Product Type: Cookworks bread makers
Newest Review: ... relatively easy to use, just throwing in all the ingredients and selecting the settings using the front buttons, easy as pie, as there is... more
Home made bread every day
Member Name: hayley_dl
Date: 17/06/11, updated on 17/06/11 (282 review reads)
Advantages: great tasting bread, quick prep time, easy to use
Disadvantages: short power lead, viewing window can be hard to see through
As this was a hand me down I'm not entirely sure what comes with it when you buy it new. I'm sure there will be instructions and reading other reviews there's also a recipe book. However I've found this no problem at all to use even without any of these.
The bread maker itself is a fairly large machine capable of making loaves up to 2lb. My one is white which I believe is the older style, however Argos are selling what appears to be the same machine in stainless steel and black - honestly, I think that one looks better.
There are 12 different settings ranging from basic bread to jam. (I never knew you could make jam in a bread maker!) You can change the crust colour between light, medium and dark and the size of the loaf between 1.5lb and 2lb.
On the front of the breadmaker there are also several different buttons enabling you to change all the settings so that you get the exact bread you want. These buttons are time + and -, menu, colour, start/stop and loaf size. I will discuss these later in the review. Both the buttons and LCD display which tells you how long you have left until your loaf is ready are rather large and easy to see, even without my contacts. However, the actual printed menu itself is small and can be difficult to see. On the lid there is also a viewing window allowing you to see through to check on your bread as it cooks.
There is also a plastic handle that folds back over the machine when not in use but comes in very handy when moving the breadmaker as it is a rather large, heavy piece of equipment!
I've found this breadmaker to be exceptionally easy to use even without any instructions. I found plenty of recipes online to get me started and now I just use a basic recipe and add alternative ingredients depending on my mood at the time.
When I was first starting out I read that you should always add liquids first, then flour and yeast last so that is now how I use the machine and I've never had any problems with this.
Although there is a fast bake and ultra fast bake option I wouldn't bother with these, the bread comes out hard and only really suitable for making toast with (and hard toast at that), it's almost pointless anyway as there is also a delay start which means you can set the machine up so it will run later and have a freshly baked loaf ready for you either first thing in the morning or when you come home from work depending on your preference.
When I use this I remove the bread pan from the maker and this is easily done by twisting it 45degrees anti-clockwise to unlock it and then lifting it up. I do this quite simply because there's a little bit of a gap between the pan and the sides of the maker, this can make it slightly more difficult to clean if any ingredients work their way down there as they get under and around the heating element. The bread pan also has a handle which folds down over the top when not in use so lifting it in and out the machine isn't a problem - even when full.
As I stated earlier I first start by putting the liquids in (usually water and olive oil), then flour followed by any other ingredients I need and the yeast till last. The only exception to this rule is when making sweet bread but I will discuss this later. After I've added in the ingredients I then replace the bread pan and click it into place. You can feel it click in but you'll also know if it's not placed correctly as the bread maker won't start if it's not in place properly. I then select the type of bread, loaf size and colour before pressing start. (My personal preferences are medium crust and 2lb loaf size)
When the machine has finished it beeps to tell you that the bread is done, after this the bread is easy to remove, although it is worth noting that both the bread pan and it's handle are metal so use oven gloves else you'll end up burnt! The kneading knives stand upright in the pan after they have finished kneading which leaves a small hole in the bottom of the bread, however this only affects the bottom two slices so doesn't cause too much of a problem. I have never bothered greasing the bread pan and never found the need, the bread has always slid straight out and if it does stick a sharp tap on the bottom of the pan is all it takes to remove it.
The finished bread is always soft, light and airy. It's also extremely easy to cut and the size of the pan means the finished bread is about the right size to fit in a food bag so it can be stored in the fridge and kept longer. The interesting thing I've found with this bread is that the loaves I bought from the stores only really used to last about a week and if left open the end would go hard. I've never had this problem with bread coming from this machine, even when left open the bread remains soft and although the bread is usually gone within a couple of days on one occasion it was left for almost two weeks and showed no signs of going old or mouldy. I get my yeast free from ASDA's bakery department and so each 2lb loaf of bread costs me around 20 pence.
The preparation time for the bread is only around 5-10 minutes, cooking time is approximately 3 hours depending on the setting and size of loaf but you can ignore it and let it get on with it during the cooking time. The only time I check on it is when the "add in" beep sounds, this signals the last round of kneading and allows me to check if it's the right consistency or if I need to add any more flour or water/milk. Other then this I just leave it until it's finished.
After use the machine is easy to clean, the pan is non-stick and since I remove it before adding ingredients nothing works its way inside the machine itself so a quick wipe over is all it needs.
There are only three real complaints I have with this, if you can even really call them a complaint. The power lead is around 1metre (at a guess) so not very long, now this isn't really a problem if your kitchen sides are clear but having a small kitchen means many things need to be stored on the sides and it can be hard for me to find a place to put it when in use so that it's close enough to a socket. Also, after it's finished making a loaf the breadmaker needs around an hour with the lid open to cool down before making another. This isn't usually a problem as you're only likely to make one loaf at a time however, on one occasion I made bread for a party, this disappeared a lot quicker then I expected and so needed to make another loaf. This caused a problem as the machine hadn't completely cooled down and so refused to switch on for the second. Finally, although there is a viewing window I find this very hard to see through unless the bread is close to the top. However, since I only check on it at the add in beep this isn't a problem as I can open the lid without affecting the way the bread comes out.
When kneading this does make a fair bit of noise, however nothing that drowns out the TV and it definitely doesn't wake us up when set to run over night. Equally, the add in and finished beep is loud enough to ensure you'll hear it if you're awake but won't wake you up if it's running overnight.
Finally, it is worth noting that I have also used this for plain dough in order to use this for a pizza base and although it isn't that difficult to make it by hand really it does save time and the dough comes out perfectly well leaving me to just shape and finish it off. I have also used it for cakes and although the taste is okay, the texture is harder then those made by hands and the fact that the bread pan stands upright makes for an odd shaped cake so I'd stick to doing these by hand.
I have two recipes that have proved to be favourites with many people.
Cheese And Onion:
320ml of room temperature water
80ml olive oil (do not substitute, it doesn't work with any oil except olive)
480grams bread flour (either white or brown depending on preference)
30grams white sugar
200grams of cheddar cheese cut into small chunks
1 small red onion finally chopped
1 clove of garlic finally chopped
3 teaspoons fresh yeast or 1 sachet dried.
Add the ingredients in the order listed above, set the machine to a 2lb loaf, medium crust and let it run. This has around 15 minutes preparation time and almost a 3 hour cooking time.
The onion is still visible throughout the bread including on the crust but is well spaced throughout however both the garlic and cheese have been well chopped and integrated into the bread so that neither of these is particularly noticeable they just give the bread a hint of flavour throughout. This bread isn't particularly suited to sandwiches as it's got quite a strong flavour in itself, however it works well as croutons in soup or even just eaten plain. I have it with butter but I've also had people say that it tastes just as nice without. It also goes well with a bit of cheese as this compliments the cheese in the bread.
(For plain bread use this recipe minus the cheese, garlic and onion and follow instructions above)
Cinnamon And Raisin:
30grams unsalted butter
360grams white bread flour
40grams white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons live yeast or 1 sachet dried.
A handful of raisins.
Add the ingredients in the order listed above up to the yeast, set the breadmaker to a light crust, sweet bread setting and 2lb loaf. This has a preparation time of 5 minutes and around 2 hours 40 minutes cook time.
Around 30-40 minutes into cooking the add in beep will sound, this is when you should add the raisins. You could add them at the beginning (before the yeast) but the amount of kneading just turns them to mush and you don't get the same effect.
Unsurprisingly this is a sweet bread and as such is only really suitable for puddings. It does however work exceptionally well in bread pudding, on it's own with butter or even just toasted with jam.
Price, Availability And Recommendation
As I said, I can't find this colour available for sale anymore, however the stainless steel and black one for sale in Argos does appear to be the same just with different colouring. This costs £39.99 and although I have had some minor niggles with it these really are only small problems.
I've never bought store bread since having this and the variety of flavours combined with the fact that I know exactly what's going into the bread makes this a winner for me. The bread itself is also exceptionally soft and tasty - I've even had requests from others to make bread for them. Therefore I'm giving it the full 5 out of 5 and highly recommending it.
Summary: a machine I couldn't live without anymore!
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