Pros: Epressbake feature, delay start option, horizontal loaves from 1 to 2 lbs., quiet operation
Cons: Storage might be an issue, pan sometimes hard to pull out
I've wanted a bread maker for quite a while, but never took the plunge primarily because I just knew I'd end up eating a lot of bread - there goes the diet - again! But my husband just loves bread, and of course so do I. So when I saw the Oster Expressbake Breadmaker 5836 at Target a while back, for a reasonable $59, and decided to heck with the diet - let's have some delicious, homemade bread.
~ Product Description
The Oster Expressbake 5836 offers lots of options for bread making and more. Here's the main features:
Select from the following bake modes:
- Whole Wheat
- Expressbake 58 min.
- Expressbake 80 min.
- Dough/Pasta (when you want to shape your own dough)
- Bake (for jam or marmalade)
You can also choose the crust color: Light, Medium, or Dark
There is 13 hour delay start timer as well. For instance when you're at work or sleeping, you can program the bread maker to start so that your bread will be hot and ready when it's time to eat.
The Oster Expressbake 5836 will bake 1 lb., 1 1/2 lb. or 2 lb. loaves, in the more traditional horizontal shape. Note that the bread pan is non-stick.
This bread maker comes with an easy to use and understand manual, which includes recipes for each bake mode.
Bread makers are generally large, and this one is no exception. It measures about 14" deep x 10 1/2 " wide, x 10" high (with the lid closed). It's actually relatively lightweight and easy enough to move though. It has molded-in hand grips on the base so you can get a good grip. You'll need a space on your counter or someplace where the lid has room to be lifted up. Underneath cabinets might not work. The electrical cord is longer than many appliances offer, at around 3 ft. 10 inches long. So that will allow you some maneuvering as far as where to plug it in.
Assembly out of the box was a breeze - just snap in the bread pan and put the kneading blade on, which just slides onto the post.
~ Overview of How to Use
As I mentioned, this was my first bread maker. I'd long ago given up trying to make my own bread. Way too much work for generally disappointing results. The Oster Expressbake 5836 is simple to use.
Take the bread pan out of the bread maker. (See my comment about this below.) Add all the liquid ingredients to the pan, then add all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the flour/dry ingredients with your finger, and pour the yeast into this well. Snap the baking pan into the bread maker.
Now, close the lid and plug it in. The digital display will come on. Press the "Select" button to choose your bake mode setting. Then press the Crust Color button to choose the kind of crust you want. Press "Start/Stop" button, and in a few hours (or less with Expressbake) you'll have a loaf of warm, homemade bread to enjoy. It doesn't get any easier than that!
~ My Experience
At first I was having difficulty getting the bread pan to snap in and out of the bread maker. The directions said to "twist and pull straight up" to remove. But there was no way it would twist. Finally I just pulled hard straight up and it came out. Now it seems to go in and out much easier, but I still don't see how you can twist it. I just pull straight up, and then push down to lock it back in. Although once in a while it still kind of sticks and is hard to pull out. You do need to be sure that it is firmly seated and locked down before you start the machine.
The manual gives a wonderful basic, white bread recipe to get you started. I tried this as my first attempt with the Oster Breadmaker.
I followed the directions and recipe to the letter. What fun watching through the viewing window as the bread was kneaded, allowed to rise, kneaded again, allowed to rise for the second time, punched down, allowed to rise once more, and finally baked. I didn't have to do a thing! You can just imagine the heavenly smell of baking bread throughout the house. What a treat :) And when the machine beeped to signal the bread was done, I was so excited. My bread came out absolutely perfectly! The crust was a lovely golden brown.
I was concerned that the loaf would stick to the pan, but following the suggestion in the manual I turned the pan upside down on a cooling rack and gave it shake. The loaf came out, or started to, but got a little hung up on the bread pan handle, but all I had to do was move the handle out of the way. The kneading blade did not stick into the loaf - although you will see a little hole in the bottom of any loaf baked in the bread machine, which can't be helped. I now had a beautiful, nicely shaped, golden brown loaf of bread. I let it cool for about 15 minutes - I can't tell you how hard it was to wait 15 minutes - before slicing and eating. What a wonderful treat! Best bread I've ever made, and definitely the easiest!
I have also used several kinds of store bought bread machine mixes with wonderful results. These are great if you don't want to even take the time to measure ingredients. There are many to choose from, and good to keep on hand.
The manual suggests checking the doughball at the second kneading to see if it is the proper consistency. You might need to add more flour if it is too sticky, or some water if it is too dry. I have had to add flour a couple times, particularly when using the bread mixes.
I have also tried a few other recipes from the book that came with the machine, and they've all come out great. The Italian Herb Bread on the French setting is delicious.
So far I haven't had the need to use the Expressbake settings, but I know it's there if I need it. The manual says Expressbake breads tend to have a darker, thicker crust, and tend to be shorter and denser.
The Dough/Pasta setting I haven't tried yet either. This is for when you want to shape your own dough and bake it yourself.
Noise Level - This is the only bread machine I've ever used, so I don't have anything to compare it to. But I don't consider this noisy at all. If the dough ball is on the dry side, I might hear a little thumping, but nothing I would consider annoying. In fact the manual says if you hear any loud thumping or clunking that the dough ball is probably too dry and you should add a little water. This bread maker sits very sturdily on the counter and doesn't shake or move around while the dough is being kneaded.
Cleaning is also blissfully easy. Just wipe out the crumbs from the non-stick bread pan. Usually there's very little left in the pan when the loaf is removed. But I usually wipe out the pan, or wash it, and very little else is needed. There is a very small area right around the bottom of the kneading blade that sometimes accumulates baked-on crumbs, and I need to scrub a little bit there. But other than than - there's no clean up at all. You should not use metal utensils with the bread maker as this can damage the non-stick pan and other parts.
~ Couple Things that Could be Improved
One thing I noticed - when setting the crust color the display will show 1L for light, 1P for medium, and 1H for dark. (the number one indicating the basic setting. It would show 2L for the french setting, light crust.) The L for light - okay, that makes sense. But why P for medium and H for dark? That is so unintuitive and doesn't make sense. I've needed to refer to the manual a few times just to make sure I had it set the way I wanted it. Now I'm used to it - but gee, Oster, that would be an obvious thing to change.
I wish this bread maker had some kind of cord storage. My deep fryer has a cord storage area in the back where the cord can be wound in and kept out of the way while storing the machine. That would be a nice feature for this bread machine too.
But all in all, these are minor complaints.
~ Notes and Tips
- Always use exact measurements
- Use fresh ingredients
- Add ingredients in order - first liquid, then dry, then yeast last.
- Check the doughball at the second kneading cycle
Just follow these simple tips and your bread should come out fine.
The manual has a nice trouble shooting section to help in diagnosing any problems with how your bread is turning out - but honestly I haven't had any problems at all so far.
~ Final Thoughts
I am SO glad I decided to get the Oster Expressbake Breadmaker 5836. My family has been enjoying a variety of delicious homemade breads, and they are all so easy. Clean up is quick, which is important to me. I have a large pantry, so storage isn't a problem. This probably isn't an appliance you'll want to keep on your counter, unless you have oodles of counter space.
Just think how wonderful warm, fresh, homemade bread will taste this coming winter with a hearty soup. If you're in the market for a bread maker, I highly recommend the Oster Expressbake.