Don't you wish it did?
Imagine having fresh bread every day – wholegrain raisin toast for breakfast, a warm seeded loaf with soup, the kids helping you bake banana bread for afternoon tea. Bliss.
Making your own bread is a recipe for getting your family together to eat, talk and interact, and that's a lot from one humble little kitchen appliance.
A little time, or a lot – it's up to you
Making fresh bread doesn't need to be difficult – supermarkets and grocers carry pre-mix that you can pop straight into the breadmaker to knead and bake for you. If you'd prefer to make your own bread mix from scratch, you can do that too. Breadmakers can also make dough for bread rolls, pizza bases and focaccias, and can be used for cakes, damper and even home-made jam!
My breadmaker can do all that! What else can it do?
Well, it can't slice the bread for you (how handy would that be?), but it can make a lot more than just bread. Here's a quick rundown of the standard settings on most breadmakers:
For traditional white bread. Most breadmakers allow you to choose from three crust colours: light, medium or dark.
For bread in a hurry. This setting reduces the cooking time by approximately one hour. Breads made using this setting may be slightly undersized and denser due to the reduced rising time.
Wheat, whole-wheat or whole-grain
For a heavier bread. This setting allows for a longer rising time, which is needed for wheat or grain flours. It is normal for whole-wheat breads to be slightly smaller and denser than a white loaf. All models have this feature.
For whole-wheat bread in a hurry. This setting reduces the cooking time for a whole-wheat loaf. The rising times are shorter, so bread made from a combination of white and whole-wheat flour rather than 100% whole-wheat would produce a better result.
For breads that require additional ingredients such as dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. A timer beeps during the second kneading, allowing you to add the ingredients manually.
For a crispier crust. This setting reduces the amount of kneading time and increases the rising time. The result is a crispy crust, a la French and Italian breads. It's also best for recipes low in fat and sugar.
For cakes and non-yeast breads such as banana bread or yeast-free loaves.
For jams and preserves made from fresh fruit – resulting in less mess than the old stovetop method.
For baking without kneading or rising first. This setting is the equivalent to baking in a conventional oven and can be used to bake frozen or pre-prepared dough.
For specialty diet breads. The recipes used for this setting will substitute wheat flour with other types of flours such as rice flour, soy flour and chick pea flour.
For muffin-style or damper breads. The recipes used for this setting rely on baking powder or bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent. This will result in a heavier texture and a loaf that's not as highly risen as yeast breads.
For homemade pasta. This setting prepares the dough for pasta - which can then be used in a pasta machine, or rolled out and shaped by hand.
For preparing dough to bake in an oven. The dough setting will perform the mixing/kneading/punch down and first rise automatically. You can then shape the dough into rolls, plaits, bagels, or whatever you like, allow to rise a second time, then bake in a conventional oven.
For homemade pizza bases and focaccia. This setting mixes the dough for flatbreads such as pizza bases and focaccias. The dough is ready to roll out and no rising is required – just add the topping and bake in a conventional oven.
What if there's no setting for the bread I want?
Even if you have allergies or you want to bake a specialty bread, it's easy to get creative with recipes. Breadmakers can handle many types of ingredients, and even if there isn't a specific program for the type of bread you want to bake, that doesn't mean it's off the menu – check the appliance's recipe book to see if it offers an alternative baking mode for your favourite bread.
Wow! I can't wait to get one. What should I look for in a machine?
Bake and watch monitor / progress indicator
This feature lets you know what stage the machine is at in the breadmaking process and how far off your finished loaf is. 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.
Add ingredients signal or beep
This feature lets you know when to add nuts, cheese, herbs, etc. that are introduced to the dough after basic kneading. Some models have an automatic fruit and nut dispenser that adds them for you.
A removable lid
This makes cleaning easier.
Peek inside while the bread is being mixed and kneaded and when it's rising and baking. Not essential, but great for the curious baker.
From $100 to $350, or check secondhand shops and websites – breadmakers are one of the most often discarded kitchen appliances.