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

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!

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: sequins

        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.

    2. 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. 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

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

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          1. re: RShea78

            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

              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

                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. 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

              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: Winemark

                  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

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

                    1. re: amkirkland

                      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

                        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

                          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

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

                            DT

                            1. re: Davwud

                              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

                            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

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

                  2. 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.