Cooking and Recipes

Bread makers: A convenient kitchen aid but not quite the full package?

Bread is a firm family favourite in many households, and it’s not hard to see why. This convenient food stuff is inexpensive and it can be eaten on the go as sandwiches, toasted to make wholesome morning meals and used to pad out soup dishes, salads and more. Even stale bread has its uses. For example, it can be added to a host of indulgent puddings and the crumbs can be used to bread meat, make stuffings and much more.

It’s no wonder then that the bread maker was the kitchen appliance of choice for many consumers a few years ago. Across the land, people were keen to invest in these all-in-one machines. However, despite the enduring popularity of the humble loaf, it seems as though these devices have fallen out of favour among some. Indeed, research conducted last year by Mintel revealed that along with slow cookers, handheld blenders, food processors, fat reducing grills, hotplates and sandwich toasters, bread makers were the least used small kitchen items in UK homes.

Of course, lots of people do still rely on bread makers to create tasty loaves.

The pros

If you’re strapped for time but would prefer to make your own bread than to buy loaves from the shops, these machines could be perfect for you. Aside from putting the ingredients into the appliances, bread makers require no attention. You simply load them up and leave them to do their thing. Within around four hours, you should have a tasty loaf, and all without getting your hands dirty! They can be especially appealing to parents who have lots of hungry mouths to feed.

Also, if you aren’t much of a baker and lack confidence and experience in the kitchen, bread makers can help to you consistently create impressive, airy loaves.

The cons

Of course, there are two sides to every story and one of the complaints some people have about bread makers is the fact that they deny people the pleasure of getting stuck into mixing, kneading and baking. Indeed, if you’re the sort of person who loves a bit of culinary creativity, the hands-on approach could be much more satisfying.

Also, bread makers can be restrictive in terms of the loaves you create. For example, it’s not so easy to use your own starters, such as biga, when you’re relying on these machines, meaning it is tricky to create ciabatta, sourdough and various other forms of bread. In short, these starters can be too unpredictable for the appliances.

That said, certain bread makers can be programmed for longer rise periods. Also, it’s possible to use the machines selectively. For example, rather than completing the whole process in the appliances, you can use them to simply mix and knead the dough. After this point, you can transfer the contents into oven-safe baking tins.

Before deciding whether or not to invest in a bread maker, it’s important to consider all of these issues.

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