Product Type: Cookworks bread makers
Newest Review: ... measuring cup and spoon, and all the working parts come apart very easily for cleaning. I have heard many people say that they buy a br... more
Beating Bread Inflation! DIY Bread
Member Name: minimou
Date: 14/01/09, updated on 07/10/09 (688 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap, value for money, robust, many features
Disadvantages: If there is one, just that it has cheap, white casing.
As usual, we're were short of cash and my heart sank when I saw the cost of bread makers. I had deluded my self the best ones would be £30-40, but in fact you can pay upwards of £100 for a really good brand. Since the whole point of this was economic, I worked out that it would be more than a year for a Return on Capital Employed, so I gave up. That was until I saw the Cookworks Bread Maker for £22.98 in Argos. I got it that lunch time.
Now the Cookworks Bread Maker is not much to look at. First off, it's huge and really quite heavy, although it does come with a rather flimsy plastic carry handle so it is manoeuvrable. The casing is cheap, white plastic, but I suppose you get what you pay for. The upshot is that it cleans very easily, you just need to wipe it down with a warm, damp cloth and it's as good as new.
The machine comes with a non-stick bread pan, dough mixer blade, mixer blade extractor, measuring spoon, measuring jug, manual and a paper recipe booklet. The bread pan stands vertical, as opposed to what you would expect, so what you actually end up with is a tall loaf with the top crust just at one end. This does not bother either of us as bread is bread. We oiled the inside of the bread pan with oil and we've not had a loaf stick yet.
Now for the technical part. The machine comes with a brushed steel plated display with an array of plastic buttons which you do not have a hope of understanding unless you read the accompanying manual. However, once you get to grips with the Basic setting, that is all you really need. Used on this setting to make a traditional white loaf, it takes three hours and you can't go wrong 80% of the time. If you do, chances are you got the mix wrong. One tip I can give is to use good Olive Oil instead of butter or any other oil. It gives the most amazing bread and you'll really notice the difference.
One quirk of this bread machine is that it does a Fast loaf. Beware..... unless you want a brick, in shape, size and texture, steer clear of this setting. Fair enough, you can have a loaf in an hour. Whether it's a loaf of bread or not is another matter!
The other settings are wholemeal, quick bread, cake, dough, jam, sandwich, sweet, fast and ultra fast. You can also change the settings for lighter or darker bread and choose 1.5lb or 2lb loaf.
In addition, you can set the maker to come on whatever time you want, so if you need it for the next morning, there's the possibility to set it for say 4am, and your bread will be ready by 7am. This is very handy!
I do recommend before you get any bread machine that you read up on the bread making process. There's an art to balancing the mixture, and should something be out of proportion, it will show up in your bread. The bread you get from this machine is not large but is enough for a day or two. This is all you need as fresh bread goes off after this time anyway. You could be busy if you have a big family though.
With regard to how labour intensive the maker is to use, well, at the start it took me about half an hour to prepare the ingredients. I've had it about a month now and it takes less than five minutes to get the machine going.
This Cookworks machine is by far the cheapest on the market. Having not had any other bread maker with which to compare, all I can say is this is excellent value for money. In a few more weeks it will have paid for itself, including ingredients and I can't imagine bread being any better in any other machine as it is perfectly fine from this one.
I would recommend this machine to everyone if you're on a budget.
Edited to say that i've also been using it with smart price/value flour and it comes out exactly the same! So another money saving tip for you.
Summary: A value for money machine that makes wonderful bread
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