We have to say that the idea of a bread and jam maker had us both a little puzzled and rather suspicious from the start but then all the more reason for us to put the Morphy Richards Accents range device through its paces. The results - we were not disappointed. Not one little bit - full and sick of bread, but not disappointed.
The first thing you notice about the Morphy Richards Bread & Jam maker when you get it out the box is that it’s big. It’s not big like “oh my god, this is the world’s biggest bread maker,” it’s just that you realise quite how much space on your kitchen counter a bread maker can take up. If you only have a small cooking area and worktop space is at a premium, you might want to consider whether buying such a non-essential device is really the most sensible option. This is not an object you can stash in the cupboard until needed. That said, if you do have the space for this 32.5 x 37.5 x 23cm unit it will make a pleasing aesthetic asset to you home. This is one good-looking machine. It’s on the minimal side with a brushed chrome and black finish and the tall boxy looks give it a wonderfully modern monolithic feel.
Once you get inside the machine via the door on the top surface, you realise what you’ve essentially got is just a mini oven with a dedicated purpose. There’s a heating and warming element where the 600W of power are channelled, a bulb so you can see what's going on inside and sitting within is a specialised non-stick baking tin where you chuck all the ingredients for your bread or jam making - and when we say non-stick, we mean in it. With tens of loaves, cakes and preserves that we created during our testing, all we ever needed to do is lightly rinse the pan afterwards, and therein lies one of the joys of this machine. It takes almost zero maintenance whatsoever. The only part you ever have to worry about is the pan and even that basically takes care of itself.
Operation is a largely simple affair as well. You can read the manual for how to work it but the paper is mostly all about the recipes, but more on that in a moment. You choose the bread product you want to make, whack in the various ingredients, select the appropriate setting and hit the start button. If you want to delay the process so that it is ready for the minute you step into the kitchen in the morning all fresh and warm, then there’s a timer that’ll work up to 13 hours in advance. Beyond that, there are three settings for what colour you want the crust to be - light, medium and dark - and a choice of two sizes - 1.5lbs or 2lbs.
The crust settings work perfectly, as do the weight choice, but the sad fact is that the ideal loaf size is probably somewhere in between the two. A 2lbs loaf ends up in slices of bread the size of A4 paper and the 1.5lbs size, although perfectly good, is a touch on the small size for sandwiches. Doubtless, you can start playing around with the amount of yeast you add to get it to the right size but it takes a little tinkering. Thankfully, there is a separate sandwich loaf recipe if that’s really what you’re after.
All the same, what pops out is predominantly delicious whether from the book that comes with it or a ready bought bread mix. The manual comes with a host of recipes from granary, wholemeal, white and brown to more interesting tries like Irish soda bread, cornbread and even a chocolate loaf. What’s more, you can delve into the world of cakes with madeira, banana and fruit cakes all featuring. If you want to know, it’s the banana and nut bread we liked best.
On top of all that, you can actually make full on deserts such as rice pudding and apple crisps and it will cater for gluten-free products too. The very first loaf of white bread we made was a little on the sweet side, so you might want to drop the sugar content of some of these baked goods by half a tablespoon or so, but you’ll work all that out as you go. The bottom line here is that it makes good food. The jam works in the same way, drop all the ingredients in the pan and hit the jam setting instead. We were rather wowed with how easy it all is.
The Morphy Richards Accents Bread & Jam maker comes with a set of plastic measuring cups and a stark warning that baking is a science. So long as you stick rigidly to what the book tells you, you will get good results. Perhaps the only criticism we really have for it is that some of the recipes - such as the soda bread - require you to add ingredients half way through the process. It lets you know to do so by sounding a beeper. Now, that’s all very well if you happen to be home and awake when the beeper goes off but the point of a bread maker is that you can set it to go and then forget about it until it’s done however many hours later. Some units come with timed dropping trays to account for this but sadly there isn’t one with this model.
At around the £70 mark, this is an excellent buy for anyone looking to do some home baking. It still requires buying a lot of weird and wonderful powders and ingredients to get it to work but once you’ve tracked them all down, you’ll have as much fresh bread as you can stomach. Whether that desire lasts or this becomes another kitchen fad for your gadget graveyard is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. The novelty certainly wore of for us after a few weeks but then we were baking two a day to make it through the recipe book and we are getting urges to put on another sandwich loaf on as we write this, so it's not all over yet.
All in all though, dropping tray withstanding, this is as good a machine as you could find anywhere and you’ll certainly get your money’s worth. It's a great gift idea and a pleasure to own.
Thank you to QVC for the loan of the product. You'll find it available at www.qvcuk.com.