Bread machines have been around for many years now. They have gone through rigorous public testing and scrutiny. The companies that build these machines have learned and listened to the public over these years as well. So if you are asking whether or not to get a bread machine here is my answer:
You should get a bread machine if you need to make many loaves or need the extra convenience. Maybe you are tired of making bread by hand and have a busy schedule or have a physical disability. It could very well be a budget issue or you are just new to bread baking. Any of these reasons will make you a perfect candidate for a bread machine.
Look at it this way. If you have a bread machine it does not mean you will not be able to make artisan bread. It only means that you have an extra tool in your arsenal. At the end of the day, bread machines are very convenient, useful and worth every penny.
If you are only looking to make artisan bread such as rye sourdough or other bread, like focaccias, baguettes then a bread machine is not an option for you. or is it?
I can hear my father-in-law and me arguing about it around the dinner table as I’m writing this post: for and against a bread machine.
My father-in-law is an avid fan of the breadmaker. For years he made bread by hand (he is very good around the kitchen) but a few years ago, he got tired of the long process of making bread (I guess the years are starting to show) and asked me to help him look for a good breadmaker.
At first, I was hesitant but as I started to research them the idea of a bread machine became more intriguing.
So there I was, searching, driving around the city to appliance stores to see what is available, talked to salespeople (they are not biased at all 😉 ), researched for hours on the web and read many reviews and comments about different companies. I was trying to find their faults and shortcomings until finally, I found one that we both liked. (To read my review about the bread maker we got for him, and which I believe is the best in the market click here)
It has been over 2 years later and this bread machine is still ticking and producing loaves on a weekly basis.
Since then he has become a bread machine fan, advocating for them at every opportunity. I must say, I was impressed at the convenience of it and the final product is adequate.
If you are thinking about buying a bread machine and have doubts about it I have compiled a list of pros and cons you should consider before embarking on a shopping spree. This should help you make your decision:
Let’s face it, making bread is a long process that takes time. Making bread on the weekend can be fun, but during a workweek, when you get home after work and still have to take care of the household, the chance of you having a burst of energy for making fresh bread are slim.
If you are the type of person who wants fresh bread every day, a bread machine is a solution for you.
Especially if you like to wake up in the morning to the smell of fresh bread filling the house. Most bread machines, have a timer you can set to the middle of the night and by one click of a button you can wake up in the morning to the smell of fresh bread. perfection! These timers have a range of about 12 hours. Meaning you can do all the prep work 12 hours before you want your bread to be ready.
Now that’s convenient!
Some machines also have automatic nut and fruit ( or any other added flavors you will like to add to your bread ) dispensers. These added ingredients are fed automatically into your dough at just the right time, so if you like bread with some nuts and dried fruits for example, then make sure to look for a machine with this added feature for extra convenience.
No-Knead Bread – For Real
Kneading the dough is perhaps the most demanding physical effort when bread baking. Yes, I like the feel of the dough on my hands but many people do not have the patience or ability to knead the dough themselves for various reasons whether it be medical reasons, fatigue that comes with age or any other reason, you can think of.
Anyone who wants to “get around” this step – a bread machine is a great solution. It kneads the bread automatically and makes an excellent job doing it. So even if you want to do everything else yourself – the kneading part can definitely be left to the capable hands of the bread machine.
Clean, Tidy And Easy To Operate
Baking bread is an ancient craft thousand of years old and requires us and our kitchen to devote ourselves to the crafts. When we finish working on the dough, instead of resting and patiently waiting for the bread to come out of the oven, we find our selves cleaning up the kitchen, flour and bits of dough off the counter, dishes in the sink and all that jazz.
The bread machine makes the whole process so much easier.
All you have to do is put the ingredients in the breadmaker, press a button, adjust the timer and that’s it. The kitchen stays clean and all that’s left to do is wait for the bread to be ready. hallelujah!
If you make bread on a daily basis and considering the intense Schedule that most of us maintain and know too well, this factor becomes very significant.
Timing – unlike a mixer, a bread machine will have built-in periods to stop mixing, allow for a rise, punch down the bread, and so on. Machines can also bake the bread, obviously, mixers can’t.
The Healthy Choice
Like anyone who makes bread own his own, making bread at home is a much healthier option than buying bread at a supermarket or even certain bakeries, where most bread is made with some degree of baking enhancements. When deciding what ingredients to put in your bread you can choose healthier ingredients, whether it’s organic flour, whole wheat, gluten-free bread or whatever your diet restriction or preferences.
There is a great selection of cookbooks on the market designed especially for bread machines to help you achieve your bread golds. To read more about it click right here.
If You Are New To Bread Baking
If you have no experience and don’t have the time to learn but you still want freshly baked bread then this is it! The bread machine will make you into a baker quickly. You can, save money, save time, be in control of your diet ( you know what you are putting into your body ) and enjoy fresh bread it’s plain and simple.
The Economical Choice
Bread machines cost anywhere from 65 USD up to 320 USD. How much bread you will be making will determine how long it will be before you cover the cost of the bread machine and start saving your money.
If you are a large family that consumes a lot of bread on a daily basis, it is no doubt that making bread at home is the more economical choice since quality bread in the bakery is not cheap.
When you consider the cost of ingredients, the cost of time and labor and other relevant components to the equation, even if you do not consume bread in large quantities but still make one loaf a week, in the long run you will save money if you make bread yourself.
Bread machines ( not cheap ones ) will last a very long time. From many reviews I have read during my research I have seen people using the same bread machine for over 10 years. My father-in-laws’ bread machine is now about 2 years old and he has not had any issues with it what so ever.
Here is a quick break down of costs for a 1 1/2 lbs loaf
Cost of ingredients for a loaf of 750 grams or 1 1/2 lbs is around 1.50 USD
The price of bread can vary as you know. Cheap white bread ( that I would not even consider ever buying ) is around 3 USD. Artisan-style bread from very good bakeries can cost up to 15 USD or even more.
For the purpose of this calculation, we will take an average of about 6 USD a loaf.
Meaning you will save approximately 4.50 USD per loaf.
If you bake one bread every week that is 52 x 4.50 = 234 USD Savings
The average breadmaker will cost around 150 USD with the most expensive about 320 USD so it is clear to see here how much money this can save you especially if you have a big family and bake more than one bread a week. You could be saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.
Additional Uses For Bread Machine
A bread machine can allow additional uses beyond making bread from start to finish.
It can be used for the dough kneading, the dough can be made into rolls or buns and other uses that can surprise you such as making jam, rice dishes, yogurt, cake, sauces, soup and even scrambled eggs. Not that I necessarily recommend this route, but if for any reason your stove is out of order- it could be a valid alternative.
Here comes my point of view, and the reasons why I, personally, prefer to give up the pleasure of a bread machine:
Baking and Crust
There is just something about bread out of the bread machine that I personally do not get too attached to. This is the crust of the bread. It is much like the crust out of any bread baking pan. This is not really a “Con” but a slight drawback in my preferences for bread.
You don’t get that crispy hard crust that I personally love. This is because these machines do not bake with steam and are baked in a pan.
You could if you wanted to use the bread machine for the mixing, first rise and punch stages, then take it out for the shaping and final rise and bake it in your oven if you’de like a thicker crust. So in that sense, a bread machine can assist you part of the way.
It Needs Constant Supervision On Your Part
Now, this all depends on which machine you get. Some machines are not programmable and fully automatic and you do need to supervise the process.
These machines do have timers on them so you will need to check up on your dough at every stage which makes this process less convenient. So if you are looking for a hands-free hassle-free bread machine you will need to spend a bit more on them.
I strongly suggest getting a bread machine that is fully automatic and hands-free.
Another Gadget On Your Countertop
I’m the first to admit that I’m a gadget lover but at the end of the day, all these products need space (my wife rolls her eyes on me in silent frustration every time I come back home with another great invention we simply “must-have”).
A bread machine is not a small gadget so if you do not have a large kitchen where it can rest undisturbed on your countertop, consider that you need to find a storage space for it, and then there is the whole process of taking it out of storage and putting it back. All I’m saying, make sure you don’t buy a fitness bike only for it to become a very expensive clothes hangers over the years:).
Before purchasing a bread machine check the dimensions and make sure you have counter space for it as it will most likely be sitting on your counter all the time. You will not be shlepping this machine in and out of the cupboard all the time as some of these machines are quite heavy as well.
Sourdough In The Breadmaker?
It is not totally impossible to make sourdough bread in a bread machine but keep in mind that more often than not your breadmaker will not have a preset program for sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread has different rise and proofing times ( usually much longer than using commercial yeast ) and is the main reason why bread machines do not do well with these recipes.
In order to counter this issue, bread machines do have manual modes on them so you can adjust these times yourself but it will take some more time and testing out of you to figure out exactly how to make sourdough bread in your bread machine.
Bread Made With A Bread Machine Is Not Immune To Problems
Bread machines are not immune to baking problems you might get when baking without one.
On paper, bread machines sound simple and easy to use but can present challenges to the baker and cause great frustration.
Common problems in using bread are:
- Bread collapse in the bread machine
- Bread does not rise partly or completely
- Bread comes out heavy and dense
- Bread is gummy inside
- Bread has an unbrowned top
- Bread has a large hole
- Bread is lopsided
Troubleshooting these problems will take some time and effort on your part and as you know time is money.
These issues usually start to happen when you try to be more creative with your bread making and start to search on the web for new recipes.
When getting a recipe online from a third party it has many variables that you might not be aware of. For example, the type of flour that someone used is not available in your part of the world and you end up replacing it with a different brand. The water you use is different. Your bread machines are different and so on.
NOTE: Bread machine companies have a baker as a consultant when they engineer these machines. Use the recipes on your bread machine manual ( most bread machine manual come with recipes ) as these recipes were put together by a professional baker that has experimented with these machines and has specifically tailored these recipes to that specific bread machine.
A Bread Machine Can Be Noisy And Vibrate A Lot
From my research, I also found that many if not all bread machines can be quite noisy, your mixer is probably quite noisy as well I guess.
Another common issue is that the machine vibrates and dances around on the counter. There have been mishaps in the past with breadmakers dancing of the counter and plummeting to their death.
The bread machine is very useful. I would definitely recommend it for all the reasons I mentioned above. You might look at this Pros vs Cons and say ” hey! there are more cons here.” I would have to negate that by saying that the weight of the pros outweighs the Cons just because of the issues of time and money.