What Would You Do? Bread Machine Blues Edition

Last weekend, my bread machine died and I’m singing the bread machine blues.

I’m not sure why. Unlike many of the other kitchen devices around our house, the bread machine is rarely used. I think I’ve pulled it out a total of 6 times in the last year. Still, no one ever complained about having the smell of fresh baked bread wafting around the house. Mostly, fresh bread made a convenient and inexpensive way to provide a hostess or teacher appreciation gift or a way to make a meal of chicken soup more appealing.

Once again, folks, I’m asking you to help crowdsource my decision, just as i did with my smartphone dilemma and my Amazon credit. Today’s question: Should I replace my bread machine, an appliance I like but rarely use?

What would you do?

Replace or Live Without?

We have a lot of stuff in our kitchen. We like to cook, and there are some machines that make cooking (and mornings) a lot easier.

That said, we have a tiny galley kitchen, built in the 60’s when people had a lot fewer devices. Space is at a premium, and we need to look at not only replacement cost but storage space versus utilization.  

There are some things in our kitchen that would never ever be any question about replacement. If our coffee maker went out, we would probably buy a new one within the hour (hitting Starbucks on the way.)

(Okay, technically our coffee maker is broken. It has a built-in grinder that doesn’t work. That said, we have another grinder and the machine performs the basic function of providing nectar of the gods caffeine on a daily basis.)

On the other end of the spectrum is my cappuccino maker. Twenty years ago I had to have one because lattes are delicious. However, I used it about twice before realizing that cappuccino makers are a pain to clean and I’d rather buy lattes someone else makes, thank you very much.

In the 20 years I’ve owned the cappuccino machine, I think it has been used 6-7 times. If it broke (or I sold, donated or trashed it), no one in our house would notice. We’d just enjoy that nice newly opened spot of kitchen work space.

The bread machine falls squarely between the two extremes, and that’s why I’m having trouble deciding.

My Love of Fresh Bread

Some people have business in their blood. Others, like Jon, have cars in their blood.

I think I have bread in mine.

Fresh bread really resonates with me. My grandmother made 3 loaves of whole wheat bread a week, and the smell would drift through the house alluringly as I raced through the house with my pack of cousins. Grandma usually served a dinner on Saturday evenings of warm bread, butter and cheese. To this day, the smell of warm bread brings back memories of my grandparents and rollicking extended family sleepovers.

My mom made bread too. Whole wheat bread like her mother, cinnamon raisin bread, and colorful Christmas bread that was almost like fruitcake. Breadmaking wasn’t a weekly event, but it happened regularly and we all enjoyed the bread.

But, yeast breads take time and skill. They are a bit intimidating for novice cooks. The bread machine made them less so. I received my bread machine from my mom (or maybe my Dad?) for Christmas about 14 years ago.

For the first couple of years, I made bread at least once a week, and bread and coffee became my usual breakfast.With it, I could connect to my bread-making heritage in a few simple steps. Combine ingredients, push button, wait. In 3 hours, I too could have homemade bread whenever I wanted.

However, I wanted it a lot less after Jon and I started living together. I switched to more substantial breakfasts of oatmeal or yogurt, and the breadmaker in me went dormant except for holidays and special occasions.

Last Christmas, I decided to do a little baking. I made a couple of loaves of bread but in the middle, the bread machine stopped working. The panel to program the settings froze up, and I couldn’t start the machine. Since the sides of the machine were warm, I figured it had overheated.  I left it unplugged a couple of days and it started working again. Until Sunday.

Pot Luck Failure

This Sunday we were planning on going to a potluck that I had completely forgotten to shop for. Looking around, I was able to see I had the ingredients for a couple of options: Berry Cobbler or Vanilla Spice Bread with Honey Butter (that recipe kicks butt!). Jon voted for the bread.

I carefully measured out the ingredients and plugged in the bread machine. I programmed the panel, pushed start, and then…nothing. No soft whir of the motor. Nothing.

I tried resetting the machine. Still nothing. I unplugged the machine to let it cool down (although it wasn’t hot.) Nothing. Jon tried it. Nothing. We tried waiting an hour and then plugging it back in. Nada.

Eventually (after we said “oh well” to the pot luck and decided to watch football all day stay home) I pulled the gooey dough out and kneaded it, let it rise, kneaded it again, let it rise again. Then I shoved it in the convection oven and it turned out fine (although way too late to change our mind on the pot luck.)

Actually, the bread was better than fine, despite all the issues. Because I baked it in the oven in a Corningware dish instead of the bread maker, the loaf was in a more convenient shape for sandwiches. The texture improved. I lost a bit in convenience and dirtied up more dishes, but the product was better.


What Would You Do? Bread Machine Blues Edition

Now I’m Torn

So, here I am with a broken bread machine cluttering up my counter space and no real decision what to do.

Arguments for Replacement:

Getting a similar machine isn’t that expensive. I had a Sunbeam 2 pound programmable bread machine. The same machine on Amazon currently runs $44.55. Considering I had mine for over 10 years, it was reasonably durable.

I also know that with the machine I can make very good bread, as well as pizza crust and other items. And I’ll have control over the ingredients, which means no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.

Homemade bread is a terrific thing to be able to bring to parties, housewarmings, and other events, so it’s nice to have a go-to for them. While I might still be able to make bread, it’s much easier and more convenient with a bread machine.

Arguments for Non-Replacement:

I’ve already said that we used the machine we had pretty rarely: about once every other month. We just don’t eat that much bread in our house.I had used it a bit more in the last month, but I might not have pulled it out again until Christmas. It’s not like our coffee pot or convection oven, which get used on a daily basis. It’s not even like our rice cooker,which probably gets used every other week.

And the bread machine’s big and bulky and takes up more room on my counter than anything but Jon’a giant convection oven (or the random toys our 6 year old leaves wherever.) Considering how overcrowded with stuff our house feels sometimes, the idea of freeing up the space appeals to me.

There’s also the fact that after Sunday’s machine failure, I feel a bit more confident about my ability to pull off fresh bread without the machine. It’s inconvenient enough that I might not do it very often, but I still know I can do it.

What Would You Do?

So I’ve outlined my dilemma: Do I replace my bread machine and use it to occasionally reconnect with my breadmaking heritage? 

Or, do I (in the immortal words of Elsa that are imprinted indelibly on the minds and ears of girl-moms everywhere) Let It Go?

Let a little clutter escape my life, reduce warm bread temptation (Yummy carbs….), and maybe try my hand occasionally at less convenient but possibly more delicious machineless handmade (as opposed to merely homemade) bread? 

What would you do? Are there any decisions you want crowdsourced? 

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*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich. *< and The John and Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing. *


30 thoughts on “What Would You Do? Bread Machine Blues Edition

  1. While I can appreciate space being at a premium, my instinct would be to get the replacement. You enjoy making the bread, the convenience probably increases the number of times you make bread, and $44 is a relatively small price to pay. If space is the main issue, then you might want to try the “one in, one out” philosophy where you’d see what other small kitchen appliance you might want to do without (and gain the space from) in order to accommodate this one. By the way, this post made me hungry, so please send some homemade bread! 🙂
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…10 IRA Mistakes That Can Screw Up Your Retirement PlanMy Profile

    • If you come down, I’ll make you some. I guess there are other things I would more happily get rid of (like the dang cappuccino maker.)

    • After I posted, A friend has offered me one she doesn’t use, which is making it a lot harder not to replace the one I had even though price was not the issue.

  2. I vote replace. Even if you only use it 6 times per year, that means 60 expected uses over a 10 year life span. That’s right around 75 cents per use. The fact that you bring homemade bread to parties and housewarmings means that you use it to foster social relationships, which is great. Plus you wrote an entire section of this post under the heading “My Love of Fresh Bread.” 🙂 If it actually makes you happier, which it sounds like it does, then I say replacement is warranted.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Spending for Maximum HappinessMy Profile

  3. This is a sidebar to the debate somewhat, but I’d vote for not replacing it not out of any feelings pro or con having an item you enjoy but rarely use, but on the basis that it’s really, really easy to make tasty bread without one. See if your local library has this book: https://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Bread-Five-Minutes-Revolutionizes/dp/1250018285/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1475781274&sr=1-1

    We use that system when we consistently need bread and I can say that it is good stuff.
    Ms. Steward recently posted…Monthly Review: August and September 2016My Profile

    • The one we have is too big for any of our cabinets, so likely won’t do that. Christmas is a time I use it more, so we’ll see.

  4. Maybe sell the espresso machine to free up more space, then buy a replacement? Our kitchen space is so maxed out. We actually have a little shelf downstairs that holds our non-daily kitchen items. Maybe it could live in a closet so it takes up less premium real estate?
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Moderate MinimalismMy Profile

    • Yeah, getting rid of some other less used stuff might be the answer, especially since a friend has offered to give me her bread machine.

  5. I’d vote for not replacing it. I got rid of mine a few years ago, even though we used it. At that time, I had a kitchenaide mixer with a paddle attachment that would kneed the bread for me. All I had to do was let it rest and bake it (though the mixer did like to walk across the counter, so I had to watch it). Now we don’t eat as much bread and I don’t have the Kitchenaide, but my food processor (Braun multi-quick) actually has a paddle attachment to kneed dough and I’ve used it successfully a couple of times. I like the multi-use appliances. Just my two cents! 🙂
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Weekend Money Tip: Do you need to have a hot money date with your partner?My Profile

    • The bread machine is a bit of a unitasker, but we don’t have the Kitchenade (talk about taking up counter space!) and our food processor is pretty small. It’s something to think about, though. Thanks for coming by!

    • If I do replace it, I should definitely look into used options. And yeah… I can see that people might buy and regret with the bread machine (or juicer, or giant mixer, etc.)

  6. I have my bread machine on the counter and probably don’t use it as often as you use yours. I don’t like the way bread bakes in it, so it is basically a dough mixer for me. If it broke I wouldn’t replace it. If I read the comments correctly, you now have a replacement so I guess it is a moot point. If mine broke and someone gave me a new one, I’d keep it. One thing I’d suggest if counter space is at a premium is moving it to some other spot (like the garage or laundry room) and bringing it to the kitchen only when you use it.
    RAnn recently posted…Should I Hire a Financial Advisor?My Profile

    • I’ve been offered a free one, so if it pans out I’ll likely take it. Hard to argue with free. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably try Ms. Steward’s book first and see how that method of bread making pans out.

    • If the free one doesn’t come through (and it may not) then we’ll likely wait a bit and see what we can do without.

  7. I feel the pain! My trusty bread machine recently faked being broken, I nearly cried. However my machine is used at least once a day, sometimes twice to provide sandwich bread for a family of four.
    The good news is, it wasn’t really broken, the paddle was just very stuck. I had already ordered its replacement on Amazon and manage to cancel the order once I realized it was faking.
    I’d say don’t bother with a replacement for something you use so infrequently. Find a good bakery!

    • That would be a good idea, except it looks like the free one is going to come through from a friend. I may start pulling the dough out…baking in the oven worked really well.

    • A friend offered me a free bread machine that she no longer used. It came through, so I did take it. And Jon used it last night to make some really nice whole wheat bread.

      Had I not gotten a free one, I would have tried Mrs. Steward’s suggestion before worrying about replacing the machine. Actually, I’ll probably try it anyway. If I can make really good bread without the machine, then I’ll know for next time.

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