If you are one of those people who can’t resist the smell of freshly baked bread, it is time to stop lurking around your local bakery, and bring that smell into your own home. Don’t worry about the hard work that it usually takes to make bread, as you can skip all of that if you invest in a quality bread machine. Not only will a bread maker allow you to always enjoy freshly baked bread, but it will also be good for your health, as you will no longer have to eat the synthetic ingredients that are usually found in store-bought bread. There are numerous bread machines on the market, but in order to make the right choice, you must find one that suits your particular needs.
What to look for in a bread maker
Bread makers come with a lot of bells and whistles, but don’t rush into buying the most sophisticated machine, as it might not be the right choice for your particular needs. There are a few essential factors that you need to consider before you make this purchase: price, capacity, features and recipe options.
Depending on their features and their construction, bread makers can cost as little as $50 or as much as $400. Obviously enough, even if you can afford the best bread machine, you should take other factors into account as well, as expensive doesn’t always mean top quality, not to mention the fact that you may never use some of the fancy features of an expensive bread machine. However, we don’t advise you to buy the cheapest machine either, especially if you want to use it on a daily basis. The cheap models are usually pretty basic, delivering simple loaves of bread that don’t taste that good either. Moreover, if you plan on using the bread machine on a daily basis, a cheap model might break in a couple of months, as it most likely has low quality components.
The size and the capacity of a bread maker dictates the size of the loaves that it is capable of baking. To find the best bread machine for your needs, you need to consider for how many people you are baking, and how much bread you or your family usually eat. The capacity of these machines is listed in pounds and it ranges from 0.5 to 2 pounds. If you are single, opt for the smallest capacity, because homemade bread will deteriorate very fast, since it doesn’t contain any preservatives. For a family of three, opt for a 1 lb. or a 1.5 lb. capacity, and choose the biggest capacity if you are baking for a larger family.
The features are the main factors that make the difference between different bread machines. Simple models only have a normal and a quick baking cycle, they have classic buttons and they don’t come with any accessories. The more expensive a machine is, the more features it will have. From special accessories like baguette baking trays or bread knives, to programmable timers or LCD displays, bread machines can come with numerous bells and whistles. However, try not to get distracted by so many options, and consider whether you actually need all these features. A programmable machine can be a great option if you want to wake up to the smell of fresh bread, but maybe you don’t need a fancy LCD display or other convenience features.
As we already mentioned, basic models only have two baking cycles for traditional bread. However, some models come with several cycles for different bread specialties. If you want to experiment with different recipes, choose a machine with versatile baking cycles. Some models even allow you to customize the baking cycle for personal recipes, and some come with automatic dispensers for special ingredients like dry fruits or nuts. Bread machines can also be used for other recipes as well. You can use them to make jam, pizza dough or even risotto.