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When bread makers first hit the market they were very expensive and the price put me off buying one. Five years ago belling were selling their breadmaker for £150. I always liked the smell of yeast and unsliced bread.
Now competition has increased and like myself more people are finding space in their kitchens for one as they have come down in price and now they are being sold for £40 to £50.
I first bought mine about a year ago for £59 from Argos. It has twelve settings in total. There are three settings for a white loaf (one for a 1lb loaf, another for a 1/12 lb and a third for a dark crust loaf. There are also three more settings for wholemeal loaves that run on the same principles.
The next six settings are for speciality settings that include a one for french bread, One for baking cakes (although you can only have a flat cakes that looks just like a loaf of bread!!), you have standard dough making settings that can be used to make doughnuts, or breadbuns.
You even have a jam making setting that you can make your own jam, although I have never actually tried this setting.
The breadmaker also has an "extra bake" setting that you can use when the break cycle has ended to bake the bread for extra time if the crust is too light.
The final setting is the most important of all as this is the "fastbake" loaf setting that is designed to bake a standard 1lb loaf in 1 hr 20mins although the bread does not taste as good on this setting.
*****The machine at Work****
Before you use the machine on any setting the first thing you need to do is measure the ingredients out. This is the most awkward tasks as you need to get the measurements as accurate as possible. If you don't you could end up with a loaf that is either too dry, burnt or too moist.
There is a special measuring container provided and all the quanties are in "fill level" units rather in grams e.g. 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of water etc. Also you need to make sure the ingredients are out in the right order to get the best results. All details in the manual for recepies are provided.
After the ingredients have been put in the pan you then select your bread setting that the recipe suggests. This can be done at a touch of a button. You can even have a delay start if you wanted to have the bread made for you in the morning if you wish.
Once the setting has been selected the machine bleeps twice and starts to mix the ingredients together. At first the bade stops and starts like a washing machine. It switches on for five seconds and then off for five seconds and again etc. Ten minutes later the machine starts kneading faster, continuously and is very noisy for about 1/2 an hour.
After this the machine goes quiet and stops for about an hour for it to rise. Then the elements switch on and it bakes the loaf.
However there are many disadvatages
The kneading blade sometimes gets stuck in the bread at the bottom making a huge hole in the bread
The machine is computerised and if the power goes off in the middle of a cycle, it needs reprogramming again from the begining and the bread needs to be cooked manually.
The machine is very bulky and heavy to lift and takes up a lot of room in my kitchen.
But apart from this it is still worth the money and I still use it for making cheese bread and I think the breads tastes nicer than from the shops