Review: Do you need a breadmaker in your kitchen?
A long-term review and my impressions of the Tefal "Bread of the World" – the pros and cons of having a breadmaker at home
To bread or not to bread
When the pandemic started, there was a huge uncertainty around lockdown. We've never had those before, nobody knew the eventual extent of it, and when the first COVID cases emerged in Bulgaria, and talks of a possible lockdown were in place, I decided to take measures towards self sufficiency. My motives were simple – we could order every single food online, but I wasn't a fan of packed bread. They usually contain a slew of weirdly named chemicals to keep them fresh for longer. So I decided to buy a new breadmaker. We've had one in the past, but it was rarely used, never for actual bread, and the quality of the end result coming out of it was low (it was a cheap off-brand maker).
So in the middle of March 2020, my new kitchen gadget arrived. This time I've spared no expense and bought Tefal PF6118/38 (product number may vary in different markets) or poetically called "Bread of the World". Let's take a detailed look about the message in the name.
Unboxing... from a year ago
Things in the box are fairly straight forward. You get the maker, the pan, two mixing paddles, measuring cup, double-sided measuring spoon (teaspoon and tablespoon sizes), kitchen brush, pastry knife, and a small metal hook to get the paddles out if they are stuck inside the bread for some reason. What I wasn't expecting and was a pleasant surprise – the inclusion of ciabatta and baguette baking trays. As far as the paperwork goes, there's plenty to read from the large manual, including something incredibly important – a warning about making the first bread, that says it won't be anything special. I'm guessing it's due to the use of the heating elements for the first time, but Tefal are correct in their warning. But then if you haven't read that, you might think the breadmaker is just plain bad, when that's really not the case.
There is also a warning about the maximum amount of flour you can put in, because the motors that are moving the paddles do not have endless torque. The good news – that maximum is well above most breadmakers on the market. So kudos goes to Tefal for putting some strong motors inside.
Even more good news is the book with recipes that's included. It contains very diverse content from around the world, as well as recipes for cakes, organic/bio/vegan breads, dough for pizza, dough for various kinds of pasta, ciabatta, baguette, grissini breadsticks, brioche buns and even a recipe for a homemade fruity jam. In a year I've tried every single one of those . . and then some, from the web. So far everything was delicious and that's not an overstatement! And there's even a small booklet with photos of how to cut different pastry to forms. Tefal seriously haven't skipped anything!
The dashboard, sort of...! The usual signs of dust, wear and tear after using it daily.
Functions for everything but the kitchen sink
Cleverly, there is a default sticker in English on the lid for all the programs, but Tefal includes stickers on 15 different languages, conveniently 10% bigger than the default, so you can "change" your description language in a heartbeat, as I did. Starting with the basic layout, the controls are easy to understand and in a very logical order. On the left of the screen there is a button to choose your program and a smaller one below to choose the size of your bread. There are three sizes by weight – 750, 1000 and 1500 grams. Below the screen there are the + and - buttons for the delayed start function. On the right there is a start/stop button and below there's another one to choose the level of baking for your crust. The screen itself is a simple monochrome one, it shows the number of the program you've chosen, the weight of the bread and the level of the crust you've picked, along with the time left until your creation is ready.
There are 19 separate programs to choose from, including but not limited to gluten-free bread, bread without salt (for people with hypertension), various buns, baguettes etc. jams, dough (mixing only) and baking only. The last two are very useful if you just want to try a recipe from the web, because mixing and rising is separate with a static time of one hour and fifteen minutes, or you can use that to, say, make a Kozunak dough and bake it in the oven later. Meanwhile the baking time is controlled by you with the + and - buttons, depending on the recipe recommendations. There is a small glass windows on the lid to make a visual inspection when needed.
The result in practice, or whatever's left of it - bread with no crust (or rather super thin and soft, unlike any crust)
In practice: how does it work?
The delayed start is a very nice addition, because it unlocks the quiet mode of the Tefal, meaning you can put your ingredients before bedtime, set the timer for 8 hours and have a fresh bread for breakfast without even noticing the breadmaker working overnight. Works well enough, considering that breadmakers are notoriously noisy when mixing. This one is no exception, if you're not using the delayed start. The good news, it does the mixing between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the program. The average time to make a bread is around 3 hours, but there is the so called emergency bread program and recipe that does it in half that time, so you won't need to worry too much if you're a bit forgetful. And if you forget the ready bread inside, the breadmaker will keep it warm for up to 3 hours! A lot of the programs include things to be added (for instance olives for an olive bread) after the process is started, when the dough is almost ready, but there is a pleasant sound notification to remind you of that.
The large lid opens freely at every angle, so you won't have any issues getting the pan with the bread out. The rubber feet are gripping great, no matter the surface and they dampen all vibrations from the mixing, so you're safe – the breadmaker won't go for a walk on the table. The process of making a bread is as simple as putting the required ingredients in the pan and pressing the button.
If your space for small kitchen appliances is as tight as mine, you may run out completely...
Do you need one in your life?
Let's see what are the pros and cons of owning a breadmaker.
The pros for me were a higher degree of independence, wider choice for everybody's taste (most of the recipes are not found in any bakery) and the improvement of healthy eating, because you only put natural ingredients and no weirdly named chemicals. Ah, and the aroma of freshly baked bread in the house is fantastic!
I can honestly say that buying this breadmaker was one of my better decisions and during the lockdown (there was only one as such in Bulgaria) and it changed my life for the better. It was even entertaining and exciting to try the whole lot of different recipes. And surprisingly so far, every single one worked. Cleaning the thing is very easy, because you only have to deal with the pan and the paddles, which are coated in some patented material that nothing ever sticks to.
The cons... I have to be really nitpicking here. Until you get the hang of it, the bread does not come out easy from the pan. I would say the first week or two, you may use some swearing (which doesn't help) while trying to get the bread out. It's noisy when mixing, but then every single breadmaker is. And the outside is made of shiny black plastic, which is a fingerprint magnet. And as every kitchen appliance, it requires space. It is not small in any way! But this is really nitpicking.
Do you need one in your kitchen? That's your decision to make. I hope my review would help you decide and also pick the the best option for your taste. I would highly recommend picking Tefal 6118/38 "Bread of the World", because of my personal experience with using it every single day. Prices at the time of writing are around £180/€210/$250.
DISCLAIMER: The content of the box and the recipes in the book may very in different regions!