Hamilton Beach HomeBaker Review
Pros: Fantastic value, easy to clean
Cons: Isn’t amazing at mixing, no whole wheat setting
Manufacturer: Hamilton Beach
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you are looking for a great way to quickly and easily make homemade bread on a budget, we would recommend that you check out the HomeBaker from Hamilton Beach first. This bread maker actually earned the runner-up position overall when it comes to performance, only finishing behind an appliance that costs over four times as much.
While the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker produced relatively tasty bread in our three bread tests, it wasn't necessarily the best looking loaf we have seen to date. In our first test — white bread — the HomeBaker made a solid looking loaf of bread, but it doesn't quite match the aesthetics of the best models. It also left a little bit of unmixed flour on the corners of the bread, but it rose relatively nicely and has an overall uniform color.
The whole-wheat bread looked a little bit worse than the white bread, but still looked about average overall. It also had some unmixed flour and ended up with a sloping top after it slightly collapsed. However, the crust was still fairly even in color, with the top just being a shade lighter than the sides and the bottom. The gluten-free load is the worst looking of the bunch, with the top caving in a substantial amount — over half an inch!
There was also a fair amount of unincorporated corn starch on the sides and a stark color contrast between the crust on the top and the sides.
Ease of Use
The Hamilton Beach HomeBaker is solidly easy and convenient to use — like any good bread maker should be — but it is plain that some of the features common on high-end machines have been omitted to keep the cost down. The dough kneading paddle ends up wherever it is when the kneading cycle is completed, so it can leave to a decently sized cavity in the bottom of the bread. However, the paddle did come out of the bread relatively cleanly in most of our tests.
The HomeBaker did earn some points with us by having a bread pan that is both easy to clean and makes it exceptionally easy to remove the finished loaf of bread. The bread pan "locks down", so you can usually just dump the loaf right out without a ton of fuss.
The nonstick pan is also completely safe to totally immerse in water and to put in the dishwasher, making it one of the easier models to clean, by far. Unfortunately, this machine is also a bit on the larger size and has so many audible indicators that it borders on annoying.
The Hamilton Beach doesn't have all the functionality that the top models have, but it does have a relatively impressive set of features given its budget nature. This bread maker has a delay timer so you can ensure that the bread is ready when you are and it also has an audible reminder to alert you when the machine is ready for you to add mix-ins, like dried fruit and nuts. The HomeBaker has preset cycle times for basic, French, gluten-free, whole grain, quick bread, sweet, 1.5 lb. express, 2 lb. express, dough, jam, cake, and bake, which is a bit less than other models, but still hit most of the common uses. This bread machine also includes an extra kneading paddle.
If you are shopping for a new bread machine on a budget, then the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker is an all-around fantastic choice. It's an amazing value, earning it the Best Buy award.
The Hamilton Beach HomeBaker isn't the best bread maker that we have seen so far but it is pretty good, coming close to matching the performance of the best products we have seen to date at a fraction of the price.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise