April 23, 2014

Review: Cuisinart CBK-200 Bread Machine

The BreadMachineDigest, which is a very complete resource for bread machines, offers this review of a Cuisinart bread machine:

The Cuisinart CBK-200 bread machine is an interesting machine. It offers several features that are not available on any other machine. Features like convection baking for a more evenly browned and crispier crust. A beep signal when the final kneading is done telling you, you can now remove the kneading paddle from the pan so that you don’t have a large whole in the bottom of your loaf. It also has cycles for low-carb, gluten free, and artisan breads.

The machine itself is quite typical. It is a box shape with the standard side control panel. It has a small LCD screen that gives you the time remaining, the loaf size, crust color and where you are in the cycle information. To choose a cycle you just select the number that corresponds to the cycle you want. For example white is 1, low-carb is 8, etc. You set the number for the cycle you want using a menu button. Each time you press the button a different cycle number is selected.

There are also buttons for crust color, loaf size, delay timer as well as one to turn on and off the mix-ins option. The mix-ins option causes an alert beep to sound which tells you when in the cycle to add things like raisins, nuts, etc. The last two buttons are start and stop/pause. Overall the controls are easy to figure out and use.

This machine has a total of 101 cycles. However, this is a bit misleading because like some other companies Cuisinart counts variations to the main cycles as cycles. For example white bread with a 1 pound recipe and a light crust is one cycle and white bread with a 1-1/2 pound recipe and a light crust is another. If you forget about the variations this machine has a total of 16 cycles which includes:

White, rapid white, whole wheat, rapid whole wheat, French/Italian, rapid French/Italian, quick bread/cake, low-carb, gluten free, dough/pizza dough, artisan dough, sweet breads, rapid sweet breads, jam, last minute loaf, bake only.

Like some other machines on the market this one has a power failure backup feature. Should the power to the machine be disrupted it will store in memory the stage of bread making cycle and resume once the power is restored. However, unlike some other machines this backup feature is good for only 15 minutes. If the power stays out for longer than that you are out of luck.

The pan in the Cuisinart CBK-200 is called a horizontal pan by Cuisinart. However, to me it is a hybrid of the horizontal and vertical pan. This machine doesn’t make quite a horizontal loaf or a vertical loaf, it makes loaves that are some place in between. The pan in fact is the same size and shape as many of the pans included with Breadman machines like the Breadman Ultimate. It is also a single paddle pan. I don’t like this style of pan. During my testing of this machine I made 30 recipes, every single one of them required me to scrape some of the ingredients out of the corners of the pan. Had I not stuck around to do this, the loaves would have come out with floured corners. I really wish companies would either do vertical machines or true horizontal machines with dual paddles. These hybrids are a pain.

All of the recipes I made turned out great. The machine once you have all of the ingredients incorporated in to the dough kneads very well and makes a nice dough. It has no problems with white bread dough, egg bread dough, whole wheat or any of the other 30 types of bread I made.

I also have to give high praise for the convection bake feature. While I still prefer to make the dough in the machine and bake the loaf in my regular oven, the convection feature made for a much nicer and evenly browned crust. It was also crisper which quickly faded as the loaf cooled thanks to the steam.

Now for the real down side, this is one very unattractive looking machine. I think Cuisinart tried to make it look retro. However, in doing so they placed black trim all around the top of the machine (see the picture) and in doing this they made it the all time hardest machine to clean. Sooner or later you are going to need to clean flour off the top of this thing and because of the black trim it is going to be a real time consuming pain. I ended up using Q-Tips to get the thing clean. And, as I said this is in my opinion one of the most unattractive machines ever put on the market.

Would I recommend this machine? It depends, if you need its unique features like convection bake, low-carb or gluten free cycles then yes. I say go for it. If none of those features is something you are frothing at the bit for then I would recommend you look at something else. Something with a better pan and something that will be easier to clean. Finally, it comes with a very nice users guide and recipe book. I am very impressed with the number of recipes included and how diverse the recipes are. I give Cuisinart a round of applause for this excellent collection of recipes.

Review written by Robert Barnett.

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