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Breadmakers – the best thing since sliced bread?

A breadmaker

‘Real Breadmaker Week’ has just finished, with the aim of getting people to dig out their breadmakers and get baking real bread. If you’re already a fan of baking your own, do you think a breadmaker is the best way to do it?

The organisation behind breadmaker week, the Real Bread Campaign, estimates that Britain has 10 million unused bread machines in kitchen cupboards. This brings tears to my eyes.

I love my breadmaker; I wouldn’t be without it. I can make delicious, tasty bread when I want and none of it goes to waste. In fact the real problem is trying not to eat it all in one go. I’ve made dough for hot cross buns, fab olive bread, walnut and raisin bread, but mostly I stick to wholemeal loaves.

With such a wealth of information on the web, there’s a never ending supply of recipes, hints, tips and inspiration for making more adventurous breads. And it’s so easy to do, just add the ingredients and press ‘go’.

Are breadmakers useless?

But, in a Which? survey back in 2008, the humble breadmaker was voted as one of the most useless gadgets. Which makes me think that breadmakers must be like marmite – you either love them or you don’t – there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.

Nearly half of our members are experienced breadmaker owners and, like me, love experimenting with different flours or ingredients. And almost half of our breadmaker-owning members use them regularly – at least on a weekly basis.

So what about those of you with a breadmaker lurking in the cupboard? Are you tempted to dust it off and get baking like the Real Bread Campaign wants you to do? And if you do have a breadmaker, does it cut the mustard compared to good old-fashioned elbow grease?

If you’re a Which? member and need help with your breadmaker, on Wednesday 18 May, top artisan baker Patrick Moore, from More? The Artisan Bakery, will join Which? experts to answer all your questions in the Which? LIVE breadmaker Q&A.


I love my bread maker – bake two loaves a week. Not very adventurous though – just normally wholemeal though I do run to fruit loaf occasionally. I find newly baked bread crusty and delicious.

But best of all my three pet greyhounds really love it too! 🙂

In fact the lure of freshly baked bread was the only treat that Bambi was interested in when I was trying to house-train her She was three years old and lived in a racing kennel all of her life. At home she would not go through the dog door. I tried fillet steak – rump steak (cooked and raw) – cheese and every imaginable dog treat to no avail. But I accidentally dropped a warm slice of freshly baked bread and it was snaffled instantly and eagerly. I offered a half slice and it was virtually snatched out of my hand. Using the other half I went outside and she followed my treat. Two days later she was house trained. 🙂

Found later she could detect bread from 50 metres away.

Now when I am slicing my newly baked bread – they line up eagerly waiting their share.with waggy tails and smiles. .

Hello Richard, great comment – it made us smile! So you’re our Comment of the Week and will be featured on our homepage for the next seven days 🙂 Congrats!

I used to love my bread maker, and I am a hater of virtually all modern kitchen machines and gadgets, so that’s saying something! I used to make every conceivable kind of bread in it, including one I invented myself by adding 2 tablespoons of home made mincemeat to a rye loaf mixture and getting a result rather like the old Harvo malt loaves (anyone else remember Harvo? Whatever happened to that and St. Ivel Lactic Cheese spread?)

Sadly I have been suffering with IBS and a suspected gastric reflux issue for several years now and bread, in almost any form, gives me chest pains that the Doc’s have sometimes mistaken for Heart Attack they are so bad, so I gave the bread maker to a friend’s mum, who loves and uses it every day, as I can no longer eat bread. 🙁

Yes, the breadmaker gets a real thumbs up from me.

evie says:
16 May 2011

Breadmakers, like most things, come in various guises – there are good ones and bad. I used to have a “cheap & cheerful” variety which made reasonable bread, or so I thought …….then the thermostat went wrong, and it was replaced with a “Best Buy” model. The difference was quite remarkable! This one is used regularly- mainly for basic brown bread, as this is best for toast & marmalade in the morning! but I have also tried some more interesting flavours, and to be fair the machine has never let me down – the bread is much lighter in texture than what was produced by the cheap model, and even though I am not always as careful as I might be when measuring, it seems to cope. From my point of view one of the greatest advantages is knowing that, as long as there is a bag of flour and some yeast in the cupboard, I will never run out of bread at the last minute. The delay option is great for shoving the ingredients in just before bedtime, and waking up to a fresh loaf.

pickle says:
17 May 2011

My breadmaker is fine! Getting a bit old now, but I make a loaf a week and enjoy lovely fresh bread.
Safe a bit of money too. It’s a Parsonic.

Yes thanks for the Q&A session.
I made a loaf after the session following your experts’ advice to use the long program and not skimp on the salt, and it was really good. Forgot to try adding an egg to the mix but will give this a go next time.

Hi Colin,

It’s great to hear you found the Q&A useful – we’ll be sure to let Patrick know his advice has already been put to good practical use!


I have a Best Buy Panasonic and it produces excellent consistent results. We love coming down to the smell and taste of fresh bread produced over night with the timer. No complaints on the bread but I’ve found that making the dough, letting it rise and baking in the oven produces even better results. Pity no manufacturer produces a bread machine to allow a timer function for dough though? It means the dough function can only be used when you’re around. It’s a shame because it’s very quick to bake a loaf once the dough’s risen.

There is a small risk that electrical goods could cause a fire: http://www.spottedinely.com/faulty-bread-maker-caused-kitchen-fire-fire-service-says/ In addition to the advice provided, I suggest making sure that the breadmaker is not near to flammable materials. Some people push them to the back of the worktop, under wall cupboards, which adds to the risk of fire spreading.

“A faulty bread maker is thought to be responsible for a fire” reported 5 months ago. How many fires have been directly attributable to breadmakers that were of faulty manufacture?. We don’t want a round of unnecessary scare stories, surely.

I was simply providing some simple advice that could help raise awareness of the fire risk associated with using electrical appliances unattended. There is no scare story.

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There is a small fire risk associated with most mains-powered electrical equipment and a somewhat higher risk associated with tumble dryers and washing machines. Many are used in kitchens, which often don’t have a smoke alarm because these can be set off by cooking smoke.

Heat alarms are recommended for kitchens. In addition to a heat alarm I have a smoke alarm hanging on a picture hook in the kitchen. If it goes off when I’m cooking it is consigned to the dining room and then returned as soon as possible. It’s a minor inconvenience and if there was a fire I would want as much notice as possible. I have had a smoke alarm in my kitchen since the early 80s when I had to deal with fire in a neighbour’s kitchen. The heat alarm did sound but the fire was out by then. Hopefully modern heat alarms are more sensitive.

Perhaps we should have sprinklers in kitchens, particularly those in communal blocks, in case someone or something starts a fire?

I suggest first having a look at the advice from Which? http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/smoke-alarms/article/how-to-buy-the-best-smoke-alarms

I already have decent smoke alarms, permanently fixed – and a stick to turn them off when they tell me the toast is done. I wonder how many people ever test them and replace the battery? I also have a CO alarm in the boiler cupboard.

It is suggested the current beeping is inadequate to wake children if they go off in the night; ours are pretty penetrating so would be surprised if they failed to rouse them, One was demonstrated on tv news that speaks a message – “the house is in fire”. I wonder whether this is really as effective as is said.

Can the language be changed? People who don’t understand English might think it’s the DAB radio and not get up.

The best option is to have interlinked mains-powered alarms with battery backup, so that if one is activated they all sound. I replaced mine with louder ones.

Perhaps better if it played “Smoke gets in your eyes”. Incidentally, the message says “on fire”, not “in fire” (fat fingers). Apparently it is being put on trial.

New houses I believe have this as a mandatory buiding regs requirement – is that correct?

This was introduced in the early 90s for new homes. Here is some basic information and useful advice: http://www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/smoke-alarms/

I lived in a rented flat for a short period in the early 80s and that had heat alarms in the kitchen and lounge. I added a couple of smoke alarms. In my view, every room including utility rooms should have an alarm unless only used for storage.