Since this bread maker is fairly narrow but tall, it will fit well in certain kitchen layouts and somewhat less so in others. Performance-wise, this KBS product is a good option roughly midway between basic, compact bread makers and higher-end models like the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus.
Depending on your taste in appliances, its styling may be enough to sell you on the whole package. A nifty blue-and-white backlit display is easy to read even in dim light, assuming you’re tall enough to peek over the top. Below this, you’ll find a spacious touchpad that’s easy to wipe down.
In many ways, the KBS is similar to the Breville BBM800XL. Both, for example, have interior lights and an automatic fruit and nut dispenser to spice up your creations. Sadly, the KBS does not allow you to enter custom baking programs, though the 17 presets should satisfy most people.
Ticks Most of the Important Boxes
This selection of programs includes options for gluten-free baking, jam, store-bought premix and even yogurt. The latter might not be something you’re planning on making every day, but this can quickly turn into a habit. If you can produce healthier, better-quality food for cheaper than it costs at the store, why wouldn’t you?
When used simply as a mixer and kneading machine, this bread maker actually distinguishes between “Raw Dough”, which isn’t allowed to rise in the machine (like pasta or recipes that use baking powder instead of yeast), “Leaven Dough” which contain yeast (pizza, for example), and “Ferment”, which keeps the interior at a comfy 86 °F for up to 4 hours to produce special breads. Unfortunately, this is a little too warm to produce good kombucha or sauerkraut.
You can set it to produce loaves of 1, 1½ and 2 pounds, with, as usual, three options for how dark and dense you’d like the crust to be. In case you find yourself in a hurry, you can use the “Quick” cycle to get a 2-lb loaf in about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Features: Some Expected, Some Exceptional
Although something of a lightweight at just under 15 pounds, the KBS is comparatively quiet while kneading. While it doesn’t totally avoid the tell-tale divot that identifies any machine-baked loaf of bread, its paddle leaves a relatively small and discreet hole. You can always keep the slices with a notch in them for yourself and feed your guests the pristine ones, or bake your dough in the oven instead.
More importantly and in contrast to the best bread makers we’ve encountered, this machine uses a ceramic-coated pan for more even heat distribution, at least as far as the bottom and sides are concerned. Bread tends to slide right off this surface. Anyone who’s used a bread maker before will know that trying to dig out a slightly burnt loaf using a spatula is frustrating, while a knife or metal utensil will almost certainly scratch any non-stick surface. In addition, this non-toxic option will certainly appeal to people who are suspicious of chemicals like teflon.
Though features like these aren’t all that unusual, it’s worth mentioning that you can schedule the machine to start up to 15 hours in advance so you can have a loaf ready first thing in the morning. A program that’s interrupted due to a power outage of 15 minutes or less will resume automatically, and you can choose to keep your bread warm for up to 60 minutes after baking has completed. It’s recommended that you remove it as soon as the final ping sounds, though, as leaving it inside the machine can result in a crust that’s somewhat more wrinkly and chewy than you probably prefer.
KBS Versus Breville: Which One to Buy?
Assuming that you want a machine of this general type, and especially one with an automatic fruit/nut dispenser for truly unattended baking, either will be an asset in your kitchen. Which one you choose will most likely come down to price, as the other differences are minor and tend to cancel out one another.
The Breville, of course, has a kneading blade that at least nominally folds down to avoid leaving a crater in the bottom of your loaf. As mentioned, though, this isn’t much of a problem with the KBS either. Unlike the Breville, the KBS’s canister for solid granules is removable for easier cleaning, which will be a factor if you want to use sticky add-ins like dried fruit. One thing which many people will find significant is that the KBS uses a shorter, more cubical baking pan, while that of the Breville is shaped more like the loaves you’re probably used to.
Though we have no basis for comparison on this point, KBS does have a pretty good reputation for actually responding to customer questions. This is a pretty big deal, since many people who are disappointed by their bread machines are actually just using them incorrectly. KBS’s customer support may be able to help you diagnose the causes of problems like collapsed or misshapen loaves.
On the negative side of the ledger, the KBS manual is somewhat rudimentary and difficult to read, though actually using the machine is not rocket science. Still, the included recipe ebook – not a pamphlet, a full-sized book you might pay $10 for on its own if it were printed on paper – includes 300 recipes and more than makes up for this lack.
To sum up all the above, this KBS is a very nice, affordably priced bread maker comparable in performance to the Breville. It does not, however, allow you to enter your own baking schedules, which is the biggest practical difference between the two.
- Easy to use
- Attractive appearance
- Numerous distinct baking options
- Can't deviate from factory-set programs
- Loaves too wide for most toasters
- Costs significantly more than entry-level bread makers