The Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine is a stunning, high-end bread machine that looks at home in even the most modern kitchen. While it carries a hefty price tag, the capacity, style, and functionality makes it the one bread machine you can own for life.
Breville is an Australian small home appliance company that makes a wide variety of kitchen gadgets – toaster ovens, espresso machines, juicers, and of course a bread machine. What sets Breville apart from most small kitchen appliance manufacturers like Kitchen Aid or Hamilton Beach is they strictly focus on making the best, most full-featured appliances they can make which of course comes with a price tag. When it comes to bread machines, the BBM800XL Custom Loaf is the only bread machine Breville currently sells.
So can a high-end bread machine be worthwhile? Why would someone opt to get a top of the line bread machine over a cheaper one? We’ll explore those questions in this review to tell you if the Breville Custom Loaf is the perfect bread machine for you.
The Custom Loaf is pretty massive by bread machine standards and even quite large by kitchen appliance standards so the box may be jarringly large at first glance. Once unpacked, the bread machine itself is roughly 16.5 x 13 x 9.5 inches and weighs about 17 lbs. It’s not the easiest bread machine to move around due to its size and no side handles you can use to grip it, but I had no serious issues and imagine most people won’t as long as you have the counter/storage space.
Once I got the device fully unpacked, I took stock of everything that came with it – the bread machine itself, a bread pan, two unique paddles for mixing, and a surprisingly helpful 267 page instruction booklet (half in English, half in French). After I was done skimming a few pages of the instructions, I took a good look at the bread machine itself and was extremely impressed with how awesome it looked.
From the outside, the Breville is clearly the best looking bread machine on the market, hands down. The outer compartment is entirely stainless steel which gives in that high-end, modern look that most kitchen appliances aim for today. One area of design where it really sets itself apart from other high-end bread machines is in the control panel.
Fully backlit, making selections of settings feels fast and intuitive with the select dial. This setup is much more attractive and suitable than something like the Zojirushi Virtuoso control panel which relies on a series of dated looking plastic buttons instead.
Another design feature I should point out is the see-through window on the top of the machine which allows you to peek at your mixes and keep an eye on how they’re doing without having to interrupt the bake. There’s even a light button you can press to turn on the oven light and get a really good look at what’s going on – if you’re baking with kids, they’re going to love this feature.
While I normally wouldn’t dedicate a section to an instruction book, but the one Breville includes deserves mention. It’s a whopping ~270 pages (half English, half French) and includes 46 great recipes of all different types, as well as really helpful troubleshooting tips that will make your bread come out better. Advice on how to adjust your ingredients if the bread doesn’t rise enough, is too dense, etc.
You can also check out a PDF copy of the instruction booklet here.
The Breville Custom Loaf is more than just a pretty appliance – it’s packed full of features as well. Perhaps the most unique feature that sets it apart from other bread machines is the 2.5 lb maximum loaf size. This gives the BBM800XL the largest loaf capacity on the market. If you’re baking bread for the whole family, this could be a huge selling point for you. Overall, this machine offers 4 different loaf sizes – 1 lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb, and 2.5 lb.
Here’s a look at the loaf bin inside the unit, which has a removable paddle inserted in the center.
This bread machine comes with two different paddles, the collapsible metal paddle and a plastic, fixed upright paddle. The metal paddle will be used on most of your bakes and collapses down during the bake phase so that the hole in the bottom of your loaf is as small as possible.
The fixed paddle is to be used when you’re making jams or the “jam” setting.
Another big selling point of the Custom Loaf is the variety of uses you can get from the 14 different settings. These settings include –
The Custom Loaf also offers three different crust colors, light, medium, and dark depending on your preference.
Another nice feature of this bread machine is the built-in fruit/nut dispenser. You can load up this compartment with up to 3/4 cups of fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever else you want to disperse into your bread dough at the appropriate time during the process. For bread machines without a nut dispenser, you have to be near your machine to hear it beep at the specific time when it’s appropriate to mix in your ingredients which can be limiting if you want to delay start your loaf to bake while you’re away or if you simply want to do something else (mow the lawn, do laundry, watch TV, etc) without having to be at your bread machine to manually do this part of the process when needed.
Finally, does it bake well? In my experience, the Breville Custom Loaf does an excellent job just as expected for this price range. All the recipes I have run through this machine have come out nicely, every component working as it should.
One thing worth noting about the kneading of this machine, it can be a bit on the loud side. Since there’s only one central paddle and the loaf capacity is very high, once the dough starts to firm up the paddle ends up beating the large ball of dough all around the bucket making somewhat loud thuds pretty often, even shaking the machine a bit.
To me, this isn’t much of an issue at all as I don’t really expect my kitchen appliances to be quiet, and the kneading phases really aren’t long enough for me to consider it annoying.
Overall if you’re looking for one bread machine to buy for the rest of your life, the Breville should be at the top of your list for consideration. There isn’t a better looking bread machine on the market and it has every possible feature you could need, making it future-proof. As long as it’s in your budget, I don’t think you’ll be sorry you bought a Breadville Custom Loaf.
The Zojirushi Virtuoso 2lb bread maker stands among the best bread machine your money can buy. Packed full of features and with impeccable performance, you won’t regret purchasing this machine.
Zojirushi is a Japanese manufacturer and marketer of a wide array of consumer products including – as you guessed it – bread machines. The company has a United States division and is often considered one of the best bread machine manufacturers on the market due to their extensive features and large loaf sizes. You can find Zojirushi bread makers in some of the biggest retailers including Amazon, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Target, Macy’s, and many more. With all of this said, we had very high expectations for this bread maker leading up to this review – so let’s see how it really performs.
I had just returned from the grocery store to re-stock on an assortment of bread flours, and as I pulled into my driveway I was surprised to see a large Zojirushi box on my doorstep that had just been delivered. I wasn’t surprised because it arrived early, I was surprised to see it looked like retail packaging; as if I grabbed this off the shelf from Target jam-packed with photos of the machine and detailing its features (and more colors than the rainbow). Personally, I prefer a standard brown box for shipment so people driving by my house don’t see a $200-300 bread machine sitting on my doorstep. With all of this said, after unboxing all of the contents, the machine was actually in perfect shape and well protected. In addition to the bread maker itself, you’ll also find a Zojirushi cookbook, a few other paper materials, optional dvd instructions (what year is it?!), and a few measuring cups.
The Zojirushi Virtuoso model is definitely the company’s best-looking machine, thanks to the clean stainless steel exterior which adds significantly to its build quality. However, other devices on the market such as Cuisinart and Breville may be a bit more modern, especially when it comes to the control panel; Zojirushi uses old-school buttons that resemble a microwave.
Another unique design characteristic in the Zojirushi bread machine is the peek-through window located on the lid. This lets you check the progress of the kneading and baking at any time without interrupting the baking schedule. Inside the unit, you will find a completely stainless steel interior with removable non-stick 2lb loaf pan.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Zojirushi Virtuoso model comes packed with features that enable you to make much more than just bread, including pizza dough, sourdough starters, fruit jams, and even meatloaf! Let’s take a look at some of the major features.
We absolutely love the size of the Zojirushi bread pan due to its rectangular shape which results in a traditional looking loaf of bread (like you will find in a grocery store). Most of the 1lb bread makers on the market are more square, and even a few of the 2lb bread makers are too. In addition, the great thing about this size is you don’t HAVE to make a 2lb loaf if you don’t want to – simply size down the ingredients and make a smaller loaf. I always recommend people purchase a 2lb bread machine simply for the flexibility.
Zojirushi bread makers come with a ton of built-in settings for gluten free breads which optimize the kneading and resting time. The second day I tested the machine out, I made a wonderful gluten free cinnamon raisin bread from Bob’s Red Mills. In total, it took about 2.5 hours from start to finish, and the result was amazing gluten free bread.
Optional crust control is available for those of you who prefer a darker crust, or conversely, lighter crust options are also available so you don’t have to cut the crust of your kids’ PB&J sandwiches anymore!
This is definitely the most unique and impressive feature. The Zojirushi Virtuoso actually has a second heating element in the lid of the machine to properly disperse the heat all around the loaf just like an oven would. This results in a perfectly baked crust.
After using this bread machine for a month, a few features really stood out among the rest in terms of satisfaction and performance. The kneading is consistently great and always picks up all of the flour for a thorough knead (as long as your ingredients measurements are correct!). This is largely due to the fact that Zojirushi has two metal paddles for kneading while many others, such as the Breville bread machine we reviewed, which only has one kneading paddle. The 2lb loaf size is also amazing for larger families or anyone who may take a sandwich to work every day for lunch. The finished loaves end up being similar size to what you would buy at a grocery store. Finally, the sheer amount of built-in settings for specific types of baking is really impressive. The Zojirushi Virtuoso covers everything from standard quick breads, whole wheat, gluten free, cakes, jams, and much more. Each built-in setting optimizes the kneading, resting, and baking times so you end up with a perfect loaf of bread.
Overall, the Zojirushi stood out among the rest as one of the best bread machines you can buy. The performance is impressive overall, the stainless steel design blends in with other kitchen appliances, and the large loaf size sure won’t leave you hungry; however, the best comes at a cost. If you can jump over the premium price hurdle, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
I grabbed this gluten free cinnamon raisin bread mix (by Bob’s Red Mill) from my local chain grocery store this past weekend and figured I’d give it a quick test. As many of you know, gluten is a cornerstone in bread making. As a result, gluten free breads will have a difference in taste and sometimes texture, but that doesn’t mean it wont be delicious. Also, as a bonus, not only is this gluten free, but also kosher and vegan.
The back of the packaging has two instructions for baking: hand mixing or bread machine. It’s not too often I see a bread mix with specific instructions for using it with a bread machine, so I opted for this. I used my Zojirushi 2lb bread maker to make this loaf (even though the bread mix makes a 1.5lb loaf) because it has a gluten free bake setting. Nearly all bread machines work in the same order: add all wet ingredients first, followed by flour (making a mound on top of the liquid), sugar, salt, and finally yeast. In this specific case, the directions looked like this:
The bread came out great! I’ll be honest, if you eat it plain, it tastes like a gluten free bread. But if you toast this, add a little butter, and another dash of cinnamon, it turns out amazing. Another idea that Bob’s Red Mill website mentions is to use this as french toast. I read this after I ate it all, but plan to buy it again just to try this. I’d recommend this gluten free bread machine mix.
Bread bowls are a GREAT match with soup on a cold Sunday afternoon or a creative accompaniment for dips when watching the game. It’s great that you can make these in advance since the bread usually doesn’t have to be served warm.
The whole baking process is actually very simple, after all, you’re just making a basic bread recipe. However, there are a few tips that will help you make flawless homemade bread bowls that can actually hold a decent amount of soup/dip.
DON’T fall victim to this!
This is the most important step, because no one wants to eat soup off of a flat piece of bread! Usually, when we bake a homemade bread we’re not too worried about keeping a round shape, so we do the normal kneading + folding process and let it rest. When making homemade bread bowls, you basically want to make the dough into a ball shape. Then, when you put it down to bake, it will conform to the flat surface, leaving a nice flat bottom and a rounded top.
And moreover, preheat your baking pan or dutch oven for about 30 minutes as well. The hot surface will help kick-start the dough on the bottom so that it bakes more evenly. If you were to place the dough into a preheated oven on a COOL surface (non-preheated pan or dutch oven), the tops will likely finish well before the bottoms. And this is a sticky situation for bread bowls, because the soup can make a soggy mess of the bottoms and eventually leak. My favorite method is preheating a dutch oven at 450F.
This may seem obvious, however I read quite a few recipes on other sites that show people to slice downward into the bread to carve out the middle. This is much more difficult!
Simply slice a layer off the entire top, and then pick out the inside of the bread until there’s about 3/4″ of bread remaining on all sides. Better yet, this allows you to put that top layer of bread back onto the bread bowl filled with soup before serving.
Using your (clean) hands, gently press the remaining 3/4″ of fluffy bread on the inside to compact the walls. Afterwards, the walls of the bread bowl should be about 1/4″ thick or so.
Pressing the insides flat helps keep the soup in the bread bowl longer because it takes longer to get soggy.
After all, we don’t want to waste all of the great homemade bread you just made! After picking out the insides of the bread bowls, place them in a container with a paper towel over the top and let them sit on the counter. After a couple days, you have the perfect accompaniment for homemade french onion soup.
Or you can always make homemade breadcrumbs by simply baking them at 350F for 15 minutes to dry them out.
When it comes to affordable small kitchen appliances, Hamilton Beach is probably a brand you’ve heard of. Founded in 1910, Hamilton Beach makes everything for the kitchen you can think of from blenders to coffee machines and of course, bread machines as well.
While Hamilton Beach doesn’t make a really high end bread maker, they do make affordable options that get the job done. Today I’m reviewing the HomeBaker (model # 29882, though #29881 is the same product just a different color) which retails for about $50.
Unboxing the HomeBaker is a pretty easy and straightforward process as there isn’t really that much inside that you need to worry about. You get a bread maker, two dough kneading paddles, and a relatively small instruction manual.
Overall, the Hamilton Beach isn’t an attractive kitchen appliance but it’s not hideous either. It’s very plain and large, bigger than a blender or toaster but smaller than a toaster oven.
The bread pan features a single kneading paddle and a small window to see how the bread is cooking, though there’s no light so it can be hard to tell what’s going on at times. The bread pan locks and unlocks into the machine by twisting the entire pan, which took a bit to get the hang of.
The controls for the HomeBaker are very simple. There are 6 buttons that allow you to adjust the settings on the machine, the first of which is the important “Cycle” button. This lets you set what type of bake cycle you need your loaf to run through which of course will vary depending on what you’re baking. The 12 available settings are –
The instruction manual lists out the specifics of each baking mode, how they differ, and how you can decide which mode to use. The smaller number on the left of the display shows the current bake cycle that’s selected.
There’s also buttons to set your crust bake levels (light, medium, dark) and an option to select your loaf size based on the ingredients you put in the machine (1.5 lbs or 2 lbs).
The remaining buttons are used to start or stop the baking, and there’s also an option to set a delayed timer if you want to set your ingredients up but wait a bit before baking.
In testing the performance of the HomeBaker, I found that it performed as you’d expect for a $50 bread machine. It doesn’t have any fancy options, LED-backlit control panel, or anything else you can pay more for but it did a decent job at cooking a 2 lb loaf.
One obvious exception is a time that the kneading paddle actually ended up getting baked right into the loaf! I’m not sure why this happened, possibly because the recipe was a banana bread which may be heavier with the fruit than other kinds of bread, but when the loaf came out of the tray the metal paddle was stuck right in it.
Luckily I realized this right away and managed to dig it out which left an unpleasant hole in the bottom of my loaf, but otherwise it cooked pretty well.
The machine ran pretty quiet which is nice, but I don’t think it mixes as thoroughly as other high-end models I have tested.
Overall I would say if you’re looking for a cheap bread machine, you could do worse than this Hamilton Beach HomeBaker. If you primarily bake heavier breads like banana bread, I would suggest looking elsewhere though unless you’re keen on fishing the hot paddle out of the bottom of the loaf often.
Despite the name, bread machines can be used to make a whole lot more than just a variety of breads. In fact, that bread machine in your kitchen can typically make anything from jam and jelly to meat loaf and rice, and most even have settings specifically made to enhance the cooking process when it comes to these other, non-bread items. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular things people make with their bread machines, other than bread of course. The possibilities might surprise you!
Nearly all of the higher quality bread machines on the market, and most of the lesser quality ones as well, now come with a “jam” setting pre-programmed, enabling users not only to create delicious homemade bread to also make their own spreads to put on it. So, how exactly does your bread maker do it? Well, the jam making process is actually simple than you might think!
Typically, all you need in order to make a great jelly or jam are three key ingredients: fruit, sugar, and pectin, which helps the jam find the right consistency. Once you assemble those in the desired quantities, then just dump them right on into your bread machine, hit that jam setting, and watch your machine get to work! Since the only things that you need to make a great jelly or jam is just a heat source and a mixer, the bread maker makes the perfect tool for the task and takes over from the traditional, old fashioned role of stirring away for long periods of time over a boiling hot pot.
Making jellies and jam is usually a pretty fast process too. For most machines, you can get at least two bottles of delicious fruit spreads after only an hour, and without any more effort on your part than putting the ingredients together and pressing a button!
Homemade pizza dough is not only delicious, but it can be great fun for the family when everyone gathers together to make their own pizzas. And, if you didn’t know it yet, most bread makers are now able to make their own pizza dough too!
Just like with the jam/jelly making process, your bread maker can save you all of the difficult work that is traditionally associated with making pizza dough. Home chefs no longer need to waste their time kneading away at the dough by hand or mixing the ingredients together.
Instead, simply gather whatever you would like to have in your dough (usually just water, flour, yeast, and a pinch of salt), put it all into your bread machine, and let it do the work. To make it even easier, many bread machines even have a pizza dough option built in, so you can always be assured that your dough will have pizzeria level consistency every time.
Meatloaf is certainly not the first thing that would come to mind when we ask you to name a few items you think you bread machine can create, but believe it or not many machines on the market today also have a function that allows them to make delicious meatloaf with almost no effort from the owner at all.
To make a bread machine meatloaf, first mix all of the ingredients (aside from the glaze, that comes at the end) in a bowl, and remove the paddles from the machine. Then, put that newly mixed up meatloaf right into the machine, and presto, you now have a miniature over perfectly sized for making meatloaf! And if you don’t have a specific meatloaf setting, you can turn your machine to the quick bread cycle, and then sit back and relax as your dinner is baked to perfection.
And these aren’t the only things that your bread maker can create either! You can make tomato sauce, cakes, soups, and even scrambled eggs right there in that versatile little machine in the kitchen! The opportunities seem almost endless, so next time you get a craving for something special, you might wanna consider tossing it into the bread machine instead of the oven. You might just be surprised at how it turns out.
Bread machines are usually pretty straightforward and easy to use items, but just like anything else in this world they may present us with some issues from time to time that need to be addressed. In the vast majority of these situations, there are simple fixes that only require minor adjustments on our part to get those machines back to pumping out high quality, delicious bread once again. So read on and check out some of the most common bread machine problems that we have noticed, and see how they can be fixed with just a small tweak of our recipes.
Expecting a nice, big loaf of bread and coming away with a short, stubby little bundle can be a let down to anyone, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your machine. In most circumstances, this kind of thing happens when the dough is too dry, which can be fixed simply by adding a bit of water into the mix.
Of course, sometimes, the yeast itself might be the culprit. Always make sure to check the expiration date on your yeast packages, and make sure that your product is fresh. Older yeast sometimes might not be able to give your bread that fluff and size you desire, so always be sure that your yeast isn’t expired in order to help guarantee that you get full sized loaves on your dinner table for every meal.
Since we are on the subject of yeast from our last problem, let’s take a look at another yeast related problem. Old or improperly stored yeast is the most common culprit behind loaves that simply refuse to rise, and simply not adding enough can also lead to this problem.
It isn’t always the yeast’s fault, however. Adding in too much salt or sugar, or pouring in water that is too hot can effectively kill off the yeast cells and prevent them from causing the reactions necessary for bread to rise. Finally, it might simply be a problem of the ingredients not being added in the correct order. So before you worry that you might be forced to eat crackers forever because of a defective bread machine, first check your yeast packages for freshness, and then take a look to be sure that the ingredients you are using are in the right proportions, and being added in the correct order first.
Let’s face in. Gummy bread can be downright disgusting, and no one wants to bite into a fresh piece of bread only to come away with a wad of dough in their mouths. If you start to find that gummy bread is a problem for you, it Is very likely that you have added too many liquid ingredients into your mix. A simple fix for that is to just add in a bit more flour, or else to decrease the amount of liquids that you put into your next batch. Sometimes, too much sugar has also been found to cause this problem too, so always keep an eye on your sugar levels and adjust it accordingly.
Of course, there is also a chance that something may have gone wrong with the bread maker itself when we start getting gummy bread over and over again. It is very possible that there is a defective thermostat to blame, and the machine just isn’t getting up to the temperature needed to fully bake your bread all the way through. When this happens, always check the user’s manual, and if necessary get in touch with the company to see what they can do to fix the situation.
While gummy bread might be gross, bread that is full of holes can be a major disappointment, especially if you were hoping to get a mouthful of warm, fluffy bread and get mostly air instead. If you notice this is a problem for you, than it is very likely that you have added either too much yeast or too much water into your mix. And if you are adding in fruits or veggies to your recipe, always make sure that they are dry before they get tossed in with the dough; even that little bit of extra water can work to change the texture of the bread believe it or not!
Forgetting to add in the right amount of salt can also lead to this problem. Remember, salt absorbs water, so it is very helpful in making sure that the water doesn’t run amok in your bread machine and leave your bread looking like a slice of Swiss cheese.
The opposite of the empty, holey bread, sometimes our bread might seem like it is just too dense. We all love that fluffy bread, and we don’t want this massive, thick lump of bread filling our bellies before dinner. If bread is too dense, it is almost always the result of having an incorrect amount of one ingredient or another. Usually, this happens when we put too much flour into the machine, but it can also come from having too many extra ingredients, or from having too little water, sugar, or yeast in the mix.
These are just a few of the more common problems out there, and while there are plenty of other issues that people might have when using their bread machines out there almost every single one of them can be solved by simply adjusting your recipe. So before you go out there and give the manufacturer of your machine an earful about their defective products, make sure your yeast is up to date and double check that you have all o your ingredients laid out in the right proportions. It can save you a ton of stress, and can give that poor customer service rep one less thing to worry about that day.
Oster is a United States based manufacturer of affordable home appliances, owned by the powerhouse parent company Newell Brands (Rubbermaid, Crock-Pot, and many, many more). For the most part, Oster has a pretty reliable reputation while also being incredibly affordable. I personally have been using the same Oster toaster for about 10 years – but just because they make a pretty good toaster doesn’t mean their bread machine is of the same quality. Let’s take a deep dive into this Oster 2 Pound Expressbake review and see how it pairs up with our top rated bread machine, Zojirushi Virtuoso.
I ordered the Oster Expressbake bread maker on Amazon and it arrived in a pretty heavy duty, albeit a bit banged up, brown box (unlike the Zojirushi we reviewed, which came in a brightly colored retail box). Luckily, everything was very well protected inside with thick layers of styrofoam and the bread machine was in perfect shape. A layer of plastic also enveloped the entire machine and cord to protect it from scrapes.
After unwrapping everything, you should find yourself with the bread machine itself, measuring cup and spoon, and a pretty lackluster user guide and recipe book.
Overall, the design matches the term “affordable” – that is, the white plastic shell of the bread machine definitely doesn’t give off the same high-end feeling as the Breville bread machine. However, the inside of the machine is at least stainless steel, which is ultimately more important.
Another design feature we really love is the peek-through window located on the lid of the machine. This lets you see the progress of the bread from start to finish as it makes its way through the kneading, resting, and baking periods. Also located on the top is the control panel, which is very straight forward to use – in fact, this is one of the few you really don’t have to break out the user guide to know how to use first.
The Oster Expressbake bread machine actually comes with quite a few great features. This is surprising considering just how cheap this bread maker is in comparison to a few others. For a quick comparison, this Oster usually retails between $50-$60, while the top of the line Zojirushi can be between $150 – $200. But let’s wait until we talk performance before making your decision!
During my test, I discovered a few hiccups when trying out a recipe straight from the included Oster recipe book. The recipe I tried first was the 1.5lb Apple Walnut Bread. After following the basic instructions (which are the same across all lines of bread machines – place wet ingredients in first, followed by dry, and finally adding the yeast into a hole/well within the flour), I clicked start. And to my surprise, the machine started kneading. I know what you’re probably thinking – if you click start the machine should start! Well, most machines begin a resting period when you click start so the yeast can begin activating in the flour. The Oster instructions specifically mentions to NOT let the yeast come in contact with the water in the bottom of your bread pan. But when you click start, and the kneading begins, guess what happens to the yeast?
So, that was my first red flag that the yeast wouldn’t develop this bread as much as I would hope, but I let it continue. After about 30 minutes of kneading, the initial beeps went off alerting me to add the walnuts. And let me tell you, these beeps are LOUD. I had this thing going around 8pm just after I put my daughter to sleep, and I thought it was going to wake her up. The machine’s kneading blades also continue moving while the lid is open and pour the nuts in – some other machines pause the kneading until the lid closes.
And now for my biggest negative of this machine: the single kneading blade. One blade simply did not get the job done. Take a look at the photo below of the baking loaf – 75% of it was on the left side, and part of the right side of the pan was empty.
Not only that, but the kneading process actually tossed a few chunks of dough out of the bread pan and onto the heating elements below. I didn’t know this until the baking process started and my kitchen started filling up with smoke. I paused the machine, removed the dough that was burning, and let it continue. The surprising part here is that this is a 2lb bread pan and I was only using a 1.5lb loaf recipe.
My end result was an ok piece of breakfast toast. It was way too dense, which I believe is partly due to the yeast not resting long enough and also due to me trying to re-position the final dough so it wasn’t all on one side of the pan.
Overall, for being within the $50 price range, Oster is one of the cheapest bread machines available; however, you get what you pay for. If you’re unsure if you’ll use the machine regularly and just want to try one of these out, you don’t have much to lose with going with the Oster Expressbake. It will bake a decent loaf and has a few ideal features to make things easier on you. However, I personally recommend spending a bit more and going with the Breville 2lb or Zojirushi Virtuoso.
If you don’t know anything about Flour Water Salt Yeast (FWSY) yet, you definitely will by the time you finish reading this post. If you do know FWSY, skip to the next paragraph. FWSY is a legendary book by Ken Forkish that uses age-old baking fundamentals and techniques without any fancy equipment. I believe this book is now the cornerstone of artisan bread and pizza making today, and anyone even remotely interested in baking should own a copy. Now that my fanboy piece is out of the way, let’s dive right into testing out one of Ken’s recipes from the book, but with a twist: a 75% whole wheat honey (the honey is the twist!) levain bread.
Before I tell you my experiences with this recipe and how it turned out, let’s take a quick look at the ingredients and basic steps involved. It’s broken into two main pieces: the levain and the final dough.
|Mature starter||100 g (1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp)|
|White flour||400 g (3 cups + 2 tbsp)|
|Whole wheat flour||100 g (3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp)|
|Water||400 g (1 3/4 cup) at 85F-90F|
|White flour||90 g (1/2 cups + 3 tbsp)|
|Whole wheat flour||710 g (5 1/2 cups + 1/2 tbsp)|
|Water||660 g (2 7/8 cups) at 90F-95F|
|Salt||21 g (1 tbsp + 1 scant tsp)|
|Instant dried yeast||1.75 g (scant 1/2 tsp)|
|Levain (from earlier)||360 g (1 1/3 cups)|
Since this recipe uses so much whole wheat flour, the amount of yeast needed is quite a bit lower than you might initially expect. This is because whole wheat and rye flours have a lot more nutrients in them for the yeast to flourish than white flours, and is usually the reason people recommend feeding sourdough starters with 50/50 rye/all purpose flour.
Ken put forth a pretty nice baking schedule with this recipe that is easy to follow and is perfect for a saturday morning bake. The steps go as follows:
When mixing the final dough, I also added 2-3 tbsp of honey and mixed thoroughly. After the 12 hour proofing in a Bread Boss basket, I baked the loaf per Ken’s guidelines (which are the same for all of his recipes): preheat a dutch oven to 475F for 30-45 minutes, carefully add dough and cover, bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more.
The results were spectacular. I loved the addition of the honey to accompany the nutty flavors of the whole wheat. My daughter enjoyed it as peanut butter toast for the next few mornings until nothing but a few crumbs were left on the counter.