A fresh crusty loaf sliced and slathered with salty butter is a hard-to-resist treat. But mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking your own bread at home is not only arduous but messy too.
Buying a compact bread maker ticks all the boxes for a foodie that is looking for a hassle-free method of making fresh bread. Its compact size means that your kitchen counter won’t be overly cluttered and your loaves will be just the right size if you're cooking for one.
If this sounds like a win-win solution for your culinary needs, read on for your buying guide for the best compact bread makers on the market.
Bread makers are an ingenious invention, and the ultimate hack for creating artisan loaves with little to no effort. This handy kitchen appliance handles all the stages of making a loaf of bread including:
If you are anything like us, you will know that purchasing kitchen appliances like bread machines can be hit and miss. A bit of research and comparison will always pay off in choosing the best compact bread baker for your lifestyle, and we've put in the effort to ensure that you select only the best compact bread maker.
Read on for the 10 key features you need to assess to make the right choice and ensure you are getting quality and value for money, as well as some great tasting bread!
Good things do come in small packages and you want to ensure that the dimensions of your bread maker not only fit your counter space but also can make a loaf of adequate size for your household.
Compact bread makers can deliver up loaves of 1-2 pounds, or up to 1 kilogram in weight, more than enough for a family of four to enjoy.
Contemporary compact machines are typically square, keeping their footprint small at around 30 cm by 30cm.
You should expect a compact bread maker to take anywhere between two and four hours from adding wet and dry ingredients to removing fresh bread from the pan. This will vary with the type of bread you are baking – wholemeal usually takes the longest to rise and prove and often has a specific setting on the bread maker.
If you want speedier results, look for compact bread makers which have a rapid bake setting. However, the results you get can vary massively.
Besides, you may want your bread maker to have a delayed-start timer meaning you can pop your ingredients in the night before and wake up to a fresh loaf for breakfast every day.
Compact bread makers are capable of turning out small traditional rectangular loaves or taller loaves with a smaller base.
One of the limitations of a compact machine is that you cannot vary the shape of the loaf or make free-form, double loaves or rolls like you can with the larger models.
Yes, the kneading paddle does all the hard work that goes into making a fluffy and flavorsome loaf, but in certain bread makers, it projects into the loaf as it is baked.
This means that the paddle has to be ripped out of the cooked bread leaving an unsightly hole. It may be a tolerable defect for a compact design, but a collapsing or removable paddle will keep your loaves intact.
If you are a settings and features fanatic a compact bread maker might not be the right choice for you. These bread makers tend to be one-trick ponies and turn out the right kind of recipe, with tweaks, very well. Typical settings and pre-set programs you will find on compact bread makers include:
· Knead only (great for pizza or rolls)
· Gluten-free baking
· Crustiness control
· French bread
Decent models will have an easy-to-use control panel complete with digital displays or timers that are easy to follow.
More contemporary designs feature a useful viewing window, allowing you to check on the progress of your bread without lifting the lid. For those of you who want to see how your bread maker does its thing, choose a model with a large viewing window and wait for your ideal shade of golden brown.
When you use your compact bread maker once or even twice per day, the costs of running it can add up. Thankfully modern bread makers are usually very energy efficient. Using a bread maker should save you energy when compared to baking an equivalent loaf in a gas or electric oven.
If you get organized about using your bread maker you not only save energy but time and money too. Once you have got a staple recipe down pat, bulk buys ingredients and you will probably clock up savings on regular trips to the grocery store.
Look out for compact bread makers that deliver extra value for your dollars by including useful accessories like spare bread pans, paddles, measuring cups, and dough scrapers.
Measuring cups are of particular value as so much of making bread successfully in a bread maker depends on precision.
It is also well worth buying a model that has readily available replacement parts, which makes any repairs that become necessary quick and simple.
Householders who are adept at getting every bit of utility out of their kitchen appliances will appreciate a compact bread maker that can do a little more than just make bread.
How about using your bread maker to make some jam to spread on it too! Many compact bread makers have settings for making cakes, jam, pasta, and more.
A decent compact bread maker will cost at least 100 dollars. There are some competitively priced budget models on the market but these usually have limited functionality when compared to the market-leading models. Above the $100-mark, the features and performance generally increase with cost.
Along with your purchase, you should expect your compact bread maker to come with at least a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty inclusive of the price.