I finally grew tired of hand kneading and decided to use the help of a breadmaker. I was looking for something that is not too big, just enough for a 1-pound loaf, and can be easily carried around and this one fits the bill perfectly! Having used it to bake some bread, it is now time for a review!
Its price is considered on the higher end, i.e. >RM600, for its size. Initially it was at RM899 but after almost a year, it has dropped to ~RM730, but you get what you pay for. The quality of the product totally justifies its price.
This is a very well-made machine. It is sturdy, there are no loose parts. It has got a good shape and clean lines, so it won’t take up much counter space. Easy to move it around too thanks to its handle and light body weight (~5-6kg). The rubber feet are strong and well-balanced – the machine does not wobble at all when put on a flat surface. Heat insulation is sufficient as it does not get too hot during the baking cycle (won’t get burns if accidentally touching the sides). The air vents are mostly at the top part of the machine. There is a separate yeast / nut dispenser as well. It also comes with a measuring cylinder and a measuring spoon. This machine works quietly, but I find the beep sound a little too soft.
It makes a 1-pound (~450g) loaf. The loaf pan measures 13cm in height, 13.7cm in length and 11.5cm in width. These measurements are based on the open end of the pan. It very slightly tapers down towards the bottom. Instead of baking a typical horizontal loaf, this breadmaker bakes a vertical loaf, so the bread slices will be tall and slim (this is if your dough has risen enough!) So far, I have tried recipes that call for up to 300g flour + 200ml liquid, which makes a 600g dough, and the machine handled the dough just fine. Yes, it’s a big forceful dough but just make sure the breadmaker is on a stable surface.
There are altogether 13 baking options: Bread, Rapid Bread, Soft Bread, French Bread, Whole Wheat Bread, Rice Bread, Rice Flour Bread, Stuffed Bread, Bread Dough, Pizza Dough, Dumpling Skin Dough, Cake & Chocolate. The basic bread option takes 4hr, rapid bread option 2hr, and bread dough option 1hr. Longer programmes have one or two knocking-outs and rises.
Most baking options come with long periods of ‘resting’, either before or in between kneading. Resting basically means being stand-by and not doing anything. I am not sure what this ‘resting’ is for, maybe it is to bring the ingredients to the correct temperature.
The raisins (or nuts etc) option is very convenient. To let the machine automatically add raisins, push the ‘raisin’ button once. To manually add in the raisins, push the ‘raisin’ button twice and the machine will beep to tell you when you need to add the raisins.
The manual does not indicate exactly how long each process takes, so we have to time it ourselves if necessary.
**One important thing to note is that the programmes are completely automated. There is no way to do minor alterations (e.g. prolong the proofing time) to the pre-set programmes at all. Plus, there isn’t a ‘bake only’ option. The stop button is only used to end the cycle, there is no option to pause the cycle. The machine will enter the baking cycle even when the dough has not risen enough. It is for these reasons that push-button bread cannot be compared to oven-baked bread.
Also, the display only shows the finishing time. It does not show the current time and the time lapsed. It only starts counting down from 59 minutes. Need to time it yourself if you want to know the exact duration of each cycles.
Kneading & Rising
This breadmaker kneads very well. It provides a warm and humid environment for the dough during kneading and rising (The dough feels warm to touch). I guess this is why the recipe book says to use cold wet ingredients. I found that my normal recipe usually end up a little wetter and flabbier in this machine as compared to hand kneading.
I am particularly impressed with its handling of sticky dough – I poked lightly at the dough and my finger came out stuck with some dough, but the loaf pan was so non-stick that nothing much was stuck on it! The kneaded dough was not perfectly smooth though, but this is to be expected. For a perfectly smooth dough, just take it out and hand knead till smooth then put it back. One thing to note, as it kneads, some flour may be projected upwards and land all over the bread machine. I always use a small plate to cover the bread pan as it kneads until all the flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Bread dough proofs well in this machine. The temperature rises slightly when final proofing starts. Opening the lid to peep while kneading/rising will not affect its function. The yeast and nut dispenser dish out the yeast/nut very evenly on top of the resting dough, but naturally, some yeast will land outside the loaf pan as it is so light!
**update: After a good couple of uses, I realised that the optimal condition for the bread machine to work is a cool and less humid environment. It also helps to keep the lid ajar during kneading or the dough would be too moist. Bread and dough made in a air-cond room was significantly better than one made in a hot kitchen.
Takes around 35-40 minutes. The top crust is usually fine, but crust at the sides can be thick, rough and tough. There is no way to control the side crusts, so this is a major letdown. I found taking out the bread 5-8 minutes earlier can prevent thick crusts. Some said wrapping the tin with foil. I tried this, my bread came out half-cooked. Some good recipes also produce thin, finely textured crusts. The bread itself is usually soft and nice. Slicing the bread can be difficult due to the vast difference of hardness between the crust and the bread. A typical loaf gives about six to seven 1cm slices.
Cleaning is a breeze with this one. The place that tends to gather dough is around the blade. The dough came off easily after soaking the pan in water for 10 minutes. The yeast and nut dispenser are to be wiped clean.
**update: It can be a bit of a fuss cleaning around the yeast compartment because of the electrostatic between instant yeast and bread machine surface. The yeast tend to fly and stick all over the place as you transfer the yeast from the provided measuring spoon to the yeast compartment. Also, when the yeast compartment opens, the yeast tend to land not just within the bread pan, but also outside the pan, to the very bottom of the machine. This makes cleaning all the more troublesome. Therefore, I now add the yeast along with other ingredients into the bread pan at the beginning instead of depositing them separately in the yeast compartment. This actually produced better breads.
For my first bake, I follow strictly to the recipe provided in the manual:
250g high protein flour
24g granulated sugar
6g milk powder
1tsp instant dried yeast
180mL refrigerated water
The pictures in this post are from this first bake. Honestly, it wasn’t great, but that’s no problem as I wasn’t expecting it to be! 😆
Of course there are very helpful materials on the manual as well, such as this one:
and troubleshooting stuff.
Overall, I am very happy with the kneading ability of this breadmaker and will continue to use it for as long as possible. As for baking, it depends on what I am making, as the quality of a breadmaker bread can never match that of a oven-baked bread. If I am using some really fantastic or more fancy/complex recipes, I would bake them in an oven as this allows for more flexibility in terms of shaping, proofing and crust control. If I am making a quick, simple loaf, I would use the breadmaker.
For more recipes using this bread machine, look for ‘Breadmaker bread’ under ‘Bread’ in the menu on the homepage.