With summer in full swing, many find their time being eaten up 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 dough rise. But despite our busyness, nothing beats the smell of warm bread filling up your home after a long day. If the hands-on approach to baking just 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 maker can range anywhere from around $40 to over $240 depending on brand, size, functionality, and other factors. Your first challenge will be creating a budget to help guide you through the buying process. Buying a cheaper machine doesn’t necessarily mean settling for less quality. Simplistic models can be the right choice if you find you don’t need all the bells and whistles available nowadays. On the other hand, springing for a technologically advanced model can add ease and flexibility to your baking like never before. After all, no one says you have to stick to your budget exactly, but it will give you a place to start when beginning your search.
2. What do I like?
Whether you’re new to baking, or a seasoned veteran in the kitchen; take a moment to consider what you like in an appliance. Perhaps you have a certain brand you trust, or maybe you’re the type that needs a viewing window in their machine to keep an eye on things. If cleanup is your least favorite part of baking, make sure your bread maker has machine washable paddles and easily removable parts. If you have an aversion or penchant for non-stick surfaces, keep this in mind when shopping as well. Whatever your particulars, making a list of what you like and don’t like will help you find a machine that fits with your unique style in the kitchen.
3. What do I need?
Are you a casual baker, or a loaf-a-week type person? Deciding what type of machine you need depends on the types of breads 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 branch out into rolls, pizza dough, gluten free options, and more you may want to consider a more specialized machine. The options range from low 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 more simplistic machines will have their variances. Deciding if you like round or long, 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 a countertop appliance, but in reality it will most likely spend its off time in a cupboard or panty. Consider your size constraints before you buy. Factors like weight, cord length, wattage, and overall size will have an impact on how well your machine will fit into its new place in your kitchen arsenal. Don’t forget to consider color as well. Bread machines typically come in the standard appliance colors: black, white, and metallic. If having a coordinated kitchen matters to you, don’t be afraid to shop around in order to find what complements your space. Especially if it is something you will be spending a large amount of money on or using 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 different bakers have different needs. While the programmable functions of bread machines have become more advanced as technology improves, there are still some marked 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’re looking to be a bit more attentive to the process, you may want a more straightforward design. This is also a good time to consider whether or not you will 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. Have I done my research?
So you’ve 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 are 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 via 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 bread machine buying jungle. There are many choices out there and each has their own particular merits and downfalls. The trick is finding a machine that fits your budget, lifestyle, needs, and will add joy and ease to your baking. Follow our guide and we think you will make a choice you’ll be happy with for years to come.
Cheyanne Lovellette is a cooking enthusiast who likes to bake breads in her spare time. She also shares her baking ideas and recipes on TheBreadGuru.com