Should I buy a breadmaker?

Iain Bryson with bread from his bread machine

Yes – it’s so easy

Iain Bryson, 44, a civil servant from Belfast, says:

When you make bread in a bread maker is it’s so convenient, and you know exactly what’s in it.

I started making bread when my son was a baby. We discovered he was dairy intolerant. Lots of shop-bought loaves seemed to contain dairy products. Some family members bought us a breadmaker as a gift, and I’ve been using it ever since then.

I have made bread by hand in the past, but I felt like it took such a long time. This is much easier and more convenient. It is about the only kitchen gadget I use regularly.

Since I had my heart attack two years ago I have been paying a lot more attention to what I eat and have lost weight as a result. I usually reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt in my bread from what the recipe says and it turns out just as well.

You can make different sizes of loaf – I don’t eat a lot of bread, so I usually make a small loaf. It keeps for the next day and the day after that. But you can also freeze it or turn it into toast.

I have made bread by hand in the past, but I felt like it took such a long time. This is much easier and more convenient

I really enjoy having a freshly baked loaf. Sometimes I put it on before I go for a walk at the weekend, and then when I come back I am greeted by the smell of baking bread.

I like to make soup. A pot of vegetable soup and a couple of slices of bread from the bread machine really fills you up – it’s a meal in itself and is a great way to eat vegetables.

A friend of mine lives on her own, so sometimes I make her a loaf of bread and drop it round.

I have got lots of different recipes. I’ve made more unusual things like rice bread – it uses bread flour and cooked rice, so it’s a great way of using up leftover rice. And I use it for dough to make bagels and so on. When you make bread the machine mixes it and proves it for you. Then I just shape it and bake it in a regular oven.

My son is 13 now and he’s a big fan of the bread – freshly baked bread and jam is a real treat for him.

No – make it by hand instead

Donna Trenholm with her handmade breadDonna Trenholm, 40, an organisational development adviser from London says:

I started baking when I was a student, more than 20 years ago. I wanted to save money and I thought it was cheaper than buying bread – plus you get nicer bread too. I think those reasons are still true today.

I don’t know if you could get bread machines back then, but I wouldn’t have wanted expensive equipment filling up the kitchen anyway.

When you bake bread by hand all you need is a bowl, some flour, water and yeast and away you go. So, it doesn’t cost much to get started plus it is perfect if you don’t have much space - or if you already have lots of other kitchen equipment! I really think it’s cheaper than buying bread, and certainly if you compare the cost of buying bread of a similar quality.

It takes time to rise, but you can fit it around other things. As a student I used to put bread on to rise, go off and do some work and when I came back all I had to do was put it in the oven – and the flat would be full of the smell of baking bread.

Kneading the dough is relaxing. It’s not as much effort as its seems

Kneading the dough is relaxing. It’s not as much effort as its seems.

You can make the bread to your own specification, you can add things like seeds and herbs and make it a bit special. You can reduce the amount of fat and salt if you want, so it can be healthier than a commercial loaf.

I often bake with wholemeal spelt flour which seems to rise a bit more quickly, you can leave it for as little as 30 minutes if the room is not too cold – so that’s good if you don’t have much time.

I usually bake once at the weekend and once during the week. During the week I might make a batch of dough and use half of it for home-made pizzas and half for a loaf or rolls. I leave it to rise while I prepare the pizza toppings. Then I’ll shape the bread while the pizza is in the oven, leave it to rise again and bake it after dinner.

My daughter is 11 and she likes to help, especially shaping rolls. It’s a good way to learn about cooking and it’s a healthier alternative to baking cakes and biscuits with her.

My main message is - give it a try!

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