West Bend 41300 Hi-Rise Dual-Blade Bread Maker Review by Elsy Haschke
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The West Bend 41300 – also known as the Hi-Rise Dual-Blade Bread Maker – sits comfortably in the latter category. I can’t say I’d rate it the best I’ve ever used but it’s a fine model, especially taking into account the super low price.
It’s unusual to find a bread maker that well made, and so feature packed at such a modest price. Normally, cost is no higher than third or fourth on my list of important aspects. This time it’s higher because of how flexible the West Bend 41300 really is.
Dual Kneading Blades
First and foremost among the features is the electronic dual kneading blades. Two kneading paddles is practically a must in any “almost full-sized loaf” bread maker. Here, that essential feature is more than merely present, it’s sturdy and no fuss.
However, when I say “almost full size” I say it a little sadly. I love to make those big 12 x 5 1/2 inchers. But this one tops out at 8 3/4″ x 4 3/4″. The unit measures 12″ H x 10.3″ W x 16″ D. It weighs 17.4 lbs, not heavy but heavy enough to keep it from vibrating across the counter during a vigorous knead, as some units do.
4 Loaf Size Options
No complaints about the possible loaf weight, though. The 41300 makes anything up to 2 1/2 lbs. Sure, that’s not the largest possible but it’s on the upper part of the range. It’s also nice that this model offers four separate size options: 1, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5. That’s more than a great many bread makers. And, I love the horizontal orientation of the sturdy pan. It’s so much easier to slice and just looks better to me.
Put in some dry ingredients and you can test right away how powerful the motor and paddles are. The paddles aren’t secured tightly to the pan, either making them relatively easy to remove afterward for cleaning yet they never came loose during baking. The pan itself is non-stick and cleans up well.
As a tip: it’s always a good idea to rinse it right after opening the box. Then run it through a bake cycle in a well ventilated area to burn off any residue from the manufacturing process. There’s usually some with home products and it’s possible your unit may benefit from that little “warmup” procedure.
2 Viewing Windows
Maybe the designers had in mind the ability to watch a bake with the optional dual-loaf pan. Available separately.
If you have a hankering to make two decent-sized (1 lb) vertical loafs rather than a single large horizontal one that’s a possibility here.
Controls and Display
It’s a cliché to claim that a bread maker will turn your kitchen into a bakery. It takes more than a machine to do that. But you’ve got a better shot in this case thanks to several pre-programmed settings and a near-foolproof control panel. Regrettably, there are just the usual three crust settings. Why, oh why, won’t bread maker manufacturers offer a graduated setting, or at least five options?
That minor complaint aside, the control panel is among the clearest and easiest to use that I’ve found. One reason for that is a feature you don’t always find on bread makers these days: physical buttons.
Personally, much as I love my iPad, I still like touchable buttons for some things and this is definitely one of them. So much easier to select what you want without making mistakes! As a minor aside, it also makes for an attractive appliance.
The buttons are widely spaced and arrayed a little like the lower half of an old-fashioned telephone dial. Though, you press them; you don’t twist a dial! You use them to select a Menu option, set the temperature and time, and other settings. I find this much handier than navigating through an LCD panel menu with up and down arrows.
You can set it to start many hours ahead. It is a little confusing, though. You set it up to 12 hours 58 minutes from when you want the bread to be done, not when you want it to start. And, you can’t use the delay timer with some pre-set bread types either.
I had no trouble reading the display either. I sometimes do on these little LCD panels but this one looked quite clear to me. As you press various buttons you’ll see clearly the information change to reassure you that everything is proceeding according to plan.
10 Pre-sets + 1 Custom Program
There are pre-sets for Basic, French, Sweet, Dough, Whole Wheat… the usual conglomeration. There are settings for cake or jam preparation. Although there’s no gluten-free setting here, you can make gluten-free bread with a little practice. That style is always a little tricky but there’s enough flexibility possible here to make it doable. The manual also includes some gluten-free recipes.
Still, I’d have been happier with a good deal more. I like to customize!
Nevertheless, you can make a wide range of tailored recipes using the Homemade option. You can set two separate Knead Time intervals (3-14 min, 8-24 min). It offers three separate Rise Time intervals (20-60 min, 1-60 min, 20-120 min) to choose from. You can select Bake – from 0 to 80 min – and there’s even a Warm option (anything from 0-120 min).
Adding cereals, fruit, nuts and other ingredients in presents no problem. If you have selected the Basic, Whole Wheat or Sweat program a beep towards the end of the second knead cycle will tell you when to do so.
The West Bend Hi-Rise (41300) isn’t the fanciest, the most flexible, or the most consistent bread maker on the market. But all of those aspects are present to a great enough degree to make all but the fussiest bread chefs reasonably happy. And, again, very impressive at this low price.