Due to the tight economy, a lot of people are starting to make things at home, like clothes, crafts and foods from scratch, instead of buying from a store. One food that's fairly easy to make at home and transition away from the store is bread! You can make it by hand, but if you want to save a lot of of time and take the hassle out of kneading and then waiting for the dough to rise, you need to buy a good bread machine or breadmaker. The two terms are used interchangeably in the search engines here on eBay, so do searches under both. You will want to buy a breadmaker that is sturdy, of good quality and that will last for many years to come. You can do a lot of your research into which breadmakers are available and what features each one has right here on eBay.
So, what should you look for in a breadmaker? For starters, look for one that has a selection of several different cycles and light, medium and dark crust settings. One with a dough setting is convenient for automatic kneading of doughs for pizza or pastry. No more tired hands and arms! If you or a member of your family is allergic to gluten, there are many bread machines that have gluten-free settings that will allow you to bake delicious gluten-free bread that everyone in the family can enjoy!
A machine with a programmable delay cycle and an express bake cycle will come in handy for those times when you're pressed for time. An express cycle does just as it implies -- bakes perfect loaves really quickly, usually about 58 minutes. A delay cycle allows you to preprogram your bread to finish baking up to 13 hours later, so you can go to work or leave for the day and come home later to the aroma of freshly baked bread. The breadmaker I use, the Sunbeam Model 5891, has these functions, plus 12 bake functions and I can make jam and cake with it as well. It's the only model of breadmaker I carry in my store because I can personally vouch for its quality and durability and you can make a variety of bread recipes with it, from white to wheat to fruit and nut breads.
Most bread machine recipes are pretty straightforward and simple to make. Just add the ingredients, choose your settings, set the timer and go! But if you're really short on time, you can try one of the commercial bread machine mixes. You can usually find a variety of boxed mixes in the baking sections of most grocery and health food stores.
A more expensive bread machine won't necessarily bake better bread. A lot depends on the recipe you're using and your own experience with breadmaking. Remember that if you live at a higher altitude, that will also make a difference and you will have to adjust the settings for your recipes. If you live in a drier climate, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water to the dough during the kneading cycle.
One last suggestion: buy a good recipe book for bread machines, one like the "Bread Machine Bible," which I also carry in my store. Most of the recipes that are printed in the instruction manuals that come with bread machines only cover the basics of bread baking. To be really creative, you'll want to buy a good book of bread machine recipes.
Here's one of my favorites and a good basic recipe to start out with! This recipe makes a 2-pound loaf. (Higher altitudes, add a teaspoon of water during the kneading cycle.)
2 eggs at room temperature, plus enough warm water (80 degrees) to equal 1 cup liquid
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 and one-half teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt)
3 Cups of Bread Flour (I just use regular white flour)
2 and one-fourth teaspoons of active dry yeast or 1 and one-half teaspoons of Bread Machine Yeast (Quick-Rise, use 1 and one-half teaspoons)
PROGRAM SETTING: BASIC