An Ultimate Bread Maker should have advanced features that will make it easy to bake a wide varieties of homemade bread from raw ingredients to a finished loaf.
A brief history of bread machine
In the year 1986, the world’s first bread machine home appliance was invented in Japan. Despite the limited loaf shapes and baking cycle in the earlier models, they usually produce satisfactorily results. It quickly become popular in the European countries where bread is a staple food.
Since then the design of bread machines has continued to evolve with advance features like automatic kneading of doughs and programmable baking cycles. Today, bread machine is so common that it has become a standard kitchen appliance in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
How bread machines work
A bread machine looks just like a small oven usually put on top the kitchen counter. It has a hinged lid at the top, some model also have a see through window on the lid. Beside the lid is an electronic control panel and keypad. Inside the machine is a removable baking pan or bread bucket.
At the bottom of the baking pan, there is 1 or 2 kneading paddles used for mixing and kneading the dough. The baking pan is where ingredients are put in and finished loaf are remove when done baking.
The typical process of creating a loaf of bread using a bread maker:
- The necessary ingredients are measured according to recipe into the baking pan.
- The baking pan is snapped into the bread maker and the lid is closed.
- The baking program or cycle is selected from the control panel and the baking is started.
- The baking cycle begin by first mixing and kneading, turning the ingredients into dough using the paddle.
- The baking cycle allow the dough to proof and rise using ideal temperature control.
- The baking cycle then start baking the dough into a loaf.
The above process usually takes 2 to 4 hours depending on the recipe used. Once the process finished, the pan can be extracted from the bread maker and the loaf is freed from the pan. The kneading paddle, now stick at the bottom of the loaf, is removed, leaving a small paddle-shaped indentation or hole.
An ultimate bread maker should have these features:
Conventional models uses regular oven that rely on heated air to flow naturally. The latest convection bread maker usually comes with built-in fan that forces air circulation around the baking pan, and thus achieved a uniform distribution of heat. Circulating hot air around the baking pan has a number of benefits, the most notable one is the elimination of “hot spots” around the loaf, resulting in evenly baked loaf with better crust and beautiful texture.
Because air circulation improves heat transfer onto the dough, convection bread maker can literally operate at a lower temperature than a standard conventional bread maker and yet bake more quickly. Another benefit is with preprogrammed cycles of various fan speed to achieve precise temperature control for special purposes like making sourdough starter, dough proofing, keep loaf warm after bake etc.
Most modern bread machines today have different kneading cycles for different kinds of dough like Basic, Whole Wheat, Whole Grain, French, and Dough-only for pizza dough and shaped loaves baked in conventional oven. For the baking cycle, some models allow you to select crust setting for Light, Medium & Dark crust and some high-end models allow the user to program a custom cycles for example to make a meatloaf or even make fruit jam.
Timer is a must have feature to allow the bread machine to function without user intervention, or allow for delay baking. Advanced models timer can even sound a tone and pause the process in the middle of a cycle to allow user to remove dough for other treatment or to add nuts or raisin.
Check for the warranty period carefully before you buy, it should have at least 1 year limited warranty for the peace of mind knowing that one is protected from any manufacturing defect. I came across one manufacturer that offer a 3-year limited warranty, that shows how confident they are with their product quality and you should definitely take this into consideration.
The Ultimate Bread Maker should have the above features, it will makes it so easy to bake hundreds of variety of bread from raw ingredients to finished loaf. Homemade bread is safer, healthier and tastes better because you have control of what goes in it. It is also much cheaper than store-bought, thus a good decision in purchase can pay for itself in the long run, you will never want to buy commercial bread again.