There is nothing quite like the smell and flavor of freshly baked bread. With all of the different models and wide array of features and functions, and can be challenging to figure out what is the best bread maker for your needs.
There are many types of bread makers (also referred to as a "bread machine") to choose from. Most provide the same general functionality: baking bread. Bread machine features vary widely.
After reading this guide, you should be able to identify the type of bread maker that's right for you so you can make that perfect loaf of homemade bread whenever you want.
An overview of how the Hamilton Beach 2 lb breadmaker works
Some bread makers like the Kalamera 18 in 1 breadmaker come with adjustable loaf sizes. This adjustable loaf capacity in this particular breadmaker allows you to make up to three different bread loaf sizes. This can come in handy depending on the crowd that you're anticipating gathering around your dining room table for fresh bread.
Some breadmakers come with an alarm feature that will alert you when your loaf of bread has finished. This can prevent your bread from browning. An even better option to prevent overbaking would be looking for a breadmaker with an auto-shutoff option if you don't think you'll be close to the breadmaker during the cooking cycle.
Many breadmakers come with automatic shutoff. When the baking cycle is complete, the breadmaker will automatically turn off so as to not overcook your bread.
Some breadmakers come with a convection baking option. These breadmakers will circulate the air with a fan while baking - much like the way a convection oven is able to evenly distribute the heat throughout an oven.
This can provide a more uniform crust color and texture than standard baking options.
Crust color control (also called browning control or crust setting) on a breadmaker is used to determine the browning of the crust. Typical crust color settings are light, medium, or dark shades.
The perfect crust color is achieved by using the crust control setting that is right based on your preferences as well as the type of bread being made.
Many breadmakers come with a delayed bake option - sometimes for as long as 15 hours. The breadmaking process takes a significant amount of time from start to finish.
A delayed bake option allows you flexibility in your prep time in creating a loaf of bread. You don't have to prepare all the ingredients and begin baking immediately.
Instead, you can prepare the ingredients when your schedule allows. Then set the breadmaker to begin baking at a time in the future. This way, the bread will be ready to eat at the exact time that you choose.
Breadmaker on a countertop
The last thing you want to do after making a delicious home-baked bread is spend hours scrubbing dirty dishes. Fortunately, many breadmakers have parts that are dishwasher safe.
Most breadmakers have several parts that need to be washed by hand, including the paddle and the bread pan. But a dishwasher-safe breadmaker eliminates the need for all that scrubbing and allows for a much easier cleanup process.
Just pop the parts in the dishwasher and let it do the work for you.
A breadmaker with a fruit and nut dispenser is a nice perk that adds convenience to the breadmaker for specialty breads. With this type of breadmaker, fruit or dough is added to your bread at the right time.
Just add the fruit or nuts to the dispenser, and the breadmaker will do the rest. This is especially handy for baking breads like banana bread or raisin bread, as you can simply add the bananas or raisins to the dispenser and let the breadmaker do its work.
Plus, with a breadmaker with a fruit and nut dispenser, you don't have to worry about overloading your bread dough with too much fruit or nuts; the breadmaker will dispense and evenly distribute the correct amount for each batch of bread.
As part of the breadmaking process, ingredients are mixed within the breadmaker by an internal kneading paddle. Some breadmakers - like the Cuisinart 2 lb Convection Bread Maker - actually come with two kneading paddles to provide improved kneading. You can expect to pay a bit more for breadmakers with kneading paddles.
Some kneading paddles are removable. Removable paddles allow you to have a loaf of bread that looks more uniform and is free of holes that are created by the paddles.
The majority of breadmakers now have LCD Displays located on the very top of the unit. These displays offer advantages over breadmakers without displays.
For one, they're easily visible in all lighting conditions, so you can always see how much time is left on the timer. They also are easier to tell at a glance when your bread will be ready - rather than messing with knobs or dials.
Breadmaker see through window and clearly visible baking controls
Some breadmakers come with a non-stick interior that makes it quite a bit easier for you to remove your loaf of bread without leaving part of the loaf of bread stuck to the pan. Non stick also will be a big help when it comes time to clean up after you're done baking.
Many breadmakers have a setting that will allow you to have your bread more quickly than a standard bake cycle. This programmable setting - sometimes called a "quick bread" setting will generally get you a loaf of bread in an hour and a half or less - a fraction of the time required for a typical bake cycle.
You'll want to use instant bread machine yeast (also call rapid rise yeast) when baking bread using the quick bake / rapid bake option.
Some breadmakers come with an adjustable thermostat to provide you with precise control over the breadmaking process. Many breadmakers come with pre-programmed baking options. Having an adjustable thermostat allows you to fine-tune your baking needs - especially if you're baking bread that doesn't neatly fit into one of the programmable baking options.
Many breadmakers have a warming setting that will keep your bread warm after the baking cycle has been completed. Warm fresh baked bread is obviously preferable to bread that falls to room temperature.
This gives you the flexibility to let the bread sit for a while and yet still be certain that the bread is warm and delicious when served.
Many breadmakers come with a window that allows you to view the progress of the bread baking process. The window provides you with peace of mind that the bread is baking according to plan. This way, you can adjust your baking strategy on the fly if needed to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you go to remove the bread at the end of the baking cycle.
Despite being a relatively small appliance that won't occupy most countertops except when in use, breadmakers do come in a variety of finishes and colors.
Stainless steel is the most popular finish for breadmakers due to its durability and easy-to-clean surface.
Other popular color choices include silver, grey, black stainless steel, white and blue - to name just a few.
Not all loaves have the same baking requirements. Almost all breadmakers have programmable options that support baking a wide variety of breads.
Types of bread goods supported by many breadmakers :
Bread in the pan that comes with a bread machine
Breadmakers aren't limited to just baking bread, cake or dough. Many breadmakers have the capability to make items like jam and even yogurt.
Compared to other kitchen appliances - especially large kitchen appliances - there are relatively few breadmaker manufacturers. Some of the more prominent breadmaker brands are shown below.
The average price will generally range between $50 and $200 USD. You can get a bare-bones model for a bit over $50. The more you're willing to spend, the more bells and whistles (see the features above) that your breadmaker will likely have on board.
Considering you can spend $200 or more on a bread maker, you'll want your machine to last a long time. Most bread makers have anywhere from a 1 to 3 year warranty. Many of those warranties are quite limited, so you'll want to read the fine print before making a purchase.
Bread makers that undergo heavy use will likely break down more quickly. The more bells and whistles that a breadmaker has, the higher the chance is that something will go wrong (because there are more components that can fail).
Reviews from different retailer sites (like homedepot.com, lowes.com, wayfair.com, and amazon.com) are good resources to check bread maker reliability. If a bread maker has relatively poor reviews and common sources of failure, then you may wish to consider a different bread maker.