We all know that making bread has the knack to be a long and laborious process. You have to have a dough hook to knead the bread for an infinite amount of time, wait for it to rise, and carefully monitor it while it bakes to ensure a perfect result. Not to mention the mess of flour and dough you have to scrape off your counter!
This is where the bread machine comes in. This allows you to simply mix together the ingredients for your bread and then… oh wait, there’s no then!
The bread machine does the rest for you: it kneads the bread, shapes it, and bakes it to perfection. Just put the dough in and leave it to do whatever you want for the rest of the day!
The question really isn’t “why use a bread maker?” It’s “why not use one?”
Did you know you don’t need yeast or baking powder to make bread?
Making bread by hand (using a dough hook, kneading it by hand, and baking it in a standard loaf pan)
This method of baking bread is the most common. It takes a long time, especially to knead the bread, but it’s a rewarding process where you can really put your heart and soul into your product.
Ways to make bread by hand:
Using a bread pan
Make the dough as directed, kneading it and letting it rise appropriately, and finally put it into a pan to shape it.
Using a muffin tin
Make the dough as directed, kneading it and letting it rise appropriately, and roll it out into a large rectangle. Fill with desired filling- chocolate, Nutella, cocoa, cinnamon and sugar, etc, and roll it up away from you.
Cut the dough into thick 2-inch circles, and place each in a muffin tin. Let rise for the correct amount of time.
Using a deep-bottomed pan
Make the dough as directed, kneading it and letting it rise appropriately, and place it in the shape of a ball into the pan. This creates a circle shaped loaf of bread.
Make the dough as directed, kneading it and letting it rise appropriately, and shape it the way you desire (this can be little balls, cinnamon rolls, or just a fat loaf).
Benefits to using this method:
- You put love into your product, and you can feel rewarded and proud of the work you put into the bread.
- It’s a way to learn more about bread- what makes it work, what doesn’t.
- There’s no extra cost- you’re using ingredients and tools you already have and that can be used for other things.
- You can shape the bread in whichever way you want.
Drawbacks to using this method:
- It’s a lot of work to make bread- you have to knead it for a long time which can be exhausting and time-consuming.
- You must monitor the bread carefully- kneading it too much and it can become tough and won’t rise in the oven, too little and it won’t rise properly in the oven. You also must check the oven frequently to make sure the bread isn’t burning, and schedule often multiple rising times for the bread.
Making Bread Using a Bread Machine
This method is fast, easy, and reliable. Just mix the ingredients, stick them in the bread machine, and leave it be to both knead and bake the bread. You can find affordable bread machines for as little as $50 and higher end bread machines for as much as $350.
Learn more about how bread machines work.
Benefits to using a bread maker:
- Easy and fast to use.
- You can leave it all day to knead and bake the bread; it even keeps it warm.
- No mess.
- The bread will come out with a perfect bake without you having to worry!
- Oftentimes you can make more than just bread in the bread maker.
Drawbacks to using a bread maker:
- They’re expensive- it’s an investment.
- You can only make the bread in one shape- whichever shape your bread maker makes.
- It’s not as fun as you’re not relying on yourself to actually bake the product.
Baking bread by hand can be fun, but it is a work-intensive process. Despite this, you really do put your love into that bread and can truly be proud of the result.
On the other hand, there’s a possibility of the bread being a disaster: burned, shaped weirdly, too dry, too dense, etc. With a bread machine you get a quick bread by putting almost no work in, and it comes out perfectly.
You do have to pay for that bread machine though, and it’s not a very rewarding process. Ultimately it really depends on your situation.
If you want to create a true homemade bread and learn how to make a loaf perfectly by hand, use the hand method. If you want bread fast and don’t have time to go through that process, a bread machine is perfect.
Either way, with practice, or no practice with the bread machine, you’ll eventually be able to produce the perfect bread!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.