I've tried to make bread in the past, it never turned out well. Perhaps I'm too impatient for all the rising, punching down, kneading, whatever, but it just wasn't good. Then I had a chance to pick this little thing up.
First off, I should mention that I read many reviews and it seemed most of the bad ones referred to poor bread made from the recipes in the owners manual. Armed with this knowledge, I didn't try any of these. What I did was try some of the best reviewed recipes I could find on the net and I must admit, after owning this thing for about 48 hours, I feel like a master baker!
Here's what I've made -
Straight out of the box I made Jo's Rosemary Bread. This was a winner right from the start, the dough rose perfectly and the bread was soft and luscious. I gave it a 9 out of 10 (will be a 10 once I've messed with this thing a bit more).
Next up was a basic white bread, this one was so-so, still rose very nicely and tasted good, but the crust was a bit thick. I like my white bread super soft, so I'll be trying this on the "soft" setting, but for this attempt I gave it a 5.
Then it was on to a banana quick bread. So easy and fast on the cake setting and popped right up with some baking powder and soda. Came out juicy and tasty with a perfect crust. I gave this a 7 (I like my banana bread a bit sweeter, so I'll have to play with the recipe a bit).
Ok, time to try out the jam setting. Had a couple pears that were getting a bit ripe, so I chopped them up, followed the instructions for apples in the manual, and was enjoying some wonderful fresh jam on my white toast the next morning. Only complaint here is that the cleanup was a bit more involved as the sugar hardened on the pan a bit. But making it was so easy, the clean-up was worth it.
The coup de grace was the french bread. Threw the ingredients in, hit the dough setting, and 1:45 later I had a beautiful dough ball. Punched it down, rolled it out, rolled it up and 30 minutes later it was in the oven. When it came out and hit the dinner table it was the most luscious french bread I've ever had. I gave it a 10!
Perhaps I've had a good experience right out of the box because I avoided the recipes in the manual. I've got the Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook: The Goodness of Homemade Bread the Easy Way
coming in the mail shortly. Excited to get going on the recipes in there and start learning how to play around with my ingredients. It really is amazingly easy with this thing, which is great because I want fresh bread, but don't want to spend an entire evening in the kitchen. Very happy with my purchase... (and shipping was crazy fast even though I opted for the free super saver!)