Breville BBM800XL Review: Best Bread Maker Under $250

The Breville BBM800XL (also known as Custom Loaf Bread Maker) case is a little plain and the window is small, but where it counts – features and quality – this bread maker is a beautiful giant.

Basic Design and Specs

The case of the Breville BBM800XL bread maker isn’t a giant. In fact, it’s on the smaller side. Yet, for all that, it can still produce a family size loaf of 2.5 lbs (as well as ones down to 1.0 lbs).

One could wish the window were a bit larger, though. It’s big enough to give a hint but only that. For those larger loafs you really want to be able to see more of what’s going on. To help compensate, there’s a little light inside you can turn on.

Still, a small window does help minimize the odds of heat leakage, which can produce some unevenness on the top if the lid isn’t really well made. Luckily, this one is anyway and it has great vents beside.

There is one uncommon feature of the design – at the other end: a collapsible kneading paddle. It mixes as usual but then folds down before the bake phase. At last, no more vertical hole in the bottom of the loaf! There’s also a fixed paddle you can place just for jam preparation.

To temper my enthusiasm, I note that it does leave a small indentation in the bottom. The paddle does take a bit of space even when it flips down. It will be more noticeable on smaller loaves like the 1 lb’er. So some chefs might want to remove it entirely before the bake. But at least you don’t always have to interrupt the process anymore to get a mostly smooth loaf.

This model also supports an automatic fruit and nut dispenser. Not so unusual as the paddle but always a welcome addition to any bread maker. Personally, I’m so forgetful that it sometimes slips my mind to put the added ingredients in later. This way, I’m protected against myself.

That need not to remember is especially good since this model lets you mute the “Beep!” whenever you want. Hallelujah, do I ever love that. Breville’s designers even gave thought to another little touch that can make a big difference in user friendliness. The plug on the power cord has a deep indent to make it easy to pull out of the outlet.

Control Panel

One aspect that goes well beyond friendly and into brilliance is the control panel. This is one model where that word really means what it says. There’s a lot of control available here, while offering a lot of automation for those who aren’t (yet!) real bread chefs.

The overall display is easy to read – the time remaining is particularly prominent – thanks to intelligent layout, large fonts, and good backlighting. But I especially like the little icons for Crust and Size. It’s just impossible to make a mistake when selecting the ones you want. The automated settings are right there along the side.

There are all the usual ones, of course – Basic, Whole Wheat, Pizza, Pasta, and more – up to 13 selections. There’s even a Gluten Free option, which happily is becoming more common on bread machines all the time.

But it’s the Custom option that’s particularly exciting. You can modify the Preheat, Knead, Rise, Punch Down, Bake, and Keep Warm phases to suit your personal recipes. If you use a unique flour or an unusual yeast – or even just happen to live at an elevation where special considerations apply – the Custom settings are a must.

Beginners can take advantage of the presets but experienced do-it-yourself bread makers will like the tailoring available here. You can store up to nine Custom Recipes. If you have a tenth you can replace any one of the existing ones with ease.

There is one potential downside to the Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker that all the tailoring possible might not overcome. Because it’s possible to make a pretty big loaf in this modest-sized case – the pan is surprisingly large for the case dimensions – the 1 lb option is problematic.

Using that option with this pan guarantees that the loaf will be a little low in height, with relatively large depth and width. As a result, it can be a real challenge to get a fluffy loaf that isn’t overcooked on the outside and undercooked in the middle. Much experimentation shows that it’s possible, but it requires just the right dough and a fortunate combination of kneading, rise, and baking times.

A second, smaller pan you could optionally place inside would go a long way toward making this model more widely useful. After all, you don’t always bake for a big family or a small party. On the other hand, it would raise the price, which is already a bit on the higher end for this size bread machine.

Summary

The Breville BBM800XL lets you make a big loaf in a small space. Better still, it offers a ton of customization to make bread just the way you like, yet the automated features make it uber-easy to use for novices.

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