1) No Good Answer Yet; How We Can Change That
Regardless of how much you're willing to pay, there is no bread machine currently on the market that has all of the ideal features for making gluten-free bread. At the moment, manufacturers of the 3.5 million bread machines sold annually in the U.S. think that Celiacs are too small a market share to warrant designing a machine especially for us. To change that situation you should join our List Owners in supporting Celiac research to prove that this disease is more prevalent than previously believed. If you live in the U.S., there is a simple way to do that. For information send an email request to: email@example.com or contact:
Most bread machines cannot mix our heavy dough well enough, or they continue to mix it in such a way that the air fizzles out of it. Our doughs prefer only one kneading and one rising cycle, whereas gluten-containing doughs prefer two rising cycles. Thus we want machines with thick strong paddles that mix thoroughly but can be programmed to rise only once.
A wonderful woman named Glenna at the extremely helpful Red Star Yeast Company (1-800-423-5422) has tested many machines and declares that the following will mix our GF dough adequately:
* Welbilt models 3600, 4800, 6800 (Welbilt models 3300 and 4000 mix well but don't allow you to cut out the second rising cycle; the Welbilt 4800 is under $100 and mixes fantastically but requires that you be present at the right time to skip the second rising and instead direct the machine to go directly to the baking cycle);
* Toastmaster 1195;
* Regal 6750, 6751, 6760, 6762.
But all of these above-named machines require more babysitting than I am willing to provide. With some of them you need to be present mid-way through the process to tell the machine to skip the second rising and go directly to baking. And none of them has a fan-assisted cool-down cycle, as explained below.
3) Cool Down Cycles & Avoiding Babysitting Your Machine
If you don't remove your bread promptly after baking, it will get soggy and could also lose flavor. To prevent that problem, you must have a fan-assisted cool-down cycle or be present at the moment the bread is completed (and be careful not to burn yourself as you remove the hot pan). None of Red Star's recommended machines has a fan-assisted cool-down cycle to allow you to let the bread sit in the machine until you return home or wake up or whatever. (Someone suggested just letting the dough sit in the machine on a delayed program so that it would finish baking at a convenient time, but that's dangerous if the recipe contains eggs that can spoil).
On the other hand, some of you pointed out that gluten-free dough sometimes rises over the top of the pan and drips down onto the heating element (depending on that day's humidity, temperature, or amount of water in the recipe), making a mess and possibly risking fire if you are not carefully monitoring it. My old Dak machine dripped over and made a burned mess, though it didn't start any fire.
As several people put it, if you have to be there to watch or direct the process anyway, you might as well skip using a bread maker altogether and just buy a heavy-duty mixer, so you can mix and bake your bread yourself. (Or mix the dough by hand). That way you can avoid the blade-impression at the bottom of the pan, you can get a truly "normal" looking loaf, and you can save some dough (double meaning intended) to make rolls.
Personally, I'm willing to risk a lot in exchange for the convenience of just throwing the ingredients into a machine and coming back three to twelve hours later to find a decent loaf of bread waiting.
Apparently the machines that mix really well AND have automatic cool-down cycles are no longer manufactured nor available (e.g. the Welbilt Multilogic, which despite its round pan may have been as close to a perfect machine as we've yet seen).
4) The Zojirushi S15 -- my choice for now
I finally bought the Zojirushi BBCC-S15 last week at a small local shop for $240. I hear you can order it from the Gluten-Free Pantry in Connecticut at 860-633-3826 or from King Arthur Flour at 800-827-6836. It has an automatic cool-down cycle but is *not* one of the machines that Red Star thought mixed our doughs particularly well. But in her third book, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy, Bette Hagman recommended it as having "worked well with our heavy flours." See pages 43 - 47 of the hardcover edition; the paperback edition is expected to come out in September.
The Zojirushi S15 is the only machine Bette recommended that has the helpful cool-down cycle and is still on the market. Many of you wrote me that you use and are satisfied with this machine.
Besides the opinion that some other machines mix better, drawbacks of the S15 are that some people find it complicated to program, and you have to babysit it the first time you use it to program it for subsequent uses. (I know three people who bought this machine and then for a long time were too intimated to use it). Bette Hagman mentions that it is tricky to adjust the proper amount of liquid in this machine. And even Zojirushi admits that some folks seem to have trouble inserting the kneading pin properly, so it either falls out or gets stuck.
I used it for the first time today and thought that it mixed the dough adequately but not terribly well (I could see some unmixed bits as the dough was rising). I do not know if that is what caused the bread to fall about an inch and a half into the pan. But all in all, the bread turned out OK. The kneading pin did not present any problems, and I did not find the instructions too difficult (particularly since I used Bette Hagman's book as a guide).
5) A New Machine Not Yet Out
Zojirushi says that beginning in August 1997 it will market a new machine, Model BBCC V20, that has *two* thicker paddles (no kneading pin), a horizontally placed rectangular pan, and a fan-assisted cool-down cycle, at the suggested retail price of $250. Double-paddled machines tend to mix very well, so perhaps this will be the machine we are waiting for. It's too soon to know. Zojirushi's phone number is 800-733-6270.
6) Other Reports of Satisfaction
Some Listers reported satisfaction with models that were not recommended by Red Star Yeast nor by Bette Hagman (because they reportedly don't mix well or can't be programmed to skip the second rising cycle). Yet the Listers liked their machines, including:
* Oster Breadmaker 4812, with a cool-down fan and rectangular pan (make sure you get one with the thick solid-cast pan), sometimes available under $100;
* Goldstar two-pound-loaf model.
FOR MORE INFORMATION LOOK IN OUR LISTSERV FILES under bread recipes.
7) Other Usage Tips
Some Listers suggested: * mixing the dry ingredients in advance to save time (and separately mixing the wet ingredients ahead of time if you are willing to refrigerate and then re-warm them); * wrapping warm bread in a towel for an hour before slicing to help dissipate heat.
Thank you to all who helped assemble this information! I received so many wonderful notes that I cannot thank each of you personally, but please know I truly appreciate your helpfulness.
And from now on, I plan to buy only Red Star brand yeast, to thank that company for being so helpful to Celiacs.
The recommendations were:
I decided to get the Regal for $70. It looks sturdy, has a strong metal paddle, and makes a 1.5 or 2 lb. loaf. It also has a "Super Rapid" option for only one rising - I figured this was the one to use for GF bread, since we don't need (or want) a second rising. But the instruction booklet said to use the Whole Wheat setting for GF bread - that's 4 hours long! I just ignored this, and used the Super Rapid setting instead.
It worked! I used the most basic rice bread recipe from the booklet, and mixed the ingredients in the pan for a few seconds at the beginning. Then I left it alone, and 69 minutes later I had a very decent loaf of bread.
So that's 4 votes for the Regal, once you add mine in. :)
To summarize, I'm including a couple comments which I'd call "general advice", and then I list the various machines that were mentioned, with the number of votes for each in parenthesis (if one vote, I don't list a number).
Here we go:
"You will get answers saying that this is that brand is best but anything that you can program to eliminate one of the risings will be good. It used to be that there were only one or two brands that you could do that with."
"I have a bread maker but the bread comes out very heavy. If I were you, I'd buy a good Kitchenaid mixer instead. You have to premix all the ingredients for our breads using a bread machine, so you dirty a lot of dishes anyways and the bread doesn't come out as well as when you use a mixer and bake it in the oven. Also, you can't leave our ingredients in the bread machine to bake whole you're at work because most of the recipes need eggs, so you don't save baking time either."
1. Regal Kitchen Pro breadmaker - Walmart (2)
2. The Westbend Bakery-Style (double-paddled for GF dough) - Sears/Canada
3. Little Breadman bread machine (with the Bette Hagman Light Rice Bread recipe)
4. Breadman Ultimate ("which is pretty programmable")
5. Zojurushi "said to be the best breadmaker for GF breads" (8)
Feedback to the Listowners.
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