Oster Expressbake Bread Machine Review

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine is a good starting point for having your first bread maker.

It has step by step instructions for beginners to help you learn how to make your first loaf. 

Although the cookbook it comes with doesn’t come with many recipes, it gives you a great starting base to begin making bread at home. 

I have tried these recipes in the cookbook:

  • White bread
  • Italian herb bread
  • Pizza dough
  • Bread pretzels
  • Bagels

My favourite recipes by far is the bagel recipe! There’s nothing better than having a fresh bagel out of the oven, and lathering on the cream cheese for breakfast on the weekend.

I received the Oster 2lb Bread Machine for Christmas 2 years ago. My husband said he didn’t think we would use it much, but his attitude changed within a few weeks. 

I have used my bread maker to make several different types of cakes, rolls, dough,  and bread. We’ve only had one for 2 years and I can’t imagine not having it.

My husband realized he could use it for making pizza dough, he didn’t have a huge mess to clean up after. When he makes pizza dough, it makes enough for 2 large pizzas. I never expected such a small machine to be able to make that much dough at once. 

Sometimes we use ½ the dough for a pizza, and then leave the other ½ in the fridge and use it the following day to make another pizza. 

We use our bread machine at least once a week to make different recipes. It saves us time, it’s less mess, and it saves us money. I love using it make quick dough recipes like pizza pretzels for lunches during the week.

I like to leave my bread maker on the floor when it’s in use. When it’s actively mixing 1 ball of dough, it can unbalance itself easily. We’ve had ours end up on the floor, so now it just lives on the ground after that.

The lid for this machine just rests on the top, there isn’t a latch or anything for it. 

Pros

  • Simple operation
  • Expressbake- makes bread in 1 hour
  • Compact
  • Paddle comes off easily after baking

Cons

  • Pan can wear out over time
  • Loud/rattles around
  • Bread maker cookbook doesn’t have many recipes

I love having a bread maker to make bagels, pizza pretzels, and pizza dough for my family on a weekly basis. The Oster Bread Machine has made learning how to make bread easy. We’ve had our bread maker for just over 2 years and I would recommend it to any beginner who is looking for a bread maker machine.

oster expressbake bread machine REVIEW

Best Macaron Baking Sheet

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best macaron baking sheet is by Nordic Ware.

Nordic Ware creates a commercial grade baker’s natural aluminum baking sheet.

  • Pure Aluminum – durable and long lasting
  • Reinforced high edges around baking pan – prevents pan from warping
  • Flat baking pan (no ridges or design on baking pan) – bottoms of macaron shells will be perfectly flat
  • Even baking distribution to cook the macarons equally throughout the baking pan
  • 2 Half Sheets will make 1 batch of macarons (~40 filled macarons)
  • Silicone Baking Mat fits perfectly inside the baking pan
Best Macaron Baking Sheet

Nordic Ware’s natural aluminum baking pan has very high edges, which makes grabbing the pan out of the oven much easier.

The baking pan is designed that silicone baking mat’s will fit perfectly inside the edges of the baking pan. There is no part of the baking pan that isn’t covered by silicone, therefore you can pipe the maximum number of macarons onto the baking sheet.

Best Macaron Baking Sheet

For a half sheet, you can fit 40 macarons shells piped onto the baking sheet. This will create 20 filled macarons.

Typically 1 batch of macarons makes 40 filled macarons, therefore it’s best to have 2 half baking sheets.

Piped macarons need to be on a baking sheet, and a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Best Macaron Baking Sheet

The air bubbles need to be removed from the macarons before baking, this is usually done by banging the bottom of the baking pan. Another option is dropping the baking pan onto a flat surface to remove the air bubbles.

Nordic Ware’s natural aluminum baking pan is very strong, you’ll have no problem banging the bottom of the pan to remove the air bubbles from the macarons before baking.

Why is aluminum the best material for baking macarons

Aluminum is the best metal at conducting heat over other baking sheets like stainless steel.

Stainless steel baking pans can create hot spots and will not bake macarons evenly.

Older stainless steel pans can make macarons have sticky bottom shells, and will come out of the oven undercooked.

Aluminum baking sheets resist warping, and are extremely sturdy and durable.

Aluminum baking pans conduct heat evenly throughout the pan.

Aluminum is a light colored baking sheet; it doesn’t absorb heat like other metals, such as stainless steel.

With a lighter colored pan, you can bake your macarons for a shorter amount of time than if you used a stainless steel baking sheet.

Aluminum baking sheets are the choice of high grade commercial bakeries around the globe.

How to clean aluminum baking sheets used for macarons

To clean your aluminum baking sheets, soak them with soap and water and wash with a cloth until clean.

Allow the pan to air dry completely before storage.

Do not wash aluminum baking sheets in the dishwasher as this can cause them to oxidize and break down.

Macarons need their aluminum pans to be perfectly clean. There can be no oily residue present on the baking pan. If there is, the macarons will absorb the oil and will not turn out. The macarons will be sticky and under-baked, or will not turn out at all.

If you’re having trouble removing the oily residue from the aluminum baking pan, pour very hot water on the pan, and this should remove the oil from the baking pan.

Best Food Coloring for Macarons

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best food coloring for macarons is Americolor’s Soft Gel Paste Colors.

Americolor has an array of gel paste colors that only use a tiny amount to give a batch of macarons a burst of color.

  • Strong color using a small amount of food coloring
  • Use only a toothpick amount of gel for every batch of macarons
  • bright and dark colors available
  • no separation of the color
  • color spreads evenly
  • squeeze bottle – ergonomic and economical

Americolor’s “student kit” comes with every color of the rainbow to get you started. It even comes with black just in case you want to make some cookies and crème macarons.

When you’re coloring macarons, you need to add more color than you think. As you add the meringue, the color will become lighter than the initial macaronage batter.

Typically you need to add the food coloring to your egg whites, then add your icing sugar and almond flour. Then you will add the meringue.

The meringue will dilute out the color since the batter will become larger.

Make sure to use more color and make it darker initially that you would like the macarons to have. It will take some practice to make sure you get the color you’re looking for.

You can even use the gel paste color to paint on macarons after they have finished baking. Emulsify the gel food coloring with a bit of almond extract and paint the food coloring onto the macarons.

Best Food Coloring for Macarons

Can you use regular food coloring in macarons

Macarons cannot use water based food coloring as the liquid will interfere with the consistency. Macarons have a very specific liquid to dry ingredient ratio. By adding liquid food coloring to the macaronage batter this will throw off the recipe and unfortunately, the macarons will not turn out.

How do you add food coloring to macarons

  1. Use a toothpick to obtain a small amount of food coloring.
  2. Add food coloring to your initial egg whites. Mix the color well until it fully emulsifies into the egg whites.
  3. Add in your sifted and measured almond flour and icing sugar.
  4. Mix together until combine. The consistency should be a paste at this point for macarons. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the almond flour and make it a uniform color throughout the macaron mixture.
Best Food Coloring for Macarons

What can you add to macaron shells other than food coloring

  • tea
  • coffee
  • lavender
  • dried and crumpled roses
  • cookie crumbs

Adding a dusting of food decoration to the top of your macarons before they dry. Right after piping your macarons you can add a little of the above foods to your macarons and let them dry for 30 minutes before baking them. It will add a pop of color and flavor to your macarons.

What can you add to macaron shells other than food coloring

Best Silicone Pastry Mat

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best silicone pastry mat is the Silpat silicone pastry mat. They are one of the most durable and long-lasting silicone pastry mats.

Silpat silicone pastry mats are able to be used 2000-3000 times before needing to be replaced. You should only need new pastry mats every 10 years, depending on how often you bake.

Silpat silicone pastry mats have one of the highest tolerances for heat in the oven. Usually silicone pastry mats are only good up to about 420°F before they start to deteriorate. Silpat pastry mats can be used up to 500°F in the oven.

Silpat silicone pastry mats come in a variety of sizes that fit perfectly in a baking sheet.

best silicone pastry mat

Silpat baking mat sizes

  • Full Sheet Size, 16-1/2″ x 24-1/2″
  • Countertop Workstation Mat, 15-1/8″ x 23″
  • Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8 x 16-1/2
  • Toaster Oven Baking Mat – 7 7/8″ x 10 7/8″
  • Octagonal Microwave Size Baking Mat – 10 1/4″
  • Round, 12″
  • Cake Liner Round 9″

Silpat temperature range

Silpat’s can be used in the freezer and up to 500°F in the oven.

What to use Silicone Pastry Mats for

Silicone pastry mats are special because they can be used to create fancy chocolate decorations in the freezer, and be used in the oven to bake macarons.

Silpat silicone mats allow macarons to spread wider, which produces more of a rounder and flatter macaron. Silpat silicone pastry mats are commercial grade, and are used in bakeries worldwide. Since the Silpat produces the ideal macaron that is round and flat, this gives macarons a more professional look to them.

Silpat pastry mats can be used in the freezer to create unique chocolate decorations. You can pipe chocolate directly on the Silpat and then place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Gently peel the chocolate decoration off of the Silpat mat and it’s ready to use.

Silpat pastry mats fit perfectly in a baking sheet. Instead of using parchment paper to line your baking sheet, you can use a Silpat pastry mat. Silpat pastry mats work very well when baking foods like croissants and scones.

How to Make Chocolate Snowflakes

Silpat silicone pastry mats can be used to line a baking sheet to prevent the baking pan from getting quite dirty and difficult to clean.

How to clean a Silpat silicone baking mat

The silicone has a non-stick coating to it, which makes it very easy to clean. Wipe the Silpat mat clean with a cloth soaked in soap and water. Rinse the Silpat with hot water.

Silpat silicone mats need to be perfectly clean without any oil residue on them to be used for macarons. If you silicone mat has an oily film to it, use hot water to remove the oil effectively from your silicone mat.

Best Food Baller

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best food baller is the Kmeivol melon baller.

  • comfort grip handle
  • stainless steel – durable and resists rusting
  • heavy duty
  • dishwasher safe

What can you use a melon baller for

A melon baller can be used for a few different purposes:

  • ball fruit for drinks, fruit platters, or for plating
  • cookie dough – perfect size every time
  • ice cream scoop – or for making fancy ice cream desserts like Italian Tartufo

Try using a food baller to create small fruit balls to include in cocktails.

You an use cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, or honeydew with your food baller. After you get a good sized piece of fruit, place it in the drink for added presentation. Your guests will love it.

Another use of a food baller is using it in ice cream. One Italian dessert uses a food baller is a tartufo dessert.

how to make desserts in silicone molds

It’s made with using a food baller to get the center – this could be ice cream, ganache, etc.

Around the center is 2 more layers of ice cream. The multi-layered dessert is decadent, and the center is a perfect circle, thanks to the food baller.

How to Serve Ice Cream at a Dinner Party

Cookie dough is run to roll in your hands to create small smalls of dough, but it doesn’t get the size perfect every time. Use a food baller to create perfect sized cookie balls and your cookies will all be finished at the same time. Sometimes having larger cookies will cause the smaller cookies to burn. Therefore, using a food baller to create cookie dough balls will make your cookies all the same cooking time, every time you bake.

Can you freeze melon balls

You can freeze melon balls of fruit as needed. Frozen melon balls are best used for frozen drinks as they act as an ice cube. They will add a little bit of flavor to the drink without overpowering it since the fruit is frozen. Only freeze the fruit for a couple of days before using for drinks.

Best Garlic Mincer

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best garlic mincer is by OXO.

Oxo has created a black and silver garlic mincer that creates the most garlic out of all of the garlic presses I have personally tried.

  • produces a large amount of garlic
  • very little garlic remaining in the basket after mincing
  • removable basket to for easy cleaning
  • dishwasher safe
Best Garlic Mincer

Oxo’s garlic press can push up to 3 large garlic cloves through the mincer at one time. I have tried other garlic mincers where you only get 1/3 of the garlic clove out of the garlic mincer.

This particular garlic mincer gives about 90% of the garlic clove and then leaves behind only a small amount of garlic. I remove the leftover garlic by using a butter knife, and then putting it directly in my green bin.

I usually peel the garlic before putting it in the mincer. I find I get more garlic out of the garlic mincer that way.

Best Garlic Mincer

I typically always put the Oxo garlic mincer in the dishwasher because it cleans it much better. I place it flat in the top rack of the dishwasher and it comes out perfectly clean.

Is a garlic press worth it

A garlic press is definitely worth the investment in a kitchen tool. Depending on how much you cook, many recipes require minced garlic for pasta dishes, stir-fry’s, etc.

A garlic press is worth purchasing if you aren’t comfortable using a large knife to cut up your garlic, or using a grater. These options are ok, but they are not ideal. They are much more risky than using a garlic press.

Is it better to mince or chop garlic

Do you need to peel garlic before using a garlic press

You do not need to peel garlic before using it in a garlic press. However, you will get more garlic if you do peel the paper skin away before mining your garlic.

Is it better to mince or chop garlic

It’s better to mince garlic than to chop garlic. Mincing garlic makes garlic granules much smaller than chopping. Since more surface area is exposed of the garlic, the flavor is much stronger. Chopped garlic is usually in bigger pieces, so someone is more likely to get a large piece in their food, which isn’t ideal. The flavor is not as strong using chopped garlic over minced garlic.

What can I use instead of a garlic press

Instead of a garlic press, you can use a grater. Carefully grate the garlic on a grater that has small holes so you can get tiny bits of garlic for your recipe. You don’t want too big of garlic pieces.

You can use a sharp knife instead of a garlic press. This is much more difficult to get little bits of garlic. Typically you’ll want to slice the garlic in half first, and then cut smaller sections of of the garlic until you have small cubes.

Can you grate garlic instead of mincing

You can grate garlic instead of mincing if you don’t have a garlic press. Use a grater that has small holes so you can grate the garlic small enough for your recipe.

Is there a tool to mince garlic

To mince garlic you can use the garlic press tool.

A garlic press has small holes that the garlic is forced through with a metal piece.

The metal comes behind the garlic and pushes it through the holes, giving the garlic a minced preparation.

Is a garlic press worth it

How to prepare and mince a garlic clove

Silpat Silicone Baking Mat Review

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Silpat silicone baking mats are one of the most durable, long lasting, temperature withstanding silicone mats available. They are professional grade quality with many bakeries choosing to bake with Silpat silicone baking mats.

  • 2000-3000 uses
  • up to 500°F in the oven – much more heat resistant than other silicone baking mats (~420°F)
  • several sizes available that fit perfectly in a baking sheet
  • commercial grade

I have used my Silpat baking mats for over a year now with baking many different foods:

  • macarons
  • croissants
  • scones
  • chocolate decorations

I find the Silpat silicone mats are much higher quality than my other silicone mats. They are able to withstand the high usage and high temperatures. I love the way my macarons turn out using the Slip

I find the Silpat silicone mats are much higher quality than my other silicone mats. They are able to withstand the high usage and high temperatures.

I love the way macarons turn out using the Silpat silicone baking mat. They give them a beautiful matte round finish to them which makes them look professional, like they came from a commercial bakery.

At first, I used parchment paper to bake macarons, but after getting more comfortable making macarons I like using the Silpat much better.

My favorite dessert to make with Silpat silicone baking mat are chocolate decorations.

I can easily pipe chocolate directly on the silicone mat and then place it in the freezer.

The silicone baking mat is much thicker, so I find I don’t easily ruin the design.

Using parchment paper for chocolate decorations is much more difficult because it’s flimsy, and easily movable which can disturb the design. I much prefer using the Silpat silicone baking mat.

When I make croissants, I find the Silpat silicone mat very easy to use for rolling out my croissant dough. I like having a couple of silicone mats. One for rolling out the dough, and one for shaping the butter layer.

The butter layer is easily manipulated on the silicone mat, since it remains in one place without moving.

I find using cling wrap is much more difficult to make the butter layer since it moves around and it quite flimsy. I find it hard to place it on a plate and then into the fridge, and somehow get it off of the plate in one piece to place into the croissant dough for lamination. The butter layer frequently breaks on me if I use cling wrap.

It’s much easier and I’ve had no issues at all with the butter layer breaking when I use my Silpat silicone mat. I would recommend to use it for anyone attempting croissants.

I have used my Silpat silicone baking mat for baking croissants on as well and so far I’m very impressed with how well they have turned out.

how to shape croissants

Silpat baking mat sizes

  • Full Sheet Size, 16-1/2″ x 24-1/2″
  • Countertop Workstation Mat, 15-1/8″ x 23″
  • Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8 x 16-1/2
  • Toaster Oven Baking Mat – 7 7/8″ x 10 7/8″
  • Octagonal Microwave Size Baking Mat – 10 1/4″
  • Round, 12″
  • Cake Liner Round 9″

Silpat temperature range

Silpat’s can be used in frozen environments and up to 500°F in the oven.

Silpat mat vs parchment paper

Silicone Baking Mat (Silpat)Parchment Paper
ReusableOne time use
Lines a baking sheetCan line many different baking pans such as: baking sheet, loaf pan, deep baking sheet, cake pans
Cookies - need to cook for a couple min longer than parchment paper, roast vegetables, caramel, butter laminationCookies, scones, cakes, breads
Do not use over 500 degrees F. Ok to use for almost every temperature in the ovenDo not use over 420 degrees F - has the potential to burn the paper
Flatter more rounder cookiesCookies will be taller and will not spread out as much

Silpat silicone mat vs parchment paper for making macarons

Silpat silicone mats are the gold standard for baking macarons. However, sometimes the macarons need a bit of longer bake time when using a Silpat silicone mat vs using parchment paper. Silpat silicone mats allow macarons to spread wider, which produces more of a rounder and flatter macaron than using parchment paper. This gives the macarons a more professional look to them when baked with a Silpat silicone mat.

tropical macaron flavors

Best Almond Flour for Macarons

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best almond flour for macarons is Blue Diamond Almond Flour.

  • finely sifted
  • blanched almonds
  • gluten free
  • 3 lbs

Blue Diamond sifts their almond flour before placing it in their packaging, so you can be sure you’re getting the finest ground of almond flour possible.

Since the almond flour comes already sifted, this makes sifting it again for your macarons much easier than if it isn’t pre-sifted.

Typically if an almond flour isn’t already sifted the almond flour clumps together. You need to place it in the food processor to grind the almond flour more finely in order to sift it for macarons.

how to paint on macarons

Macarons always need to have almond flour sifted right before using. Sifting almond flour adds air to it, which gives the macaron that velvety, chewy texture when you bite into them.

It’s best to use a sifter with a medium mesh instead of a fine mesh. Use a colander to sift your almond flour over a fine mesh sifter.

Almond flour is too large to fit through a fine mesh sieve. Use a strainer or colander to sift your almond flour for your macarons.

how does a sifter work with almond flour

What type of almond flour is needed for macarons

Almond flour for macarons needs to use blanched almonds.

Blanched almonds have their skins removed. The skins contain oil. If you were to blend almonds together with their skins on, the oil leaches out of the skins and creates an almond paste.

If you blend blanched almonds together you get an almond flour. The almond flour made by using blanched almonds is a crumbly and fine texture.

Is almond flour the same as ground almond?

Almond flour is made with blanched almonds, whereas ground almonds have their skins on them still. Ground almonds contain oil making it an almond meal. Almond flour has the almond skins removed when they are blended, therefore it’s more of a dry, crumbly texture.

How to Sift Almond Flour Faster

Why are macarons made with almond flour?

Macarons are made with almond flour because it creates a smooth, velvet, chewy texture for the macaron shells. The almond flour texture creates the melt in your mouth feel to it when you bite into them. Almond flour combines well with the meringue making the macaron batter smooth and thick, ideal for piping.

best almond flour for macarons

How to make almond flour for macarons

  1. Take approximately 1 cup of blanched almonds and place them in a food processor.
  2. Blend on high until finely grounded.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the food processor.
  4. Blend on high again until completely ground into a fine, crumbly texture.
  5. Sift your almond flour and measure for your macarons.

Best Rolling Pin for Tortillas

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best rolling pin for tortillas is by Bulut. Bulut creates a extra long wooden rolling pin for rolling foods that need be very thin.

  • 35″ long – can roll large tortillas with ease
  • 3/4″ thickness – narrow thickness – allows for quicker rolling of large items
  • solid wood – will last a lifetime
  • cylindrical – even rolling

Tortillas require their dough to be rolled very thin.

Tortillas that are rolled out using a thin and long rolling pin will take less time to roll out than a regular rolling pin, and give you a thinner dough.

When you hold up the tortilla dough after it has been rolled out, it should be thin enough that you can see through it a bit.

If your tortillas are rolled too thick, they will be more difficult to shape and wrap them when you’re ready to use them for your meals. They can also be too chewy when you bite into them, since they will be much thicker.

If your tortillas are not keeping their shape once you roll them out, the dough may need to rest for 30 min longer before rolling them out again.

Tortillas have quite a lot of gluten, and even though they are not kneaded for very long, the dough can be tough to roll out if it hasn’t rested long enough.

Make sure the tortillas have an even thickness throughout before frying the dough in the frying pan.

When you’re shaping and rolling your tortilla dough, keep in mind that the dough should only be rolled out right before frying. As your tortilla is in the frying pan cooking, roll out your next tortilla. This will prevent the dough from drying out too much.

Tortillas can only be made as big as the pan they are cooking in. Keep this in mind when thinking about how large you want your tortillas to be. You may need a larger pan to cook a big tortilla.

Best Rolling Pin for Tortillas

Best Pastry Mat for Rolling Dough

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best pastry mat for rolling dough is the Silpat.

The Silpat can be used to turn any surface into a non-stick surface.

  • no need to flour the surface of the pastry mat to roll out dough
  • remains in place when rolling
  • non-stick surface – easily peel your dough off of the mat
Best Pastry Mat for Rolling Dough

How to use a pastry mat for rolling out dough

  1. Put your pastry mat onto a flat surface.
  2. Place your dough onto your pastry mat.
  3. Dust your dough and rolling pin with a flour.
  4. Roll out your dough.

The Silpat silicone pastry mat will remain in place while you’re rolling out your dough. You don’t have to flour the surface of the mat, only your dough and rolling pin to roll out your dough on the silicone pastry mat.

how to laminate croissant dough

If you’re rolling out croissant dough or puff pastry you can easily place your silicone pastry mat and dough into the fridge between laminations.

how to proof croissants overnight

Using a silicone pastry mat makes it much easier when you’re rolling out butter for lamination to a specific measurement. The butter remains in place, and it doesn’t create a huge mess. The butter easily peels off of the silicone when you’re transferring it to inside your dough.

pain au chocolat proofing

Silpat pastry mats can be used in the oven to cook pastries and other baked goods as well.

  • Even heat distribution
  • Made to fit your pan exactly – no need to cut parchment paper to fit
  • Durable and long lasting – up to 3000 bakes
  • No greasing needed – no added fat to your recipe
  • Easy release of pastry
  • Professional grade
Best Sifter for Powdered Sugar

Do you need to grease a silicone pastry mat

You do not need to grease a silicone pastry mat to use it. The silicone provides a barrier for your pastry to be easily removed from the mat. Peel off your baked pastry from the mat and place it on a cooling rack.

Do you need to flour a silicone pastry mat

You do not need to flour a silicone pastry mat. Silicone is a special material that does not require it to be floured. It is non-greasy, and you can easily peel your dough or cooked pastry from the mat. When you’re using a silicone pastry mat to roll out your dough, you only need to flour your dough and rolling pin, not the silicone pastry mat.

Where can you use your silicone pastry mat?

A Silpat silicone pastry mat can be used in the freezer, microwave, and the oven.

How to clean a silicone pastry mat?

Wash your silicone pastry mat with some dish soap and a cloth and let it air dry overnight.

How to store a silicone pastry mat?

Store a silicone pastry mat by placing it in a drawer or a cupboard. The silicone mat can be stored rolled up, or folded and will not be damaged.

best macaron mat