(Note: This review is on the Welbilt ABM 3500 bread machine, not the Williams Sonoma. Epinions has not yet posted the Welbilt brand to the bread machine lineup.)
Recommend this product?
Before I go into the review of the Welbilt 3500, for those of you who are considering the purchase of a bread machine for the first time, yet arenít quite convinced that you would need such an appliance, Iíd like to share some of my own thoughts on the advantages to owning a bread machine.
The first and most obvious question that arises is, "Why do I need to have my own bread machine when breads are readily available at local bakeries and supermarkets?". Itís true, many bakeries produce wonderful products.
But consider these facts:
∑ Whatís in it? With bakery-produced breads (versus brand-name supermarket products), you really have no way of knowing what ingredients are being used;- there may be certain types of fats, oils, dairy products, or even chemicals that you might not consider healthy for you or your family. With your own machine, you are the one who decides what goes into your bread. Brand-name supermarket breads do list the ingredients used, on their labels. But have you ever taken a look at those lengthy lists? Some of the items canít even be pronounced, let alone actually know what they are.
∑ Cost is another factor. Most of todayís brand-name breads range from $1.89 to $2.59 per pound; a pretty hefty expense if you have a good-sized family. And independent bakeries can charge even more than that for their breads. Now consider what it would cost you to produce your own one-pound loaf of bread (Iíve done the math myself, so Iíll spare you the trouble!). An average loaf of white or wheat bread with the most common ingredients will cost you about 45 to 50 cents. Huge difference, eh?
∑ Freshness is another consideration. The loaves that sit on your supermarketís shelves contain preservatives or a large amount of fats and oils in order to prolong shelf life. In other words, they can be sitting there for weeks before you purchase them. Making your own bread means absolute freshness every single time.
∑ Variation! You have a world of options at your disposal, with your own machine. You can opt for an entirely fat-free bread, or use honey in place of refined sugars, or any number of other variations. Bakeries can produce a wide variety of breads, yes. But within your own kitchen, there is no limit on what you can create!
∑ Multi-Duty. Bread machines can be used for more than just baking a loaf of bread. You can also make your own dough (examples: pizza, sweet rolls, bread sticks, dinner rolls), or even make up a batch of jam from fresh fruit!
So now on to the Welbilt 3500, a bread machine that I have owned for quite a while now, and have literally used to death!
There are many machines on the market with more "bells and whistles" (and ergo much bigger price tag) than the Welbilt 3500, but I personally couldnít see much of an advantage to them. The 3500 has two loaf size settings; one pound, and one and a half pound. If you really need a two-pound loaf, then Welbilt has other models (such as the ABM 8200 and the ABM 2H60) that produce the two-pound size. There are 28 separate settings for the various types of breads and doughs; the other models have more-- up to 41 settings. There is a programmable timer that allows the machine to start the process whenever you choose; you can have piping hot bread waiting for you when you get up in the morning, or take off to the store for a few hours before dinner and have warm bread ready when you return. There is also a "keep warm" function that is built in to all baking cycles; it will automatically keep your bread warm for up to an hour, should you not be around to remove it as soon as the signaling beeper goes off. The beeper also sounds at the time when you should add ingredients such as fruits and nuts, which is a feature that many other bread machine brands do not have. Itís important to wait until some of the kneading process has been completed before adding certain things such as fruits, nuts, and seeds. Why? Because the kneading paddle inside bread machines has a tendency to smash and grind up nuts and fruit, leaving you with very few whole pieces.
The 3500 has a nice viewing window at the top of the machine, so you can monitor dough formation without having to open the lid and thereby lowering the internal temperature. Other machines might not have this, so itís something to keep in mind as you check out each brand. Another feature that other brands do not always have is the "ultra fast" baking cycle. With the Welbilt, you can produce a loaf of bread in an hour, rather than the usual three.
Ok...on to the one (and only one) thing that I think could be improved upon in this machine: the kneading paddle and the bread bucket are both coated with Teflon (as is the case with all of the machines Iíve seen so far), and scratch relatively easily. You really need to be careful. The kneading paddle seems to get chipped the most. Always wash the paddle and bucket by hand with mild soaps (not in the dishwasher!). But the Teflon coating is an absolute necessity, in order to keep the dough from sticking to the paddle and bucket sides, and to allow the bread to be easily taken out when finished.
I paid only $79.00 for this wonderful machine, so I have absolutely no other complaints!
So overall, Iíd say that the Welbilt 3500 is one terrific little workhorse, and an outstanding value for the small price!
Read all comments (2)