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How to choose a home bakery

Why get a home bread machine?

If you want to bake bread at home, a home bread machine will save time and make it easy and convenient to bake. These are the two main benefits of a home bread machine. Just put the ingredients in the pan, set the program, and you are done. Using a home bread machine is as easy as using a washing machine. Just turn it on and wait for it to finish. You can even sleep while it is doing all the work. Without a bread machine you must knead the dough by hand, wait for it to rise (sometimes twice), shape the loaf, put it in the oven, and take it out when it is finished. For some people, all these steps keep them from ever making their own bread at home.

This is why there are home bread machines. Even beginners can bake a great loaf of bread, and it is much healthier and cheaper than buying it from the store. You can use a ready-to-bake mix, or any recipe you like. You can make so many different types of bread – whole wheat, herb, onion, cheese, or even banana.

Many bread machines can do more than just bake bread. For example some machines let you make jam, cracklings, yogurt, and more. Most bread machines can also prepare meat. If these are features you would use, a bread machine can become a much more versatile machine.

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Factors to consider when choosing a bread machine

So you’re interested in a home bread machine, but aren’t sure which one to choose. Here are some things to help you choose the right machine

1. Will I even use the bread machine?

Think about how often you bake and what the chance is that the bread machine will sit gathering dust. Ask friends who use a bread machine how often they use theirs, and for what purpose. Look online at forums and reviews for various models. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you interested in a healthier lifestyle, one that involves healthy or whole grain breads, unlike what you can buy in the store?
  • It is important for you to know what ingredients are in the bread you are eating?
  • Are you celiac and want to save money on expensive gluten-free bread?
  • Have you been baking bread at home for a long time, but would like to do it more easily?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s safe to say that your bread machine would get regular use, and not sit gathering dust on a shelf.

2. For how many people do you bake?

Do you have a large family or just live with a partner? On the market you have to choose between bakeries that bake bread in the range of 500 - 1800 g. Some machines can only handle small loaves, while others can handle medium-sized loaves as well. Only a few machines can make large loaves.

3. Cheap or expensive?

The answer to this depends on how much you are willing to invest in a bread machine. You can find cheap machines for as little as 50 euros that can be fine for occasional use. But if you bake often and want a durable machine, you will need to spend more. Also, you will be less likely to use a cheap machine because cheap machines tend to have problems such as incomplete kneading, noisy operation, peeling metals in the pan, and poor construction. Also, cheap machines are often made from plastics which can, over time, break down and create dangerous fumes. Aluminum is better, but not ideal. The best machines are made from stainless steel, which is durable and doesn’t have any dangerous side effects.

4. One or two kneading blades?

If you know that you will only bake small loaves and you prefer a particular one-blade machine, then it can be enough. If you plan to knead large amounts of dough, it can be a problem in a machine with only one blade. Also, one-bladed machines cannot make long loaves, but only small and tall loaves. Also, one-bladed machines are usually not much smaller than two-bladed machines, so you won’t save much space going with a one-bladed model. We recommend choosing a two-bladed model, whether you use it only for baking bread or for mixing and rising dough that you later shape and cook separately in the oven (like rolls, cookies, etc.)

5. How well does the machine knead the dough?

Much of this relates to our previous point. Beyond this, to see if a particular model is good at kneading, check with a friend who already owns it, or look at the online forums regarding that model. Keep in mind that it is common for most machines to need a little “help” with reaching all the dough. For example, using a wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the bread pan or push the dough closer to the blade can be helpful.

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6. Will you use the machine just for bread or for other things as well?

The vast majority of bread machines have a few preset programs. Check to see what programs a particular model offers, and if this would be suitable for your needs. For example, most bread machines have a “jam” setting which will not only make jam, but also cracklings. But only some machines have a “gluten-free” setting (any machine can bake gluten-free bread, but only some have a program for it to make it easier). A few machines have a setting for yogurt, and other machines can make baguettes. Some machines have a dispenser for things like raisins or sunflower seeds, although these are of limited use since they are rarely used. Some machines use folding kneading blades, which have some advantages, but also the disadvantage of difficult cleaning and they cannot be removed from the bread before baking. Do you want to make lunch or dinner in your machine? It is possible in many models to bake meat or chicken. You can look online to see which models offer this, and how they do it differently.

7. What kind of controls does the machine use?

Every bread machine should be easy to use. Clear, well-labeled controls can make using a machine much easier. Check the control layout to see if it is simple and clear. An illogical jumble of buttons can lead to an unused machine.

8. Do you have space in your kitchen?

You need to make sure you have enough room on your kitchen counter for a particular machine, especially if you plan to use it regularly. A machine kept in the closet will be less likely to be used. Make sure to measure the space before you buy, and remember to take into account enough clearance for the lid to open.

9. How much energy will the machine use?

If you are concerned about energy usage, remember that the maximum power consumption stated is only used when the bread is actually baking. Even though it can take several hours to bake a loaf, much of that time is spent letting the dough rise or in kneading. Roughly speaking, cooking a loaf will use about 0.2 – 0.5 kWh in a bread machine, which is about 1/5 the amount of energy to bake it in the oven.

10. What else to look for?

Unfortunately, many bread machines, even top-quality ones, require a cool-down period before the baking can begin. What this means is that, with certain recipes, risen dough can fall down while waiting for the machine to cool down from the heated rising phase before baking

Things to remember when reading reviews

When choosing a bread machine you need to look at the discussions and reviews on the internet. Remember to take into account that there may be negative reviews from users who didn’t follow the instructions from their machine. Make sure to read the follow-up reviews or replies to these negative reviews. Here are some complaints you may see:

Thumbs down! The machine only has a heating element in the bottom third, which means the top part never gets baked enough.
'What this means: All bread machines have a heating element in the bottom third. This isn’t a design flaw, but is the way all machines are made. If the bread comes out cooked unevenly, this usually means that it was either baked at too high a temperature or for too short a period of time. It is preferable to bake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time for the best evenness of baking. Another cause of this could be dough that is too heavy for the intended use, or a recipe with a bad ratio of dry to liquid ingredients. The usual culprit here is using too much flour.

Thumbs down! My loaf only has crust on the top. It looks like a bun!
What it means: In a bread machine, the bread is in contact with the bottom and sides of the pan, so a crust can only form on the top. This isn’t a flaw, but how all bread looks from a bread machine. It is still far better than anything bought in a store.

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Thumbs down! There’s a hole in my bread!
What it means: Kneading blades take space, so they will always leave a hole or tears in the loaf. Some machines allow you to remove the blades before the baking phase, while others will fold down before baking. Either way there will still be some hole or tear. Folding blades have the advantage of allowing less tearing of the loaf after baking. Removable blades will leave less damage, but the small turning axle will still leave small holes in the bottom of the loaf. Both of these are preferable to machines that leave the entire blade in, which cannot be removed without significant damage to the loaf.

Thumbs down! My loaves are always sunken. This machine must be broken!
What it means: Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Almost always, however, the machine is not the reason. It usually lies in the recipe, or in the way the ingredients are added, or the temperature of the liquids. The cause of a sunken loaf is often too much of the liquid ingredients, or an incorrect amount of yeast. It can also happen that the user selected the wrong program for the size of the loaf being cooked. With practice, this problem usually solves itself. Someone bread will lead to someone not. Almost always, however, the fault is not in the bakery. You must choose a different approach or recipe and gain some experience with baking. The cause of forfeited bread is often too much water / milk / oil (liquid ingredients) or yeast / sourdough recipe. Some bakeries in turn is necessary to set the cooking time by weight of the dough. It is therefore possible that a consumer erroneously chosen program for small bread.

Thumbs down! I can’t get the loaf out of the pan It is sticking.
What it means: You need to wait until the pan cools down. Then it is easier to take out the bread.

Thumbs down! It takes 3 hours to bake a loaf. That is too long!
What it means: This isn’t a flaw in a bread machine. Mixing, kneading, rising, and baking take time. In addition, the baking can be done while the user is doing other things. Home-baked bread is definitely worth the wait

We wish you good luck in choosing your bread machine!