When buying a bread maker, the first consideration is size and capacity.
Another consideration is how often the bread machine will be used and for what else, aside from bread.
A time delay feature of at least 8 hours is one of the most useful things to look for in a bread machine.
The most basic features are crust controls that let you choose how light or dark a crust you want.
Introduction to Bread Makers
There's nothing quite like freshly-baked loaves, especially on those mornings when a big breakfast is necessary to jump-start a day. A bread maker or bread machine provides the convenience of making and eating home-baked bread in half the time and effort spent using traditional baking methods.
A bread maker is an investment, saving busy families on the rising prices of different kinds of breads and offering custom-made loaves based on preferences, such as gluten-free or low salt content.
The Bread Maker
Bread makers are some of the simplest and easiest small kitchen appliances to operate. Like making bread the traditional way, all a bread machine entails is for you to combine several ingredients, then it does the rest of the work. A bread maker kneads the ingredients then lets the dough rise before baking.
A motorised paddle or dough hook handles the kneading while an internal heating element gives off the heat needed for the dough to rise and be baked. Bread maker models have various kneading, rising and baking times and temperatures, as well as features and functions. When buying a bread machine, it's important for you to look at several key aspects before making a final choice.
When buying a bread maker, the first consideration is size and capacity. Most bread machines are capable of making from 500g to 1kg loaves, ideal for couples and small families. If you intend to make bread often and for large groups, choose a bread maker with a bigger capacity. Different bread makers produce different loaves – some round, elongated, vertical or horizontal. While this is a matter of personal preference, horizontal is the more common option, as vertical loaves can take a bit more work to slice due to a softer crust.
A 500g loaf usually makes 8 slices, a 750g loaf makes 12, and a 1kg loaf makes 16. A time delay feature of at least 8 hours is one of the most useful things to look for in a bread machine. This lets you add ingredients in, then set the timer so that you can go home or wake up to bread that's perfectly done. Time delays work best on bread recipes that don't call for ingredients that spoil easily, like cheese.
Bread makers also have a “keep warm” function that you can use when you won't be around. Take note, however, that bread kept too long inside a bread maker is likely to get soggy or too soft, so it's still best to take a loaf out of the machine right away.
Depending on the model, bread makers have several settings or pre-programmed options that you can use. The most basic consist of crust controls that let you choose how light or dark a crust you want, and options to make different kinds of bread like rye, whole wheat, gluten-free, and gourmet breads.
Bread machines also allow you to make dough without baking it, which is useful for things like pizza or pasta dough.
The more sophisticated bread makers have additional programs for bagels, baguettes, cakes and pastries, even jam, and so much more. If you want to use your bread machine to make a wide variety of baked goods, it would be wise to invest in a high-end model that lets you experiment a lot. Other useful features to look for are automatic fruit/nut/herb dispensers which easily add extra ingredients in while kneading. A progress indicator that tells you at what stage your bread making is will be helpful, as well as a transparent viewing window that lets you see what's going on inside the machine.
There are bread mixes especially for bread makers now being sold at grocery stores. You can either use these or follow bread maker recipes. In any case, remember that a bread machine of excellent quality from a trusted brand name is always your best and safest bet.