For a good few years I deliberated regarding whether to buy a bread machine, my primary concern was that it would be a white elephant. I heard tales from friends who have bread makers and don’t use them. In 2010 Cliff bought me a Russell Hobbs Breadman Jnr and I was in love from day 1. On average I used the machine 2 or 3 times a week. Sadly, although I was happy with the Russell Hobbs, I ended up being very disappointed with the quality. After just over 2 years the ‘stop/pause’ button stopped working and the seal started to show signs of deterioration. Before 3 years were up the seal had packed in completely and had to be replaced. I phoned Russell Hobbs and was immediately irritated when the lady who I spoke to said “That is a VERY old machine”, in my view under 3 years is very far from old. Compared to my 30+ year old Kenwood Chef, the Russell Hobbs was still a baby. I was told that the Breadman Jnr had been discontinued and that there were no seals available as spare parts, they had 1 complete pan with a seal at a price of R302.22, I lost my sense of humour at that point.
A very serious situation arose as this was the week before Easter and I needed a bread machine to make my hot cross bun dough. Normally I would shop around and wait for a special offer, but this could not wait, no shop bought hot cross buns can match my recipe. I remembered that when originally looking at bread makers, the Mellarware Ma Baker was highly acclaimed. A big draw card with Mellerware is that the machine comes with a 2 year warranty. I am certain that machines with a 1 year guarantee are made to last not much more than 1 year. I set forth to Pick ‘n Pay where I had smart shopper points available for spending.
I did not expect much difference when making bread but was amazed at the improvement in the bread from the Mellerware, I guess that the recipes are just a bit better. The loaves taste much better using their recipes. On this point I found that the brown bread recipe is not great but much better using 1 C brown bread flour and 2 C white bread flour. I also prefer the shape of the pan. Another plus is that the blade always stayed in the loaf with the Russell Hobbs, leaving a huge hole when pulled out. The blade of the Ma Baker does not get stuck in the bread and leaves a neat slit instead.
To those who don’t know much about bread makers here’s a quick run down. To make bread prep time is 5 mins max, you chuck the ingredients into the pan which has a kneading blade at the base, set it for the cycle you want and when it’s done out comes a baked loaf of bread. The smell while it is baking is heavenly. I also get great use out of the dough cycle making naan bread, cinnabons (awesome!), vetkoek dough, hot cross buns (the best) & these pizza bases made with beer or the recipe in the book. Bread rolls are also very easy to make using the dough cycle. The machine has a timer, before bed you can set it to have bread ready in the morning and it kicks into action while you sleep.
Another thing which makes it a real winner is that we often go away on self catering holidays, these places are often not near to a good shop and finding bread and rolls was always a bit of a hassle. When we go away the bread maker comes on holiday with us. I have however learned from experience to travel with the pan separate, the vibrations of the car seem to play a part in messing up the seal of the pan if you travel with it locked into the machine
Update 2/7/15 – In March, when the machine was just on 1 year old the seal of the pan came undone, the pan was still usable but I had to put start the cycle immediately, no delayed starts and some liquid would seep through the bottom, this put me off using the machine. I delayed doing anything about the problem because when the seal of my previous Russell Hobbs pan went, the replacement cost of over R300 made it more practical to replace the machine than to replace the pan. Last week Cliff bought a new pan from Mellerware at a cost of R120 which was a very fair price and worth while. I’m delighted to have the machine back in action and regular use.