Are you a freshly-baked bread enthusiast and considering investing in a handy baking appliance? You might be torn between choosing a bread machine and a stand mixer, right? While picking between these two countertop kitchen appliances isn’t that hard a decision, it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for in a machine.
A bread machine turns raw ingredients into freshly baked loaves, while a stand mixer has a strong motor to support medium to heavy-duty mixing. Bread machines do everything from mixing, kneading, and baking dough to completion, while stand mixers blend ingredients to make raw dough.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide comparing a bread machine or bread maker vs. a stand mixer. Read on to get tips that’ll help you choose the perfect appliance for your lifestyle and baking needs.
What Is a Bread Machine?
A bread machine mixes and bakes bread automatically for you, once you add the ingredients and turn it on. It efficiently mixes your raw ingredients, kneads the dough, allows it to rise to perfection, and bakes your loaf of choice to your preferred standards without any input from you, while saving you the hassle that comes with baking.
The machine thoroughly does everything to completion and will even notify you once your bread is ready. It comes with a baking pan or tin, kneading paddles, and a viewing window (optional).
The baking pan, which doubles as a kneading tin and a baking bowl, is located at the center of a special multipurpose oven within your machine. It’s mainly made of non-stick material and has a small metallic kneading paddle, and it comes with built-in handles making it easy to remove it and put it back in the machine.
To improve its efficiency, a bread maker is designed with pre-programmed settings that allow you to choose your preferred program setting.
So, let’s look at how this handy gadget makes baking easier for you.
How a Bread Machine Works
To understand how a bread maker works, you need to have a rough idea of how bread is made using the traditional or manual way. The time-consuming and tiring process involves the precise measuring of ingredients, kneading, proofing the dough, and finally baking it in your oven.
Imagine having everything handled by a simple wonder machine, which is what a bread maker does. It gives you a freshly baked loaf without having to do all the intensive work. Just add your ingredients, press a few buttons, and watch the magical transformation of your raw ingredients into a yummy fresh loaf.
For efficiency purposes, most modern machines come with a wide range of advanced features to support multiple recipes depending on one’s needs. For instance, you can choose the type of loaf you want, either basic/white, French, sandwich, Italian, and gluten-free, to mention a few.
Additionally, you get to choose the loaf size that you want, which depends on the type of machine you’re using. Most machines allow for 1.5 and 2 lbs (0.68 and 0.91 kg) while others support up to 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg) bread recipes, so it’s important to refer to your machine’s menu to be certain of the loaf size it can hold. Knowing the size capacity of your machine allows you to use recipes it can bake to perfection.
Most machines also give you the preference of selecting the crust type you want, which are mainly light, medium, or dark. There’s also a timer that allows you to set the bake cycle to a certain time limit.
Therefore, a bread maker not only simplifies the whole baking process but also allows you to customize your homemade bread to your preferred standard.
Having a bread maker in your kitchen makes it easy for you to try different recipes without doing a lot of work. In fact, if you want to have the joy of fully utilizing your bread maker, you can buy a bread baking recipe book and enjoy the endless recipes with easy-to-follow instructions. Some machines include a handy bread recipe book.
Other Uses of a Bread Machine
Besides baking bread, you can also use a bread maker to make special dough for things like pasta, pizza, jam, and pretzels, among others.
Additionally, you can use this versatile gadget to perform the following additional tasks:
- Create fruit or vegetable butter
- Make tomato sauce
- Bake cakes
- Bake casseroles
Pros of a Bread Maker
Let’s look at the reasons why some baking enthusiasts can’t imagine living without a bread maker.
- It saves on time and labor
A bread machine is like a kitchen robot, as it does everything for you, saving on your time and labor.
- It’s easy to use
It doesn’t call for special skills to operate it, as you need to measure your ingredients precisely, add them to your baking pan and press a few buttons. Using a bread maker makes baking easy and less messy.
- It saves you money over the long term
Buying bread from the stores can get expensive, but buying a bread maker helps you save money over the long term.
- You control what you eat
This is especially a plus for people with allergies or dietary restrictions because you get to control what ingredients go to your bread.
- It’s versatile
With a bread maker, you can make different loaves in addition to many other recipes.
- You can proof your dough
This wonder machine provides a controlled environment for your dough to rise, or proof, as it is known in the baking world. Proofing your dough in the bread machine isn’t affected by the prevailing temperatures.
- Predictable results
Depending on the ingredients you use and the settings you choose, you can always have predictable results. The controlled dough rise also adds to the predictability of the outcome.
- Loaf texture
Since all the steps will be automated and performed in a controlled environment, your loaf is likely to have a uniform texture.
Cons of a Bread Maker
Here are some drawbacks of using this machine:
- It only bakes one loaf at a time
The bread maker is not ideal for large-scale bread making.
- Loaf shape
You can’t control the shape of your loaf, as this machine only makes bread depending on the shape it’s designed to support.
What Is a Stand Mixer?
A stand mixer is another handy kitchen appliance cherished by most avid bakers because it has fantastic kneading abilities that make your baking life easier. However, it only helps up to a certain limit, because it only mixes the ingredients and kneads the dough.
Other than kneading, the rest of the baking process is still in your hands. Therefore, once the kneading cycle is complete, you’ll have to remove the dough from the bowl and let it rise before placing it in the oven to bake.
Generally, a stand mixer doesn’t automate the whole baking process, which is an ideal option for bakers who only need help with the labor-intensive kneading process.
How a Stand Mixer Works
This countertop kitchen appliance comes with a mixing bowl and a kneading hook and is very easy to use.
Here is how the stand mixer works:
- Measure your ingredients according to the recipe, then add them to the bowl.
- Set the timer depending on your recipe and the mixer you’re using, then turn it on.
- Let the mixer do its work as you attend to other things.
If your mixer doesn’t have a timer (which most older mixers lack), you can allow your dough to knead for about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove it once the kneading cycle is complete and complete the rest of the process manually, which means the dough will not rise in the stand mixer.
- Put the dough into your chosen container and let it rise.
- Transfer it into a baking tin and bake it in the oven.
Although a stand mixer doesn’t handle all the baking tasks, it does the most labor-intensive job of kneading. While the process might seem a bit longer, if you look at it from a positive side, you won’t have to do much. Measure your ingredients, add them to the bowl, set a timer, remove the dough, let it rise, and finally bake it.
Other Uses of a Stand Mixer
You can use your mixer to whip up cookies, cinnamon rolls, pretzels, and cakes without any additional attachments.
Since most stand mixers support extra attachments, you can attach a food processor attachment and use it to make coleslaw, hummus, potato chips, pasta, frosting, and whipping cream, among others.
Many stand mixers derive their versatility from the extra attachments you add.
Pros of a Stand Mixer
- They are versatile
Generally, most stand mixers are designed to support additional attachments, contributing to their versatility.
You can use a food processor, blender, or juicer attachments to perform a wide range of cooking procedures.
- You control the shape of the loaf
Unlike a bread machine where you don’t have control over your loaf’s shape, here you have full control, as you can shape the loaf however you want before placing it in the oven.
- It can be used to knead the dough for different loaves
Since a stand mixer only does the kneading, you can use it for kneading the dough for your subsequent loaves as you complete the baking process of one.
Cons of a Stand Mixer
- It only kneads the dough
It doesn’t automate the whole baking process.
- It needs to be monitored
Some mixers need to be monitored as they have no timers.
- It doesn’t prove your dough
When using a standard mixer, the environment in which the dough rises is far less controlled, meaning the results vary depending on the prevailing temperatures, which makes the results unpredictable.
- Loaf texture
Since the whole process is a combination of machine and manual work, it might be hard for unskilled bakers to achieve uniform texture consistency in their end product.
Bread Machine vs. Stand Mixer
Let’s take a look at an in-depth comparison of these two ultimate kitchen gadgets.
Ease of Use
Both gadgets aim to make baking easier, but one is superior to the other. A bread maker is easier to use as you add your ingredients, choose your preferred settings, and wait for your loaf to be ready.
On the other hand, with a stand mixer, you have to manually handle part of the baking process. This might be overwhelming for amateur bakers, so the bread maker takes the win.
A bread maker allows you to make different types of bread, doughs, cakes, casseroles, tomato sauces, and butter. On the other hand, you can add attachments to a stand mixer to handle various cooking and baking needs, which makes a stand mixer more versatile than a bread maker.
The Shape of the Bread
A bread maker makes bread with restrictions on its manufacturer’s shape. With a stand mixer, you have the opportunity to shape your dough to your preferred shape before baking it in the oven, which is another plus for the stand mixer.
Rise of Dough
The dough rises in a controlled environment in a bread maker without being affected by prevailing room temperatures (either warm or cold). As a result, a bread machine gives predictable results.
On the other hand, with a stand mixer, the dough rises in an uncontrolled environment and is often affected by the prevailing temperatures. Here, the results are unpredictable and vary from one time to another. A win for the bread maker!
The Loaf Texture
Given that every phase of bread making is automated in a bread maker, the results tend to be uniform, including the loaf texture. However, with a stand mixer, the texture varies depending on how you perfectly blend the machine and manual work. A bread maker takes the lead here too.
Which One Should You Choose?
Generally, if you want to automate your entire bread-making process, you should get a bread maker. However, if you just need a little help with kneading, you can invest in a simple and affordable stand mixer.
Additionally, if you want to make loaves with different shapes, maybe to please your kids, a stand mixer is the best option. But if you are more into the loaf’s texture than its shape, go for a bread maker.
It seems like a bread maker is superior to a standard mixer. However, if you invest in a cheaper one, it could be less efficient and may end up disappointing you, so you need to be careful about the model you choose.
If possible, invest in both a bread maker and a stand mixer.