Hamilton Beach Artisan Bread Maker: Pros and Cons for Gluten-Free Baking
Searching for a Bread Maker for Gluten-Free Baking
We began baking gluten-free bread eight years ago, when our son was diagnosed with Celiac disease. We found that the commercially made gluten-free breads in the stores were expensive, so we started baking our own at home.
The problem, however, was that it was taking quite a bit of time. To make a week's worth of bread for our family, we were spending about three hours per week on this task alone. We thought about getting a bread machine to speed up the process, but making a good gluten-free bread can be tricky. Even though some machines claim to have special gluten-free settings, they seemed to get less than excellent reviews.
I had heard the Hamilton Beach name from other home bread bakers, and I had read some very positive testimonials from people who were using their machines to make gluten-free bread. However, I anxious about whether it could truly handle this type of bread. I was also concerned about the cost, since these machines aren't cheap.
One day, we had lunch at my brother-in-law’s home. They laid an absolutely stunning, still warm, very fresh, and unbelievably delicious loaf of bread on the table . . . which they revealed had been made in their recently purchased Hamilton Beach bread maker. Their family doesn't eat gluten-free, but it was at that point that I decided to give it a go, despite the cost. I hoped that it would save our family a lot of time each week—and allow us to bake our own stunning bread, too.
Combining Old and New Recipes
Now, our family hardly ever chooses to do things the easy way. When the new bread maker arrived, we looked through the recipes they suggested for the gluten-free setting, and we compared them to the recipes we've been using for the past eight years. We decided to mix elements of our own favorite recipes with some of theirs.
I realize that it would certainly have made good sense to get an idea of what the bread maker could do with its suggested recipes before starting to experiment with our own (or before mixing and matching), but as I said, we don't tend to do things the easy way!
A Success From the Start
You can imagine our family's anticipation when the first loaf came out of the machine. It didn't look very pretty since it had a flattish top, but that was my fault for flattening it out before it went into the machine. Despite its less-than-perfect appearance, however, the loaf itself had baked uniformly, had a great texture, and tasted terrific! There was much applause as well as a little dancing in our home.
Experimenting With Different Settings
We've now been using this bread maker for four months, and in that time, we've made many loaves of gluten-free bread.
We started out by using the standard gluten-free setting. Over time, we began experimenting with the various other cycles, and we've begun choosing the "homemade" cycle more frequently. After getting the cycle time on this setting right, we are now unquestionably making the best gluten-free bread we've ever produced.
How to Use the Bread Maker
It's very easy to use this machine. There are basically just three steps:
- Add Ingredients
- Select Cycle
- Press Start
Specs and Features
- Size: This is a large bread maker (12" x 9" x 14") and will certainly use up quite a bit of counter area (think tiny microwave). However, if you bake bread frequently, the advantages outweigh the lost counter space.
- Weight: It’s quite a heavy machine (10 pounds), but we think this is a positive feature. To us, it means it's a strong, well-constructed machine. There are no thumping sounds, like we’ve read about with cheaper machines.
- Noise: You will hear a gentle "whirring" sound. When we first heard it, we checked it in case something was wrong, but we realized the machine was just kneading the dough. There were no loud mechanical noises.
- Bottom of the loaf: The blades do leave holes in the bottom of the bread, but this doesn't bother me. The bread frying pan is also heavier than the cheaper ones (so I've read) and also well constructed. Clearly, a well made bread maker!
- Customizable loaf size: You can tailor your bread by size (1, 1.5, or 2 pounds).
- Customizable loaf color: You can select light or dark crust.
- Delayed start timer: This feature lets you add the ingredients and begin the baking process later, which is excellent for breakfast as well as entertaining.
- Time savings: The time savings is unbelievable. We’re down from three hours a week to about 15 minutes. All that's needed now is the time it takes to gather, measure, and add the ingredients—about five minutes total.
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoon
- Kneading paddle and paddle-removing tool
- User guide with recipes and baking suggestions from the Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen
14 Program Cycles
- Basic: For white and mixed breads made with bread flour
- French: For light bread made from fine flour
- Gluten-Free: For gluten-free flours and bread mixes
- Whole-Grain: For breads with a heavy flour, such as whole wheat or rye
- Express 1.5lb: For a 1.5-pound loaf in 1 hour and 20 minutes using quick-rising yeast
- Express 2lb: For a 2-pound loaf in 1 hour and 55 minutes
- Quick: For recipes that do not use yeast
- Sweet: For breads with fruit juices, dried fruit, chocolate, or added sugar
- Dough: Prepares a variety of yeast doughs such as buns, pizza crusts, etc., to be baked in a conventional oven
- Cake: For kneading, rising, and baking with the aid of baking soda or baking powder
- Jam: Make jams with fresh fruit
- Rise: Use for rising doughs or speed method for frozen bread dough
- Bake: Use for baking dough after rising or when breads need more baking time
- Artisan: A long, cool rise to develop flavors and texture for doughs to be baked in a conventional oven
Gluten-Free Bread Recipes in the User Guide
Yes, all of these recipes are totally gluten-free!
- Wild Rice Bread
- Cafe Au Lait Bread
- Flaxseed Bread
- Soy Milk Bread
- Italian Natural Herb Bread
- Cornmeal Bread
- Raisin Bread
- Delicious Chocolate Bread
- Walnut Bread
- Apple Oat Bread
What are the dimensions?
Approximately 12" x 9" x 14" deep.
What is the weight?
Can I use all-purpose flour?
I've found all-purpose flour tastes better than bread flour.
Is the interior baking bowl stainless steel?
The bowl is an aluminum alloy with a nonstick coating. The paddle is also 100% aluminum alloy with nonstick coating.
Does it make good 1lb loaves?
I've made only 1.5lb and 2lb loaves. I'm sure it would make a great 1lb loaf.
Can I use whole wheat flour?
Yes. I've successfully used whole wheat flour many times.
Is a user manual included?
Yes. It's very informative and includes great great tips, as well.
Can I make sourdough?
Yes, you just need a starter.
Can I make banana bread?
I haven't tried it, but the user manual does include a banana bread recipe.
Is there a dispenser for nuts and fruit?
No, but you can add them at the end and. It mixes them very well.
Can it make other baked goods, besides bread?
Yes. I've made cinnamon rolls and other rolls. I believe it can make cakes, too.
What is the warranty period?
Our Family's Verdict
If you make bread at home, whether gluten-free or traditional, this bread maker is worth every cent. Yes, it's around three times more expensive than other bread machines, but the quality of the bread is phenomenal. We've gone from spending three hours per week baking bread to just five minutes, and we've been more than satisfied with its ability to handle gluten-free baking.