Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread on a chilly spring morning. But to make the perfect loaf from scratch takes time, experience and hard work – unless you’ve got a bread maker.
Bread making machines can turn your humble kitchen into a bustling bakery with just a push of a button. And while we know it’s normally pretty easy to pick up a loaf from your local shop, there’s something really satisfying about making your own.
What’s more, if a weather-related crisis hits the supermarkets again, leaving shelves empty of essentials, a bread maker might just come to your rescue.
So whether you’re snowed in this Easter, left the shopping to the last minute or you just want to impress your guests, why not dust off your apron and whip up some homemade doughy treats instead?
Read on for four surprising ways a bread maker could come in handy this Easter.
Best bread makers for 2018 – see our top picks
1. Rustle up fresh bread when the shops run dry
All it takes is a flurry of snow and the entire country comes to a standstill. And as the dreaded ‘Beast from the East’ is predicted to return over the Easter break, there’s a chance that supermarkets will be left bare-shelved again. But don’t panic – if your local shop lets you down, just turn to your bread maker.
Using just four basic ingredients – yeast, flour, water and salt – you can get a simple loaf on the go in no time. Your machine does all the hard work of mixing, kneading, proving and baking the dough, leaving you with more time to get on with other chores before settling down to enjoy a slice of toast with your tea.
Perfect for those days when you might not be able to leave the house. *Cue the snow chaos.
When the weather lets you down, you need to be able to turn to a reliable machine to save the day. Find out which are the best and most reliable bread maker brands, as rated by owners and our independent tests.
2. Whip up some tasty hot cross buns
Your bread maker can make more than just loaves. Mixing up the ingredients and timings means you can churn out pizza bases, pasta dough and even the perfect Easter treat – hot cross buns.
But for those of you who haven’t heard the bad news, rumours of a potential currant shortage in the UK emerged late in February – threatening high prices for shop-bought hot cross buns and a scarcity of traditionally fruited options.
While we haven’t seen much evidence of dwindling bun supplies yet, it’s good to know that you can easily make your own buns in your bread maker. And if you can’t find a bag of currants, raisins or sultanas for love nor money, there are plenty of alternatives you can try. Why not throw in some dried cranberries, sour cherries or shredded apple instead? Or even blend two great Easter traditions and add some chunks of chocolate to the mix.
Keen to make your own? Check out our handy video guide to making bread maker hot cross buns below:
Head to the complete guide to making homemade hot cross buns for more advice and recipe tips.
3. Cheaper food intolerance friendly options
If you have a food intolerance, such as a gluten or lactose intolerance, supermarket bread is either off-limits or hideously expensive. Fortunately, being able to bake your own means you have total control over the ingredients and you can save on costly yet tiny ‘free-from’ loaves.
Lots of bread makers now have a gluten-free setting, and with a little creativity, you can adjust your traditional recipes to create a delicious and allergy-friendly spread. For example, when we tried out making hot cross buns in a bread maker, we made a lactose-free batch with soya milk and margarine and they turned out beautifully.
For more ideas and tips, see our guide to getting the most out of your bread maker.
4. Cook up a batch of simple strawberry jam
Yes, a bread maker can even make your own jam, too – the ideal condiment to accompany your freshly baked goods.
Like most other bread maker recipes, it’s really simple. All you need is fruit, sugar, lemon juice and pectin to help the jam set.
Just add all the ingredients, press the jam setting on your machine and wait. Always make sure you use gloves when removing the jam from the machine, as it can get very hot.
Bread maker features explained – find out more about the settings and features worth looking out for
Bread maker tips – what ingredients do you need for speedy bread making?
If you need to make bread in a hurry, these are the ingredients worth stashing in your store cupboard:
- Caster sugar
- Fast action dried yeast
- Bread flour
Each machine will differ slightly so always check the manual for recommended basic recipes and instructions to ensure you get the best results every time.
Bread maker reviews – compare popular models from Kenwood, Lakeland, Panasonic and Sage.
How to store your homemade bread
Shop-bought bread typically will last longer due to the addition of preservatives, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
To get the most out of your freshly made loaf, you should allow it cool completely before wrapping it. Then keep it stored in a bread bin or cupboard to protect it. If you want to do a batch of baking, then freezing is also a great option.
Still got questions? We’ve answered your top bread maker queries, so you can decide whether a bread maker is right for you and what type you need.