of Ray's by saying "It's pretty good if you don't think of it as pizza, and I'm on 11th street anyway, and no one's looking..." you might be tempted by what can come out of a bread machine. It's often better than Wonder Bread or Pop 'n Fresh, but never as good as Pepperidge Farm. That said, a bread machine is undeniably convenient. A crock pot stew and a loaf of freshly made yeast risen something or other has a mid prol seductiveness that is undeniable. "In the morning, I just did like the directions said, and when I came home from work dinner was ready."
      My advise: If you really want to make bread, but don't want to spend time kneading, invest in a Kitchen Aid classic mixer, the greatest kitchen labor saving device there is ($170-250). Unlike a bread machine which only makes bread, you can use a Kitchen Aid to make cakes, pasta, sausage, mashed potatoes (Julia & Jacques did that the other day--so that's not heresay!).
      But, if someone has to give you a good bread machine, look for one with a timer, a clear glass or plastic lid (so you can see how the dough is progressing). Panasonic is a good brand, so is Welbilt. Oh and have a storage space available for it. After the initial novelty wears off, you won't use it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pete Feliz

        They're just a tool. The printing press was a heresy too. If you don't want to knead (arthritis?, bored? busy?), the machines will quickly get the dough to a point that you can bake it the regular way in the oven - that's the only way to get a crust. For those of us without easy access to good bakeries, they can be very useful, even after the novelty has worn off, and you can get bread without the additives & preservatives of commercial breads without it being the focus of the evening. I still bake bread both ways, but after a commute, the bread machine looks pretty good. We used to make bread & rolls with a floor model kitchenaid at work and I don't care for the texture, though everybody else loved it.