Product review: Morphy Richards Premium Breadmaker

“It looks like a hammerhead shark” said my friend. She’s right, it does. It certainly has presence that’s for sure – the thing is massive. Before I was sent the breadmaker for review, I’d briefly considered getting one. People had raved, “wake up to freshly baked bread!”  The idea sounds attractive, although the chances of my neurotic self leaving an electrical appliance on overnight are actually nil. Still, the simplicity appealed and I found it rather fascinating – chuck everything inside, select the programme and about 2 hours later you have a loaf. It certainly takes the ‘work’ out of baking, which is where I started to feel uneasy. Actually no, it was worse than that – I felt cheated.

To state the bleedin obvious, I am someone who very much enjoys cooking. I relish the hands-on creative process; mixing, shaping and nurturing to completion. The breadmaker of course does all this for you. As soon as my first loaf had popped from the tin, I found myself on Amazon buying a copy of Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf; it was full of everything I’d just missed out on. In the introduction, DL describes how “the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human.” I wanted to knead, shape and peek at the loaf rising, marvelling at the manipulation of gluten and yeast.

The breadmaker uses skimmed milk powder; vegetable oil and fast action dried yeast. DL of course uses fresh milk and advises seeking out fresh yeast whenever possible because the flavour and action are better. I began to call local bakeries. None of them baked on site and none of them knew where I could buy any fresh yeast. In the end I found it in a speciality food shop in East Dulwich, SMBS foods – one of those shops that sells everything. It has the added bonus of being difficult for the yummy mummys to cram their super-buggy spaceships into, making it one of the best shops in ED. Sorry, but I’ve been nipped on the Achilles tendon one too many times. If you don’t live near such a shop, try the baking section of your supermarket as they will often sell you some, under the counter.

I polished my halo and headed home to bake my first ever handmade loaf using fresh yeast. DL’s ‘quick white loaf’ seemed a logical place to start and the steps were very simple. I crumbled, mixed, shaped and left it in a warm place to rise. And it did – like a dream. I was overwhelmed with pride and satisfaction as my two loaves went into the oven but when I opened it 45 minutes later what I found was two hard, leaden lumps. Bugger. And with that the breadmaker got its own back. There is one major factor in its favour and that is consistency.

DL is an active Twitter user and so I asked him what went wrong. Apparently I let my dough rise too much in a too-hot kitchen. This only made me more determined; baking is a skill and I was focused on nailing it. The reward for perseverance was a loaf with superior flavour, texture, crumb, crust – there is literally no comparison to the somewhat synthetic and uniform breadmaker results. It may be consistent but consistency comes at the price of character.

So the breadmaker is not for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see how many people would love it. If you like freshly made bread and want something in between a shop bought and handmade loaf with no effort other than tipping in ingredients and pressing a few buttons then this is the product for you. Personally, I’d rather buy a handmade loaf from a bakery if I didn’t have time to make one myself. You may think I’m mad. Most people claim a breadmaker is a product they use once then leave in the spare room for the next three years as it’s just too much effort and here’s me complaining it wasn’t enough. I’m clearly off my rocker.

The Morphy Richards Premium Breadmaker product specifications and price here.

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17 thoughts on “Product review: Morphy Richards Premium Breadmaker

  1. Haha, I just randomly came across your post when I was looking for the opening hours of SMBS foods. I live just up the road from Lordship Lane, and believe me, I understand your dislike to all those trolley-pushing mommies that love their kicking babies. For me, SMBS has the added bonus of having the ever so odd ingredient that I’ve never heard of before, and most of the time I end up picking it up and cooking something strange with it.
    Anywho. I hope your bread adventures are going well. I have a sourdough hanging out in my kitchen at the moment, should be ready to go in the oven tomorrow morning.

  2. My local Sainsburys sells fresh yeast, too – you can buy it in whatever amounts you want. Just grab one of the bakery staff and they should just nip out back and get it for you.

    It’s one of my favourite things about baking – here is this vital ingredient to the process that’s fallen through the cracks of modern food retailing. It’s all nudges, winks and confusion, with no strict guidelines over how much you can buy, how much they can sell, whether they’re allowed to sell it, and so on.

    Some supermarket bakers will give it to you for free! A thing for free! In a supermarket! It beggars belief.

    Another option is to pop into your local bakers and ask them – but buy something as a trade-off for your hypothetical lost custom. Like some iced buns or something. Mmm delicious icy iced buns.

  3. I buy a 500g block of yeast from Sainsbury’s bakery section, for about £1.50 I think, cut it into 25g pieces (give or take a few grams) seal it in a freezer bag and freeze – perfect solution. Each 25g piece is about right for two 1lb loaves, and it stays active, frozen, for several months. I could never get on with dried or easyblend yeast – and I just like the feel of working with the real live stuff.

  4. Apparently there is some odd/old law/rule that means you can get free yeast from the supermarket bakeries. The only one who refused me was Morrisons. The “baker” even abruptly demanded to know why on earth I would want the yeast when I could buy a freshly baked (soggy white) loaf from him!

  5. I say yes and show people my hands when they ask whether I have a bread maker..

    I’ve had terrible problems finding fresh yeast in the UK, except for Wholefoods where the want £1.20 for 25g. Someone told my to check my local polish shop, and there I found 100g for 39p. Not bad!

  6. I get real joy and a kind of spiritual peace (stupid it sounds) from making bread from scratch.
    When we first moved to London someone gave us a bread-maker as a present. I think we used it once, then gave it to a charity shop.
    Nothing beats making a loaf from scratch.

  7. I know what you mean, unless you eat huge amounts of bread it doesn’t seem worth the work-top space. I like to get down n’ dirty with my food, which isn’t something breadmakers allow you to do.

  8. I’ve got a breadmaker, and I’ve used it regularly for years, but – and this is a massive but – I’ve recently had a huge epiphany and started to bake my bread by hand.

    The results are immeasurably better. The breadmachine loaves were OK, but a handmade loaf, made properly is a complete revelation.

    My go-to recipe now is from Daniel Steven’s River Cottage Bread Handbook (a great little book, by the way, with good instructions on properly forming a loaf).

    The recipe churns out three loaves from a kilo of flour, and once I got the knack, I found myself able to produce decent bread consistently without too much time or effort. Sure, there’s a lot of waiting around, but the waiting is punctuated by very brief interventions, so it’s no bother baking bread over an evening at home. There’s not much actual ‘work’.

    I know it’s good bread because the kids eat the crusts!

    One tip – before you form your loaves, tear off a chunk of dough, pop it in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge. The next time you bake, add the old dough along with the water and knead it in. The old dough adds a bit more character to the loaf…it’s worth trying.

  9. Robert – I am in awe of people who bake on a large scale. That must really take some work to turn out so many handmade loaves and here is me struggling on my first few! I will persevere with the fresh yeast definitely, especially now I have a good supply. Thanks for your comment.

  10. I’m a baker for a large retail chain. But I don’t see the point of tipping ingredients into a breadmaker. It’s just industrial bread albeit fresher. I rather make one from scratch/hard work or Buying one from an artisanal bakery. As to yeast, depending on who you ask. A major retailer (5 letters) may give you about 50g fresh yeast free. But I’ve seen it sold in morrisons in cubes of six, I think. I’ve never used the dried stuff so cannot comment. Enjoy proper baking.

  11. Krista – I am still amazed. Truly the best dentist EVER.

    Ino – I couldn’t agree more, obviously!

    Stephen – Thanks for your comment. The information about rye is useful. I’ve not tried any other breadmakers, no. I’m not about to go and get another one but I’d like to try a loaf from someone else’s!

  12. I use a bread maker much of the time – I have a wheat allergy and unmixed rye bread is relatively rare and often not that nice. However, with a bread maker I can bang out pretty nice loaves without too much effort. Come Christmas time, though, I use the bread maker to produce dough which I then form into rolls. They still need proving and baking, of course and so require much more effort. But I think the final result is as good as you’ll ever get 100% rye. One note to anyone wishing to try the 100% rye – thus far the only manufacturer I’ve seen with a dedicated rye setting is Panasonic and even then only on its most expensive model.

    I’d be interested to know if you’ve tried any other bread makers? From what I’ve read, the general quality of the loaf can vary between manufacturer.

  13. I too can see the appeal of “tipping in ingredients and pressing a few buttons”, but your post is more likely to make me buy the book rather than the the breadmaker if I’m honest. There’s something really satisfying about kneading, shaping, baking and ending up with a hot, crusty, homemade loaf of bread. Even when it isn’t perfect.

  14. Over Christmas, my dentist gave EVERY SINGLE PERSON who came into the office a freshly baked loaf of bread, such is the speed at which his breadmaker can turn out loaves! It was like Jesus at Bethsaida!


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