- Food and Cooking
Home Baking with Breadmakers or Bread-Machines
Home Baking with a Breadmaker
Wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread.
There are many advantages to making you own bread: fresh bread always available; no need to go shopping regularly; you know what is in the food you are eating, e.g. no preservatives; you can adjust the recipe to suit your taste and make a loaf of the size you require. In addition to that, if you use a breadmaker, you don't actually have to do anything apart from pour in the ingredients... Oh, yes. And it tasted really good too.
This article includes a review of a good breadmaker (or Bread Machine): The Panasonic SD-255WXC
A year ago I would never have expected to be the proud owner of a breadmaker let alone be writing a review of one. Rather than being a master-baker, I am more of a mad chemist who likes to eat his experiments, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive this machine for Christmas, to aid my research. Breadmaking has never been my forte, with the exception, perhaps of pizza.
Breadmaker for Sale
My kitchen, using estate agent language, is of modest proportions (i.e. Little more than a cupboard with a hotplate) so superfluous gadgetry is bannished, but this robotic wonder permanently occupies some very valuable work-top real estate. It too is of modest proportions, with a footprint of less than one foot (30cm) square, although fairly tall at about 40cm. It is extremely easy to operate, simply put the ingredients into the metal bread-pan, first making sure the rotating kneading paddle/blade is in place at the bottom, lift open the lid of the bread-maker drop the baking pan in, twisting slightly to engage the motor, close the lid then choose the loaf size and baking options specified in the recipe and set the timer if you want the bread later e.g. for breakfast. The controls are simple buttons on the top panel which allow you to cycle through each option. The bread needs to be removed fairly quickly on completion to prevent overcooking.
Instructions and Recipes
The instruction manual/recipe book is a thin A4 paper booklet, with just 35 pages, but has good operating instructions, trouble-shooting for when it doesn't quite go as planned and a very good range of recipes. The machine does all the work for you, so knowing how it is doing it is irrelevant. All you need to know is the ingredients and quantities and the options to set. There are also many books on the subject for further recipes. The main problem I found was in determining quantities. The bread-maker comes with a measuring jug and spoons, but the recipes use weights for all dry ingredients, and I have no scales so I had to convert the recipes to volumes.
The Panasonic has three loaf-size options for many recipes M, L and XL (varying in height only, and approximately corresponding to the range of sizes found in a supermarket) and many baking options including whole wheat (5 hours), rye (3.5 hours) basic white and brown loaves (4 hours), sandwich (crustless, 5 hours), French (6 hours) and Italian (4.5 hours) gluten-free (2 hours) and also a dough only setting so you can cook rolls or loaves in the oven or the fantastic 45 minute pizza mode. There are quick loaf modes too, which can be finished in under 2 hour buts require slightly different recipes and are perhaps less consistent in quality.
The results are good. Not perhaps the best bread I have ever eaten, but certainly very good and the freshest. It really doesn't cut easily straight from the machine unless you give it a chance to cool down a little, which can be frustrating. The basic white or brown loaves are the easiest, but you can automatically add dry ingredients such as nuts and seeds and dried-fruit after the kneading stage with the nut-dispenser, a little trap-door in the lid, that opens if you set the correct option. You can also do some complex recipes that require extra wet ingredients by listening out for the beeping noise at the appropriate time. There are so many permutations that I have only tried a small fraction and of course it can also be used for a huge variety of your own cake recipes. The bread only stays fresh for a very short time so it really is worth making small loaves regularly.
The machine is also very easy to keep clean. The only small complaint is that it is a bit noisy. Loud enough to be heard in another room, but not enough to keep you awake, so it is certainly not a problem.
Its a very good machine, well worth the money, and it it good to know what is actually in the food you are eating. It is worth buying just for the pleasure of waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread. Apparently, if you're trying to sell your house the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee will help, so buy one of these.
Advantages: small footprint, easy to clean, wide range of bread and cake recipes
Disadvantages: slightly noisy
Wake up to smell of freshly baked bread