There are probably few people who remember their mothers baking bread by hand rather than buying it at the store. When small bread machines became available for home use, they ignited our senses for the taste of bread that is fresh-baked and warm.
Despite the advancements in bread machines, there’s still a science to baking a loaf of bread that is golden brown and perfectly risen. Making a loaf of bread is a process that includes several steps. You have to mix the ingredients, knead the dough, let it rise, knead it again, let it rise again, and bake it. Whether you use a bread machine or hand knead the dough, if you miss a step, you’ll have bread that is cratered, soggy, or heavy.
Best Bread Machines
This breadmaker has 9 bread settings and 3 crust settings. It makes up to a 2 pound bread loaf in under an hour, so it’s an ideal machine for a large family. It has a 13 hour programmable timer so you can set it the night before and wake up to fresh baked bread. It also has a large LCD display for easily viewing each stage of the kneading and baking process. This is a favorite machine for many home bread bakers.
This is a bread machine that bakes 1 pound, 1.5 pound, and 2 pound loaves of bread. It has 12 pre-programmed menu options and 3 crust settings. Watch bread kneading and baking through the transparent viewing window. The lid, pan, and paddle are removable for easy cleaning. You can program this machine to delay start for up to 13 hours. The handles won’t heat up, so you can open it and move it without getting burned.
The best feature of this bread machine is versatility. You can make many kinds of breads including gluten-free bread. Dual kneading blades work to knead dough as if it were hand kneaded. It makes a large, rectangular-shaped 2 pound loaf on the quick baking cycle in about 2 hours. This machine makes more than bread. You can also make homemade meatloaf, strawberry jam, chocolate cake, and more.
What sets this bread machine apart is that it has a dispenser inside the lid that automatically dispenses yeast at just the right time in the cycle. This bread baker makes bread in 3 sizes, including up to an extra-large 2.5 loaf. It has settings for white, whole wheat, multigrain, French, and quick breads. The inner bake pan has a non-stick finish for removing bread without sticking. The handles stay cool for safe handling.
Hamilton makes it easy to make bread that is free of preservatives, gluten, and trans-fat in three easy steps. This machine has 12 cycles to make many types of dough and bread, including bread rolls and pizza dough. It doesn’t stop there—you can also make jam and cake. It has an audible timer that tells you went to add nuts, fruit, or seeds. It includes a recipe booklet.
This breadmaker is small in size, so it doesn’t take up much space on the counter, but it’s big on features and function. It makes loaves in 1.5 or 2 pound sizes. It has 12 settings, 3 shade selections, and a 13 hour delay time bake setting. It has a large LED display and touch-control panel. It has a non-stick baking pan for easy bread loaf removal.
This breadmaker has many of the same features as other breadmakers including 14 settings and 3 crust colors. It also makes loaves in 1, 1.5, and 2 pound sizes. What sets this one apart is that it has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser, so there’s no need to listen for a timer when it’s time to add raisins, seeds, or nuts. It makes low carb, gluten-free, artisan dough, and jam.
Science plays a vital role in bread baking. It takes the right ingredients in the right combinations. You need fresh yeast and it needs to dissolve in water that has the right temperature. Dough has to be kneaded until it’s elastic and then it has to rest. It can be a little tricky to get a nice rise on the dough with hand kneading and machine kneading. The easiest part is the baking. Yeast and fruit/nut dispensers are nice new features in bread machines. Fresh-baked bread is worth any amount of time and effort that you spend baking it.
Bread Machine vs. Hand Kneading
Hand kneading bread doesn’t require any special equipment and you can knead dough on just about any hard surface. The disadvantages are that it takes strong arms and hands and lots of time. For some people, kneading and folding bread dough is relaxing. Others might use it to take out their frustration. In any case, getting the consistency just right for elastic dough that’s perfect for baking takes a little practice. It also requires a bit of skill to time the rising, resting, and baking.
Bread machines don’t mimic the motion of hand kneading exactly, but it comes close enough to turn out a delicious loaf of bread. A bread machine takes out all of the guesswork and also times the first rise, rest period, and second rise, as well as the baking time. You can also use the dough cycle for the bread machine to knead the dough and then hand shape it, let it rise, and bake it in the oven. This process works nicely for baguettes and French bread.
How To Use A Bread Machine
If you don’t know how to make bread with a bread maker, here is a good tutorial: