Breadmakers review 2007

If there’s no bakery nearby, why not make your own bread?
 
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  • Updated:9 Jul 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Breadmakers

Test results for breadmakers priced from $100 to $289

We scored them for:

  • Baking performance on white bread from scratch and from a premix. Based on:
    • Evenness of crust colour
    • Uniformity of mixing
    • Crust texture
    • Even distribution of small bubbles through the loaf
    • Shape of the loaf
  • Baking perfomance of raisin loaf.
  • Ease of use.

Please note: this information was current as of July 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Breadmakers review 2010


Findings:

Whether you use a premix or create your bread from scratch, all breadmakers can do more than create a standard white loaf — you can make bread of many kinds, rolls, pizza dough, focaccia, yeast-free bread, cakes … even jam.

A higher price doesn’t necessarily get you a machine that makes better bread, but it can buy more features and programs.

Models tested

  • BREVILLE BB280
  • BREVILLE BB290
  • BREVILLE BB420
  • GEORGE FOREMAN GFBM1000
  • PANASONIC SD-251 #
  • PANASONIC SD-253 #
  • SUNBEAM BM2100
  • SUNBEAM BM7800

# The two PANASONIC models have been discontinued.

 
 

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What to buy

  • PANASONIC SD-251 # - $249
  • BREVILLE BB290 - $170
  • SUNBEAM BM2100 (see note below) - $100

Note: the SUNBEAM BM2100 is only recommended if you want a cheap, no-frills machine that does the basics well. This model got good scores for making white bread and costs just $100, but it isn’t as easy to use as the others.

# The PANASONIC SD-251 has been discontinued.

One factor in your choice could be whether you want a traditional horizontal loaf or are happy with a vertical shape (the risen crust is on a short rather than a long side).

Most of the tested breadmakers have a horizontal pan, but two of the three in the What to buy list (BREVILLE and SUNBEAM) deliver a vertical loaf. See the features table for details.

What about the rest?

  • The BREVILLE BB420, GEORGE FOREMAN and PANASONIC SD-253 are all at the high end of the price range ($250–$289) but don’t make bread as well as the similarly priced PANASONIC SD-251 and the cheaper BREVILLE BB290 in the What to buy list. The PANASONIC SD-253 has a good range of programs, though.
  • While the $199 SUNBEAM BM7800 is easy to use and has a good range of programs, it got only average scores for baking.
  • Being cheap ($100) and easy to use probably won't compensate for the BREVILLE BB280 having the equal-lowest scores for making white bread - both from scratch and from a premix. The SUNBEAM BM2100 in the What to buy list is a better choice if you want to keep to this lower price point.

Results tables

  Performance
Brand / model (in rank order) Overall score (%) White bread score (%) Premix score (%) Fruit distribution score (%) Ease of use score (%) Price ($)
# Panasonic SD-251 82 80 85 100 73 249
Breville BB290 79 80 75 100 73 170
Breville BB420 72 75 65 100 67 250
George Foreman GFBM1000 72 60 80 80 73 250
Sunbeam BM2100 70 70 75 80 60 100
Sunbeam BM7800 69 60 70 80 73 199
# Panasonic SD-253 67 55 75 100 60 289
Breville BB280 66 55 65 80 73 100
 

 

  Features Specifications
Brand / model
(in rank order)
Progress indicator Power failure protection Automatic fruit dispenser Removable lid Viewing window Shape of loaf Loaf colour options Loaf size options Dimensions (W x D x H, cm) Contact
# Panasonic SD-251 Horizontal Light, medium, dark Medium, large, extra-large 34 x 27 x 34 132 600
Breville BB290 Vertical Light, medium, dark 750 g, 1 kg 23 x 35 x 33 1300 139 798
Breville BB420 Horizontal Light, medium, dark 750 g, 1 kg, 1.25 kg 40 x 26 x 33 1300 139 798
George Foreman GFBM1000 Horizontal Light, medium, dark 500 g, 750 g, 1.5 kg 41 x 26 x 32 1800 427 842
Sunbeam BM2100 Vertical None 750 g 26 x 35 x 29 1800 025 059
Sunbeam BM7800 Horizontal Light, medium, dark 750 g, 1.0 kg, 1.25/1.5 kg 43 x 28 x 33 1800 025 059
# Panasonic SD-253 Horizontal Light, medium, dark Medium, large, extra-large 34 x 27 x 37 132 600
Breville BB280 Horizontal Light, medium, dark 750 g, 1 kg 28 x 38 x 28 1300 139 798
 

Table notes

# Both PANASONIC models are discontinued.

The overall score is made up of:

  • White bread made from ingredients - 30%
  • White bread made from a premix - 30%
  • Fruit distribution - 10%
  • Ease of use - 30%

Features and programs: For more information on these, see What to look for.

How we tested

  • CHOICE’s home economist made loaves of white bread from ingredients, according to the basic recipe provided with each machine. She also made white bread from a premix.
  • She visually assessed the loaves for the evenness of crust colour, the uniformity of mixing, shape of the loaf, crust texture and even distribution of small bubbles throughout the loaf.
  • She made raisin loaf according to the manufacturer’s recipe and assessed it for the distribution of fruit and whether the fruit was chopped, which can happen if the fruit is added too early or kneaded too harshly.
  • To assess ease of use she looked at how easy the tin is to remove and place back into the shaft and whether the models have easy-to-use controls and settings. She also checked if they have a digital display and progress indicator, and if they’re easy to wipe over and disassemble for cleaning.

Product profiles - the best

Models in the What to buy list are profiled in rank order.

PANASONIC SD-251

Discontinued

Price: $249
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Equal-highest score for white bread made from scratch.
  • Very good at premix bread.
  • Excellent fruit distribution.
  • Blade/paddle is easy to remove.
  • Progress indicator.

Bad points

  • Has programs for relatively few bread types and other foods, though it’s worth checking the instruction manual for alternative ways to achieve different types.
  • No cord storage.
  • The program display can be a little confusing.
  • No viewing window.
  • The lid can only be removed for cleaning by removing screws.

BREVILLE BB290

Price: $170
Vertical loaf

Good points

  • Equal-highest score for white bread made from scratch, using basic ingredients.
  • Excellent fruit distribution.
  • Has programs for yeast-free bread and pasta dough, unlike many others in the test.
  • Controls are easy to use.
  • Instructions are easy to understand, and excellent recipes.

Bad points

  • No progress indicator.
  • Blade/paddle can be difficult to remove.
  • The lid can only be removed for cleaning by removing screws.
  • No fruit and nut dispenser. 

SUNBEAM BM2100

Cheap and No Frills

Price: $100
Vertical loaf

Good points

  • A good score for white bread made both from scratch and with a premix.
  • Very good fruit distribution.
  • A very good price.
  • Compact and easy to store.

Bad points

  • Has programs for relatively few bread types and other products, though it’s worth checking the instruction manual for alternative ways to achieve different types.
  • No delayed start/timer or progress indicator.
  • No cord storage.
  • Equal-lowest ease of use score.
  • No choice of crust colour.
  • Only one size of loaf (750 g); all the other models can deliver a bigger loaf.

BREVILLE BB420

Price: $250
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Good result for making white bread from scratch.
  • Excellent fruit distribution.
  • Bread tin can be positioned either way round.
  • Easy to understand instructions and excellent recipes.
  • Removable lid for ease of cleaning.
  • Cord storage.
  • Fruit and nut dispenser.
  • Internal light for easy viewing.

Bad points

  • Bread tin can be fiddly to insert and sometimes difficult to remove.
  • Blade/paddle can be difficult to remove from pan.

GEORGE FOREMAN GFBM1000

Price: $250
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Equal best ease of use score.
  • Very good result for premix bread.
  • Blade/paddle is easy to remove.
  • Progress indicator.
  • Removable lid.
  • Good shape for storage.

Bad points

  • No cord storage.
  • No fruit and nut dispenser.

SUNBEAM BM7800

Price: $199
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Equal best ease of use score.
  • Fruit and nut dispenser.
  • Removable lid.
  • Progress indicator.
  • Cord storage.
  • Quick reference help cards stored in unit.
  • Can program favourite recipes.

Bad points

  • Awkward shape to store.

PANASONIC SD-253

Discontinued

Price: $289
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Excellent fruit distribution.
  • Fruit and nut dispenser.
  • Progress indicator.
  • Good result for white bread premix.

Bad points

  • Equal lowest ease of use score.
  • Bread can stick to lid, difficult to clean.
  • No cord storage.
  • The program display can be a little confusing.
  • No viewing window.
  • Lid can only be removed by removing screws for cleaning.

BREVILLE BB280

Price: $100
Horizontal loaf

Good points

  • Equal best ease of use score.
  • Light weight.
  • One of the cheapest tested.

Bad points

  • Lowest overall score.
  • Blade/paddle can be difficult to remove.
  • No fruit and nut dispenser.
  • No cord storage.

For baking

  • It’s important to measure the ingredients accurately. Ideally, use metric weighing scales.
  • Always use bread flour, unless stated otherwise.
  • Don’t use flour with a protein level below 11.5% (such as some no-name brands).
  • Never use self-raising flour to make bread with yeast unless the instructions ask for it.
  • Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order given in the recipe.
  • Use dry yeast, not compressed (wet) yeast.
  • Don’t use hot water or other liquids.
  • Never use the delayed-start timer for recipes that contain perishable ingredients (such as milk and eggs).


For cleaning

  • Don’t use metal objects to remove the loaf from the pan, or the kneading blade from the pan or bread, as this may damage the non-stick coating.
  • Never immerse the breadmaker or pan in water or put them in a dishwasher.
  • Don’t use harsh cleaners, abrasives, brushes or steel wool when cleaning, as this can damage the non-stick coating.
  • You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove crumbs from the baking chamber (when it’s unplugged and cool).
Size

Consider the type and size of the bread pan.

  • Do you want a horizontal or vertical loaf?
  • How much does it yield?
  • How many people will it serve?

Also consider the size of the machine.

  • Do you have enough bench space to leave it out?
  • If it has to live in a cupboard, will you use it?
Price

The breadmakers we tested ranged in price from around $100 to $300. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean a better machine (or better bread). A higher price usually means the model has a larger capacity and more features.

Instruction manual

The instruction manual should be easy to understand, with key diagrams. It should cover the use and care of the machine and include a troubleshooting guide, and there should also be a good recipe booklet.

Main features

The table shows which models have the following features:

  • Bake and watch monitor/ progress indicator
    This indicates the stage of the breadmaking process. An indicator light usually appears when the machine is preheating, kneading, rising, baking and warming.
  • Power saver/ failure protection
    This is a memory device that saves the progress of your bread in the event of a power interruption. Our machines ranged from five minutes up to one hour.
  • Add ingredients signal or beep
    Lets you know when to add nuts, cheese, herbs, etc, that are included after basic kneading. Some models have an automatic fruit and nut dispenser that adds them for you.
  • A removable lid
    This makes cleaning easier.
  • Viewing window
    Enables you to peek inside while the bread is being mixed and kneaded and when it’s baking and rising. Not essential, but useful for the curious baker.

Want more?

Whether you’re happy with a premix from the supermarket or you’d prefer to make the bread from scratch, a breadmaker will let you produce delicious variants on your standard white loaf — the possibilities are endless.

Breadmakers can also make dough for bread rolls, pizza and focaccias, and can be used for cakes, damper and even home-made fruit jam, though we only used them for bread made with yeast. The tables lists the major types of bread, dough, etc, each model can make.

The SUNBEAM BM7800 and the PANASONIC SD-253 also have a gluten-free program, which allows you to use gluten-free types of flour, such as chick pea or rice flour, instead of wheat flour.

Just because a machine doesn’t have a program for a particular kind of bread, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it. Check the model's recipe book to see if it offers an alternative baking mode for the bread you want.

Features not in the table

  •  Display window
    This indicates the program setting, crust colour and loaf size until the start button is pressed. The display will then show the amount of time left to run. (All but the two PANASONIC models have this feature.)
  • User-programmable settings
    Allows you to program your own personal recipe times and baking temperature. (All have this feature)
  • Manual stop/pause function
    Can be stopped at any time for 10 minutes before continuing. Useful for braiding, pull-apart or filled bread. (The BREVILLE BB420, GEORGE FOREMAN and SUNBEAM BM7800 have this feature.)
  • Delayed start
    Most breadmakers can have a delayed start of at least eight hours, which is useful for preparing fresh bread for breakfast. (All except the SUNBEAM BM2100 have this feature.)

Pre-programmed settings

Besides making white, wholemeal and whole-grain bread, breadmakers can have other settings, such as:

  • Sweet: Used for breads that require additional ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts and chocolate. On this setting, a timer beeps when it’s time to add the ingredients, and the temperature and time may be altered.
  • French or continental/Italian: Reduces the amount of kneading time and increases rising time, for a crispier crust.
  • Damper or yeast-free: Used to make muffin-style or damper breads. Recipes rely on baking powder or bicarbonate soda as the raising agent.
  • Gluten-free: Allows the substitution of non-gluten flours.
  • Pasta: Prepares dough for pasta, which can then be used in a pasta machine or rolled out and made by hand.
  • Dough/pizza dough: Makes dough for rolls, doughnuts, pizza bases and foccacias, ready to be baked in the oven.
  • Bake only: Uses the baking process only, for example if you’re using frozen dough.
  • Cake or batter breads: Allows you to make cakes or packaged cake mixes, or non-yeast breads such as banana bread.
  • Jam: Allows you to use fresh fruit to make homemade jam.