Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
Good, but certainly not perfect.
on December 18, 2010
This is the first bread machine I've owned so I have been in "experimental" mode ever since it arrived. Actually, that should be ever since the SECOND machine arrived. I followed the instructions and ran an empty machine the first time to burn off any machine oils or other materials left over from the manufacturing process. When I pressed the start button for my first loaf of bread there was a metallic scraping noise. After about two minutes I looked inside and the paddle had scraped all the non-stick coating off the bread pan in a circle where it touched the bottom. A quick email to Amazon Customer Service and a second machine was on the way. If you have any problems with the dough paddle don't hesitate to get in touch with Amazon and get a new machine. I have been baking loaves now for almost one month and have learned quite a bit about this machine and the art of baking bread in it.
If you are planning to purchase this specific machine because of the automatic fruit and nut dispenser, please know that it has not been a success for me. I made a loaf of raisin bread, the raisins were dispensed, but it was so far into the dough cycle that it had already formed the dough ball and the raisins were all on the outside of the loaf. In a later loaf I placed the raisins in the bread pan along with all the other ingredients and the finished loaf was wonderful with raisins evenly distributed throughout the loaf. The exact same thing happened with a loaf of three-seed bread (sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds), they mostly stuck to the outside of the bread when the dispenser was used but evenly distributed when added with the main ingredients. I will not be using the dispenser again.
My main kick with this machine and with the manual is that it doesn't tell me what is happening with the loaf at any given time. There is a countdown timer, but it doesn't give me enough information for my own curiosity. I have found this basic timing reference from my baking: White bread recipe, medium crust color, 2 pound loaf. The timer begins with 3 hours, 25 minutes. Mixing took until 3:05 when the ingredient dispenser opened (this is VERY loud!), 2:51 the first rising began, 2:00 ten beeps to alert for dough-only removal, 1:50 punch down of dough and second rising, at 50 minutes baking began. These next numbers are for a whole wheat loaf, medium crust color, one pound: 4 hours 30 minutes initial setting, 4:00 mixing begins, 3:45 add ingredients (LOUD!), 3:32 first rising, 1:41 ten beeps for dough-only removal, 1:31 punch down and second rising, at 45 minutes baking began. The time frame will be slightly different for each combination of type of bread, crust color and size of loaf but those two examples are typical of the time frame I'm becoming accustomed to. Each loaf has been very well formed, very good crust color to my specifications, and has had wonderful consistency. We have discovered that a two pound loaf of bread is much too big for the two of us and have settled in for the one pound loaves each time now. And don't think your bread will mold quickly, it doesn't, but it will get stale and be best as toast, bread crumbs or croûtons for the freezer after the first three days.
The machine does a very good job at what it actually does, but I have needed to be very hands-on with baking the bread. Every single loaf I've made has required additional liquid to be added during the mixing process. I know that some of the reasons for that are my geographical location, climate, and house temperature but I'm beginning to think that some of it might be due to the ingredient lists in the manual/recipe book. During this testing period I have exclusively used the recipes which are included in the manual for the machine. The last loaf I made was a plain whole wheat loaf and I had to add 6 Tablespoons of water in addition to the others called for in the recipe. That's way too much additional moisture to need. (But a tip........add any additional liquids during the first five minutes or less of mixing so it has enough time to be absorbed by the flour. If it's dry and crumbly, it needs liquid! This may sound like a "Well, Duh" moment to you but I threw out an entire recipe because it was dry and crumbly and I thought I had not followed the directions correctly. Later I realized what had happened.) The recipe booklet also has many errors in it, be sure to read through the recipe you want to use before getting ready to bake. Some have the same ingredient listed twice with two different amounts. I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. I have not tried the delayed start feature because of the need to add extra liquids in the mixing cycle.
When I get ready to upgrade to a different machine I will look for the features I didn't realize I wanted in this machine: 1.) a read out that tells me what cycle the machine is in at the present time, and 2.) better indicators for showing me the size loaf and crust color I'm choosing. I'm 5'3" tall, when this machine is on my counter I have to stand on a step stool to see the little box that shows the timer, menu item chosen, loaf size and crust color. It really would not have been too much more expensive for this company to have upgraded the read-out portion of this machine and for me, they could have left off the dispenser altogether.