Oster Expressbake Bread Machine Review

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 Silicone Pastry Mat

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

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.

How to Prepare a Garlic Clove

Preparing a garlic clove for mincing involves using a butter knife to press the garlic first. This allows the paper skin to come off much more easily.

How to prepare and mince a garlic clove

  1. Gently remove 1 garlic clove from a garlic bulb by pulling the garlic bulb apart. Remove 1 garlic from the garlic bulb.
  2. Take the garlic clove and put it on a cutting board.
  3. Use a butter knife horizontally and press the garlic down a little. You’ll hear the garlic come away from the paper.
  4. Gently remove the papery skin from the garlic clove.
  5. Place the garlic cloves in the garlic press. Usually you can fit 2-3 garlic cloves in at once.
  6. Press the garlic together by using the handles. Use only 1 hand to press the garlic together. The garlic will come through the holes on the other side, so be prepared for a little bit to fall. You can have a dish for it to fall into.
  7. Using a butter knife, scrape the garlic from the garlic press and into your recipe.
  8. Using a butter knife, scrape the inside of the rest of the garlic that didn’t make it through the press. Discard this garlic.
  9. Your garlic is ready for your recipe and your garlic press can be placed in the dishwasher to clean.

Can you store garlic in the fridge

Do not store garlic in the fridge, this is not the ideal temperature for garlic. Store garlic at room temperature.

How to store garlic

Store garlic in a dry, dark area at room temperature. Keeping garlic at room temperature will prevent the garlic from creating any sprouts. Store garlic in a cabinet with no moisture and low humidity. Moisture can create bacterial growth on your garlic, so it’s best kept in a cabinet away from any splashes. Garlic can be exposed to the air, so keeping it in a bowl in a cabinet will work well for storage.

What can you use if you don’t have a garlic press

You can use a grater if you don’t have a garlic press, or you can use a sharp knife to cut the garlic into small pieces. These are not ideal options as they pose a risk of hurting yourself. Grating garlic is hard to do at the end of a garlic piece, only grate the garlic about 3/4 way to prevent grating your skin. Cutting garlic is another option, but it’s difficult to cut the garlic into small enough pieces for a recipe.

Is it better to mince or chop garlic

Best Garlic Mincer

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

How to Cut in Butter

What does it mean to cut in butter?

“To cut in butter” means to break butter into smaller pieces. Typically the smaller pieces are about a pea sized portion or smaller.

Butter is cut into recipes that need small chunks of butter to melt into the food to create flakes of pastry.

If you’re cutting in butter to your recipe, it’s best to use cold fat to cut in for your pastry. The butter will remain in small cube and be able to melt in the oven.

If you melt your butter prematurely to use for your recipe, you wont get the flakiness for your desired pastry.

How to Cut in Butter

  1. Your bowl should be full of flour, baking powder or soda, salt, and sugar. Mix them together.
  2. Add your cold chunk of butter to the bowl.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter down until you reach the bowl.
  4. Remove the pastry blender from the butter. You can remove excess butter from the pastry blender by using a knife.
  5. Repeat the process of cutting the butter. Change your angle to create smaller pieces until they become a pea sized amount.
  6. Your recipe is ready to add the liquid ingredients now (eggs, milk, etc.)
how to use a pastry blender
what coarse crumbs looks like after using a pastry blender

What does it mean to cut butter into dry ingredients

Butter needs to be cut into a recipe only after all of the dry ingredients have been added together.

Dry ingredients include: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder, etc.

The butter needs to be placed in the center of your dry ingredient bowl because the flour mixture must coat the butter.

The flour coated butter is easily cut into recipes because the flour coats the butter as it is cut. The flour acts as a barrier to enclose the butter. This way, the butter will not mix with any of the wet ingredients.

The butter will only be melted in the oven, creating a delicious flakey pastry.

How to cut frozen butter

  1. Freeze butter until it has solidified.
  2. Remove the butter from the freezer and using a grater, grate the butter into small pieces. Depending on your recipe you might want to use the smaller holes, over bigger holes.
  3. Grate until all of the butter is in pieces.

How to cut in butter for crumble topping

For crumble topping, you have a couple of different options to cut in your butter.

  1. Use your hands: this involves your hands warming the butter a little, and then squishing it with your fingers to create small lumps of butter for your crumble topping. Usually crumble topping is mixed by hand because it creates more of a lumpy mixture than if you’re using a spoon. The lumpy mixture is more desirable because the topping tends to look more coarse and not as uniform.
  2. Use a pastry blender: cut the butter into the topping by using a pastry blender. Keep the butter in larger chunks than you would a pastry, because the topping will be able to retain its moisture better. The topping should be coarse and look like nuggets for crumble topping.
  3. Use a grater: grate using one of the medium holes. Grate the butter and then mix the topping together with your fingers. Gently sprinkle the topping over your dessert, and then bake.

What does cut in shortening mean

If you’re cutting in shortening, this means to break up the shortening into small pieces. Use a pastry blender to separate the shortening into smaller pieces for your recipe.

What can you use if you don’t have a pastry cutter

If you don’t have a pastry cutter you can use two knives to cut the pastry into smaller pieces. The pieces need to be quite small, they should look like coarse crumbs.

Using 2 knives to cut in butter will take longer than using a pastry cutter.

Can you use a potato masher instead of a pastry cutter

You can use a potato masher instead of a pastry cutter if you butter is a pretty large piece. Once your butter becomes a more useful size to work with, switch back to your pastry cutter.

A pastry cutter has sharp edges to really cut the butter and not mush it. The butter will retain its shape instead of being pushed into a shape.

How to cut in butter with fork

To cut in butter with a fork, use your largest fork to cut into your butter. Hold your fork horizontally and press the fork into the butter to cut it. Repeat and continue cutting the butter with your fork until the butter is in coarse crumbs.

What kind of foods do you cut butter into

  • scones
  • pie pastry dough
  • biscuits
  • crumble topping
how to cut in butter

How to Use a Spatula for Baking

How to use a rubber spatula

Spatulas are rubber, they are meant to bend and move as needed to conform to the sides of the bowl you are scraping.

If you’re making batter using a stand mixer, sometimes the food will be pushed up the sides of the bowl. This is when you want to stop the mixer, and using the end of the rubber spatula, push the food down to the bottom of the bowl.

To get the excess batter off of your rubber spatula, run it against paddle or whisk attachment of your mixer. Set your spatula aside.

Turn your stand mixer on again and mix the rest of the contents.

When you’re finished incorporating all of your batter, it’s time to put your batter in or on your pan.

You can use the spatula again to scrape the batter into your pan.

Or, if you’re working with a thicker dough like cookie dough, you can scrape the contents on the bottom to make sure you get as much of the dough you’ve made as possible.

Spatula uses in baking

A spatula is a rubber ended tool that is used in baking in a couple of different ways.

  • scrape the sides of a bowl
  • shaping butter
  • mixing
  • pouring batter and scraping it into a pan

How to use a spatula for butter

When making a butter layer for croissant dough, you use your rubber spatula to push the butter into a perfect rectangle.

Begin by placing the room temperature butter on top of a silicone pastry mat.

Push the butter into a rectangle by using your rubber spatula as tool.

Measure your butter as you go. The sides will become thin. To make them into the thick butter layer that you want, push the excess butter remnants from the silicone mat into the rectangular sides.

Can a rubber spatula melt

Yes, a rubber spatula can melt if it used over heat. Rubber has a melting point of 180 degrees Celsius. You will want to use a wooden spoon if you’re cooking with a saucepan instead of a rubber spatula.

Is rubber scraper a mixing tool

Yes, you can use a rubber scraper as a mixing tool for batter such as muffin batter or cake batter.

These batters are to be mixed only until just combined, therefore using a rubber spatula for a couple of mixes will be ideal for your batter.

A rubber spatula is fairly small and flexible. For thicker doughs like cookie doughs a rubber spatula will not work as well. The dough is too tough to mix with a rubber spatula. It’s best to use a stand mixer or wooden spoon for these types of thicker doughs.

How to Use a Kitchen Scale

  1. Turn your kitchen scale on using the power button
  2. Place a bowl on top of the kitchen scale for measuring.
  3. Push the power button or scale tare button to make the scale go to zero.
  4. Change the measurements by using the other button for what your recipe requires. Change the measurements to grams, fluid ounces, ounces, milliliters, or lbs.
  5. Pour your ingredient into the bowl until you reach your desired measurement.
  6. Add your ingredient to your recipe. You can reuse the same bowl for your next food to measure. But make sure you zero the scale again after you place the bowl on the scale.
How to Use a Kitchen Scale

Scale tare vs Zero

A scale when turned on measures zero.

When a bowl is added to the kitchen scale, this adds weight.

You can use the scale “tare” button to make the scale measure zero again.

According to the scale you can now measure your ingredient, without having to worry about how much the bowl weighs.

The scale tare tells the scale you don’t want to measure anything you have added to it yet, aka the bowl your using to measure your ingredient.

What foods can you use a kitchen scale for?

Where can you find recipes measured by weight?

King Arthur Flour and The Joy of Baking have all of their recipes in weight and volume.

Is it better to weigh ingredients when baking

Weighing ingredients is more accurate than using measuring cups.

Measuring cups use volume to obtain the amount needed for a recipe.

This doesn’t take into account packing brown sugar, flour that has been packed into a measuring cup, or just sifted flour.

Weighing ingredients takes all of these concerns into account because air doesn’t add weight to the food.

Therefore, weighing the ingredient is the most precise, accurate measurement you can get when baking.

Why are measuring spoons measured with volume and not weight?

Measuring spoons are measured with volume instead of weight because they are very small amounts.

These low weight foods generally cannot be measured accurately with a kitchen scale because the weight is too low for a large kitchen scale. Kitchen scales can measure heavy weights over 10 lbs.

You would need a much smaller scale with a smaller weight range (only up to 15 g or 0.03 lbs) to accurately measure the weight used by measuring spoons.

Kitchen scales are not calibrated to measure very low weights.

These small volumes do not dramatically change recipes because of their size.

Therefore, measuring spoons are ok to use volume to measure instead of being weighed.

How to Use the Paddle Attachment

A stand mixer comes with several attachments including the paddle attachment, also known as the flat beater attachment.

The paddle attachment is used for heavy duty mixing. This could be at the beginning of a recipe only, or throughout the recipe.

For foods like cakes, scones, and muffins, they need to mixed until only just combined, otherwise they become tough by developing the gluten to much with vigorous mixing.

You could use the paddle attachment at the beginning when you’re creaming fat, eggs, and sugar. Then switch to manual mixing with a wooden spoon to make sure you don’t overmix your batter.

The paddle attachment is used for making several recipes including:

  • cookies
  • icing
  • pancake batter
  • crepe batter

Other uses for the paddle attachment include:

  • creaming butter
  • creaming cream cheese
  • creaming butter with eggs and sugar
What is the Paddle Attachment Used For

Paddle attachment vs Whisk attachment

The whisk attachment is used to aerate foods like egg whites and whipping cream.

The whisk attachment is a sphere shape and uses a circular motion to mix, whereas the paddle attachment beats with a large flat paddle.

The whisk attachment is used for making whipping cream and making soft or stiff peaks with egg whites.

The paddle attachment isn’t able to perform these tasks due to the different shape of the attachment and the motion it mixes in.

The paddle attachment is used for beating fat and creaming sugar and eggs together to make batter. The paddle attachment is used for heavy mixing and thick ingredients.

The whisk attachment is used for more lighter ingredients and adds more air in the ingredients. This creates small bubbles which makes the egg whites or whipping cream turn into a different state.

The whipping cream will become soft peaks, perfect for serving. The egg whites will become soft peaks, and then stiff peaks. This creates foods for soufflés, twice baked potatoes, meringues, etc.

Paddle attachment vs Whisk attachment

How to Use a Candy Thermometer

  1. Select a saucepan that is small enough to have your candy thermometer bulb in the contents of your ingredients. The saucepan size should allow for the ingredients to be bubbling at the surface.
  2. Attach the clip of your candy thermometer to the edge of the saucepan. Slide the thermometer down to the lowest point so the metal portion touches the bottom of the saucepan. The bulb will be above the bottom of your saucepan. If it was touching the bottom of the saucepan it has the potential to explode due to the direct heat.
  3. Add your contents to the saucepan. Start cooking on 3 on your burner. You want to slowly add heat, and even on 3, the contents will go up to temperature.
  4. Only stir your ingredients as needed. Sometimes with foods like caramel sauce, you just leave the saucepan to bubble and come up to temperature without stirring.
  5. When your food has come to temperature, remove it from the heat source. Put oven mitts on and gently remove the candy thermometer from the sauce pan. Let it cool on a cutting board, or on your stovetop where it is heat safe to cool.
  6. If you have to add any other ingredients to it at this point, use oven mitts to add the foods to the hot contents. Stir gently.
How to Use a Candy Thermometer

How to clean a candy thermometer?

To clean a candy thermometer, do not soak it fully. Gently place the dirty end in a bit of soapy water and let the food dissolve. Wipe clean with a cloth gently. You don’t want to use that much force since the bulb is glass. Set it to try on a drying rack.

How do you read a candy thermometer?

A candy thermometer is read by looking at the mercury and then the measurement beside it where it lines up exactly. The thermometer will have both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Be sure to check which side you’re reading the thermometer, versus what your recipe requires.

What is the difference between a candy thermometer and a regular thermometer?

A regular thermometer cannot be left in extremely hot contents. A candy thermometer can be left in very hot foods, and read at extremely high temperatures (400 degrees F). A regular thermometer is not able to read high temperatures because it isn’t calibrated to read that high.

How does a candy thermometer help when making candy?

A candy thermometer will help when making candy because it can be cooked until the exact degree of measurement needed for a candy recipe.

Candy can range from being soft, firm, hard, soft-crack, or hard crack.

This means that you need a candy thermometer to help determine the exact measurement for your recipe. There isn’t a way to guess the temperature or how “cooked” the sugar is.

What the 5 stages of sugar?

Sugar StageTemperature in FahrenheitTypes of Candy Made
Soft Stage235-240Fondant, pralines, fudge
Firm Stage245-250Individual Caramels
Hard Stage250-265Nougat, gummies, rock candy, marshmallows
Soft-Crack Stage270-290Butterscotch, saltwater taffy
Hard-Crack Stage300-310Caramel, toffee, peanut brittle, lollipops

What temperature does sugar burn at?

Sugar burns at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once sugar has burned, there isn’t anything you can do to mitigate the burnt, bitter flavor. Restart the sugar again on a low temperature to make sure your sugar doesn’t burn.

What temperature does a candy thermometer go to?

A candy thermometer measures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.