If you’ve already read the review covering the Breville BBM800XL, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this Cuisinart. The two are cast in pretty much the same mold, and not just in terms of appearance; the basic difference is that the Cuisinart CBK-200 lacks many of the features that make the Breville stand out, and therefore costs significantly less.
What the CBK-200 has going for it, aside from price, is the inclusion of a fan that promotes air circulation and even heating. Many bread makers, with the notable exception of the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus, don’t distribute heat all that evenly, often leading to bread that gets somewhat too crusty on the bottom while it’s still pale on top. On the flip side, the lack of an internal light makes it more difficult to get a mouth-watering view of your loaf’s progress, while people who want to adapt cooking times to specific recipes will be out of luck.
Like a Cover Band, Good at Playing the Few Tunes It Knows
Though it comes with 16 pre-programmed cycles, including gluten-free, low-carb, jam, cake and dough options, five of these are actually just hasty versions of standard programs. Unfortunately and unlike the Breville and both Zojirushi options, there’s no way to input your own cooking cycles, apart from the “Bake Only” program which allows you to set a cooking time between 10 and 90 minutes.
Something that will please many busy people is the “Last-Minute Loaf” setting, which allows you to produce a loaf in only an hour partly thanks to the conduction-assist fan. This requires you to use fast-acting yeast, though: allowing dough to rise more slowly at a lower temperature produces a much tastier, tangier result. This, in fact, is exactly what the “Artisan Dough” program allows you to do over the course of 5 hours. Once past its initial rise, dough can be frozen for up to 4 weeks or kept in the fridge for two or three days, after which you can plop it back into the bread maker for baking.
Not Totally Automatic
It’s often the little things that determine how convenient an appliance is to use. In the case of the Cuisinart CBK-200, you can set it to start after a delay of up to 12 hours, but it seems this machine is really intended for use while you’re fooling around in the kitchen or at least close enough to hear its buzzer.
To begin with, your dough will often benefit from some assistance with mixing. Sometimes, the ingredients will stick to the pan’s sides or corners, especially if the mixture is somewhat sticky (as gluten-free recipes tend to be). The only remedy is to scrape these remnants back into the dough ball using a spatula.
In addition, since this bread maker doesn’t have an automatic add-in dispenser like the Breville and KBS Pro, you have to listen for the tone that indicates when it’s time to toss in some raisins or olives. Another series of beeps tells you when to remove the mixing paddle and shape the unbaked loaf for best appearance. This buzzer is gratingly loud and can’t be turned off.
Color Within the Lines
One of the less tangible factors that distinguishes different bread makers is how well they tolerate variations in a recipe. In the case of the CBK-200, the answer seems to be “not very”.
The included recipe booklet contains an almost overwhelming array of savory, sweet, low-carb and gluten free breads, desserts, snacks, sauces and specialty doughs. It does not, however, explain what each step ingredient actually does, and this is probably for the best.
Especially with tricky concoctions like gluten-free dough, it’s best to follow these instructions to the letter and, once you find a recipe that works well for you, make notes of what you did and stick to them. Some recipes you’ll find online and in other cookbooks will work in your Cuisinart, of course. Still, since you can’t alter the factory standard programs or make up your own, you may have to experiment a little and expect a few fallen, misshapen or overdone loaves along the way.
Not a Rolls Royce, Not a Volkswagen
As the price suggests, this product is not meant for everyday use if you plan on it lasting for a long time. How reliable your particular machine will turn out to be is mostly a matter of luck, but despite the 3-year limited warranty, longevity is a concern.
If you specifically want a bread maker for gluten-free baking, make sure to follow the provided recipes exactly or use premixes until you get the hang of things. Even so, the T-Fal ActiBread is probably a better option in this case.
In addition, even aside from the buzzer, this machine is on the noisy side, especially with very dense dough mixtures. Both the pan and the stirrer fit in place somewhat loosely, which causes some rattling and does not inspire confidence as far as durability goes. If you can live with these drawbacks, however, the relatively low price may well make the CBK-200 your first option.
- Above-average instructions and recipe book
- Forms an even crust
- Some concerns about quality
- No way to alter factory-set programs
- Noisy for its size