Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Product Review: My Bready


In any given week, there's a good chance you'll find a partial loaf of Udi's or Rudi's gluten-free multigrain bread in our freezer. Truth be told, though, we do a lot of from-scratch bread baking as well ... yeast sandwich breads, baguettes, bagels. But every time we post a bread recipe, we inevitably receive emails that ask, "Would this work in my bread machine?" or "Have you made gluten-free bread in a bread machine?"

So, when the makers of the My Bready gluten-free bread machine contacted us about trying out one of their machines for one month, we couldn't help but accept the offer. Buckle up tight, because we have no shortage of reaction to this puppy.

Price

At a whopping $320 retail ($350 if you want the machine plus a sample pack of 3 bread mixes), the My Bready is expensive. Really expensive. It costs a full $100 more than highly rated high-end bread machines such as those from Zojirushi, and more than double what you might expect to pay for an average bread machine. The My Bready is priced liked a Lamborghini (too bad it doesn't also have the same sleek lines and nice body styling...).

Product design

The My Bready comes in a single color, which—as best as I can tell—is "manila folder" or "sand." Where's the clean white, or sleek black, or brushed metal so popular in kitchens these days?

This thing is BIG. At 28 pounds, it weighs double to triple what the best-selling bread machines on Amazon do. Also, the folks at My Bready claim it fits easily on a kitchen counter, and that it's the same size or smaller than a microwave oven (including just 1/3 as deep—front to back—as a microwave). We beg to differ. We have a large microwave oven. The Bready is at least as wide, nearly as deep, and significantly taller. In fact it's so tall that it didn't fit on our kitchen counter (it hit the cupboards above), which is why we snapped photos of it on a side table in our dining room.

Proprietary technology

The Bready is unlike other bread machines you've probably seen. You don't dump ingredients into a baking pan. There are no paddles that do the mixing. Instead, the Bready uses its own proprietary bag system—you buy a package from the company, which has the dry ingredients sealed inside. You add water and other wet ingredients. The machine scans/reads an RFID chip on the bag so it knows how long to bake, etc. Then you attach the bag in a prescribed sequence of steps to rollers inside the machine. Then the Bready goes to work. It breaks the seal between the dry and liquid ingredients, mixes them, kneads them, transfers them to a baking pan, and bakes them.

First, let's get this out of the way: the "kneading" step is nothing but marketing mumbo jumbo. By definition, gluten-free breads don't have gluten, and therefore do not require kneading. Once you're done mixing the ingredients fully together, you're ready to let it rise and bake. Any additional and prolonged kneading is doing just one thing ... delaying the time between now and when I get to eat a slice of freshly baked bread later.

Secondly, you're REQUIRED to use Bready's proprietary mixes that are pre-bagged. If you don't like their flavors; if you have an additional dietary intolerance or allergy to another ingredient in their mix; if you want to use someone else's bread machine recipe, you can't. You're up a creek without a paddle. And Bready's mixes aren't cheap. They start at around $7.50 per mix plus shipping. You already paid through the nose for the machine itself. Now they want you all aboard the gravy train of their proprietary mixes. This is one of the most egregious cases of a gluten-free food/product costing more than it should that I've seen. It borders on shameful.

Gluten-free claims

Another of Bready's marketing selling points is that this machine—specially designed for gluten-free breads, they say—enables confidently gluten-free breads since each gluten-free mix is pre-sealed in the proprietary bags, so cross-contamination is never an issue. I hate to further rain on the Bready parade, but come on.

First, the Bready ONLY sells gluten-free mixes, so there's no chance of anything else with gluten ever being used in the machine. Secondly, the gluten-free claim is hardly Bready's alone. Take this advice: Go out, buy any other quality bread machine brand new for half the cost, with a better design and one third the weight, and only use gluten-free ingredients in it. Bada bing, bada boom. Gluten-free bread. And you can use any recipe you want.


How it works

I described a bit above how the Bready works. But let me say here that the machine introduces lots of opportunity for operator error. For example, each pre-sealed bag is labeled on one side, which is supposed to face the baker. But are you the baker, or is the machine the baker? We ran into numerous such problems. We had problems with the machine failing to re-set (it even tried to continue baking a previous loaf after we'd unplugged it from the wall outlet, let it sit for half an hour, and turned it back on!). At one point, Kelli had to force her way into the machine and cut open the bag with a pair of scissors, because the bread was rising in the sealed bag instead of having been transferred to the baking pan, and was threatening to explode dough all over the inside of the machine!

Without going on and on about the particulars (which in retrospect are actually a bit funny...what a comedy of errors working with this machine was), let me just say that Kelli had to watch an accompanying "how to operate the Bready" DVD three times, and had four different conversations on the telephone with customer service and tech support to resolve problems. Oy vey!

The breads

And so finally, what did we think of the breads themselves? We attempted to make four, which the company sent with the machine:
  • Heavenly White (standard white bread)
  • Cherish My Chocolate (chocolate cake loaf)
  • That's Amore (pizza crust)
  • Nearly, Dearly Rye (a gluten-free mock rye bread)
The Heavenly White never got made. It was a casualty of the machine, and customer service never sent the replacement they said they would.

The Cherish My Chocolate cake loaf was dense, like a hybrid between a heavy bread and a cake. It was slightly burned on top, but the overall flavor was good.

The That's Amore pizza crust was fine, but the process seemed like overkill. You use the Bready machine to make and rise the dough, then take the proprietary plastic bag, snip the edge to make a faux pastry bag, then pipe the pizza dough into a pizza pan to bake in the oven.

Finally, the Nearly, Dearly Rye was quite delicious. It was perhaps the only saving grace of our Bready experience.

Conclusion

The My Bready may get billing as a powerful gluten-free bread machine, but in our opinion, it's half-baked at best. Move on. I've seen other Bready reviews on other gluten-free blogs and websites, and some people have raved about this machine. Honestly, I have no idea how they can come to such a positive conclusion. This is a more profoundly negative review than we typically write, even if we're critical of a company or product. But it's the brutal, honest truth. Nothing less, nothing more. Save your money and spend it elsewhere.

–Pete

7 comments:

Amanda on Maui said...

I was always a bit freaked out by the plastic bag part, and the lack of environmental concern from the company as well. Having to use their mixes locks a consumer in for sure, and what if the company fails? The consumer is stuck with a gigantic hunk of junk. I've seen it advertised online and in allergy-free magazines, but I've definitely never wanted one myself. That's what my stand mixer is for!

peterbronski said...

Hi Amanda... You bring up additional valid issues we had also considered but didn't write about. (Had to draw the line somewhere in the review... =)) I agree with you 100%.

Cheers, Pete

Jody Carden Lehman said...

I have been testing out the new bread machine from Zojirushi for my store. The one with "gluten free" setting, as well all the other standard ones. While there are tons of issues with cross contamination unless only used for GF breads, so far I have had good results. I don't use Zojirushi's recipes. The breads taste fine, but lack flavor. I substituted your artisianal flour mix (just for fun) and tweaked a few things and have been pleased. I would hate to be locked into using a companies mixes only. Amanda is correct. That could be a giant waste of money.

Kim Bouldin said...

Pete,

I appreciate your honesty. I have to admit that I had been wanting to try the Bready out, but was not willing to part with the $$, as I have a perfectly good Zo.

I am making sure to share this on my FB page & Twitter to make sure that others make sure to thoroughly consider what they are getting if they choose to make that leap.

Kim

peterbronski said...

Hi Jody... Glad to hear you've had good results with your machine and our flour blend!

Hi Kim... Thanks for sharing the review with your readers and followers! Important to get the word out.

Cheers, Pete

bookladydavina said...

Ouch.. so glad I just went with a more "traditional" breadmaker. I'd had one before I went GF which I gave to my step daughter after going GF and bought myself a nice Cuisinart with a GF setting. It is perfect for us and wasn't too pricey, and i can use any darn recipe I want in there.
This company sounds horrible, setting their customers up for failure and then it sounds like they don't even care much once they have your money

peterbronski said...

Hi BookLady... Glad to hear you've been happy with your Cuisinart bread maker!

Cheers, Pete