Bread Maker Comparison
|10.50 x 18.00 x 13.00||13.50 x 14.00 x 9.00||13.80 x 13.00 x 14.10||12.25 x 18.00 x 15.00||16.38 x 12.38 x 12.75||13.50 x 12.20 x 13.50||10.00 x 15.00 x 13.00||13.56 x 12.81 x 18.88||12.00 x 16.50 x 10.25||11.00 x 8.00 x 12.00|
Bread Maker Buying Guide
What is a Bread Maker?
Fresh baked bread is one of life’s simple pleasures. The trouble with making fresh bread is that it takes hours of kneading, rising, punching down, kneading and rising again. The all-day process, is not something many people have time for with today’s busy lifestyles.
The bread maker comes along and is a temperature controlled machine that kneads, rests, kneads and rests until the bread is ready to bake. The temperature on the machine will adjust for each cycle allowing you to add the ingredients, set the bread maker and return hours later to a fresh loaf of bread. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
How Does It Work?
The bread maker is designed to bake bread automatically. The cycles for kneading and risingwill operate based on the type of bread you are making. Each type of bread has different requirements and cycles. The motor will begin on a very low temperature setting to help activate the yeast and create the best rise for the dough. Then the baking time will adjust based on the type of bread and the crust color selected. Some bread machines will stop after the kneading and rise cycles to allow you to shape and use the dough for other items like bagels, pizza, or pretzels. Other bread makers also allow for a bake only cycle which can be used for non-yeast breads like banana or zucchini bread.
Parts to a Bread Maker
Bread makers have a very simple design with three basic parts. There is an oven (motor and heating elements), a bread pan and a kneading paddle.
The kneading paddle will mix the ingredients on a specific schedule depending on the type of bread being made. It is important that the paddle be large enough to get all of the ingredients incorporated evenly for the best tasting and lightest possible bread. The one downside to home bread makers is that the paddle ends up in the bottom of the loaf when the bread has finished cooking. For this reason the paddles are generally as small as possible. Some consumers take the time to remove the paddle from the bread dough before it starts baking, which eliminates the paddle in the finished loaf.
Paddles generally have a nonstick coating to prevent the bread from sticking to the paddle. It is not difficult to remove and is very easy to clean.
Bread Pan. The loaf pan with either be vertical or horizontal and will come with a non-stick coating. This provides for easy removal of the finished loaf, as well as easy cleaning. Most bread maker pans and paddles are hand wash only, but with the nonstick coating the clean-up is a snap. The most common loaf size is a 2 pound loaf, though some bread pans offer as large as a 2.5 pound option and as small as a 1 pound loaf.
Motor, heating unit. Bread making is very temperature sensitive. The bread making machines will provide low temperatures during the kneading and rise cycles which speed the rising of the dough. Then the baking cycle temperature will depend on the type of bread you are making. For express cycles the bread s baked at a higher temperature than traditional bread and will result in a harder crust and denser bread than the longer cycles.
Why Consumers Love Bread Makers
Healthy and Nutritious Option. As healthy foods like organic fruits and vegetables and free range meats become more available, consumers are paying more attention to what goes into the food you eat. What better way to control these ingredients than by making your own bread.
A bread maker gives you complete control over the ingredients that are used. You can create delicious foods without any artificial colors or preservatives. Use the flour of your choice and then add ingredients your family loves. There is so much creativity that can be found with breads and bread products that your family will never get bored eating the same foods every day.
Homemade bread can be an essential part to eating a balanced diet and controlling the fiber and nutrients your family consumes. Fresh bread can be high in fiber and low in fat providing a healthy and delicious part of your meals.
Convenience. For those who love fresh bread but do not have the time to knead, let rise, knead and let rise for several hours, a bread maker is the perfect solution. There are recipe books written specifically for bread machines and most machines come with basic recipes to get you started.
Simplicity. Bread makers are very simple to operate. Just add the ingredients, choose your bread and set the machine. It will do the rest. Several hours later you have fresh baked bread for your family to enjoy. It doesn’t get much easier than that to enjoy healthy homemade bread.
Versatility. Today’s bread makers can make many different types of breads. The more versatile the machine the higher the price tag. Health conscious consumers can create fresh whole wheat bread, honey wheat bread and even gluten free options, knowing exactly what has been added. In addition to traditional breads some machines allow you to create a dough that can be shaped and baked in the oven. Others offer the ability to make quick breads that do not need kneading and rising, only baking. Still others offer the ability to make other foods like jams and meatloaf in their bread makers, creating a very versatile appliance.
Common Features of Bread Makers
Non Stick Pans. Most bread machines come with a non-stick pan. This provides easy removal of the bread when it is finished along with easy clean up. Often both the paddles for kneading and the pan are made with a nonstick coating. If the coating begins to peel it is important to replace the bread pan, as the peeling material will get in the bread. To prevent peeling do not use metal utensils on the bread pan. Only use plastic or silicone.
Size of the Pan. Bread makers will make loafs of bread that are measured by the pound. It will make a 1, 1.5, 2 or 2.5 pound loaf. For a small family of 2 or 3 a one or one and a half pound loaf should be adequate depending on how much bread your family eats. For families of 4 or more the 2 or 2.5 pound loafs will be a better fit as far as the size of the finished loaf. The larger capacity bread makers will also be larger the overall size of the bread maker, though most units are compact enough to leave on the countertop. If you get a larger capacity bread maker, some units allow you to create smaller loaf sizes.
Horizontal versus vertical. The taste will be the same with either shape. Some consumers really want the horizontal loafs because it has more crust over the surface of the bread and looks similar to store bought breads. The vertical units will take up less counter space.
Delay Starts. Many bread makers offer a delay start. This allows you to add the ingredients, but not start the bread making right away. You can set the timer for the end of the day or even to be finished first thing in the morning. This feature increases the flexibility of making bread and timers can often delay the start for up to 13 hours. Express breads cannot utilize the delay start option.
Rapid Bake. For those who do not plan well, the rapid bake feature can provide bread in one to three hours depending on the unit. Since light and airy bread requires a series of kneading and rising, the express options will produce denser bread. If you come home and have a taste for fresh baked bread, being able to have homemade bread in an hour or so, makes this feature both popular and useful for many families.
Crust Color. Nearly all bread makers give you the option of selecting whether you want light or dark crust. Many have three options which include a medium crust.
Microprocessors are found on higher end models. Theprocessor will adjust the baking temperature based on the bread and the environment. It will make automatic adjustments for higher altitudes, room temperatures and other factors. This creates more precision during the baking process and will produce bread like it came from a bakery.
Convection baking has become a buzzword in cooking. This process uses air circulation to create more even heat distribution. Some higher end units offer convection as either a setting option or as the primary baking method.
Pre-ProgrammedSettings. Each bread maker will have a selection of breads it is designed to bake. This may be the most important feature for consumers. Knowing what your family enjoys and what breads you want to make may be a deciding factor as to which bread maker is right for you. Common settings that are found on most bread makers include the white (or basic), French bread and wheat bread options. From there menus can include quick breads, dough only, bake only, artisan breads and gluten free options. For those who will be doing a lot of baking, the more options create a much more versatile machine.
Bread makers are a very popular appliance because they take all of the work out of making homemade bread. If you haven’t used a bread maker, or haven’t used one in a number of years, it is time to give it a try. The newer models create loaves of bread that are light and delicious. They provide a healthy way to give your family fiber without all of the salt and sugar found in store bought bread products.
Families love the ability to control the ingredients and to be able to start the machine and return home after a long day of work to the smell of fresh baked bread. There is nothing better than slathering jelly on a slice of homemade bread. It makes everything feel right with the world.
Begin to enjoy this comfort food in a healthy way, by using a bread maker to create foods that your entire family will ask for over and over. Determine which breads your family enjoys the most and how often you will be using the machine. Then choose the bread maker with the necessary features to create years of enjoyment.
- Zojirushi BB PAC20 Bread Maker Image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/
- Zojirushi BB PAC20 Bread Maker: http://www.zojirushi.com/
- Panasonic SD YD250 Bread Maker Image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com
- Panasonic SD YD250 Bread Maker: http://shop.panasonic.com/
- Oster-CKSTBRTW20-2-Pound-Expressbake Bread Maker Image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com
- Oster-CKSTBRTW20-2-Pound-Expressbake Bread Maker: http://www.oster.com/