Making homemade bread is one of life’s simplest and biggest pleasures. If you’ve never made your own bread before, you might be surprised by how easy it is, especially if you use an automatic bread maker, or bread machine.
While it’s true that you can make homemade bread on your own without the use of a machine, the process is simply easier and less painful on your hands and wrists when you use a machine to do the hard work for you.
If you’re going to make bread with a machine, you have two main options — a bread maker and a stand mixer — but which one of these is better? Each option has pros and cons, and the best way to determine what will work best for you personally is to do your due diligence and find out what those pros and cons are. Below is some information that is sure to help.
Last update on 2022-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Pros of a Bread Machine
Bread machines have come a long way since they were first invented, and today’s machines have so many options that they allow you to make all types of breads in all sorts of flavors, textures, and ingredients. Here are some of the main advantages of using a bread machine to make your homemade bread:
- Affordability. Bread machines, even ones made by reputable companies, range from around $80 to roughly $400. If you shop around and find one that’s on sale, your investment should be very low. In all, it’s a small investment that you’ll end up getting tons of use out of.
- Ease of use. Bread makers couldn’t be simpler because all you do to get fresh homemade bread is put your ingredients in the machine, press a few buttons, then walk away. It will beep when the bread is done, and then all you have to do is taste the yummy bread inside!
- Loaf texture. The texture of the bread is one of the reasons homemade bread is so yummy. Bread machines give you the same texture every time so that the consistency of your bread is always the same, in part because it times everything just right and won’t turn off until the bread is ready.
- Perfect dough rise. Getting bread dough to rise just right is often a challenge when making bread, and if the dough doesn’t rise like it should, it can completely ruin the bread. With a bread machine, you don’t have to worry about this because the machine times everything perfectly so that your dough rises just right every single time.
- Predictable results. If you’ve ever made bread the old-fashioned way and you’ve gotten a little nervous about the final results, you’ll appreciate this feature. With a bread machine, the results always come out the same as long as you do your part correctly, which is easier than you think.
Cons of a Bread Machine
Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve, a bread machine may or may not be what you need. To decide on the right option in the end, you also have to know what the disadvantages are, and below are a few of them.
- Lack of versatility. Bread machines allow you to create the dough and get it to look like you want it to look, but they don’t do much else. Because you’ll be pushing some buttons and then leaving the machine alone until the bread is baked, you can’t do much in the middle of the process when it comes to making the bread any different than what the recipe specifies it will do. This is an asset for some people but not for others.
- The shape of the loaf. Bread machines do not produce bread loaves that are horizontal in shape. Many of them are round and are much taller than regular bread is. You can buy bread makers that make horizontal loaves, but they are either very expensive or bake loaves that are much smaller than what you’re used to, or both! In addition, you may have to remove the dough paddle from the machine at some point during the process, which means that there is tearing and a small hole formed inside the bread.
Last update on 2022-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Pros of a Stand Mixer
Just the same as bread machines, working with a stand mixer to make homemade bread has its pros and cons, and below are some of its advantages:
- The shape of the loaf. Because a stand mixer only works with the dough and you can shape that dough afterwards into any shape you want, a stand mixer is a great option for making homemade bread. Of course, you can also use the “dough only” option in a bread machine, then take the dough out, shape it, and bake it in the oven. But since this is your only option with a stand mixer, it’s good for making loaves of all different shapes and sizes.
- Versatility. While a bread machine makes bread and nothing else, a stand mixer comes with all sorts of attachments for making cookies, pasta, and so much more. This makes a stand mixer a very versatile type of kitchen equipment.
Cons of a Stand Mixer
And finally, here are some disadvantages of using a stand mixer when making bread:
- Affordability. Even a basic stand mixer can cost $150, while the bigger and nicer models can cost up to $800. Regardless of which stand mixer you end up buying, you’ll be spending a lot of cash on it.
- Ease of use. It isn’t that stand mixers are complicated, but they are not as simple as a bread machine simply because you cannot just turn the mixer on and forget about it. You need to pay attention to what you’re doing the whole time.
- The rise of the dough. Unlike a bread maker, the dough can rise differently with a stand mixer depending on other factors, including the humidity and even the temperature. The rise is not always as consistent as it is with a bread machine.
- The texture of the bread. Again, the texture of your bread can be inconsistent each time you make it, which is not something that most people want to hear.
Bread Machine vs. Stand Mixer: Where Do They Excel?
When it comes to the bread machine vs. stand mixer debate, it’s a good idea to start with the areas where the two items excel. When it comes to how easy they are to use and reliability when it comes to the texture, consistency, and even the color of the bread, bread makers win out every time.
This is because bread makers were meant to complete the entire bread-making process without stopping. In fact, this is what they do best and why they are made in the first place. Think about it: with a bread machine, you simply load the ingredients, press a few buttons, then wait for the finished product to emerge. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
On the other hand, stand mixers allow you to get a little more creative with the bread-making process because it is only the first step — the dough-making process — that you’ll be completing with the mixture. This means that once you take the dough out of the mixer, you can decide to make any type of bread you like, as well as soft pretzels and so much more.
The flexibility of a stand mixer is what a lot of people like about them most, and a lot of bakers also like the fact that they feel like their skill as a baker comes into play, which is something you don’t get when you use a regular bread machine.
Bread Machine vs. Stand Mixer: Which One Should You Get?
Decisions, decisions. Just as with any other decision that you have to make, this one depends mostly on your own needs in the kitchen, as well as which factors you consider the most important when you’re making homemade bread.
If you love consistency and reliability, as well as a super-easy way to make delicious homemade bread, a bread maker should definitely be considered. On the other hand, if you’re a talented baker and like to feel more “involved” in the bread-making process because you’re on the creative side, you might want to consider a stand mixer.
In addition, your budget also has to be considered when you’re choosing a bread-making accessory. If you’re on a limited budget and you’ve never made bread before, a bread machine might be your best bet because you can usually get a basic bread machine for less than $100.
No one who loves being in the kitchen likes to think about how much money they have to spend, but it’s something that has to be considered. In fact, unless you have a truly unlimited budget, it is easy to make this important decision, yet money considerations are usually crucial when deciding between a bread machine and a stand mixer.
Bread Machine vs. Stand Mixer: More Details and Features
Finally, let’s take a look at a few important features and which piece of equipment is the clear winner of the category.
Ease of Use
Winner: the bread maker. Let’s face it, nothing is easier than loading ingredients into a bread machine, pushing a few buttons, then letting the machine do all of the hard work for you. And a bread maker does indeed do everything, from kneading to letting the dough rise to baking the bread to perfection.
If you love simplicity and don’t want to spend too much time making extraneous decisions, a bread machine is perfect for you. In fact, some bakers don’t even feel like “real” bakers since the process is so easy, but they always enjoy the end results!
Winner: the stand mixer. If you love being in your kitchen, you’ll appreciate the versatility of a stand mixer because of all the attachments that come with most of them. You can make bread, meringue, soft pretzels, rolls, cakes, and just about everything else with this type of mixer.
They’re a lot of fun to work with and allow your creative side to shine through, and you’ll love all of the tasty foods you can make without taking a long time and with only a handful of ingredients. If versatility is important to you, a good stand mixer is what you need.
Shape of the Bread
Winner: the stand mixer. Regardless of how great the bread tastes — and it’s always yummy! — many people simply don’t like the roundness and the unconventional shape of bread that has been baked in a bread machine.
With a stand mixer, you never have that problem because after the dough is made, you’ll be placing it in your own pans before popping it in the oven. With a stand mixer, you can therefore shape the bread any way you want it in the end.
Rise of Dough
Winner: the bread maker. Every step in the process is done to perfection when you use a bread machine to make homemade bread. With a stand mixer, temperature and humidity, along with user experience, can come into play and directly affect how the dough rises.
Bread makers don’t have that problem, which means that you’ll always have dough that rises perfectly and therefore makes a great loaf of bread once the process is complete.
Winner: the bread maker. Once again, consistency is so much more reliable when it comes to a bread machine, and this includes consistency in the texture of the bread. While you can learn to perfect the loaf texture if you use a stand mixer, this is done for you when you use a bread maker.
There is no guesswork and no worrying about the humidity, the type of ingredients you’re using, your level of experience, or anything else. Bread makers make perfect bread every time, providing you with the peace of mind you deserve.
Making bread is part art, part science, but unless you want to make homemade bread on your own, choosing the right piece of kitchen equipment can make the process so much easier. Choosing the right piece of equipment to buy is up to you, but at least you know you have some great options available to you.