So you want to buy a bread maker?

So you want to buy a bread maker?

First of all, if you are considering purchasing a bread maker, you have come to the right place. If this is your first bread maker, you will be amazed by how much easier it is to use a machine to either completely make your bread for you, or else to help you with the more difficult processes of mixing and kneading the dough.

Although there are other options to help make bread making easier, my strong recommendation is to go with a dedicated full function bread machine.  The real advantage is the time savings and the neatness factor.  Once you hit the start button (many models also have a timer function) you can leave the machine completely alone until your bread is baked and ready!  No need to be there watching over the bread to check on how it’s rising and if it’s ready to punch down, shape, or bake.  You also don’t have the mess involved with kneading and shaping the dough.

If this is not your first bread maker, you may be a little overwhelmed by the number of models and options that are available in the market now. This just goes to show you how popular bread makers are becoming in today’s busy times!

There are several options available if you want to buy a bread maker, and a dedicated bread machine is not your only option.  Sometimes it may make sense to use another appliance to help with mixing and kneading, especially if your budget and kitchen storage space are very limited.

Machines that help with mixing and kneading

The stand mixer

A large and powerful stand mixer such as the Kitchenaid will be able to mix and knead large loaves of bread, usually using a special dough hook that often comes with the mixer. For years this is how I made all my bread. If you already have one of these mixers, or are considering purchasing one for other purposes, this can be a great option. The disadvantage is that you will have to take care of the shaping, rising, and baking of the dough yourself, which can often take several hours. You can’t walk away and leave it the way you would with a special purpose bread machine.

The biggest advantage to a stand mixer is the huge capacity.  With a 5-quart machine, you can mix up to four loaves of bread at a time.  With a 6-quart machine, you can mix up to EIGHT loaves of bread at a time!  If you need to bake bread in large volumes, this is your answer.

The food processor

A large capacity and powerful food processor can do a great job of mixing and kneading dough, and it’s super quick. You will need a heavy duty machine with at least a 14 cup capacity that includes a dough blade to make full loaves of bread. You can’t go wrong with a Cuisinart model like this one.  Once I discovered this easy method, I started using my food processor to mix and knead instead of my Kitchenaid stand mixer. An advantage is that it’s really neat and very quick, you only need to pulse to mix and process the dough for about 60 seconds to knead it.  It also has a larger capacity than bread machines, as you can make up to two 1.5 pound loaves at a time (recipes calling for up to 6 cups of flour).  Again, you will need to do the rising, shaping, and baking yourself.

The all-in-one bread maker

This is a full service bread machine, and it’s by far the quickest and easiest way to make bread. Once I bought my first bread machine, I never went back. OK, I do occasionally still use my mixer or food processor if I want to be a little more hands on (for old time’s sake) or make multiple loaves at once, but VERY rarely.

With a dedicated bread machine, you simply measure the ingredients, place them into the machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, and press start!  It takes a total of maybe 5-10 minutes to make bread.  There are many additional features that are available depending on the model, such as a timer so that you can have quickly mix a loaf at night and have fresh bread ready when you wake up in the morning.  There is nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh bread!

The only real disadvantage is the cost of an additional appliance, and the storage space it takes up in your cabinets or pantry. If you make bread regularly, though, you will definitely find it not only worth the space but also economical as you will save money over buying store bought bread.  Some machines are more compact and don’t even take up much space! Plus you can find bread machines to suit almost any budget.

There are a variety of bread machines available on the market to suit different budgets and needs, and we will review the most popular models here.  My personal favorites are the Zojirushi machines.

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