I'd like to start making my own bread. I used to make it with a bread machine - it made decent enough bread - but we don't have the machine now. I'm deciding between buying a stand mixer, to help with the mixing and kneading, or a bread machine, which does it all! I'd like to make baguettes, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, etc as well so quite often I wouldn't be doing it all in the bread machine. I also bake cakes, quick breads, etc fairly often but have been fine so far without a stand mixer for that. Still, I suppose it'd make life easier? The main appeal of a bread machine is for when I want a loaf of bread fast, or not having to be around the house for the fiddly bits of making bread by hand - we are out during the day a lot. I can't decide! Any thoughts? Thanks!
Stand mixer or bread machine?
I've never used or had a bread machine. I will say that I've seen dozens of them sitting unused on shelves in basments, thrift stores, and garage sales. Rarely, however, do I see a stand mixer! :lol Actually, I don't know that I ever have. I vote for the mixer. Much more versatile and fun to use. I make bread regularly in mine, and yeah, I fiddle with it for most of the day (why make one batch when I can make four in a row? :D ), but I love it.
I gave away my bread machine as soon as I got my mixer. I could only use the bread machine for breads and since I never used it to actually bake the breads, just make the dough, it was basically being used as a single function mixer. I use my stand up mixer several times a week whereas I used my bread machine 1-2x a month. Big difference to me and they take up the same amount of space.
All that being said, I think bread machines are usually cheaper, especially since people like me get rid of them. So if you only want/need it for bread dough? Then go for the bread maker since it times it out and does the rise cycles. But if you think that you'd like a mixer for cakes or cookies or anything else? Then go with the stand up mixer and save yourself the trouble and expense of having to make a second purchase shortly down the road.
Just wanted to add another thought, lots of bread recipes can be made in a food processor. If you think you would use that more than a mixer (like if you aren't much of a baker but you use a lot of veggies) it might make more sense to go with a food processor instead of the other two options. Sorry if that makes the decision more complicated, you can totally ignore this if you'd like.
With the stand mixer, you still have to be around to rise, punch down and shape the loaves. Plus baking time. I have both, and actually, I find the bread machine to be a little more useful for me. Stiff doughs like you mentioned, bread, cinnamon buns, pizza dough, can all be made in the bread machine, even if it's just on dough cycle. Using the mixer for cakes and quickbreads I honestly find onerous. They're not hard to mix by hand, the process feels more controlled, I can get a sense of how the dough feels if I'm actually in there with a spoon (or my hands!) and clean up I find is easier. Plus my mixer is really heavy, hard to lug out, and takes up a lot of counter space. I vote breadmaker.
We had a bread machine a long time ago and gave it away because we didn't use it. I like handling the yeast bread dough myself though, so I don't really miss having a bread machine.
I really like having a stand mixer. It's like having an extra pair of hands in the kitchen to do all the mixing and beating, whipping cream, etc. when I am baking. I don't use it much for breadmaking though.
I guess you'd have to consider which one you would use the most. Cost may also be a factor. I think you can get a good bread machine for much less than a good stand mixer. I'm not sure about that though, because I haven't priced bread machines. I just know what the regular retail price of my stand mixer is.
I'd vote stand mixer. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer which will most likely be passed down to my grandchildren...that's how sturdy and awesome that thing is. It lives on my counter top--that's how often I use it. A total investment. I don't care for bread machine bread personally.
My vote would be stand mixer and the book Artisinal Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I've always done almost all my cooking from scratch, including baking, and often including bread. A couple of years ago, for my 37th birthday, I finally bought myself a stand mixer (birthday present from hubs). My opinion: Good grief, WHY didn't I buy one a long, long time ago!? SO useful! You do want to make sure that the mixer you buy has what it takes to knead bread dough for a long time to come. I checked a lot of reviews, and finally ended up passing on the KitchenAid I always wanted and buying a Cuisinart stand mixer. There aren't as many "toys" available for it, but the most important ones are there, and it has all-metal gears, which modern KitchenAids apparently do not. And the smaller of the two available Cuisinart mixers is more powerful than the most powerful home model of KitchenAid, with out a big price increase. I bought mine on ebay.
Well, I love my stand mixer, but for bread, I love my bread machine more. All I have to do is dump the ingredients in and punch a few buttons, and when I wake up in the morning there is freshly baked bread waiting for me to eat it. (Or at least, that used to happen before we went gluten-free. )
Like others, I have a stand mixer and use it all the time. Mine lives on the counter, but I can see how it would get less use if I had to pull it out and put it away. It is HEAVY. I use mine for dough, cakes, cookies, whipped cream, meringue, and many other things. If you have the counter space and want something more versatile for baking, I would definitely invest in the stand mixer.
Bread machines have their use, but I find it rather limited. I use the dough cycle on my bread machine when I don't feel like using the stand mixer, but I do not like the loaf shape it produces. I guess it depends on what you use your bread for, but I find that it makes oversized square slices that don't work well for sandwiches. There are some machines that bake a more standard sized loaf, but they tend to be on the pricey end. I don't think they are versatile enough to justify the cost, personally. I also find the crust to be rather disappointing - thick and hard rather than crisp and chewy. My kids eat oven-baked crust, but not bread machine crust. If you still want a bread machine for occasional use, you can buy one for cheap from a thrift store or Craig's list (and still get the stand mixer!).
I also second the recommendation for the Bread in 5 Minutes a Day system, but if you like wheat/whole grain breads, you might consider Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day rather than the Artisan book. You can check out their website for information on how to bake their recipes, shared recipes, and tons of baking tips (www.artisanbreadinfive.com). I have been having a lot of fun with their recipes over the past few weeks!
Thank you for that link, Sarah. I'm just about the laziest baker ever, and I love baking my own bread with the Artisinal main recipe. I'd not seen the Healthy Breads book, so I'm off to check that out!
beckington, if you're out and about a lot, these recipes are totally for you! Really, not much beats homemade bread so I'm sure you'll enjoy either option (stand or machine). Let us know what you decide.
We used to have a bread machine and it was a nuisance. It only makes one loaf at a time and cleaning it properly was sometimes a hassle. I liked using it best as a mixer, where I would let the machine prepare the dough and then I would take it out to shape and bake in the oven. That method is a lot slower than using a mixer and it still only made one loaf at a time!
We have a KA mixer now and I love it. I can make enough dough for 3 - 4 loaves of a bread at a time when I want to. It sits on the counter and I can get the bread started while I am doing other things, like washing dishes or making lunches. It really doesn't take much time or fuss. Then the dough rises, the bowl and dough hook can be washed in the dishwasher, and I just have to shape and bake the loaves. That easily fits into doing other things around the house.
The mixer is great for mixing other doughs and batters too which is an added bonus.
IMO, you'll get more use out of the stand mixer.
I used to love the convenience of the bread machine, but a few years ago we gave up nonstick so we stopped using the bread machine, too - even just for mixing and rising!
There are fast and no-knead bread recipes for the stand mixer. I think King Arthur has one of the best ones. It's simple and can be tweaked a bit here and there to accommodate various dietary needs. I do a lot of substitutions and it always turns out. It seems to be the only one I use anymore.
Their site is great with reviews, pictures, and a live chat to ask questions - I have used it and they are always so helpful.
Thanks so much everyone! Sorry it's taken so long to reply - new baby madness! :)
Sounds like a stand mixer is the preferred option, though I admit I didn't realize how much more expensive than bread machines they are! I love the suggestions of the 5-minute a day bread and no-knead bread - sounds right up my alley for sure! I think I'll start by trying those out and see if I think they are convenient enough to get rid of the need for a bread maker. If I like that process, then I can save up for a stand mixer!
Though SpuglyRoo, I didn't realize you could use a food processor to help with making bread! DH really wants a food processor so maybe it would be a better choice for us. We don't really have room for both. Does a food processor really do a good job?
I actually prefer using the food processor to knead my bread than my stand mixer as it is much faster. Although the food processor is more limited on how many cups of flour it can knead in one batch than the stand mixer is. But it's fine for the 1-2 loaves worth of dough at a time that I typically do, I have the 12 cup Kitchen Aid food processor. It has 3 work bowls of different sizes.
I'm the opposite of most of the posters here - use a bread machine but never used a stand-mixer. My husband and I both work outside and we would not have fresh bread w/out the bread machine. I love it . It's also useful to control the temperature for the rising - in winter our house is too cold & we have no pilot light in our oven .
For mixing things, I use a spoon or a whisk - but I only whip egg whites or cream once or twice a year (if that). We also have a food processor - bought by my late f-i-l more than 20 years ago - mainly used for hummus making.
Definitely the stand mixer or the food processor. I like having control over the details and also shaping and baking in the oven. I have made dough w/both the food processor and the KA mixer and they both come out fine. The food processor is probably better for wetter doughs whereas the KA is better for stiffer doughs.