on January 5, 2006
Don't let the negative reviews here fool you. This bread machine itself is great, and I can't believe how inexpensive! I picked it up for under $40 at Walmart only to see it is now $34 here on Amazon. It makes 1.5 or 2 lb loaves, has a jam setting, a "raisin beep" (signal to add fresh fruit and other ingredients during the second kneading), bake only (like cakes) and dough only (to mix in machine then bake in oven). Also has up to 13 hour delay so you can wake or come home to fresh bread.
It's the recipes that come in the booklet that are bad. They all have way too much yeast, which is a classic cause of fallen loaves. I can't imagine how they came up with recipes with so much yeast! To see what I mean, Sunbeam has all their bread machine instruction manuals available online at [...]
ANYhoo, I strongly suggest that if you've never made bread by hand before, pick up a good all-inclusive intro to bread machine baking book that includes recipes (I think Better Homes and Gardens and Betty Crocker both have well-rated ones on Amazon). Usually the front of these books include bread baking basics, regardless of whether you are using a machine. The booklets that come with bread machines have only a few very basic recipes anyway, like a crockpot instruction book. This machine is a sturdy, capable tool to use with a descent book. It's too bad the included free one is a dud!
Things to remember: you MUST measure carefully, even more so than with other baking. Don't use dry measure cups to measure your liquid ingredients. Fresh yeast AND flour are a must. Know that adding/substituting in yeast bread recipes is not as "OK" as with other baking.
Also, know that any bread machine is not as much of a "fix it and forget it" walk-away tool as a crock pot (at least, not if you want a perfect loaf every time). You need to check the dough during the second knead cycle to make sure it isn't too wet or dry (which will depend on the weather!). You may have to scrape the sides of the pan, or add additional ingredients (like fruit) later in the cycle. The bread machine is aimed at taking the physical labor out of breadmaking, and also conveniently bake in the same pan. Technically, the same can be accomplished with a heavy-duty mixer and a good oven.
on October 11, 2006
Not having owned a bread machine before, I did my online research and decided to try a reasonably priced "good-enough tester" machine... Well, I'm VERY glad that I decided to purchase this "more-than-good-enough" model!
This particular model is reasonably quiet while in operation, beeps after the 1st rest to indicate that it's time to add the nuts/raisins, etc., and beeps after the baking cycle is completed (if the bread is not removed from the machine as soon as it's done, it might lose moisture during the auto keep-warm cycle). I've twice made the following recipe with pine nuts and twice made pistachio-raisin bread (from "the Big Book of Bread Machine Recipes")--delicious.
The best part about this machine baking process is that it's not at all difficult in any way. Here is the typical baking process: Warm the liquid in a glass measuring cup in a microwave, stir in the salt/honey/sugar/butter in the warm liquid, pour the mixture into the baking pan, place the pan on the scale, adjust the scale to zero, add the required flour (1 cup flour = 4 to 4.5 oz), level the flour, add the yeast, twist to lock the pan into the breadmaker, plug in the breadmaker, select the crust color (best to try the "Light" color first), select the baking setting, after about 5 min. check the dough and add water/flour if necessary (very important step), remove the bread to a cooling rack as soon as it's done, then wipe the baking pan when it's cool enough. (It's helpful to have a portable timer on you to remind you to remove the bread, wherever you might be.)
The clean up is SO MINIMAL that the bread tastes just that much better! And, whenever we want oven-baked loaves, I'd simply use the breadmaker's dough cycle to lessen the clean up and do the rest as usual.
However, there are some negative aspects related to this bread machine:
1. The user manual is very uninformative for a new user, so don't even bother. Instead, buy "The BIG Book of Bread Machine Recipes" by Donna Rathmell German (on Amazon; 600 recipes from 5 of her bread machine cookbooks) or other bread machine cookbooks and rest assured that the resulting loaves will be enjoyable and varied.
2. On my machine, I had to make sure to select the "light" color, else the loaf gets too brown/too thick crusted.
3. So far, all 4 loaves have slightly caved/sunken/deflated as soon as the baking cycle kicked in. Although the loaves are just slightly sunken, and the appearance and taste were not affected in any way, I will try using less liquid than normal (for a firmer dough) or less yeast (to slow the dough expansion process for this machine) to prevent the sunken look next time.
Useful tips for new bread machine user:
1. Get a dependable scale, instant-read thermometer, and a liquid measuring cup--approximations might not work well when you're new at using bread machines.
2. For the basic cycle, if baking the bread right away, you can just place all the ingredients right into the baking pan regardless of the liquid-first order stated on the manual.
3. If adding additional flour/liquid to the baking pan, add carefully. Any spilled gunk on the bread machine's bottom or heating element might take some scrubbing if baked in.
4. If additional kneading time is desired, just stop and restart the machine for additional gluten development/knead time.
5. For the initial confidence-building 2-pound loaf, try this tested recipe (might have to set your Sunbeam to "Light" color): 1 1/3 cups milk and/or water, 2 tb honey/sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons butter, 4 cups bread flour (I used Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose), 1 1/2 teaspoons active yeast, 1/4 - 1/3 cup of pine nuts/other chopped nuts (optional). Remember to check the dough consistency after about 5 minutes and add liquids/flour if too wet or too dry.
6. If the bread dough is over-rising at the top of the bake pan, either:
a. simply scoop some dough carefully off the top, put the extra dough in a greased baking vessel of suitable size. Let dough rise a bit in the oven with the pilot light on, take dough out, preheat the oven at 350F-375F, spray some water in the oven to encourage crust formation, and then bake until the top is golden brown (internal temp. of about 180F to 200F); bake the other portion in the bread machine as usual; -OR-
b. remove dough from the machine completely-- separate the dough into two greased baking vessels of suitable size. Let dough rise a bit in the oven with the pilot light on, take dough out, preheat the oven at 350F-375F, spray some water in the oven to encourage crust formation, and then bake until the top is golden brown (internal temp. of about 180F to 200F).
7. Store bread in the freezer for fresh-tasting bread any time: divide the bread into serving portions, place in Ziplock bag(s), suck out/remove the air (but don't crush the bread), and store in the freezer; defrost (in the bag) in room temperature (or wrap the bread in a moist paper towel and microwave for a few seconds) before devouring. Make life even easier--bake extra loaves and freeze them.
Conclusion: If you like the taste of "just-baked" breads, but don't like the messy cleanups and the typical baking-related efforts => well, this one is worth the try, and it is worth the price. Just remember to get a bread machine recipe book and enjoy all the possibilities. Great machine!
Additional info (8/5/12): I now own two of this -- this review was for the first one, purchased from Amazon, for $40 at that time; the second one might have been purchased from Walmart a few months later for a few dollars more.
on November 26, 2005
Buy this unit. It makes bread, is durable, and cheap enough
to throw away. Above all, it is SO EASY TO USE.
This unit does what a breadmaker should do. I have now cooked over 200 loaves in 13 months. Very easy to use, minimal effort
required. Has proven durable for me. I unplug the unit when not in use.
My routine: pre pack six tubs with flour (50% white 50% whole wheat -- weighed on a weight watchers $10 scale ... which is much faster and easier than measuring the flour). Put in one cup of warm water, drop in one pre-packed tub (with flour, the smallest touch of salt, 1/2 the recommended sugar (brown)). Put in a dab of oil, and 1/2 the normal yeast for a firmer bread. Then add perhaps 1/2 a bananna or a peeled cored sliced apple, maybe some raisins, and some pecans. Best secret: Add a handful of frozen cranberrys. Choose program 5 (sweet), light color, 1.5 pound. Press start and come back three hours later.
Great bread for toast. Everybody likes the end product. Much better than store bread for less than $1 per loaf including the cost of the machine. I have now saved over $300.
We will never go back. I cannot find a reason to try any other machine. This unit does what is required.
Now the real benefit. One family member has suffered from headaches for 25 years. They stopped on the day I started making
bread. Apparently the headaches were gluten related --- I cannot explain it but we tried some store bread on her and the headaches returned. The headaches were very severe. Go figure!
on February 1, 2009
I retired last May and vowed my family would stop eating out so often, I would stop bringing carryout home so often, stop buying convenience foods at all, and start making everything from scratch, starting with homemade bread. This list in not as ambitious as it sounds, the transition was quite easy - and enjoyable - now that I am not working. (And we eat better and save a TON of money!)
My thumbs are very painful after 30 years of typing, and I'm not ready for surgery yet, so kneading is out. I decided to start with a bread machine, and after I have it mastered, will wean myself off it onto my (largely unused) KitchenAide. After a little research here, I decided to go to WalMart and buy the Sunbeam for $34. I knew not to use the manual, so I threw it away immediately & ordered both the Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook and the Bread Machine Magic from here, and used highly rated recipes from RecipeZaar until then.
Even with my research, I had a number of the problems others here mentioned, some seem unavoidable. I have tinkered with varying amounts of water, flour, yeast and salt, and still quite a few loaves fall on the 3 hour and longer cycles. The bottom is almost always too hard and dark on long cycles, even when set on light and removed immediately. It must heat unevenly, as many loaves on the Express cycle rise unevenly, lean to one side, and have a large crack on one side. None of which affects flavor and we love the loaves that come from this machine so much more than store bought that we have not bought ANY store bought for over 7 months. We make all sandwich and toasting bread, dinner rolls, hotdog and hamburger buns, pizza and calzone crust, soft pretzel dough, and dough for French, Italian, and sourdough loaves, baguettes and bread bowls, and sweet/dessert bread/cakes with this machine. I was inspired to start making all soft flour tortillas, naan, and other breads (that don't need a machine to mix them) from scratch also. This machine is so-o-o worth every penny! I was saddened to see that WalMart now sells them for $55, but it is still worth every penny, so I bought two more of them for Christmas, and my stepson and his fiance, and my niece both love theirs, too.
If money is a factor for you, and you want to start making homemade bread without a large investment, give this machine a try. Here are a few tips that will save you a lot of grief.
1. I set a rubber spatula next to the machine even before I put ingredients into the pan. No matter where you get your recipes from, watch the dough the first 5-10 minutes. Scrape the flour in the corners into the dough to avoid dry flour corners on the finished product. Make any needed adjustments to water and flour to get a perfectly smooth dough ball.
2. Don't open the lid to look at or touch the dough after that. It will affect the rising and baking, and the machine has a see-through top so you won't need to open it to look.
3. No matter what the recipe calls for, use Instant Dry Yeast for both Express Bake settings, and regular Active Dry Yeast for all other (full length) settings. You'll never get 2 or 3 rises out of the instant, and the active dry rises too slowly in loaves that are mixed, risen and baked in less than an hour. The Instant yeast is so cheap at Sam's, 2 pounds for a couple dollars, that we make 90% of our loaves on Express Bake now. Why wait three hours or more for bread you could be eating in an hour? (The Express bake loaves are also moister and last a day or two longer before being relegated to the toaster.)
4. I always use the light setting for everything. All the loaves I tried on Medium were over done with hard, dry, overbrown crust that had to be cut off. Check your clock before starting the loaf, to make sure you will be home when the loaf is done, and take the loaf out of the bread maker immediately, to avoid over browning of the bottom and sides.
5. I have two "Ove Gloves" which are easier to use than pot holders. I grab the wire handle, twist and lift, then invert the pan and hold onto the bottom with one glove and shake the loaf into the other gloved hand. I allow mine to cool on a cooling rack in open air for at least an hour before slicing, it allows moisture still in the middle of the loaf to come out through the crust, making it more tender, and slicing too soon will be messy, making crumbs a major issue.
6. After a couple loaves, my paddle also stuck to the post and I was thrilled not to have to dig it out of the hot bread. I burn my fingers every time when I have to dig it out, and the bottom of the loaf will have a tiny slit instead of a big dug out hole...yea! I only wipe the pan clean anyway, I consider its ease of cleaning to be a big bonus. No big soak in the sink and no dishwasher, so I left the paddle attached and was quite happy to get a half dozen more loaves before it came out with the loaf again...bummer :-( If you are like me and don't like to dig the paddle out of the finished loaf, avoid the delay settings, and try to not let the liquids you pour in first on regular loaves to sit too long, or the paddle will come out every time.
7. Some recipes that include several "moist" ingredients, particularly with buttermilk and fruits, are not appropriate for Express Bake, you will end up with an uncooked doughy layer just under the top crust. You could finish them in the oven, or just use regular baking cycles for those recipes. When I use any setting other than Express that doesn't include lots of moist ingredients, I often take it out early. It really does bake too long for basic bread recipes, even on the Light setting.
8. There are no preservatives or other chemicals in this bread, so it won't stay soft for a week or two like store bought bread. (There is something scary about hot dog buns that are still soft after two weeks anyway, don't you think? In the 70's, they used to use formaldehyde as a preservative in store bought bread, and I'm not sure they ever stopped...) Expect to make a new loaf every day or every other day, or to use it for toast after that.
9. A l-o-n-g serrated knife is a necessity, an electric one is preferable. After cooling thoroughly, I slice the whole loaf at once (I have children at home who aren't allowed to use the electric knife) and keep in a plastic bag folded over and tucked under. It stays soft longer in plastic than in paper, but will not mold with out a twist tie to make it air-tight. If it was just my husband and me, I would only slice the bread one slice at a time, and the bread would stay soft even longer.
10. Once you have a dozen favorite recipes that work every time, remember that homemade bread makes GREAT, inexpensive gifts, particularly as thank yous for people that you wouldn't normally BUY a gift for. I leave a loaf for the cleaning lady, bring a loaf to the lady next door to thank her for dragging my trash can up from the street when it was windy, etc. People always like to hear "Thank you", but it is even nicer with a loaf of fresh bread.
I have made over 200 loaves with this machine in the last 7 months, and couldn't be happier with it's durability (so far) and its value. If mine does start to leak oil from the paddle, as some others reported here, I will still be happy with its value so far, and start learning how to use my KitchenAide mixer to make dough in the future, instead of getting a new machine. I think I am ready to learn baking in the oven.
I hope these tips will shorten the learning curve for others here that either just bought one of these, or are about to. I suspect many of the tips would work with other brands of ABM's also. And I will probably edit this review over the next couple days as I think of things I forgot...
on May 17, 2007
After 10 loaves of different types of bread, I can say this is a reliable consistent basic bread machine that works well and is extremely cheap. I took one star off for the poor design of the LCD screen that can be barely read in a bright kitchen.
on August 24, 2010
This is my second Sunbeam 5891, there wasn't anything wrong with the first one except through continual use. The manufacturer will tell you to use the "Basic" setting for GF Bread, but alas, GF Flours only need one rise cycle and that is why the Breadmakers with a GF settings are so popular (yet beyond my budget). Here is how to bake perfect Gluten Free Bread with the Sunbeam 5891:
1). I warm my water to 110 degrees, add 1Tablespoon of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of yeast to the water to let it "perk" a bit. Pour it into the bread pan, and then add the rest of the wet ingredients to the pan (oil, eggs, etc)
2) Add Dry ingredients to the pan
3) Set the "Basic" setting and press start
4) It will mix for 10 minutes, then start the first rise cycle. When the timer reads 2:40....pull the plug
5) Set a kitchen timer for 40 minutes (the machine must be left unplugged for at least 35 minutes to cancel the cycle)
6) After 40-45 minutes have passed, plug the machine back in and use the "Bake" cycle.
Before buying my second Sunbeam, I looked at the Zojirushi Bread Maker with the GF Cycle. (My sister has one). Problem with the Zoji's is the nice "baker style" pan. Gluten free flours do not rise high like regular bread flour, so although she has wonderful tasting bread it is more flat like Baguettes.
Because the sunbeam has more of a "squat" pan, my GF free bread comes out high enough for sandwich bread.
Hope this has helps others on a limited budget create GF Bread that looks like regular bread, and not a brick:)
on June 16, 2007
I've been tempted for years to buy a bread machine, but couldn't justify the cost. After all, how much bread can two people eat? Answer: More than I ever imagined -- when it's this good. I've had my machine for less than a month and I can't remember when I've had so much fun for so little money. (For some reason the price was about ten dollars less last month than now -- but it's still worth it.) And I want to thank all the earlier reviewers who warned about the recipes in the instruction book -- didn't even try them. I first used a basic white recipe from the Betty Crocker book, which was very good but did have a slight cave-in that I blamed on Denver's 6,000 foot altitude. But then I came across Beth Hensperger's "The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook" and it's been nothing but success after success which I attribute to following her recommendations for adding gluten and using SAF yeast. I've lost count of how many loaves I've made. I'm a very experienced bread maker so when I say this is not only as good, but probably better than non-machine-made bread, believe me. I hope it doesn't break down soon, but if it does, I swear I've already gotten my money's worth in terms of fun -- yes! -- as well as great bread products.
This is my first bread machine and I am a bit disappointed. Just received it yesterday and there are 2 cracks in the plastic that surround the inside and the metal inner lining is crimped in places and warped.(uploaded 4 pictures to gallery) The metal liner edge could be just how it is attached, but I know the cracks in the plastic should not be there. Not sure if I just got a bad one or if this has been reconditioned and resold as a new item.
I wanted to return it for a replacement or get my money back through amazon but I don't want to pay return shipping or take the chance on receiving another bad item. I called Sunbeam directly instead and they were very pleasant, and the person I spoke with told me this falls under the 1 yr warranty and they would be shipping out a new product and I would not have to pay to ship the bad unit back.
I can't comment on how this bakes yet, but going by the other reviews I am looking forward to baking!
*************** Edited to update review **********************
Received new breadmaker from Sunbeam (not Amazon). Not only do they stand behind their warranty but I received free shipping AND they told me to throw away the old machine after making sure I keep the paddle, pan and the rest of the accessories as back up extras.....wow!!
I finally got the chance to try this machine out too. I have never used a bread machine before. This was actually fun! Toss in this and that, push a couple of buttons and it does everything for you. I found a bunch of bread machine recipes online (just google breadmachine recipes) so it will be a very long time before I run out of things to try. This was a good buy! :)
******************3 years later*************************
This machine is STILL going strong!!! In the over 3 years owning it, it has not left my counter! I use it all the time. We've saved the most money making our own pizza's and focaccia bread. Just mix up the dough and pop into your oven with your choices of sauces and toppings. Bread comes out great, as do rolls. Tons of online recipe's you can use and bread machine books you can buy. This little machine has become a part of the kitchen, I would miss it if it was gone and would for sure buy another. :)
*Updated 9/11/14: Almost 4 years now and this little breadmaker is still working like it was brand new! I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Worth every penny!
*Update 8/28/15- Still using this little machine, I would buy another one in a heartbeat!
on October 22, 2006
This bread maker has a major flaw.
The lubricant from the paddle mechanism will start oozing oil into your bread after a period of time. We make sure the bread holder is completely clean before starting. A very nice touch.
We have had two of these machines. First one did this after around 12 months. Second machine did this after 3 months.
We have had many different bread machines over the last decade and have never seen this type of failure before. We make bread frequently and generally expect the machine to last 1-2 years (or around 300-400 loaves) or at least this has been the experience.
I would not recommend this machine to anyone.
on April 15, 2009
This is my first ever bread machine and so far I've made in the neighborhood of around 20 to 25 loaves with it. It's a good, reasonably priced machine overall, but there are two major flaws people should know about:
1. No matter how I tweak the recipe (and I've done so til I'm blue in the face), the loaf will fall just after the bake cycle starts. I've tried more yeats, less yeast, more water, less water, more gluton, etc...but nothing seems to keep the loaf from falling. I've even tried recipes from the book "Electric Bread" and the loaves fell. It may have something to do with the shape of the loaf, which leads me to the second problem.
2. The loaf pan, instead of being tall and narrow like a store-bought loaf of bread, is rectangular and as wide as it is tall. The result is that you get a loaf that won't fit into any conventional bread containers, even when you cut it into slices. And if you make a sandwich to take in your lunch, it won't fit in a sandwich bag because the slices are too long. You end up having to cut off about one-quarter of the length of the loaf just to get it to fit in any sort of container for storage.
Other than those two problems, it's a nice, quiet, attractive bread machine for the money.
<Update> After much trial and error, I've solved the problem of the loaves falling. This white bread recipe comes out perfect every time:
1 1/4 cups warm water (approx. 110 degrees F)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp bread machine yeast
Mix water, sugar and yeast in bread machine pan(don't forget the paddle)and let it proof for 10 minutes.
4 Cups bread flour
1/4 cup oil (I use olive)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dry milk
1 or 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
Set the color to light and loaf size to 1.5 lb.
It turns out perfect for me every time!