Product Type: Cookworks bread makers
Newest Review: ... made bread i just had to get a new breadmaker. The one that i had wasnt available so this one was the next best thing for me. I bought t... more
We kneaded the dough
Member Name: pgn!
Date: 13/01/08, updated on 13/01/08 (22659 review reads)
Advantages: cheap, programmable (!), quiet
Disadvantages: quite tall, plasticky-looking, condensation collects under the front of the lid
The most recent review of this brand/range of breadmaker is over 4 years old, so I thought: "Time to freshen up this section of DooYoo a bit!". This is a review of the Cookworks Signature White breadmaker, as sold in Argos on Cat# 422-9382 (Jan-2008) and other outlets. An abbreviated web-link for this is given below, along with some general info and a proven recipe for those of you doing battle with home-made bread this January.
The knead for dough.
After the failure of another brand of bargain-basement breadmaker one weekend, I was obliged to seek out a replacement toute-suite, as the young and ever-hungry mouths in our house were due to return to school after the holidays, and the prospect of so doing without a sustainable means of providing healthy school lunches to order every morning bore heavy on the parental shoulders...
The key driver for this purchase was cost, with urgency ranked a close second. The benchmark was the previous 2 breadmakers we'd owned had come down in price from £29.99 to £19.99, although were only available at most two or three times a year in the local Lidl. This meant my target price was around £25.
An hour on the web pulling info from kelkoo and Pricerunner, dooyoo and Ciao, yielded several possibilities, although most of those were mail-order and would have taken a week or so to receive (at least!). Next avenue was to try the websites of local outlets: Debenhams, Tesco, Homebase, Argos, Currys - bingo, a couple of options surfaced. The final hurdle - do we buy based on the on-line review/details (from the website directly) or go look at the offerings in the shop and waste more of our precious Sunday afternoon...? A no-brainer - for the price, and safe in the knowledge that we could return any machine that turned out to be a lemon, we opted to place a reserve on-line for the cheapest that looked like it would fit on our kitchen counter from Argos, an outlet that was a mere 15minutes away in the car.
Argos offers two versions of the Cookworks Signature breadmaker range - a stainless-steel/black one for £26.99, or the same but in white plastic with stainless-steel trim, for £23.99. This review is of the latter, cheaper, whiter (!) model, Argos Catalog code 422-9382, http://tinyurl.com/2jpkna .
40 minutes later, my son and I were ripping the non-descript outer packaging open, and out came something that looked a bit like a white, lidded mop-bucket (even with a carry-handle!) sporting a thin stainless-steel band around the middle and some buttons on a panel, also in stainless steel, around an LCD display.
Inside the "bucket" were a plastic cup containing a measuring spoon and a metal kneader, a flimsy paper pamphlet containing instructions, recipes and various bits of guidance on the machine, including its preparation and use, plus a deep, square baking pan and 2 or three bits of cardboard. Oh - and a metal hook for teasing the kneader out of the loaf as well.
The pamphlet said to ensure no plastic remained in the machine, to locate it securely where it would not be in a direct draught, and to smear the inside of the removable baking pan with some cooking oil and put the unit into a bake-only cycle for ten minutes to remove any traces of manufacturing oil as well as to proof the baking pan's non-stick coating. "This process may produce some smoke" - but not to worry. Smoke? It looked like something you'd see on TV after the election of a new Pope - but only for about 5 minutes.
After opening the windows to clear the smoke from the kitchen, and after the machine had cooled, a quick rinse of the removable baking pan left the unit ready for its first assignment - the traditional family brown loaf, tweaked over the years to give a nice, loaf-shaped result that everyone enjoyed (recipe given at the end of this review).
Come 10:30pm, and having consigned the useless plastic measuring spoon to the bin (I have my own stainless steel set!), I decided that the miniscule 8oz/250ml measuring cup provided was insufficient given most of the recipes in the pamphlet needed 280ml or more of water (!!) and trashed that as well. I threw together the usual combination of ingredients, took care to put the salt, sugar, powdered yeast into separate small wells on top of the flour, which in turn was floating on top of the oil and water in the bottom of the pan, programmed the unit to a 1.5lb loaf, selected program 3 (wholewheat), desired at 07:00 in the morning, and retired to bed. Surprisingly, the beeps of this machine as I pressed the buttons were nice and quiet - previous models I'd owned had deafening beeps!
The recipe I use (given below) works well in the Cookware machine, but does yield a smallish loaf - enough to do the school lunches for 3 children and provide some toast during the day. Suffice it to say, the next morning I was greeted with the familiar smell of fresh baked bread, and the results were as expected. I'll experiment with this machine to try and get a larger loaf, but for now, I am happy with the unit - let's see how it holds out!
The breadmaker has a surprisingly good range of user-selectable recipes (or menus), including 3 combinations for controlling the crust colour, others to switch between 1.5lb or 2lb loaf, and, the best feature, the timer function. As with all the other machines I've used over the years for this purpose, you need a bit of mental arithmetic to determine what hours/minutes you need to enter to get the bread cooked by your desired breakfast time. I'd really like to see someone make a machine with a CLOCK that makes this easy!
To get the best out of it, you need to follow a few simple rules:
1. Always put the water and oil into the pan first - and don't forget the kneader!
2. Put the flour, or flours, into the pan on top of the water and oil.
3. Make 2 or three small wells or depressions in the flour after it's in the pan, one for each of the salt, sugar and yeast... but try to ensure the yeast does not mix with the salt or sugar before the appointed time at which the machine starts to mix the dough (otherwise the yeast doesn't work, and your bread resembles a brick!)
4. Carefully put the pan into the machine WITHOUT sloshing it around too much - the yeast needs to be kept dry until the mixing process starts, sometime in the wee small hours if you're programming the bread to be ready at breakfast time.
5. Set the timer according to when you want your bread to be ready. If you allow a half-hour extra, the loaf will be manageable, and the kneader will pop right out of the bottom of the loaf, with minor, if any, encouragement from the specially-provided "kneader hook", aforementioned.
Here are the accrued tips of years using these machines as to the types of yeast, flour and other ingredients that work best for me. You'll also have seen these if you read my breadmaker reviews on Ciao - I make no excuses!
a. Yeast has to be the fine powdery stuff with added ascorbic acid - typically, Sainsbury's or Tesco sell either their own brand, or Hovis or Allinsons, in packs of six or eight 7g sachets. My usual recipe uses less than half a teaspoonful of yeast, so a box of sachets lasts ages.
b. Tescos or Sainsbury's own-brand STRONG white bread flour works perfectly. If you like brown bread, cut white flour with about a third of regular coarse, medium or fineground wholemeal flour.
c. If you want to experiment, try using some stale or leftover lager or ale instead of water - but if it's high-alcohol (which gets baked off anyhow!) remember to add a little extra yeast, about a quarter of a teaspoon more than recommended, or your bread won't rise properly.
d. Use salt with LARGE crystals, like Rock Salt (Tidmans) or Sea Salt (Maldons or Saxo "flakes"), and leave the crystals whole - the fine, powdery common-or-garden tablesalt has other additives in it that can give the bread a "metallic" taste.
e. So many home bread recipes include "powdered milk" as an ingredient (don't ask me why...!); if you have anyone who's got a sensitivity or allergy to milk products, simply omit the milk powder. I find it makes little difference to the final loaf whether you add it or not, so why bother?
f. Leave the loaf in the pan, in the machine on its keep-warm cycle, for about 30 mins after cooking has completed - this allows everything to cool so it's a little less like handling a lavastone as you try to extricate the loaf from the pan, and also allows the kneader to "sweat" out of the loaf.
And last but not least, my standard recipe for our daily brown bread in this household:
100g medium ground wholemeal flour (Whites is an adequate brand)
215g supermarket-brand strong white bread flour
180ml water (or diluted cold tea if you like a darker bread)
3 tsp (teaspoonfuls) olive or corn oil, depending on your taste
1 tsp corase salt (Maldon Sea Salt flakes are good)
2 tsp fine brown muscovado sugar
quarter tsp of Allinson easy-bake yeast.
Addition of a teaspoonful or so of one or more of the following (available in most supermarkets near the cakes/baking section) adds variety, crunch/body and flavour, if so desired: poppyseeds, linseeds(brown or golden), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds.
Let the adventurer in you out - experiment!
(c) pgn! - 12-Jan-2008 on dooyoo.co.uk.
Summary: Turns out a passable loaf with minimal effort or outlay
|Ease of use:|
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