With summer in full swing, many find their time consumed by hectic scheduling, travel, and the ever-present deadlines of work and life. It can be tiring enough to crack an egg in the morning, let alone set aside time to watch the dough rise. But despite our busy schedule, nothing beats the smell of warm bread filling your home after a long day. If the hands-on approach to baking isn’t for you, here are 6 questions to ask yourself when choosing a bread maker to help satisfy your cravings without sacrificing your free time.
1. What am I willing to spend?
The price of a new bread product can range from about $40 to over $240 depending on brand, size, functionality and other factors. Your first challenge will be to create a budget to help guide you through the buying process. Buying a cheaper machine does not necessarily mean settling for less quality. Simplistic models may be the right choice if you find that you don’t need all the bells and whistles available today. On the other hand, the start to a technologically advanced model can add ease and flexibility to your baking like never before. After all, no one says you have to stick exactly to your budget, but it will give you a place to start when you begin your search.
2. What did I like?
Whether you are new to baking, or a seasoned veteran in the kitchen; take a moment to consider what you want in a device. Maybe you have a certain brand you trust, or maybe you’re the type who needs a display window in their machine to keep an eye on things. If cleaning is your least favorite part of baking, make sure your bread maker has machine-washable paddles and parts that can be easily removed. If you have an aversion or penchant for non-stick surfaces, keep that in mind when shopping as well. Whatever your particularities, making a list of your likes and dislikes will help you find a machine that fits your unique style in the kitchen.
3. What do I need?
Are you a casual baker, or a weekly loaf kind of person? Deciding which type of machine you need depends on the types of bread you want to bake. If you’re looking to stick with the classics, then a basic single-loaf machine will work perfectly for your needs. However, if you’re hoping to turn out rolls, pizza dough, gluten-free options, and more you may want to consider a more specialized machine. The options range from low-tech to high-tech and it’s up to you to decide which one appeals to you. Loads of options can be nice, but even the most simplistic machines will have their variations. Deciding whether you like round or tall, tall or wide loaves will help you make the right choice when choosing your machine.
4. Where will it go in my kitchen?
Bread machines are designed to be countertop appliances, but in reality they will probably spend their free time in a cupboard or panty. Consider your size restrictions before purchasing. Factors such as weight, cord length, wattage, and overall size will impact how well your machine fits into its new place in your kitchen arsenal. Don’t forget to consider the color too. Bread machines typically come in standard appliance colors: black, white and metallic. If having a coordinated kitchen is important to you, don’t be afraid to shop around to find what complements your space. Especially if it’s something you’re spending a lot of money on or use often, you want it to be an item that brings you joy and enhances your style.
5. How will I use it?
Bread machines are designed to give you less time at the counter and more time at the table. But we all know that different bakers have different needs. While the programmable functions of bread machines have become more advanced as technology improves, there are still some noticeable differences in how various machines operate. If you want a machine that will have a warm loaf ready for you as soon as you walk in the door, then you’ll want to prioritize features like a delayed start timer and a keep warm setting. If you are looking to be a bit more attentive to the process, you may want a simpler design. This is also a good time to consider whether or not you want a warranty on your machine. For hobby bakers who will only use it occasionally, there may be less need than for those who use their machine on a more regular basis.
6. Did I do my research?
So I have analyzed your needs and what the market has to offer and come up with a list of winners. How do you choose between option A and B? Particularly if you’re new to the baking scene, reading reviews and asking veteran bakers for their input is all the research you’ll need to do in order to make a choice you’ll be happy with. You can also read up on the machine through the brand’s website, but the real knowledge comes from those with floury hands and well-stocked cupboards.
So there you have it: our 6 questions to guide you through the jungle of bread machine shopping. There are many options out there and each has its own particular merits and downsides. The trick is to find a machine that fits your budget, lifestyle, needs, and adds joy and ease to your baking. Follow our guide and we think you’ll make a choice you’ll be happy with for years to come.
Cheyanne Lovellette is a cooking enthusiast who loves to bake bread in her spare time. She also shares her baking ideas and recipes TheBreadGuru.com