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Our search for the best bread makers was a sacred quest of sorts. We’re sandwich fanatics here at Kitchen Authority and we like to get the bread right.
Bread is a glorious food stuff. It can be eaten anywhere and is consumed by nearly every culture on earth. We especially like it golden brown served fresh from the office SMEG Toaster. It’s even more popular than rice as a source of carbohydrates globally.
In a hurry? Here’s our QUICK PICKS:
Our favorite Bread Maker of them all is the Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Bread Maker. This is the top performer by far. Well worth it!
Our alternative recommendation is the budget model from ZENY, the ZENY Programmable Bread Maker which packs a mighty punch for very little money.
While mass-produced factory bread may not be very healthy, making your own bread gives you complete control over the ingredients and you can create great-tasting healthy products for your family really easily.
With a breadmaker, it’s even easier still. Kitchen Authority readers that own a breadmaker will never go back to not owning one. It’s that simple.
Our complete guide to breadmakers includes everything that you need to know to make an informed choice when choosing your first breadmaker: the history of bread and breadmakers and how to choose the right bread.
We also recommend the best bread makers and offer some helpful care instructions to help you get the most out of your investment in a bread maker. Enjoy!
However, we really recommend you read the whole guide and find the perfect bread maker for your family – it’s not as long as it looks, we promise.
Bread is the world’s most popular food, though it comes in a million different forms not all of which might be instantly recognizable as bread by everyone.
It appears that we’ve been eating bread for about 30,000 years though the first distinct form of bread acknowledged by history is that created by a “quern” (a specialist grinding tool) which was popular in Egypt at about 8,000 years B.C.
If you want to try that kind of bread today, it doesn’t exist, but the Mexican tortilla or Indian chapati would be a reasonably close match.
The Romans embraced white bread which they believed was healthier than the traditional brown bread which goes to show that the Romans certainly didn’t know everything even as they conquered most of the world.
The gluten intolerant, however, didn’t get a bread they could eat until 1834 when the Swiss designed a roller system that broke the grains used to cook with rather than crushing them.
The United States loved bread until the 1970s when consumption started to drop off. Then in the 1980s bakers became serious about bread and started making artisan, healthier breads and moved away from the factory produced, additive stuffed bread that had been turning off consumers.
Today, bread is back and it’s once again the world’s most popular form of carbohydrate and rightfully so, there’s so much taste and variety that everyone can find the perfect bread for them.
The bread maker was originally a “bread making machine” but that was a bit of a mouthful and really added no extra information.
So, today it’s a bread maker. It is the most convenient way of taking a bunch of raw ingredients and turning them into bread.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with making homemade bread the old-fashioned way in bread pans in the oven but it’s not as easy to get right and it requires that you keep a careful eye on the timing of things – this isn’t always a simple thing to pull off in the busy world of today – so most households are going to do better with a bread maker.
You may be surprised to learn that whilst bread is ancient, the bread maker is not.
The first was invented back in 1986 by the Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. of Japan.
You may not have heard of the company by that name but you’ve certainly heard of them in the form of their, now famous, Panasonic brand.
The original bread maker had only one flaw – you had to take the bread out as soon as it stopped cooking, or the bread would burn.
The Funai Electric Company, also of Japan, added a fan to their models in 1987 and now you had a fully automatic machine that would cook bread without being watched at all.
It wasn’t until the late 1990’s, however, that bread makers caught on in Western markets.
This may be because they’re not very useful in mass production environments even though they’re perfect for home baking.
Bread comes in many varieties, flavors and even shapes. There is no “best bread” for everyone. However, when it comes to choosing the best bread for you – it can help to know some of the basics about bread.
Let’s begin by acknowledging the basic fact that you only need 4 ingredients to make most types of bread and they are: flour, yeast, salt and water. You can also use gluten-free flour for some delicious gluten free bread.
Yet, take a look at the side of the loaf that most people pick up in a supermarket and you’re going to see 2 dozen or more ingredients inside of a single loaf of bread.
That’s because your average shop bought loaf is stuffed full of things you don’t need but the vendors and producers do. The chemicals they add tend to do three things:
Not yummy, right?
So, before we even get started on making your own bread. Let’s try to stick to as few ingredients as possible. This is a good way to see that your bread is as healthy as possible. It’s true that all the things you eat in shop bought bread have been approved by the FDA as OK for human consumption.
But the FDA has also approved rodent hairs in pasta as OK for human consumption as long as there aren’t too many of them. So, let’s not make them the arbiters of human health for our own sakes.
The next step is to look at the one ingredient that makes the most difference when it comes to our health – the flour.
Water is water, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from the faucet or from a bottle. It’s all the same. Salt is Sodium Chloride, you can insist on sea salt or Himalayan Salt and get a few extra minerals but probably not enough to make a significant difference in your life. And yeast, is yeast and it just helps the bread rise.
Flour, on the other hand, is 99% of the bread and you want to focus your efforts on the right flour to make the perfect loaf.
The basic rule of thumb is this – whole wheat or whole grain flour is going to be the healthiest choice. It contains less carbohydrate, more fiber and nutrition than white flour or wheat-grain flour.
There are a plenty of these to chose from including: barley, rye and spelt. If you want gluten-free you can also choose amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet and quinoa.
Whole wheat flour is not quite as good as wholegrain because it still contains some of the bran from the grain. However, it is possible to track down wholegrain whole wheat flour, but you can expect to pay a fairly substantial premium for it. It’s worth trying though as it’s particularly tasty.
Then, it all boils down to experimentation with different flours, recipes and your bread maker until you find the perfect taste for you and your family.
We live in a fantastic world where nearly every bread maker you buy will make a decent loaf of bread. But that’s not the only concern when it comes to picking equipment for the family kitchen and these are the factors we think that are important when it comes to choosing the right bread maker for your family:
Choosing the right bread machine is all about:
There are a lot of bread makers out there, but we wanted to keep our top choices affordable without compromising on the quality of the finished product. So, we tested a ton of different models and whittled them down to these very best.
Enjoy fresh, homemade bread with the Oster Electric Bread Maker at a bargain price.
It’s easy to use and can crank out a 2-pound loaf in less than an hour with their EXPRESSBAKE cycle.
Includes a gluten-free setting and a 13-hour delay timer!
Bread making at its finest
Bread makers are, generally, not cheap.
The ZENY, however, is a bargain buy. It also cuts very few corners to get to the lowest price tag out there for a bread maker.
It makes 2 pound loaves of bread, which is substantial and has 19 different pre programmed baking functions, like a gluten-free setting or a french bread setting. Perfect for rice bread to gluten-free bread and everything in between.
The baking pan is easily removable too.
Our only complaint is that it’s not the prettiest of models but at half the price of its nearest competitor it’s a no-brainer.
You can check the latest price of the ZENY Programmable Bread Maker online.
This is a solid beginner’s bread maker. It comes with a great recipe guide which gives you plenty of ideas to put the 19 pre programmed settings inside to good use.
This bread maker even makes jam! Seriously.
There’s also a nice viewing window and it makes up to a 2 pound loaf which is great for most family’s needs.
It also comes with measuring equipment to get the ingredients together.
You can check the latest price of the MasterChef Bread Maker online.
The Sunbeam bread maker is an odd duck and we picked it because we loved the shape of the loaves that it makes.
It offers a choice of 12 pre programmedfunctions, which is a little less than our budget pick, but we liked the open window design and the LCD display is brilliant (particularly if you’re long-sighted like me).
When we tested this one out I came home to a beautiful 2 pound loaf of gluten-free bread and it was one of the best loaves of bread I’ve had in a while.
The programmable function means you can always come home to a perfectly baked loaf of bread and we’re happy to recommend this as a great bread maker.
You can check the latest price of the Sunbeam Bread Maker online.
The Hamilton Beach HomeBaker is one of the few bread maker designs that comes in a sleek eye catching black.
We could look at it all day, to be honest, the styling is great. It has 2 kneading paddles, and the paddles remove easily and one acts as a spare too.
You can cook up to a 2 pound loaf inside on this without a problem and gluten-free bread is easy too.
You can’t go wrong with this solid bread maker.
You can check the latest price of the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker online.
Hamilton Beach scores its second entry in our top 5.
It’s fair to say that while bread makers cannot be used on an industrial scale, if they could – they’d probably use a machine like this.
Become a bread making expert with this machine, make anything from a loaf of white bread to fresh brioche bread, simply by adding ingredients, selecting a cycle and calming waiting for the baking process.
This bread maker has 14 pre programmed cycles or settings: Making wheat, white, gluten-free, French, artisan bread, and more. Almost every type of bread you can think of, it can make.
You’re also able to choose between three different loaf sizes and three crust settings: 1, 1.5 or 2 pound loaves and light, medium, or dark crust.
It’s a very strong, well-built machine which looks the part of the professional in a shiny stainless steel finish.
The kneading paddles can be removed easily and the whole thing is non-stick and beautifully easy to clean.
It’s our favorite of them all but it does come at a slightly higher price than the others.
You can check the latest price of the Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Bread Maker on Amazon.
Caring for a bread maker is a relatively straight forward process. You don’t need anything more than some soap and water and clean cloth to care for a bread maker. With the right care, your investment ought to last for years as they’re very durable machines.
There is one, slight, caveat to this, however, as we’ll see.
We’ve tested the dishwasher proof claims of bread maker components and while we’re convinced, they’re OK in the dishwasher – we think they’ll last longer if you just wash the parts with soapy water and then wipe clean with a cloth.
Always unplug the machine before you start cleaning it and make sure that it has cooled down to warm (not cold or things start to stick to surfaces) before you touch any surface.
Try to ensure that everything is bone dry before you pack it away as this will help prevent rusting of surfaces.
The only fragile/delicate component of the bread machine is the kneading mechanism.
It will, eventually, wear out and ideally, you should try and buy a bread machine with a spare (or two) to get the most life out of your investment.
Also, if the kneading elements can be removed prior to cooking the bread; you should remove them as this will reduce the wear and tear on them.
We hope that you have enjoyed this guide to bread makers and have found it helpful.
We really want you to be able to choose the perfect breadmaker with this resource.
For now, though, we wish you and, hopefully, your new breadmaker all the best.
We hope that you and your family really enjoy the taste of freshly baked bread every day. It really can’t be beaten.