If you’ve ever fancied trying your hand at making sourdough bread, you might be tempted to use a bread machine to make this lengthy task a little bit easier.
However, not all bread machines are good for making sourdough, as this specialist bread requires handling very carefully. With so many bread machines on the market, how do you choose the right one for making sourdough?
What are the best bread machines for sourdough? The best bread machines for sourdough are ones that either have a sourdough program setting, or those where you can customize the settings to bake sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than bread baked with conventional baker’s yeast, and will not bake properly on a normal loaf setting.
Read on to learn what makes the best bread machines for sourdough and find the one that suits your bread making needs.
What Is Sourdough, And How Is It Different From Other Bread?
Sourdough has long been a firm favorite amongst artisan bread bakers and is fast becoming popular in mainstream grocery stores too. This bread is made using a very different technique to standard bread and can be very tricky to master.
Bread is made using yeast which ferments within the dough, creating little bubbles of carbon dioxide.
It is these magical bubbles that make our loaves light and airy! The gluten within the flour holds these bubbles within the dough, so they don’t all rise to the top and burst.
The yeast in standard bread is normally fresh or dried baker’s yeast.
These are ready-to-use, fast-acting yeast, that starts to ferment as soon as it is added to the other bread ingredients. You will be able to buy bread yeast from most grocery stores.
Sourdough is a whole different story, for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, you will not be able to buy the yeast to make sourdough at the store, as this is something you make yourself at home.
And this is not a quick process! Making a sourdough starter (the active fermenting yeast used to make sourdough) takes several weeks.
The process involves adding flour to water and leaving it in a warm place in the hope that it will start to ferment.
For this to happen, it needs to be colonized by naturally-occurring yeasts. Some people help the process along by adding high-yeast ingredients such as apple peel.
If your sourdough starter starts to show signs of life, it will then need carefully nurturing—this is more like a pet than an ingredient! It will need to be kept at the perfect temperature, and fed with fresh flour every day.
But if you manage to pull off this magical feat (and many have tried and failed!), you’ll be rewarded with the primary ingredient for the most flavorsome bread you have ever made.
Plus, once you’ve completed this initial process, your starter can live for many years, taking on a unique flavor profile. Many people name their sourdough starters, and even take them on holiday with them!
When it comes to baking bread, the process is very different when making sourdough. It takes much longer than normal bread, normally from 24-48 hours.
You need to plan ahead, as your sourdough starter will need feeding around 4-8 hours before you want to do this. Many people do this in the evening, so it is ready to start baking the following day.
The active starter is then used to make bread dough, but again this takes much longer. Sourdough gives a long, slow rise, and in cooler temperatures, you may be waiting for up to 12 hours for a single rising cycle.
Warmer temperatures can reduce this down to 2-4 hours, but this is not a process that can be rushed.
So, as you can see, sourdough bread is very different indeed from standard bread recipes! We are going to need a bread machine with very specific features to get the best results when baking sourdough bread.
If you’re interested in making your own sourdough starter, check out this informative video from Joshua Weissman!
What Is A Bread Machine?
Bread machines are wondrous creations that have brought freshly baked homemade bread into many kitchens.
A bread machine takes all the work, hassle, and mess out of baking bread, enabling even the most novice baker to turn out a delicious homemade loaf.
Most bread machines consist of a solid metal loaf tin, that sits inside the machine. At the bottom of this tin is an electric paddle, which mixes the ingredients and kneads the dough.
The heating element inside the machine firstly warms the dough while it proves, then heats up to oven temperature to bake the loaf.
The technique for using a bread machine is fairly simple. The ingredients are all weighed out and added to the loaf tin, normally liquids first then dried ingredient, but check your machine instructions carefully.
The paddle then mixes the ingredients together to form a stiff dough. This is then kneaded by the paddle for several minutes, stretching the dough and making it soft and pliable.
Once the dough is ready, it is gently warmed to stimulate the yeast to begin the process of fermentation. This causes the bread to rise, as the yeast release gases and creates air bubbles in the dough.
The final stage involves rapidly heating the loaf tin, creating a mini-oven inside the machine. The bread then bakes to perfection, resulting in a soft fluffy loaf with a delicious crust.
All you have to do then is take the loaf tin from the machine and tip out your freshly baked loaf!
How Is A Bread Machine For Sourdough Different?
If you want to use a bread machine to make sourdough loaves, there are a few things you need to bear in mind.
Sourdough bread takes much longer to rise than bread baked with baker’s yeast. This means your bread machine will need very specific settings to be able to make sourdough bread.
There are two ways in which you can do this. Firstly, you might be able to find a bread machine that has a sourdough setting. This will be carefully tailored to create the perfect conditions for baking a sourdough loaf.
The other option is to use a bread machine that has the option to manually adjust the program settings to allow you to bake sourdough bread.
This means you need a machine that has customizable programs to firstly knead and prove the dough, and then bake the loaf.
For this, you have various options. You can set your machine to “dough only”, and allow it to knead the loaf and begin the proving process.
A customizable dough-only setting will allow you to extend the proving time, making it possible for the sourdough to prove in the machine.
If you don’t have the option to extend the proving time, you can take the loaf tin out and pop it in a warm place until the sourdough has doubled in size.
Then you either bake the loaf in your conventional oven or return it to the bread machine and bake it on the ‘bake only’ setting.
How To Choose The Best Bread Machines For Sourdough
There is such a wide variety of bread machines available that sometimes it becomes overwhelming to choose one for your specific needs. There really is a huge range of models with different features to choose from!
If you are on the hunt for a bread machine for sourdough, here is what you should take into consideration.
Ease Of Use And Versatility
If you’re looking for a new kitchen gadget, the number one priority for most people is ease of use. Your new bread machine for sourdough should be easy and comfortable to use without making any unnecessary mess.
Firstly, the loaf tin should be easy to remove and replace inside the machine. It should disassemble easily for cleaning and must be made from a durable non-stick material to prevent the loaf from sticking to the pan.
It is also a good idea to look for a bread machine with simple settings, that will allow you to bake a range of different types of bread. As lovely as sourdough is, sometimes you might want to bake something different!
Quality Of Product
There is no point splashing out on a new bread machine if it breaks within a couple of months! Buying a cheap, poor-quality product is a false economy, as you will inevitably end up replacing it after a short time.
Look for a bread machine from a reputable manufacturer, ideally with a long warranty in case of any malfunctions.
The 7 Best Bread Machines For Sourdough
There are so many bread machines to choose from, it can be tricky picking out the best ones to make sourdough! Below are our top picks for the 7 best bread machines for sourdough.
|KBS 17-in-1 Touch Panel Bread Machine With Dual Heaters & Ceramic Pan
|17 function bread machine with sourdough setting
|Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread Maker
|High-quality bread machine with customizable settings
|Kitchenarm 29-In-1 Smart Bread Machine With Gluten Free Setting
|A low budget model with a huge range of functions
|Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker
|A compact bread machine perfect for smaller kitchens
|Yedi Total Package 19-in-1 Bread Maker
|Small yet versatile bread machine with a range of accessories
|Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Bread Machine
|Simple and easy to use, perfect for a novice baker
|Neretva 20-in-1 Stainless Steel Bread Machine
|A super stylish machine with a range of different functions
1. KBS 17-in-1 Touch Panel Bread Machine With Dual Heaters & Ceramic Pan
Of all the bread machines for sourdough we’ve reviewed, this model topped the list because it comes with a huge range of functions, including a natural sourdough setting!
This versatile bread machine allows you to bake loaves in three different sizes, with the option to choose programs for loaves such as sourdough, gluten-free, whole wheat, white, French, and many more.
You can also use it to make pizza dough, jam, cake, and yogurt.
It has an innovative dual heating system, ensuring that the bread bakes evenly from top to bottom. The non-stick ceramic pan is easy to remove and clean.
All in all, this bread machine really does have it all!
2. Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread Maker
Breville has long been a market leader in kitchen gadgets, and this bread machine represents top quality in the bread-making world.
Whilst it is certainly not the cheapest on our list, if you are serious about making good bread regularly then this machine would be a worthwhile investment.
This bread machine does not have a sourdough setting but does have separate dough and bake settings as well as fully customizable functions.
And unlike most bread machines, the kneading paddle retracts once the bread is ready to bake, so you don’t end up with a hole in the bottom of your loaf!
3. Kitchenarm 29-In-1 Smart Bread Machine With Gluten Free Setting
We love how many functions are packed into this bread machine, all at an incredible price!
With 29 different program settings, you can make a huge range of different loaves of bread and fermented food products using this versatile bread machine.
When it comes to making sourdough, it has several options available. You can use the sourdough starter setting to get your sourdough underway, and the sourdough function to bake your loaf.
If you want more control over the process, use the separate settings for kneading, proving, and baking to create the perfect sourdough loaf.
4. Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker
If you’re in a house with a small kitchen, it can feel like most kitchen gadgets take up far too much space!
But this compact bread maker packs so many functions into a small machine, we think it is well worth finding a bit of worktop space to fit it in.
The Cuisinart Compact bread machine is also incredibly simple to use, with just a few basic settings options.
Don’t let this fool you though—it is still capable of producing a great sourdough loaf, by using a combination of the dough and bake settings.
5. Yedi Total Package 19-in-1 Bread Maker
You know how you start a new hobby and then realize you need a whole bundle of accessories to go with it?
Well, this Yedi bread machine is not called the “total package” without good reason!
Not only does it have 19 pre-programmed settings, enabling you to bake a delicious sourdough loaf, but it also comes with all the accessories you may need.
These include a measuring cup and spoon, dough hook, stirring rods, silicone mitts, and a handy dispenser for fruit and nuts.
6. Hamilton Beach Digital Programmable Bread Machine
Hamilton Beach is renowned for its ability to produce kitchen gadgets that are simple, functional, and produce great results without breaking the bank.
The separate dough and bake settings on this machine will enable you to bake sourdough that is packed full of flavor, with minimal fuss and effort.
It features three different crust settings and can make either 1.5lb or 2lb loaves. And when you get bored of making bread, you can try out the jam and cake settings instead!
7. Neretva 20-in-1 Stainless Steel Bread Machine
Finally, someone has developed a bread machine that doesn’t look like some kind of laboratory equipment!
This stylish green stainless steel bread machine would look great in any kitchen, and it also happens to bake perfect bread too.
It is packed full of great features, including variable crust settings, and a range of customizable program settings. If you want style without compromising on functional ability, this machine is the one for you.
Up Next: 9 Best Low Sodium Crackers