Here is a product that actually does what it claims it can do ...........make real bread easily , cheaply and when you want it.
As a cook I found the machine along with its instruction clear to understand and use , the many varied bread items the machine can make once you have mastered the basics will keep your family wondering what lovely items they will come home to each day , for once you get started you'll get hooked .
We all know that there is nothing as nice as the smell of freshly baked bread , and with this machine you can achieve this even if you are a complete and utter failure in the kitchen , just follow the clear straight forward instruction and thats it ,all done.
The bread when made will freeze well for up to 6-9 months if stored in heavy duty freezer bags , but if left in a bread bin or cupboard please remember shop made bread nearly always has a preservative in so will keep longer than this home made bread ............that is If you can managed to keep some in the house for more than a few hours once the smell hits the noses of your family !!!!
Have a go at mini rolls, these made now will be wonderful for that christmas buffet or to have on the table with christmas lunch , all warm and smelling heavenly and the in laws will be just so impressed if you say ' yes, of course I made them ' so stick in a batch of dough and of you go.................
Rolls are one of the many things you can make from bread dough , but to do this you need to just use the machine to make the dough and not let it carry on cooking a neat loaf .
I always make sure I have a warm place to put the dough IF I''m making rolls , so using the 'dough only ' part of the machine put all the ingredients in as for normal bread , and then set the machine and let it do its work for you .
Put your oven on at least 10-15 minutes before the dough making process has finished .
When the timer for the machine goes off the dough is ready to use, roll it out of the container onto a lightly floured kitchen unit and nead for a few minutes ( in other words beat the h**l out of it with your fists , just think of it as your bank manager or that parking attendant you got a ticket from !) the dough should feel nice and smooth after having a battering from you and you will feel wonderfully stress free .
Cut it then into half , half each part again and then continue halving each part of the dough until you have the size and number you require.
I cut a one kilo lump onto bridge rolls for buffets ( 30 pieces ) or for just everyday rolls for packed lunches ( 20 pieces ) having made thses dough lumps nead them again lightly ( no its not the traffic warden head ) and make each little lump into the shape you want , then place them in a greased baking sheet and cover each tray with cling film leaving it on top of the oven ( not inside yet please )to double in size.
Having made yourself a cup of tea or coffee and cleared up the kitchen after 30-40 minutes they will have double in size , remove cling film , brush with milk and bake at gas 7-8 or around 200 for about 10 minutes until golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom ( thats the rolls bottom not yours)
I get the grandchildren to help me made the rolls in shapes such as :
mini plait ( three thin lines of dough plaited together )
cottage loaf ( small round + slightly larger one underneath , push clean finger into centre to make loaf )
mini long loaf ( roll into long shape and cut three lines lightly in the top )
More Dough for your money
~ The reason behind the decision ~
Since the first Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001, my parents bought themselves a Panasonic bread maker. This was a purchase at the time more out necessity than desire to own one, because they live in the middle of the Welsh Hills on a smallholding, and movement in and out of the property was a virtual no-go scenario!
Nearly 8 years later, and while a little battered and worn the machine is still going strong and is a firm favourite in the household and used daily! My father has become pretty proficient with the machine and does do some great loaves of varying kinds.
Unfortunately I can't afford the cost of a Panasonic machine, and generally don't really like the look of the cheaper alternatives out there.
Anyway, I am a fan of Lidl's and know a lot of the brands they tend to sell having lived for a while in Germany. When I saw the pre-sale items listed at the store for the coming week, I spotted they had their bread maker listed.
Needless to say, at a price of £24-99 with a 3 year guarantee I was there first thing with the money in hand buying one of these machines, which were rapidly dwindling off the pallet! I suspect by 11 am, unless they had another pallet out back they would be sold out.
~ Unpacking the machine ~
The first thing I noticed when picking the box up in store was it is light. I suffer with arthritis and was expecting quite a struggle to manoeuvre it into my trolley, but was really pleasantly surprised to find that wasn't the case and it was easy enough, even for me.
I trundled home and began to unpack. The next thing I noticed was the packing was enough to really protect everything, but not excessively done! A nice point in its favour from me since I abhor trying to fight something out of the box because it's been over packed.
The machine comes with other items essential to making bread - A measuring jug, a measuring spoon (two sizes one each end) and two paddles which knead the dough and a metal 'pin' which is supposed to be used if the paddles 'knead' to be removed if stuck in the loaf.
You are also given two booklets. One is the operating instruction; the other gives you some recipe ideas.
And so you're pretty well ready to get going.
~ Baking your first loaf ~
First of all, the instructions on what to do before you first use the machine are nice and clear, and easy to achieve.
It's a simple job of wiping down certain surfaces with a damp cloth. You are then asked to place it on a specific program (number 12) for a limited time of 5 minutes. This allows any light grease and other particles that are on some of the components to burn away before you use, and so avoid any tainting of the bread or dough.
The instructions seem easy enough to follow, and I certainly didn't have any problems following the ones I've had to use so far.
When you first turn it on, you're left in no doubt about this because it emits a pretty loud beep!
Because this comes from Lidl's, you can also buy some ready to use baking mixtures. Currently these are:
Multigrain Health Bread.
Sunflower Seed Bread.
Rustic Wholegrain Bread.
The amounts of liquid versus baking mixture are clearly given on each pack, but can also be found in the recipe book.
Because this was my first go with this machine, I decided to use one of the ready to use mixture. However, because of using our other machine I also wanted to just use the Dough mix to begin with and finish the loaf off in the oven. This is because of the way I've gotten used to making bread with a machine, and because this has two paddles (and so two potential holes in the bottom of your loaf once removed) I decided this was the way I would go.
The ingredients went together very quickly and easily in this instance because it's already mixed in dry format. All I had to do was put 350ml's of water to 500 grams of mixture in the baking tin (or mould as its referred to in the instructions).
I then set the machine up to begin its thing and off it went.
The paddles when working are a little noisy. Certainly compared to the Panasonic of my parents there is a slight noise increase, but we just shut the kitchen door and we weren't distracted by it.
One reason I tend to use the dough feature and then place into another tin and finished in the oven is because of the issue of holes left behind by the paddles used to agitate the bread.
One thing I noticed though as my first attempt was being done was that you could remove the paddles once the dough process has ended, regardless of the program you are running.
The dough will then continue to cook in the baking mould, but without leaving large holes in the base! You get a couple of small ones where the pins the paddles sit on are, but that is all. So this was what I did with attempt two. However you might get a sticking issue doing this because the pins are not non-stick, but as yet not something I've faced.
In fact, you can interrupt the machine on most settings by pressing the on-off button, and as long as it restarts within 10 minutes, it will continue where it left off.
If you are planning to remove the paddles before the baking process, make sure you do it before the dough rising process.
The other function, which can also be very useful, is the timer ability. This allows you to do baking at a time better suited to your needs. One word of advice (also given in the booklet) is to make sure the recipe you are going to use does work out, as you would like under observation.
This is partly because of a risk of fire if something doesn't quite work as expected.
However, once you've worked out a suitable option for the timer setting, this is particularly good to use when you want to come down to fresh warm bread in the mornings!
There is also an option for a super rapid loaf. These options on any machine are always best done with lighter flour and you won't gain the same level of bread quality. However if you do find you need a loaf faster than usual, this is a good enough option to have.
You can also choose the type of three crust types you would like to have - Light, Medium or Dark.
~ The machine and the bread ~
First looks are good. It's a nice sized machine (often in this price range they are pretty small machines). The lid, while in itself is solid, does just feel a little flimsy on the hinge area. I don't think its likely to be a problem, but for the overall feel of build on this thing, its about the only area I can say was noticeable as being a possible weak spot. Time will tell if it is or not.
The control panel is nicely laid out, with well set buttons and LCD Display.
The bread we've made so far, using not only the guidelines given for the machine and mixtures available from Lidl, but also our own family adaptations, has all come out as expected. In fact the loaf quality does not appear any different to its more expensive Panasonic counterpart of my parents and that has to be a great endorsement.
Both dough and bread come out of the non-stick tin without any problems, and the whole machine is easy to clean and wipe down. Measuring cup and spoon are both plastic, and are also easy to use and clean.
The loaves weight can also be specified to give 3 different amounts. Again, good if you are after something very specific.
I have to say, we've personally found the lightest setting for crust to be our favourite and best, but you might find otherwise.
~ Features ~
Here is a list of the machines features.
· 850 watt bread maker, bakes 1250g loaves
· Non-stick coated baking tin
· 12 program setting with 130 program variations
· 14 hour and 55 minute timer
· 80 minute rapid bake program
· Adjustable crust control: light, medium and dark
· 1 hour 'warm-keep' function
· Automatic fruit and nut reminder
· Includes measuring jug, spoon, instruction manual and recipe booklet
· 3 year manufacturer's warranty
· Usual retail price is £24-99 from Lidl's however I've also heard on rare occasions it can be reduced down to £19-99!
~ General Thoughts ~
You simply can't go wrong for the price! So far the bread has been exactly what I would hope for, and as I've already said no difference has been spotted in quality to its far more expensive Panasonic cousin!
It is quite a large bulky worktop item, so if space is of a premium to you this machine isn't going to be the best idea in the world. However, if you can find a spot for it on your countertops then I would urge anyone to do so.
Its only colour is white and at the moment it is too new to note if the plastic does show any signs of discolouration (as some bread maker models are prone to).
The top has a nicely sized window area that means you can keep an eye on the progress of the mixture. This is particularly useful if you're doing a recipe for the first time.
It is recommended you leave the loaf for 15 to 30 minutes once you've taken it out of the machine before slicing, and I tend to find 15 minutes is a little on the optimistic side, and 25 to 30 minutes seems to work best.
The bread remains fairly good for at least 24 hours, and reasonable for another 24 to 48 after that. But because you aren't using preservatives you will find it will spoil far quicker than a loaf brought from a shop.
You can freeze the loaves very effectively, as long as they are well wrapped in plastic bags first and leave for no more than a month. Beyond that and they do lose quality.
There is a great and wide range of recipes you can use for this machine; bread is merely one small part of what it can do for you.
Pizza dough, Honey Bread, Classic French White loaf, Raisin and Nut Sweetbread, Gluten free bread.... The list is almost endless.
The last feature I've yet to try and to be honest I've no idea if this is even something the Panasonic offers is the ability to make jam or marmalade in this machine!
The recipe booklet actually has 3 recipes listed. One for marmalade, the other for Strawberry Jam and finally Berry Jam!
I've yet to try this option, and I'm not sure I will because I tend to do my own jam and preserves anyway, but I might just decide to have a go one day when I've got some time to do it.
Never overfill the machine! This is for safety reasons because there is an element that runs around the outside of the non-stick tin, which if a flour mixture were to come into contact with could cause a fire.
Also ensure the machine has plenty of ventilation when it is being used, with nothing around it that is either a flammable risk or that would block vents in anyway.
~ Final Thoughts ~
I full 5 stars from me on this one. A 3-year guaranteed machine for under £25-00 that gives good quality bread is going to be hard to beat.
I would just add that if you are new to a bread-making machine, start off with a nice simple recipe!
Use the ready to use mixtures if available from Lidl's for these machines if possible because all you have to do is make sure you put the water and mixture in the machine and get it on the right setting.
Then, once you're more used to how it works, you can start to look at experimenting more. Some things will work; others will be a disaster until you find the right blends, but its well worth the odd mistake to find the right option for you and your family.
You will now benefit from bread that is fresh, but also with ingredients that you know about! You can source locally if you would like (we as a family use locally produced organic flour from a watermill) and it can still cost less than a standard sliced loaf from the supermarket!
We were paying upwards of a £1-00 for a loaf, its now costing around £0-60p, with far superior ingredients, even allowing for the cost of electricity to run the machine.
Also, if you do see this on offer from Lidl's - Then I would recommend you get to the shop early on the date they announce its going to be available. They go..... like hot cakes, or in this instance, like hot bread!
This is also my review on Ciao.