If you are interested in buying a bread machine to use for making gluten-free bread, here are a few things to consider.
1. Gluten-free dough needs a lot of mixing. Bread machines are designed for mixing and kneading gluten-containing dough which is much thicker and way more elastic than gluten-free dough.
Most bread machines have one paddle that is used for mixing. My Breadman machine has one paddle and often I mix the bread ingredients in my KitchenAid mixer and then add the dough to the bread machine for rising and baking.
Some machines have two paddles and do a better job of mixing. I’m pretty sure Zojirushi bread machines all have two paddles. I don’t know if other brands do too. Expect to pay more for a two-paddle machine, but it might be worth it if you don’t have to use your mixer first.
2. Gluten-free dough only needs one rise. Gluten-containing doughs rise, are punched down, and rise again, maybe even three times. That’s not necessary for gluten-free breads. A machine with a gluten-free cycle will likely eliminate the unnecessary rises.
3. A gluten-free setting doesn’t mean it will make great gluten-free bread. It takes a lot more than that to get a good loaf of gluten-free bread. A good recipe or mix is much more important.
4. A custom cycle is better than a gluten-free cycle. My Breadman machine has both a gluten-free cycle and the ability to create custom cycles. A custom cycle means that you can program a cycle to specified times for each part of the process.
Recipes and mixes vary greatly and you will often find that instructions given for mixing time, rise time, and bake time vary from one recipe/mix to another and may never match the gluten-free cycle times.
A programmable machine is worth much more than a machine with a gluten-free setting.
5. It takes less time to make a loaf of gluten-free bread than a loaf of wheat bread. As mentioned in number 2, gluten-free bread does not need multiple rises and therefore the total amount of time is shorter.
Considering that, you might find that baking the bread in your oven is almost as easy, especially if you have a one-paddle machine and have to do the mixing by hand anyway.
What is the best gluten-free bread machine? Probably one with two paddles and at least one (more is better) custom cycle. But really, you might be the best bread machine.
What kind of bread machine do you use? Do you like it?