How To Choose Bread Maker

In the past, it was quite possible to buy a breadmaker that was almost incapable of baking a decent loaf of bread. There were some good bread makers and MANY bad ones! Today, if you buy a bread maker from a decent company (Panasonic, Morphy Richards and Kenwood are three of the most popular) then you can be fairly certain it’ll bake a loaf of bread. If you buy a bread maker that DOESN’T bake a loaf of bread, you’ve got a pretty good reason to ask for a refund!

With that said there are some major differences between the various breadmakers on the market at the moment. The most obvious difference is price. Bread makers range from low prices with basic features, such as the Morphy Richards 48330, to over £100 with more advanced options, such as the excellent Panasonic SD-2501WXC. Although both are capable of baking a loaf of bread, the more expensive machines often have settings for loaf size, crust colour, programmes for different types of bread, delay timers and even advanced functions such as gluten free cycles.

So how do you go about choosing a new breadmaker? The two main factors when choosing are your budget and how often you plan on using the machine. If you have a low budget then your decision is often made easier. If you only plan on baking a loaf every couple of weeks then you probably don’t need many of the advanced functions that come with more expensive models.

It can be easy to get caught up in the all the advanced features on more expensive breadmakers. These features can all be useful, but try to think about which ones you’ll actually use on a regular basis.  Don’t let these extras affect your decision to a great extent.

The most important features for a first time bread maker are:

  • Ability to bake white and brown bread with a basic cycle.
  • Loaf size that’s big enough for your household.

Everything else is a bonus. It’s great to have timers, delay settings, fast bake cycles and keep warm functions, but these aren’t essential if you’re on a tight budget.

Ease of use is also important for buying a first time breadmaker. Most modern machines are relatively straightforward to use, but try to get one with an LCD display. A viewing window can be handy but isn’t essential. Read online reviews to see what other people who’ve bought the product have said about the ease of use.

Here’s a list of the most common design features and cycles of a modern breadmaker. Have a look down the list and see which ones you think are essential, nice to have and not needed.

  • Style – how the breadmaker looks isn’t the most important factor on this list, but if you need the machine to sit on the work surface permanently then how it looks is something to consider. The size of the machine is also important.
  • Viewing Windows – some breadmakers have a viewing window so you can see how your bread is progressing.
  • Delay Timer – a delay timer lets you get all the ingredients ready and then set the breadmaker to bake the bread sometime in the future. Most breadmakers with this features have a delay timer between 10-16 hours, making it easy to wake up to fresh bread in the morning.
  • Timer – a standard timer tells you when the bread is baked. If your machine doesn’t come with a timer then you’ll need to time it manually.
  • Cycles – the normal cycle on a breadmaker is usually the basic cycle, which is capable of baking all types of dough and bread. Some machines also come with additional cycles such as for cakes or jam.
  • Keep Warm – if you don’t want to eat the bread immediately a keep warm function heats the bread for around an hour after the cycle finishes.
  • Quick/Rapid Cycle – a cycle with a reduced cooking time for when you need your bread in a hurry. Can be as quick as an hour on some machines.
  • Programmable – some breadmakers let you program your own cycles by setting the kneading time and additional parameters.
  • Gluten Free – some bread makers, such as the Panasonic SD2500WXC, have a built in gluten free cycle.
  • Automatic Raisin/Nut Dispenser – this feature, which is present on models such as the Andrew James Premium Bread Maker, can automatically dispense extra ingredients at the correct time during the baking cycle.
  • Crust Colour – Some breadmakers let you set the colour of the crust.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that paying more money for a breadmaker doesn’t always mean you get a higher quality machine. The most important feature of ANY breadmaker is the quality of bread it produces.

2 Comments/Reviews

  • John the Elder says:

    For those who, like me, cannot eat wheat but can eat other grains the amount of control given to the user is of prime importance. Standard programs always assume that the flour is a wheat flour, so the ability write your own program into the machine (or at least vary the times/temperatures of existing programs) would be a great advantage.

  • John Hammond says:

    I have used a breadmaker for many years & now it’s time to replace my old model. One of the most important things for me is the feature offered in the Morphy Richards 48324, ie the collapsing of the kneading paddles. Is this the only make that offers this?

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