If you don’t know exactly what you want from your bread machine before you buy, you’re almost sure to be disappointed with it. I want it to bake bread you say, but what sort of bread, how large a loaf, how quickly to bake, how many preprograms do you require, or do you want to program your own, and what is your budget? To find the best bread machine know what you want beforehand. Here’s a review of popular models and what they offer.
Cheap Bread Machine
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for something sub par. There are several excellent models on the market today that offer all the bake settings and other functions that will satisfy all but the most serious of home bakers.
Both the Sunbeam 5891 and the Toastmaster TBR15 bread maker are fine machines that offer excellent value for money. They both retail for a low price of around $40 but you get many programs to choose from. If counter space is limited then the TBR15 is ideal with measurements of 13″h x 13″w x 11.75″d; the 5891 is a little bigger at 12″h x 10″w x 14.5″. However, the larger size of the Sunbeam is because it can bake either 1.5lb or 2lb loafs, whereas the maximum loaf size of the Toastmaster is 1.5lbs. The 5891 also has the edge on the number of programs available; 12 compare to 8. The programs include basic yeast breads, sweet breads, and express baking, to cakes, dough preparation, and jam. Both models offer an express bake program.
It’s difficult to say which is the best out of the two, but because it offers more bake cycles and because it’s overall styling is better, the Sunbeam bread machine is the one to go for.
Many want a bread machine because they want to bake fresh, wholesome bread fast. Just about all brands now offer an express bake cycle; from the most basic and cheap to the most feature-loaded, expensive models. But, if you’re looking for a no fuss model that bakes most types of bread, at a reasonable cost then you should consider the Sunbeam 5891 mentioned above. However, if you can stretch to another $20 or so, take a look at the Oster 5838 ExpressBake bread maker. Its rounded corners and oval shape make this model very nice to look at and, as its name suggests, its biggest feature is its express bake cycle – fresh baked bread from start to finish in 58 minutes. Other features of this Oster bread machine include a 13 hour delay bake, 60 minute keep warm and a removable lid for easy cleaning.
Traditional Shaped Loaves
A lot of people are disappointed with bread makers because the loaf they bake doesn’t have that long, rectangular shape of a traditionally baked loaf. This is because the bread pan is either vertical or a horizontal one that looks squarer more than rectangular. However, for those that like rectangular loaves, there are models that deliver. The Cuisinart CBK-200 is a bread machine that can bake 1, 1.5 or 2lb loaves and it comes with 16 program cycles, of which the low-carb and gluten free are worthy of mention. Also, it offers a special menu option that takes basic dough through several long, slow cool rises for chewier textures and rustic crusts. The machine is made with a brushed stainless steel casing with black trim; it has a very retro look – how something looks on the counter is a consideration for some.
The Zojirushi BBCC-X20 is another bread maker that makes excellent traditionally shaped loaves. Some consider this brand to be the Rolls-Royce of breadmakers. Its plastic casing and somewhat inelegant design should not put you off. It comes with a plethora of features including a special sourdough starter cycle. For those who wish to program their own bake cycles, the Zo machine offers 3 custom cycles – you have full control on the mixing, resting, kneading, baking and warming of the bread.
The Cuisinart is a lot cheaper of the two and is probably the best bet for those who want a very good machine with lots of features that produces nice rectangular loaves. But, if money isn’t a issue then you should pay serious consideration to the Zojirushi bread machine.
The Best Bread Machine
This is difficult. Baking bread is as much art as it is science and all bakers are artists and all artists have strong opinions about the tools they use. But, it would be fair to say that all serious home bakers want a machine that is reliable and sturdy and will give many years service. It should also have many program cycles but it should also allow one to program in one’s own baking cycles for maximum flexibility. And, above all, it should bake bread to perfection; every time.
The Zojirushi BBCCX20 mentioned above is such a machine. Another is the Breadman Ultimate. Like the Zo, it comes with a host of preprogrammed cycles; 35 in all with 300 sub programs. Its loaf shape isn’t as pleasing as the Zo, but it offers more features. For starts, you get a 24 hour delay timer rather than the paltry 13 hours of the Zojirushi. You also get a longer power failure backup of 60 minutes. But, what is really a big selling point of the Breadman bread machine is its patented ‘x-tras’ dispenser. This means you can put in your extra ingredients, like fruit that is added in later after the first mix, right at the beginning along with the rest of the ingredients. This breadmaker really does do it all.
Personally, I vote for the Breadman as being the best bread machine, though I’m sure there are many who would disagree. But, whichever is best for you depends on knowing what it is you want before you buy; think deeply, buy wisely and bake contentedly.