Is it time to bring back the bread machine?

 bread machine bread

The Instant Pot may be today's "must-have" small appliance, but 20 years ago that title belonged to the bread machine. In the early 1990s, they consumed copious amounts of precious counter space, providing users a "set and forget" tool for fresh bread. After the turn of the century, their popularity waned and most were relegated to the trash bin or thrift store. Now it seems that bread machines are poised for a comeback.

Blame for the decline in the appliance's popularity can be assigned to multiple events. First, the gluten-free craze drove down interest in carbs. Second, the lackluster performance of many models left bread lovers disappointed. Uneven baking, compromised rise, and other flaws prompted baking purists to disparage the machines. Additionally, the ascendance of the 'hands-off' artisan bread technique meant that the time saved by using a bread machines was not as profound. 

A new generation of machines (not to mention a new generation of cooks!), combined with a growing interest in making specialty breads at home, may signal a comeback for the lowly bread machine. Manufacturers are adding more options, making the appliance less of a one-trick pony. Modern machines can make pasta and pizza dough, beignets, cakes, bagels, and more. Prices have dropped, too, making it more tempting to try one on for size. Have you considered adding a bread machine to your kitchen appliance collection?

Photo of Buttery bread machine loaf from indexed website Serious Eats, recipe and photo by Donna Currie, Cookistry for Serious Eats. 

8 Comments

  • Lem9579  on  8/16/2017 at 6:29 PM

    I got mine as a gift quite a while back. I'd say 16 years. It's been a rollercoaster relationship with it. I've never been a bread baker, find anything with yeast too difficult and scary. I use my machine for a while then put it away. Back to using, back to putting it away. Right now it's in the away mode. I'd be willing to check out newer models to see what options might interest me.

  • Rinshin  on  8/16/2017 at 7:59 PM

    I use mine often for helping me with kneading mostly. It kneads really well. I pull the dough out and make breads or pizzas in the oven. I think it helps that I've done quite a bit of kneading when younger and generally know how the finished dough should feel. Once in a while, l'll use the machine to make the bread completely, but I am not happy with the funny shape of the pan. I'm thinking of buying a new one that makes regular sized breads and giving mine to a younger friend who may enjoy using it.

  • JuneHawk  on  8/16/2017 at 10:07 PM

    I had a bread machine and, although I did use it, I sold it at a garage sale. My main with bread machines is that a third of the loaf is useless for sandwiches because of the hole the mixing paddle leaves in the bread.

  • annmartina  on  8/17/2017 at 9:21 AM

    I've had a bread machine since the 90s. I upgraded to a Zojirushi a few years ago. I usually bake all my breads in my oven, but I've always appreciated King Arthur's test kitchen viewpoint that nothing beats it (no pun intended) for kneading dough.

  • FJT  on  8/17/2017 at 9:55 AM

    I had a bread machine when I lived in Europe and used it every week to bake gluten-free bread as the stuff I could buy was horrible. When I move back to Europe I will definitely use it again. It's more efficient than turning the oven on .

  • sir_ken_g  on  8/17/2017 at 10:24 AM

    We have an older one and use it regularly - just for kneading. It does fine with that. After a couple of minutes I check for stickiness and add more water if needed. Then baking is done in the oven. Works fine.

  • Emmydee  on  8/18/2017 at 2:18 AM

    For some of us the Bread Machine never went away. I've made my own bread since the bakers' strike forty years ago & used a machine since the 1990's. My current one, a Panasonic, will do pretty much anything including sourdough. The 'Sandwich' programme gives a great all-round loaf, wholemeal, white or seeded.

  • eliza  on  8/18/2017 at 7:49 AM

    I've always loved my bread machine, and I use it both for dough and for baking loaves. I've had it for about 20 years. I also use the no knead method, and do traditional sourdough; I see all these methods as complimentary. One thing I would suggest for anyone wanting to use a bread machine is to find a few really reliable recipes that you like. I make a bran and flax seed loaf that I adapted from another recipe, and that's my go to bread most of the time.

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