The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thinking about purchasing a bread machine

whoops's picture

Thinking about purchasing a bread machine

Hello all!

After having to go through several weeks of not having home made bread due to weather and other issues, I have been thinking baout purchasing a bread machine that I could (hopefully) also teach my husband or son to use for our basic whole wheat bread that I make.  I have seen several kinds in the stores, and even owned one for a short time (though I never used it, sold it for $25 a couple years ago). I recall hearing complaints from others when bread machines were all the rage (maybe the 80's?) abotu how the bread was good, but many did not like the large hole left in the bottom of the loaves by the paddles. Do the newer bread machines have this issue? For those of you who use bread machines regularly, do you ahve any recommendations as to the size/brand/or other variables? I would use it to make the equivalent of  four 9 x 5 in bread pans (or more) a week. I am not sure if I would use it for my rye or sour dough breads, except perhaps for kneading. Any ideas, recommendations, or thoughts on the use of bread machines would be GREATLY appreciated!


berryblondeboys's picture

I was one of those people who had a bread machine, got rid of it and bought a new one. I still rarely use it, but it's nice to have as a back up and now that I have a larger kitchen and a mudroom, storing it, isn't a big deal.

DO they still leave a hole at the bottom? All do that I know if - if you leave it in the pan, but you can transfer it and bake it in your oven too, to avoid that look, of course.

If I were you, though, I would look second hand or buy refurbished. We got ours a couple years ago on an Amazon deal of the hour thing right before the holidays. Panasonic (I think) was just coming out with a new model, so the super highly rated previous model was being discontinued. I got a $150 machine for $25 free shipping!!! And it's leap years ahead in quality from the previous bread machine I had from 1997. I use it for pizza dough the most, but will use it for bread when I simply don't have time to make bread otherwise. I'm a busy mom!

dabrownman's picture

a brand new Breadman, never used, that had a dough cycle, for $1 on dollar Thursdays.  Get them all the time, almost new, for $4. 

All have some kind of paddles but if you are just using it for kneading or don't care about holes a BM makes, then it sense for anyone for a few dollars.  I can't see spending a lot of money on stuff that isn't used much.  I already have enough of that :-)

MickiColl's picture

and just where do you find these machines so cheap ? not in Las Vegas I can assure you .. but tell me where, please

dabrownman's picture

Goodwill.  They have at least 3 of them there ranging from $1 on dollar Thursday's with the right color code up to a top price of $12.99 with the wrong one.  You just have to be patient and look for one that is in good shape.  You  can donate them to organizations that teach handicapped folks how to bake bread, like we do, if you don't want it for yourself.  You can also return it up to 2 weeks later and get credit for buying something  else.  I don't know why but they sure find a home at Goodwill.  Haven't seen a ZO though.

MickiColl's picture

Goodwill's are few and far between here in Las Vegas but I will keep my eyes open

there is a Savers nearby but I quit shopping there .. it's more expensive than Ross

david earls's picture
david earls

Never had a bread machine back in the old days when they got the bad rap. Have owned my West Bend Hi Rise ($80) for a year and a half, and I enjoy its output 2-3 times a week. Yes, the holes from the paddles are there, but that's a pretty small price to pay for a loaf that's better than anything you can buy in the store. My machine has two paddles, like the more expensive Zojirushis, and the two-paddle machines do the best job of mixing and kneading. Lots of folks use the machine to mix and knead, then take the dough out to shape and bake, but I don't. I just figured out how big to make the loaf so that when it rises, it gets out of the top of the pan - then I get a nice brown top.

jannrn's picture

I have atotal of 6 that churns butter, one that makes jam and another that makes cakes. The one I use now is a Zojirushi...which is awesome!  Asit has been said, you can always use it to do the dough,which I do a lot, except for the last 2 years, because we are living in our Travel trailer while we look for our farm.  I have never had anyone complain about the hole in the bottom! I looooove my Zo!


ldavis47's picture

I used bread machines for many years and only changed to using some form of the stretch and fold technique when my last machine died. I was able to remove the paddle in my machine before baking to minimize the hole in the bottom. Since sour dough takes considerably longer to ferment and proof you need to be able to stop or delay the machine between phases. Good luck finding a machine. 



BettyR's picture

I've made all our bread for many years and I use a bread machine to do my kneading then bake it in the oven. It works great and there are no holes in the bottom of the loaf. Any bread machine with a dough cycle will do a good job.

proth5's picture

I have a Zojirushi BB-PAC20 - I think called the "Virtuoso".  Yes, the loaves still have holes in the bottom if you use the machine to do the full cycle.

What I have enjoyed about the machine, though, is that it has cake and jam cycles (as well as dough - which is pretty standard) an a "home made" cycle - where you can take the dough out - shape it - and then bake it in the machine.  When you do this, you can remove the paddles, so while there are still holes in the bottom, they are smaller.  You can also program rise and bake times to suit your own needs. It also has "sourdough" and "gluten free" cycles (which I have not used).

It has a heating element in the top and crust color control.  The tops of my loaves brown nicely (which I believe was an issue with earlier machines.)

I have used the "home made" cycle to do things like bake stuffing or make cinnamon rolls and when I have a bit more time available, I need to write up some formulas.  After a few failures (mostly due to not reading the instructions and assuming that machine baked bread and conventional bread formulas are the same - saftey tip - they aren't - at least not nce you move past basic loaves.) I've been having great fun with it and have turned out some acceptable loaves.

I'm fairly well schooled in more traditional techniques, so when I say acceptable loaves, they are being judged against what I could do using these.

Personally, I look forward to cooler weather and getting back to the oven, but for a hot weather or "stuff happens" altenative - I've enjoyed the thing.

Like every Zojirushi appliance I have used or owned, it is well designed and a delight to use, but not inexpensive.  I'll be hanging onto mine and since this is the newest model, there probably are few for resale.

Hope this helps.

Jn6-35's picture

I am new to baking, but love my Zo Virtuoso.   I can't knead bread (arthritis), so a machine helps with that, and also is a good learning tool for me to experiment and to learn about the effects of different ingredients (how butter, oil, different flours, different liquids, salt, eggs, etc., affect a loaf).

I have a Zo "fuzzy logic/induction" rice cooker and that thing is incredible.  I have long made what I thought was excellent rice in my All Clad rice cooking pot, but the Zo turned all of that upside down.  It makes simply amazing rice and other grains (Quinoa, etc.).  The trouble with any Zo is that for the money, their machies should also (IMO) wash my car and vacuum my floor and maybe grocery shop for me, but even for just their function, they are amazing.  

So, when it came time to buy a bread machine, after doing the requisite research, I decided to go for the "Zo" again.  I have not regretted the decision.   I do wish the Zo had a French Bread cycle.   Their cooking temp. is a bit low.   However, perhaps real French Bread should be cooked in the oven to be really properly made.   Zo does have a "dough" cycle and also a "home-made" option that allow you to adapt different recipes to the machine.     My hope is to learn to use the machine for kneading and mixing and then use the oven.   Their "home-made" cycle also has a wide variety of rise times, going up to 12 hours.

But for now, I am simply so grateful that I can even bake bread at all in my Zo.   In another post, I recommended a good book for Bread Machine users.   The author's recipes are decent (she is a James Beard award recipient) for things that come out of a machine and she does not approach machine baking with a snobby attitude, which I appreciate as a novice baker.    I highly recommend her book if you are using a machine.   



MickiColl's picture

I too hate the big holes in the bottom of the bread .. especially when the paddle gets stuck in it ... Cusinart bread machines beep to let you know when you can remove the paddle before baking. (no holes in hte bread !!)  great feature, and as far as I know Cuisinart is the only one who has this feature. the newer machines have multiple programs .. including one for Artisan bread. I just ordered one from Costco but has several, including one that is convection  .. all affordable. and all Cusinart quality

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

My dislike of the holes in the bottom of my loaves were annoying to me also. I now use my bread machine for kneading only.

While in a bakers shop I asked myself why I cannot make baguettes, batards, knotted rolls and ciabattas etc etc. So while researching these bread styles I came across TFL  site on bread and realised bread was not just flour,salt and water alone. 

But my bread machine unforunatly does not shape.........The answer I discovered was when my mother in law bought a new mix master that had bread hooks and paddles. I soon learnt to shape my breads and come to appreciate the difference between bread styles. With the mix master you will be able to bake more than one loaf at a time making it a more economical baking doing 2 or 3 loaves at a time.........I'd buy a mix master with hooks and paddles attachments.............Pete

jannrn's picture

Until you are SURE what you want.....get it from EBAY!! Save your wallet! Much cheaper and gives you an opportunity to try different ones!! Let me know if I can help! As I said....I have MANY machines!!


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Avoid EBay like the plague that it is.  There is no guarantee that you'll actually get what you think you're buying, plus no company I know of will honor the warranty if you buy off EBay.

If you can pick one up at a thrift store, more power to you.  I've never seen one in my area, but I have friends who seem to come across them regularly.

If you're buying new and are willing to spend some dough (the green kind), get the new Zo from King Arthur.  The Zos are notorious for either working great or not being able to bake worth spit.  There doesn't seem to be anything in between.  I suspect a problem with the heating elements or controls thereof.  I've got one of the not-worth-spit models (in the baking department, but it does knead all my doughs like a champ).  I bought it off Amazon.  If you buy it from King Arthur, they will work with you (including replacing it) until it works for you. 

Graid's picture

I have a Morphy Richards Accent 48271 breadmaker. I like it quite a lot. One thing to pay attention to when buying a breadmaker is that some take considerably longer to produce a loaf than others. I believe some of the Philips breadmakers take considerably longer than others to make bread. For example, at least a half hour longer than a Morphy richards just to go through the dough cycle. Size is also something you want to watch out for. The maximum ingredients officially handed by my breadmaker is 1kg or 2.2lbs.

The breadmaker I have has the ability to be programmed to knead and rest and bake to whatever settings you program into it when on 'homemade' mode. However, I have actually not found myself needing to use this mode too much.

whoops's picture

After searching Goodwill stores and craigslist for a while now (since posting this post originally, I found a used Zojirushi BBCC V20 for $125 on craigslist. I did look that model up and it retails for about $250. I do not know if my dear hubby ended up paying the full asking price or not, and do not want to ask since it was an early birthday present! Not quite sure what the differences are all between the newer models, but this one was a good start, with 2 paddles, and the basic settings along with jam and cake and the dough, as well as the home made cycles, AND ( a biggie for me) the horizontal loaf, rather than the vertical. I do not know that I will use it for my sourdough bread, but it works a charm for the plain whole wheat sandwich bread . I got it Sunday from and we have made two loaves of bread already. Honestly, I think my recipe for ww bread was better, and I might try to use it in the zo as my  bread had a lighter , airier crumb than this makes, but the flavor is ok. The loaves are coming out somewhat lopsided, though, higher one one side than the other, so I need to work on that also, but all in all, is an easy way to get that home made quality with less work- so my days off are not ALL taken with baking bread! And, what with the holidays coming up, I will need time for baking cookies! I am looking forward to trying some new recipes for whole grain breads with the machine.

david earls's picture
david earls

on your new machine. I've never used a Zo, but people who have them love 'em.

You might want to think about converting your recipes to formulas. In a recipe, you measure all your ingredients in volumes. With a formula you measure all your ingredients in grams, and you calculate their weights as percentages of the weight of the flour. I have found that using formulas makes it simpler to do accomplish two things:

1. It's much easier to make very small adjustments to your ingredients. Your lopsided loaf, for example, sounds like it needs a tiny bit more water - maybe 5 grams. That's just not an increase in volume you'll ever get to or be consistent with when measuring in volume.

2. It's also a snap to optimize your loaf size for your specific machine. The only way I know of to get a nice brown top on of a loaf is to create one that "peeks out" of the bread pan. Say your 3 1/2 cup of flour recipe doesn't quite rise to the top of the pan, and your finished loaf doesn't brow on top. Yep, it's easy to increase the flour by, say, 1/4 cup, but then how much do you increase the other ingredients? Will you be able to measure them accurately? If you're working with everything in grams and measuring on a scale, changing the weight of the flour will tell you exactly how many additional grams of your other ingredients you'll need.


Enjoy your machine - 

jannrn's picture

I didn't know Panasonic invented! Anyway, sorry, I have numerous bread machine and have had for the last 15 years or so....I have Breadman, Sunbeam, and I even think I may have a Panasonic! What I use right now (because I am not in my home) is a Zojirushi. I am also in the US so I dont have access to the same ones you have from the Panasonic site. The biggest difference I have found between my Zo and the others, is that it has 2 kneading paddles and really does an amazing job of mixing and kneading my breads! I have Fibromyalgia and Arthritis so I also use it quite often to work up the dough for me. MOST of my machines do an amazing job at your choices are pretty endless! The top one on the page you posted, looks really nice and seems to have alot lf good features. I guess the point is to try to decide what your friend will need in a machine and make your choice that way. I have one that not only makes breads wonderfully, but also churns butter! It is a Toastmaster! I have another that makes Jams and Jellies, another that will bake as I said, for the most part, they are pretty sophisticated to what they used to be. I am sorry to have run on so much, but I think your choices are pretty good out there and your friend is very lucky to have someone so thoughtful and willing to gift such a wonderful machine!! I hope this helps some! Good luck and Merry Christmas early! Let me know if I can be of further assistance!


cgmeyer2's picture

i use my bread machine (welbilt) on the dough cycle & then rise & bake the bread per the recipe. this works for me. i'm not sure that welbilt is made anymore. i'll be sad when this one passes.


MickiColl's picture

I have a Oster and like you I had a problem with the bread falling .. it was too wet. added a bit more flour and now the only problem I have is that it comes out lopsided (higher on one side) next loaf I think I will take out after the first rise, shape it and put it back in for the second rise and bake.  or just use the knead cycle (which workd great) and bake in the oven.