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To buy or not to buy... a bread machine.

sequins Sep 23, 2006 10:14 PM

I'd like to start making bread. A neighbor of mine is all excited about her bread machine, although what I've sampled of its output hasn't been impressive. Still, maybe good recipes well followed will turn out better in a bread machine than by hand? There are like-new used breadmakers out there that are pretty cheap, so price isn't a prohibitive factor for me. But, since I wouldn't want to make more than two loaves a month, time isn't enough of a persuasive factor, either. So, apart from the convenience, are there compelling reasons for me to get one of these things? Thanks!

  1. rockandroller1 Nov 10, 2008 07:58 AM

    I'll also respond to this now-old thread. I use my bread maker mostly for pizza dough but it's great for that. We do not have really ANY available counter space to roll out dough or leave it while it rises, etc. so it's been great for that.

    I have enjoyed the bread I've made in it but I find it's just as cheap and more tasty to buy from a local baker who also doesn't use any gunk in it, just real, whole ingredients, and it's better than what I could make in the machine. I do not have the time or space to make bread regularly at home.

    1. f
      flowergarden129 Nov 7, 2008 09:32 PM

      For what it's worth, King Arthur Flour feels that a bread machine does a better job of kneading and proofing the bread than can be done with any other appliance or by hand. I make challah every Friday, and always make the dough in the bread machine. I have a lot to do, and it lets me walk away. I like the bread machine because it lets me make a very wet dough, which I find makes better bread, without the difficulties of kneading it. I watch it start to mix, so that I can add flour or water to get the right texture, then let it do its thing (whether making challah or any other bread). I always do the last punch down, brief knead, shaping, and baking in the oven (on a stone). The problem I find with Bittman's bread and its variants is that I have to plan ahead and start the bread the day before, and be around at the right intervals. That turns that kind of bread making (which I also do) into a weekend project for a lazy day. During the week, if I want bread, I use the bread machine. It's critical to find recipes that are not only good, but good for your brand of machine. Different recipes work in different machines, and you have to try them to find out. I make a great pumpernickel in my machine (baked in the oven), which does its thing while I make a bean soup or something to go with it for a weeknight dinner.

      1 Reply
      1. re: flowergarden129
        CindyJ Nov 10, 2008 07:21 AM

        Would you share the recipe you use for bread-machine challah?

      2. l
        LadyCook61 Nov 2, 2008 06:43 AM

        We have a bread machine but hardly use it. I prefer to make bread by hand and in the oven. In my opinion, it tastes better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LadyCook61
          PattiCakes Nov 6, 2008 07:38 AM

          I have a bread machine & use it very infrequently, but when I do it's usually a miserable day outside & I crave the smell/taste of fresh bread in the house. I used to make a lot of bread "by hand", but at this stage in my life, I would really rather dump everything in the machine, hit the button, then go off to my sewing room and work on a quilt while the machine does all the bready work. My husband is also looking for ways to avoid carbs, so I'm kind of guilted into not baking so much.

          A few years ago, we had a particularly snowy winter, and a family with 5 young girls moved in down the street. I lent them my machine for about a month & they had a blast baking away the winter.

          The major down-side to a bread machine is that it has a big footprint. Tough to store, and very easy to forget when you have it stashed away in the only closet where it fits.

        2. a
          aquinnahsun Oct 26, 2008 07:48 PM

          Aw, just do it the old fashioned way! Baking bread is fun. Kneading is fun. Mixing is fun. Who needs another appliance on the counter-top? Go to breadtopia.com and try the "almost no-knead" recipes. I made whole wheat bread twice last week, and everybody said it was the best bread they'd ever had. My work time? Maybe 1/2 hour total. The rising takes hours and hours, but you can mix up a batch before bed, let it rise over night, and bake in the morning or even later in the afternoon. It's amazingly good. I made the recipe using beer and vinegar, which gave the loaves a very sourdough-y, rich taste and texture.

          1. cassoulady Oct 20, 2008 06:28 PM

            I got one as a gft and NEVER use it. Though I do bake and when I make bread I make it by hand so I can form it into long baguette loaves. I know you can start the process in the machine, but I dont. IMO, if you are going to buy something that takes up room, get a Kitchenaid stand mixer or a Cuisinart FP. I use my FP several times a week. If I were to only have one kitchen thing with a plug besides the fridge and stove, this would be it.

            1. n
              NRF Oct 20, 2008 01:54 AM

              I retired my bread machine without ever making a really worthwhile loaf. There is a better way though to make excellent bread. Google "almost no knead bread." That should link you to a page from the excellent Cooks Illustrated magazine (America's Test Kitchen on TV). I have made bread this way repeatedly and it works very well. The bread is created over two days but requires little effort from the baker.

              1. MikeB3542 Oct 19, 2008 07:55 PM

                We got one when we got married. We had a tiny kitchen in our apartment so it made zero sense, since no place to put it (returned for lots of other goodies). We have a bigger kitchen now, but still hae a hard time justifying the counter space.

                The CW on bread machines is that they are kind of pointless for baking bread, but do a really nice job getting the basic ingredients mixed, kneaded and proofed (i.e. take dough out and bake in oven). With the no-knead recipes out there (just google the NYT video/article), that part looks kinda pointless.

                1. j
                  Jimmy Buffet Jan 8, 2008 06:10 PM

                  I love mine...bought a DAK years ago - the one that looks like R2D2. I don't use it much because I have a tendency to eat waaaay too much bread that it produces. I have to use a degree of self-restraint in that respect.

                  Unlike many bread makers, I don't like the labor of making bread by hand.

                  My favorite breads that it makes are just plain bread and also a peanut butter chocolate chip bread

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Jimmy Buffet
                    michele cindy Jan 9, 2008 04:37 AM

                    I agree with you. I'm looking for something super easy. The thought of any labor involved in bread making overwhelms me. I'd like a machine where I just pop the ingredients into it, and it does EVERYTHING so there is no mixing, waiting for yeast to do whatever it does etc. Per my original post my main motivation for getting one is to just give the kids a more nutritious bread then store bought for their lunches, and snacks. For me, if I want a really good artisan bread, right now, between work and taking care of the kids, I'd rather go to the local shop then try to make it own my own. One of these days when I have a bit more time I will attempt true bread making.

                    1. re: michele cindy
                      j
                      Jimmy Buffet Jan 9, 2008 05:17 PM

                      Don't know how you feel about this but real bargains in breadmakers can be found in thrift shops. Ditto hot air corn poppers for roasting your own coffee but thats another thread...

                  2. michele cindy Jan 8, 2008 10:59 AM

                    I know this is an older post, but I've been thinking about getting a bread maker. There's a few by Breadman, I've heard good things about. I'm tired of buying the whole wheat bread in stores for my children's lunches. I thought if I made my own in one of these it would be a more healthy way to go. We go through a lot of bread each week. Any one have good results to report?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: michele cindy
                      h
                      Hungry Celeste Jan 8, 2008 01:40 PM

                      Save your money on the bread machine and buy a copy of Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads (or his Bread Baker's Apprentice). You can make really, really good bread with minimal tools and effort. It just takes a little advance planning, but not a whole lot of active work. He describes each step in great detail and practically foolproof instructions. I'd buy a mixer capable of kneading dough before I'd buy a breadmaker. I made excellent, crispy-crusted, open-crumbed ciabatta using his "Apprentice" recipe....it was very easy, and I'm looking forward to the whole wheat ciabatta in the Whole Grains book.

                    2. revsharkie Jan 26, 2007 07:48 PM

                      You don't need one. Get a big bowl, one of those cool mixing things someone described upstream (I think I need one of those; there's only so much you can do with just a fork), a bench scraper, a timer and a good bread recipe or two. Bread making is a meditative task. You can't meditate with a machine. I think this world needs more slowing down and meditating, so if you agree, make your bread by hand and knead it yourself.

                      1. seefood Jan 25, 2007 05:48 PM

                        I'm reviving this sort-of-old thread, to which I contributed back in September, in the B.B.L.B. era--that is, Before Bittman-Lahey Bread. Back then, as I wrote, I used my bread machine fairly regularly.

                        Since the no-knead recipe hit, I haven't used the machine, and in fact recently relegated it to our storage room (aka junk room). Not that it is junk; it is just that the Bittman-Lahey bread is so good, and so easy--we are spoiled! I make it at least twice a week.

                        BTW, to me the beauty of the recipe is not that it doesn't require kneading. I don't dislike kneading. Rather, it is the overall ease of production, and--most of all--the result: the crusty, rustic type of bread that was previously very difficult to produce in the home kitchen. The covered pot, in conjunction with the high moisture content of the dough, are what makes this so remarkable.

                        1. HillJ Oct 24, 2006 04:31 PM

                          I grew up with a Great Grandmother who owned a Brooklyn bakery...she turned her nose up at anything not made by hand.

                          We've used and used up six bread machines. I think the first one ran nearly 200..and now you can buy one for 30! Home models got our teen baking. The features of "set it and forget it" appealed to us. We tried different flours, different add ins and really learned to enjoy and expand on what we were doing as breadmakers the "old fashioned way" plus lots of great machine bread recipes are avail now.

                          With artisian breads avail at nearly every mini mall, we could easily skip the steps at home but we like the process, the results and the fun of bread baking w/our without a machine.

                          My advice..at today's prices you could drop more for a toaster. If you like bread, want to try different variations knowing that the loaf you create will cost more than the loaf you can buy...then by all means give it a whirl!

                          1. b
                            Bread_Roger Oct 24, 2006 04:18 PM

                            Bread machines are great--I've used them since 1997. But, the bread ends up having a steamed, bland quality, no matter how different or unusual the ingredients.

                            I recently switched to a Bosch mixer, and have been thrilled with the results. Dough is mixed in about 3 minutes.

                            Now, please note, you will have the annoyance of waiting for that dough to rise, twice. Technically you could make machine-made dough, but you still need to let the dough rise again in the pan at the end of the machine's cycle, so you're saving only one step.

                            Bread machine recommendations:

                            1. Get a Zojirushi BBX20, which has a longish (ca. 8 1/2 inches) pan. Try and buy from a local dealer. I've had bad luck with Amazon.

                            2. If you use the machine's baking cycle, do this when the bread is done:
                            Put the finished loaf in a 450-degree oven. Use a baking stone if you have one, or a cookie sheet. Spray the loaf lightly with water, and bake for additional 10 minutes. Spray with water again, and bake another 10 minutes. Produces incredible, delicious crusty bread.

                            1. Neuromancer Oct 1, 2006 12:51 AM

                              I remember my breadmaker days...

                              We were given one as a gift. I don't remember the brand. We had it from 2001-2004 and used it about 6 times during that period. 3 times it didn't work and the other three times it was novel and convenient. I am pretty good at following directions, but it seemed like sometimes it would only partially mix the dough, leaving the bread inedible and weird. I like making bread by hand when I have the time and when I'm in a rush I make quickie beer bread, so I gave the bread machine away to a neighbor when we moved away.

                              1. r
                                rainey Sep 26, 2006 05:08 PM

                                Can you borrow hers for a few days and try it out? If that's a possibility I'll give you one recipe to try. It will make a French country loaf with great flavor and keeping qualities.

                                You'll need a pizza stone or some quarry tile. You'll make a sponge one day and the bread dough the next. Each session will take you about 10 minutes. On the second day you'll spend 15 minutes or so forming your boule and give it an hour and a half to rise then bake it for about an hour. Maybe you'll want to make two smaller boules and give one to your neighbor when you return her machine.

                                Then maybe you'll have a clear idea whether you want a breadmaker or not.

                                1. sequins Sep 26, 2006 01:02 AM

                                  I am learning so much here, and (for better, not worse) have by no means arrived at a decision. Thanks for such thorough responses and please keep them coming!

                                  1. chowser Sep 26, 2006 12:08 AM

                                    I only use it to make the dough. My family really like cinnamon buns so I make the dough in the machine, roll it out and keep it in the fridge overnight. I bake it the next morning, after letting it come to room temp. I only use it for that and occasional yeast rolls. It also takes up space so think about that, in addition to the cost. If I didn't have a basement to keep it in, I would give it away.

                                    1. anna Sep 25, 2006 11:56 PM

                                      I don't own a bread machine and don't intent to get one. I've never liked the bread that came out from a machine. The bread tend to be very dense. They lack the texture you find in artisan bread.

                                      1. seefood Sep 25, 2006 02:34 PM

                                        I'm not surprised to see a lot of discussion on this topic. Breadmaking is something that people get passionate about, with good reason. Obivously, it's not a simple yes-or-no question. It depends.

                                        I used to run a bakery. We made all kinds of bread, including crusty European-style loaves that we baked in a big deck oven. That kind of baking--and eating--is a wonderful thing, and the bread machine won't do it. You must shape the loaves by hand and bake them on stones or tiles.

                                        I no longer bake professionally. Sometimes at home I undertake the involved process of making crusty loaves, and it is lots of fun when time allows. Often, however, we just need a loaf for sandwiches and toast. We just want good, tasty, and heathful bread for everyday use. And that is where the bread machine comes in handy.

                                        We've had one for five years. I use it once or twice a week. It's very quick and easy--I can measure out the ingredients for a moist whole wheat loaf, slightly sweetened with molasses, or a rich white milk bread in probably five minutes, turn on the machine, and have fresh bread in three hours or so. And there is almost no cleanup.

                                        As working parents with an infant daughter, this machine suits our lifestyle even more than ever. The bread machine is what it is, nothing more nor less. And if it meets your needs, by all means get one. They're not expensive, relatively. Our Breadman Ultimate has lasted five years, though we did have to replace the pan once.

                                        BTW, we also have a Kitchenaid mixer, which I use when I have time for a breadmaking project. The two machines are quite different. One is not a substitute for the other. I like having both.

                                        One tip for using the bread machine: always add a tablespoon of gluten--the floury, powdery kind.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: seefood
                                          b
                                          birdie Sep 25, 2006 04:15 PM

                                          Do you use the gluten even if you have used bread flour?

                                          1. re: birdie
                                            seefood Sep 26, 2006 12:04 PM

                                            Yes--always. I'm not sure why, but in the bread machine it makes a noticeable difference.

                                            1. re: seefood
                                              f
                                              FelafelBoy Jan 30, 2007 11:55 PM

                                              I like the Hodgson Mills products. I use the Honey Whole Wheat bread mix, and it comes out fine. Why would I want to use gluten for a heavier type bread that comes out with decent texture consistency (it was neither overly dense nor airy). What does the extra gluten do?

                                              (Here's the list of ingredients on the box ...
                                              Stone gound, whole grain, hard spring wheat flour, stone groun, whole grain, shite sheat flour, unleached, enriched flour, dried honey, vital wheat gluten, soy flour, salt, vitamin C. Of course, oil and yeast is also added to this mix by the user.)

                                              The bread I have made has been good. Granted, it doesn't have the crispy authentic crust as oven baked bread, but it beats most of the commercial bread sold in supermarkets.

                                          2. re: seefood
                                            r
                                            rainey Sep 25, 2006 04:24 PM

                                            Hey! Can I ask for some advice? I'm always trying to get good steam in my oven for the bread's crust. I'm thinking of the Kitchen Aid Steam Assist oven but I can't find anyone who's used it.

                                            Know anything about it? Or, alternatively, what's the best method of getting steam in the oven cavity. I'm tired of opening the door and letting the heat drop and putting a skillet of hot water just gums up the oven's electronics and rusts skillets with only limited effect on the crust.

                                            Use your breadmaker to do a sponge the day before you're going to make your bread. You can ferment it in the bread machine and then just add the rest of the ingredients the next day. Pull off a hunk of old dough before you let it bake to use in your next loaf. Your bread machine dough will have so much more flavor. And your pre-ferments keep wonderfully in the bread machine pan without any attention at all.

                                            1. re: rainey
                                              yayadave Sep 25, 2006 05:54 PM

                                              I just put a baking pan full of water on a lower shelf before I turn the oven on to warm up. By the time I put the shaped and risen loaf in the oven, it's full of steam. And it keeps steaming during the early bake.

                                              1. re: yayadave
                                                r
                                                rainey Sep 25, 2006 06:09 PM

                                                Maybe I just have bad luck but that's roughly what I do (I heat a cast iron skillet with the oven and pour in already boiling water with the dough). I have totally wrecked the electronics in a Thermador oven. I think the oven cavity should have been insulated enough to prevent that. But it didn't work out like that. First the clock that governed the self-cleaning cycle went. Now I completely can't turn the oven on.

                                                ...and I never got that sourdough crust that cracks when it begins to cool after being removed from the oven.

                                                I'm redoing the kitchen and replacing the oven anyway. I don't have room for a commercial steam injection oven. I was hoping the KA Steam Assist would be a good approximation. At least I hope I can hold them responsible if the steam and electronics don't integrate properly. And then I hope for that *perfect* crust.

                                                1. re: rainey
                                                  yayadave Sep 25, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                  It doesn't seem like it would matter from what you say, but I just put a pan of water in when I turn it on. I don't know that I get the "right" crust, but it's definitely different. I think you’re right, though, it shouldn’t wreck your oven.

                                                  1. re: rainey
                                                    seefood Sep 26, 2006 12:13 PM

                                                    I do what yayadave describes. I don't use a cast iron pan either--doesn't that ruin the seasoning on the pan? I just use a cheap cake pan. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I've not had any oven failure problems.

                                                    I'm not familiar with this Kitchenaid product, so I can't really help with that, other than to say that I am generally skeptical of kitchen gadgets. A lot of them just end up cluttering up your kitchen and your life. But who knows--this might be one of the rare good ones.

                                                    BTW, I don't think anyone is ever going to be able to exactly duplicate in the typical home overn the kind of crustiness you can get in a commercial deck oven. The massive stone decks and the robust steam is probably not possible to mimic, as far as I know. But you can come close enough.

                                                    Good luck!

                                                    1. re: seefood
                                                      yayadave Sep 26, 2006 01:34 PM

                                                      Yeah. Besides the moisture, there’s the clay tile part of the equation. It won’t quite be artisanal bakery, but it can be pretty good and make ya’ proud.

                                                      Your previous answer about the bread machine was spot on. In fact, I ran down stairs and brought mine up and whipped up a loaf yesterday afternoon.

                                                      1. re: yayadave
                                                        r
                                                        rainey Sep 26, 2006 05:01 PM

                                                        You mean starting with a sponge and/or using old dough. Yes! It makes soooo much difference.

                                                        Get a copy of "Rustic European Breads from Your Breadmaker" even if it's a library copy and see what fantastic bread you can get from these machines when you use them as "dough" makers and shape and bake in the oven on a stone.

                                                      2. re: seefood
                                                        r
                                                        rainey Sep 26, 2006 04:57 PM

                                                        I'm sure the seasoning on this pan is wrecked but I only use it for breadmaking.

                                                        The steam assist feature isn't a typical gadget. It's a built in feature of the oven where a reservoir fed manually from the front panel delivers steam directly into the oven cavity during the baking cycle without the need to open a door. The oven also has some sort of programmed "proofing" cycle. But I do that in my breadmaker.

                                              2. b
                                                birdie Sep 24, 2006 08:09 PM

                                                I use my ancient bread machine all the time. It took a couple of times before I figured it out but it was simple mistakes I made. I use the oatmeal bread machine recipe and the pizza dough recipe in my book. I also use the quick 2 3/4 hrs cycle and find I like the loaf better. Breakfast is sometimes bread baked with the timer so we wake up to the smell of bread baking. I'd be glad to post both recipes. I would like to add that I bake all the time. I often do a regular rise bread that I knead with my kitchen aid. The trick to loving your bread machine is to have it easily available. When I redid my kitchen I designed a baking center where I could store my bread maker and kitchen aid at counter level.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: birdie
                                                  r
                                                  rainey Sep 24, 2006 08:44 PM

                                                  Could be. I never put mine away. But then I use it every week.

                                                  You really need to try slow rise bread and pre-ferments, though. Even if you bake them in the bread machine. Both slow rise and a levain will give your bread so much more flavor.

                                                2. r
                                                  rainey Sep 24, 2006 01:27 AM

                                                  I bought my first breadmaker about 20 years ago. It made a small chimney shaped loaf. Within 6 months I had given that to a friend who lived alone with her small daughter and bought a newer machine that made a 1 1/2# conventional-shaped loaf. I've used that machine ever since. I once had to have the motherboard replaced during an interval when the only machines available returned to that vertical shape.

                                                  I take my breadmaker and slowcooker on skiiing trips with me so that we return cold and beat up to a hot casserole and the smell of freshly baked bread. OTOH, that's the *only* time I ever bake in the machine.

                                                  You will be so much happier with what you get if you use your machine to mix up and ferment your levains, to mix and knead your dough and then do the first proof. Then you want to hand-form your loaves and bake them on a stone in your oven. You'll get great, consistent, almost effort-free dough and great bread. And you can use any recipe at all. I even do a special dough at Christmas that uses 6 cups of flour in my 1 1/2# machine!

                                                  If you're not yet an experienced bread maker I highly recommend "Rustic European Breads from Your Breadmaker" by Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingsworth Butt to get you started right. When you see how you and your machine can *rock* bread, you'll be ready to do *anything*!

                                                  OTOH, as others are suggesting, depending on how much dough you're making at any moment, you can do dough by hand, in a stand mixer or with a food processor. I just know that, personally, I make bread much more *often* because of my bread machine.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: rainey
                                                    Davwud Sep 24, 2006 07:50 PM

                                                    I still say put the money towards a Kitchen Aid. You're basically buying a tool to half make bread. Other than doing that, what do you have?? With the KA, you can make all kinds of things.
                                                    I will agree that for a cottage, ski lodge or as situation where you can set it in the morning with your crock pot and come home later to a meal and warm bread, it can be a very useful thing. But I still think you're better off just making it yourself.

                                                    I'm sure you love yours like my sisters do. But as far as this thread goes, by my count, you're one in five.

                                                    DT

                                                    1. re: Davwud
                                                      r
                                                      rainey Sep 24, 2006 08:41 PM

                                                      You're absolutely right — if I were deciding between a stand mixer and a bread machine I'd go with the KA every single time. There's no comparison between their comparative versatility.

                                                      I'm fortunate to have both and I use and value them both.

                                                      You're also right that I have the minority opinion but I think some of that is that people don't necessarily know how to make the most of bread machines because bread machine *manufacturers* don't know how to make the most of them. Neither do most bread machine cookbook authors (as though any recipe that's written for one method won't work equally well however you mix your dough). But West and Butts do! And when I learned what they knew I started making really wonderful bread on a regular basis.

                                                      1. re: rainey
                                                        s
                                                        shallots Jan 19, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                        I think Rainey and I are long lost twins.
                                                        I seldom make bread to finality in the machine, but I do use the machine to take it through first rising.
                                                        In a kitchen that has huge south facing windows, I deal with temperature fluctuations that are hellish on rising bread from scratch.
                                                        This way, the initial risings are a success.
                                                        And I do use it for pizza dough all the time.

                                                        (Mine sits next to my KA mixer and my Cuisinart. Because of the controlled rise, it is my first choice for bread. And on cold days, the loaf of bread goes into the bread machine for its final rise, because the fit is good.

                                                        1. re: shallots
                                                          c
                                                          Colbrook Oct 19, 2008 07:14 PM

                                                          I guess I'm a triplet with you two--I've had my Panasonic for years and bought a second one on eBay very cheap--I use it the same way you both do, to mix and proof the dough, and I bought the second one because I've auctioned off a challah-making class for a charity event, and it came in very handy in preparing for the class. The Best Bread Machine Book has a killer challah recipe, as well as other recipes that are quite good. If you don't have to spend much for it, and want a time-saving device for some fun bread making, I don't think you can beat a bread machine. However, I agree with the others, that you rarely want to bake in it (except a challah loaf that I let go to bake and used in a strata.)

                                                  2. PBSF Sep 24, 2006 01:24 AM

                                                    NO!!! I don't know anyone who've bought a bread machine is still using it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: PBSF
                                                      financialdistrictresident Jan 8, 2008 03:25 PM

                                                      My ex got the bread machine (large and square not sure what brand) and he still uses it :) Some of the bread is pretty good. They are all square loaves, though.

                                                    2. s
                                                      Spencer Sep 24, 2006 01:22 AM

                                                      I got one for a wedding gift 9 years ago. I used it a lot the first 2 years. I haven't used it in the last 5 years. I will be using it soon to maek some pizza dough, which I have neevr done before.
                                                      I guess I'd say it was really fun to play with- if I had the money to blow I would get it if I were you. If you stop using it after a while just sale it in a garage sale.

                                                      1. Davwud Sep 24, 2006 12:50 AM

                                                        Both my sisters love their bread machines. So we ended up with one for a wedding gift. After about 4 or 5 loaves, we put it away. Finally (after 5 years of dust collecting) we sold it at a garage sale.
                                                        The problems are these. The bread isn't that good. You have no control over the shape of your loaf (If you cook it in the machine as well). It goes stale really really quickly. And it takes away from the fun of it.
                                                        You'd be better off putting the money towards a kitchen aid.

                                                        DT

                                                        11 Replies
                                                        1. re: Davwud
                                                          amkirkland Sep 24, 2006 01:13 AM

                                                          I just bought a dough whisk. It may very well put my kitchenaid out of commission, for bread at least. It takes a little muscle, but it really works the dough. Plus it brings together quick breads like magic.

                                                          1. re: amkirkland
                                                            w
                                                            Winemark Sep 24, 2006 01:17 AM

                                                            What is a dough whisk?

                                                            1. re: Winemark
                                                              amkirkland Sep 24, 2006 03:28 AM

                                                              basically three strong metal loops at the end of a stick. I know they can be found at www.bakerscatalogue.com, but they also have them for less at kitchen stores. Mine was $7.

                                                              1. re: amkirkland
                                                                w
                                                                Winemark Sep 24, 2006 03:34 AM

                                                                I thought it sounded more modern. I will stick with my KA

                                                                1. re: amkirkland
                                                                  Professor Salt Sep 24, 2006 03:59 AM

                                                                  I use this whisk too. Once the flour absorbs all the moisture and rests for a few minutes, I finish kneading by hand. Simple, effective & easy to clean up versus the hassle of wrangling a Kitchen Aid or a bread machine.

                                                                  To answer the OP, I think the preset operating times / temperatures / volume of the bread machines limits you to certain types of popular bread styles that it's designed to bake. As long as you're sticking to those styles, you'd get some use out of it.

                                                                  1. re: Professor Salt
                                                                    r
                                                                    rainey Sep 24, 2006 05:06 AM

                                                                    I've seen that flat whisk demonstrated for mixing bread dough. It's quite an impressive thing for mixing up a single loaf and rinsing clean in a flash.

                                                                    Just as a point of information, I have to take exception to what some think are limitations of bread machines. I ignore the limitations on mine all the time. Of course, I am only mixing and proofing my doughs; not baking. I regularly exceed the 3 cups of flour that the manufacturer recommends for my 1 1/2# machine but when I go to 5 or 6 cups or more I tend to stand over the dough and tweek the flour/water ratio with the top open. I also reach in with a flexible silicone spatula and redirect the dough if I feel like it. But it really isn’t necessary other than to keep down the amount of flour flying out when the top’s open.

                                                                    I also do 8-cup doughs in the machine, but when I do I proof in food storage tubs with snap on lids that are available in wholesale grocers and restaurant supply stores or in the Bakers' Catalogue.

                                                                    I use my machine for filled breads, sourdoughs, whole grains, sweet doughs and god-knows-what-else. I’m not sure what else there is that I haven’t been able to do. What's more, my ancient machine only has a single mixing blade at the bottom. I bet the newer double blade machines can go to town!

                                                                    These machines can really perform and there really isn’t any reason not to let them. The trick is to think of them as tools to mix, ferment and proof and then you can do a lot more with them than the manufacturers acknowledge. Meanwhile, they're timing the phases and providing a proofing chamber at the appropriate temperature while you do any number of the other things that modern life demands.

                                                                    Another thing worth noting is that when the Dough Cycle dings that it's done and you're not there, it's no big deal to turn the machine back on a second Dough Cycle and shape it later. No tragedy at all. All that’s happened is that you made the ferment richer and more dense in flavor.

                                                                    Finally — and this won’t be for everyone — I don’t even bother cleaning out the bread machine if I haven’t been doing a dough with eggs or a lot of milk that can spoil (a little milk has been OK). I leave the tiny bits of water, flour and yeast that remain as a tiny dried boost for my next loaf. This is NOT something I’d ever consider doing with my mixer that has many other jobs to do. But wild yeasts begin to grow within the chamber and a machine that’s regularly used actually performs better because it’s a richer environment.

                                                                    A bread machine isn't for everyone but no one should sell them short until they see what they can do.

                                                                    1. re: rainey
                                                                      r
                                                                      rainey Sep 24, 2006 05:33 AM

                                                                      I wanted to add that the key is to think of the bread machine as letting you do "remote" bread that doesn't take up your time not "fast" bread. You don't ever, ever, ever want "fast" bread. Bread with flavor and texture is *slow* bread — even bread that takes days.

                                                                      I think people are disappointed when they follow the manufacturers' instructions for making dough quickly.

                                                                      1. re: rainey
                                                                        Davwud Sep 24, 2006 07:43 PM

                                                                        I saw what mine could do and wasn't impressed.

                                                                        DT

                                                                        1. re: Davwud
                                                                          r
                                                                          rainey Sep 24, 2006 08:35 PM

                                                                          I felt the same way until I started using levains and baking in my oven on a stone. Nevertheless, everyone decides for themselves and that's exactly as it should be. ; >

                                                                      2. re: rainey
                                                                        f
                                                                        faijay Sep 26, 2006 05:55 PM

                                                                        I remember a number of years ago Julia Child had a woman who wrote a book about the bread machine on her show. The woman made a lot of differenct breads, but in the end La Julia said she only used hers to mix the dough and did the final kneading, shaping and baking by hand.

                                                                      3. re: Professor Salt
                                                                        amkirkland Sep 25, 2006 12:08 AM

                                                                        Exactly, the whisk is perfect if you're making enough bread for a 25 year old single guy rather than five kids.

                                                              2. d
                                                                DGresh Sep 23, 2006 10:31 PM

                                                                Please don't bother. Do you have a food processor? I "knead" my bread in the FP and then do everthing else the traditional way. comes out much better; bread machine bread has no relationship to reall good bread. I of course typically only do this on the weekend, but there's no comparison.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: DGresh
                                                                  RShea78 Jan 31, 2007 03:20 AM

                                                                  -----

                                                                  What kind of FP do you have? There is very few FP capable kneading bread and lasting for any length of time.

                                                                  -----

                                                                  1. re: RShea78
                                                                    f
                                                                    FelafelBoy Feb 2, 2007 11:54 PM

                                                                    On cooking shows I have watched as well as food show reviews of equipment, food processors made by Cuisinart and KitchenAid (the 11 cup and larger capacity size) rated more favorably than the less expensive models made by other companies.

                                                                    1. re: RShea78
                                                                      firecooked Oct 19, 2008 10:01 PM

                                                                      I do pizza dough almost once a week in my 11-cup Cuisenart (with a dough setting) for over a year now (and the FP is a bit older than that) without any problems knock on wood!

                                                                      1. re: firecooked
                                                                        sebetti Nov 5, 2008 02:51 PM

                                                                        My husband has burned out two heavy duty Kitchen Aid Mixers in the past 5 years. We currently have a Bosch and although it does very well with bread dough, it's just too big to be of use for anything else.

                                                                        We were given a bread machine as a gift 10 years ago and it ended up just being a gateway drug. We gave it away less than a year later - we never really cared for the bread it produced and my husband was bound and determined to learn to do better.
                                                                        For about a 3 year period, we were purchasing flour in 100 lb bags. (then my husband started traveling for work...sigh, paradise lost)

                                                                  2. sequins Sep 23, 2006 10:22 PM

                                                                    Addendum: the kinds of breads I'd mainly like would probably be 1) sourdough, 2) olive, 3) oatmeal, 4) rice bread, 5) sweet-potato / pumpkin / zucchini bread, and 6) assorted loaves with fruits / nuts in them.

                                                                    1. w
                                                                      Winemark Sep 23, 2006 10:16 PM

                                                                      I have an Oster Bread Machine, timer etc. the whole nine yards. I bet I have used it three times in ten years. Part of making bread is the labor and time involved. There is little satisfaction in bread machine bread

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Winemark
                                                                        sequins Sep 23, 2006 10:23 PM

                                                                        Do you find yourself making bread sans machine now? -- or have you stopped making bread altogether?

                                                                        1. re: sequins
                                                                          w
                                                                          Winemark Sep 23, 2006 10:27 PM

                                                                          I make tons of bread. Sometimes I can get lazy and use my Kitchenaid to get things started but shaping and final kneading are part of the organic process I enjoy.

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