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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.