My wife and I decided to purchase a kitchen appliance that I have heard a lot about, but never got a chance to try: a bread maker. And I've known several people who have had one, used it for a while, then put it in storage somewhere in the basement. Well, after doing a little research on the topic, I found one machine which met the majority of our requirements, the Cuisinart CBK-200:
The fairly large box holds several items, including:
- The CBK 200 bread maker
- The loaf pan
- The kneading paddle
- A measuring cup for liquids
- A measuring spoon for solids
- An instruction/recipe book
In essence, the bread maker is a fairly simple machine; an enclosed oven with a mixing system within the baking pan. With some simple programming, a timer and a thermostat, the bread maker can mix the dry and wet ingredients, knead them into dough, let the dough rise in a temperature-controlled environment (for as little or a long as required by a specific recipe) and finally bake the dough into delicious bread. One of the nice features is the inclusion of a convection cooking system, which allows for more even baking temperatures, and nicer shaped breads.
The CBK-200 is similar to many other bread makers. It uses a horizontal pan with the mixing paddle in the bottom to make loaves up to 2 lbs in size. Where it differs is with the exterior cladding of the machine, which in the case of the Cuisinart, is stainless steel, as opposed to the more common plastic of competing machines. Several setting buttons allow the user to vary the size of the loaf, the overall browning of the crust, and most importantly, allow various preparation methods, from basic white bread, to whole wheat and more.
We used it this evening to bake a basic white bread, using ingredients to make a 2 lbs loaf. The whole process, from start to finish was done in 3 hours and 15 minutes. Since we took the dough out at the indicated time to remove the mixing paddle, our first bread's shape left a little to be desired. But the taste was fantastic! The crust was golden and crispy, and we wound up eating half of our first bread pretty quickly!
We will continue to experiment with our new purchase, and will comment on our successes and failures at baking bread at home.