I love the taste of fresh bread. Of course who doesn’t?
About fifteen years ago I had a bread maker, and I loved to make bread and serve it to my family. The whole house smells absolutely delicious when bread is baking in an oven or a bread making machine. But baking bread in a breadmaker is much easier than making it from scratch. I recently received an Oster Expressbake 2 lb. Breadmaker as a Christmas gift from my husband and here is my review:
The Instruction Booklet
I was excited to open the box and remove the breadmaker from it’s packaging. Then I started to read the very detailed instruction booklet and panic began to set in. The Oster 2 lb Expressbake Breadmaker comes with a 79 page instruction booklet! As I started to read it, I grew concerned that one mistake could ruin the whole loaf of bread.
First you are instructed to remove all the breadmaker parts and wash them with mild soap and water and then dry them. Then you are given a list of instructions, a review of the breadmaker settings, and a series of 28 recipes for an assortment of breads, rolls, coffee cake, pizza crust and pasta. Yes, you can actually make pasta with this breadmaker. But you are actually only using it to make the dough for the pasta. For this review I will stick with the bread.
Although I had wanted to start with the traditional white bread recipe, I had forgotten to purchase the powdered milk needed to make that particular type of bread. So I instead chose Country White Bread.
The ingredients needed are: warm milk, butter, 1 egg, salt, sugar, active dry yeast, and bread flour (you must have actual bread flour to make bread in this breadmaker, not just regular flour, but it is available in most grocery stores). The instructions are very specific on what ingredients must go first. And you are warned that the yeast must never touch any of the liquid that goes into the breadmaker or your bread will not rise properly. There is also a warning in the instructions that you must measure everything exactly, including leveling each ingredient off with a knife before pouring it into the breadmaker.
I was really panicking as I was doing this because I wanted this first loaf to turn out well, and the instructions scared me due to the attention to detail that was required. Following the directions, I completed adding all the ingredients in the correct order. Once I put everything into the bread pan, I had to insert it into the breadmaker itself.
Next I had to select the size loaf I wanted: 1 lb., 1.5 lbs. or 2 lbs.. I also had to select the color of the crust, light, medium or dark. There was a little black line next to the choices that showed up as I clicked on my choices, but I couldn’t see it. My husband came over to help me, but started clicking on the wrong buttons. I wanted to make a basic loaf, and we found out half way through the baking that he had actually changed the setting to French bread. But he did notice the little black line for the other choices that I had been changing and couldn’t see. With his help, I chose the 1.5 pound size loaf and the medium crust.
The End Result
Once all the settings were completed, I just pushed the start button and the machine started. There was nothing left to do but sit back and wait. It took ninety minutes before we could start smelling the delicious scent of baking bread. The whole baking time was three hours and thirty minutes.
The end result, as you can see in the picture was interesting. Although I chose the medium crust, the picture shows that the top crust came out very light. This may have something to do with my husband accidently choosing the French bread setting.
Once the bread is done and comes out of the breadmaker, you are instructed to wait 15 minutes before slicing and eating. I am impressed that this machine has a warmer in it and after the bread is done baking, it will keep the bread warm for up to an hour. The confusing thing about this feature though is that the booklet suggests you not use this feature and serve the bread as soon as possible. My question is why have this feature if you don’t want the buyer to use it?
I allowed the bread to cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes and spread butter and jelly on it. While it was fresh, there was not much taste to it. I was disappointed but can’t say for sure if it was our mistake or the fault of the breadmaker.
This breadmaker is not for the faint of heart. The instructions are very detailed and need to be followed carefully. It might take a few tries to get this breadmaker down.
I have high hopes that the next few tries will result in better tasting bread. And I am impressed that it offers so many other options besides bread, so that is a plus. For people that don’t have a lot of time to learn how to use a new machine, this may not be the right choice for you.
By Karen Hellier