There are very few things better than the smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the house, cocooning you in warmth and pleasure even before your first bite.
While baking your own bread from scratch may bring you satisfaction and joy, it can also be a little tiresome. And it makes you wonder if you should give in and finally get that bread maker you have been eyeing for a while.
But there is always that thousand-dollar question stopping you from adding one to the cart right away; is a bread machine worth it?
Do you really need one or is it just going to be another impulse buy that you will regret later?
Uses of Bread Machine
There are hardly any limitations to the varieties of bread that you can make in a bread machine. And despite what the name suggests, it is also good for more than just making different textures and styles of bread.
You can bake a cake from start to finish using the ‘cake setting’ that some bread machines come with. There may also be a ‘batter bread’ or ‘quick bread’ setting which would prepare the batter, but it would need to be baked in the oven afterwards.
There is a specific ‘jam’ cycle in some bread machines that does not require any hands-on for the few hours it takes to heat and stir the contents. All you need to do is at most spend 10 minutes beforehand to prepare the ingredients and pour them in.
3. Rice Dishes
The jam cycle is also perfect for cooking rice dishes as the setting constantly stirs the content while cooking and creates the creamy, airy consistency we love in risottos and rice puddings. Just make sure to keep an eye on it to avoid overcooking.
4. Pizza Dough
If you do not like nor have the time to make and knead bread dough, then chances are you feel the same way about preparing pizza dough. Toss the ingredients in a bread machine and in 90 minutes, you will have a fluffy dough that has properly risen and will hopefully result in some amazingly thin crusts.
If you have a plain old bread machine without the ‘fancy’ yogurt making option, then, no, you do not need a new one. All you need to do is pre-heat the milk and add live active cultures, pour them into mason jars and place them in the bread pan. Then, let the bread machine do the rest.
These are some of the few alternative uses of a bread machine and there are so many more possibilities for you to try out.
When Will You Need to Buy a Bread Maker?
Making your own bread is quite therapeutic, giving you a sense of purpose as you mix the ingredients, knead the dough, watch it rise, and finally serve it to your friends and family.
But amid our busy lives, finding 3-4 hours for each loaf of bread and even thinking about exerting all that energy can be exhausting. While it would make sense to invest in a good bread machine, you need to make sure you would be getting good value for the money.
The Number of Times You Would Use It
The uses of a bread machine are versatile so you need to think about how many times you would use it in general and not just for bread making. If you like baking and use the oven often, you might end up using the machine more than you think.
And if you love entertaining guests frequently and want to wow them with your baking skills every time, getting a bread maker would save you a lot of fuss and time.
Healthier Option for the Family
Preservatives and artificial flavours are added to mass-produced breads to get a rich taste and an enhanced shelf-life. These commercial grade products may also contain high-fructose content that might be unhealthy for regular consumption.
Making your own bread would give you the freedom to choose every ingredient you put in and tailor it to your dietary needs. You can experiment with as many flavours and styles as you want, getting the best nutritional value at the same time.
If you must take multiple runs at the bakery per week to feed your large family or simply because you love bread yourself, you can save money in the long run by making homemade bread. Fresh, good quality bread does not come cheap, especially if you prefer premium artisan goodies.
Calculating the cost of ingredients, time, and labour and factoring in the long lifeline of a bread machine, it seems to be more economically feasible than mass-produced bread. You could be recovering the up-front investment in a few months and save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, each year afterwards.
Bread makers are lifesavers when you do not have the time or energy to spare. Some models even have the feature of readying the bread at a certain time. Imagine tossing the ingredients in before leaving for work and coming back home to be greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?
And on top of that, you do not have to clean away any extra bench flour or sticky dough and deal with dirty dishes in the sink.
Why Should You Not Invest in a Bread Maker?
If you are convinced that a bread machine is worth it, wait a little before you click ‘buy now’ right away. You should also look at the possible downsides of it before reaching a conclusion.
If you are a perfectionist like me, getting imperfectly shaped breads can be a major drawback.
As the bread sets and bakes around the paddle, it usually leaves an indentation and sometimes a hole on the end of the loaf. Newer models have collapsible blades, but they can be a little expensive and out of your calculated price range.
While the breadmaking process is quite simple, cleaning the machine itself can be a little difficult which completely contrasts what I said earlier about how mess-free it is. However, you cannot throw it into the dishwasher and simply be done with it as it would ruin the Teflon-coating on the loaf tin.
It needs to be soaked in warm water and dish soap before gently scraping away the stuck leftovers. And you cannot use any sharp or pointy utensils for it would damage your precious machine.
When you have a large family, especially with rowdy teenagers who consume everything in sight, you might have to think about buying a bigger machine that would produce a larger loaf.
And a bigger, better quality bread maker also means a more up-front investment. Even buying a small machine that you would probably want to use for a decade would require you to save up a little beforehand.
We all dream of having a fancy kitchen with every state-of-the-art gadget we know of. Sadly, unless you have an abundance of kitchen space to proudly display your new acquisition, you must tuck the device away when you’re not using it.
Think about extra storage space in a kitchen cabinet somewhere and proper counter space to use your appliance on before making a purchase decision.
A bread machine is highly versatile, and you can have a lot of fun experimenting with it. Do a little research before you purchase a bread maker that would be appropriate for you and is right in your price range.
But when the time comes, and if you need to spend a little extra than what you intended, I suggest going for it as this amazing appliance will provide you excellent value for money. Now, I hope you have reached a decision and are still not wondering- ‘is a bread machine worth it?’