Cuisinart CBK-200 Convection Bread Maker Review by Elsy Haschke
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The Cuisinart CBK-200 bread maker is kind of an odd model. Retro looks, part convection oven, this product is definitely unusual. Yet, looks can be deceiving. This is a fine bread making machine.
The majority probably won’t get too thrilled over the looks of this appliance. But, then, maybe the majority doesn’t weigh the value of kitchen products too much on appearance. And, since it’s always a personal matter, some may even think the retro, rectangular, stainless steel case is quite attractive. To each her own.
More objective factors definitely deserve an extensive hearing here. The unit measures 16 1/2″ x 10 1/4″ x 12″ so it’s plenty large enough to do those larger breadmaking jobs. Yet, at 14 lbs, it’s a nice middle-ground weight. It’s neither too heavy to move easily – especially thanks to those black handles on the sides – nor so light as to get tipped over by accident.
The pan allows for baking 1, 1.5, or 2 lb loaves. That’s pretty standard and that’s a little surprising for this model. The CBK-100 model does just as well so I’d have thought Cuisinart would offer a little larger pan. Not a major issue for most homemade bread bakers but the lack of a wow factor here is a little disappointing.
16 Pre-Programmed Menu Options – Up to 101 Combinations
The feature list is even more of an objective measure and here the CBK-200 really shines.
It offers a full 16 pre-programmed menu options. I’m pretty particular about how my recipes are baked but Cuisinart managed to cover most of what I would select manually.
For example, The Low Carb option is great. This category always requires special treatment, not least because of the way low-sugar, low-fat ingredients react so differently during baking.
Be sure to try out the Artisan Dough option, too. This selection alternately heats and cools the dough in cycles to create a great texture. This is something I wouldn’t even normally bother to do in a regular oven – and I love to experiment – but the results are incredibly tasty.
The various cycles – White, Whole Wheat, Gluten Free, Sweet Bread, and more – combined with the different crust colors and loaf sizes provide a total of 101 program options. That is impressive.
The automatic reminder of when to add fruit, nuts, and so forth is also very handy. Like you no doubt, I’m pretty busy and easily forget I have bread in the bread maker. So I appreciate being alerted to the need to add those extra ingredients at the proper time. The alternative is to be limited to recipes that you can prepare all at the beginning then forget about for a couple of hours. That’s just not as much fun.
There’s also an audible beep to let you know when the mixing paddle should be removed before the baking cycles for Gluten Free and some other recipes. That’s helpful but if you set the Delay Start timer to bake bread in the middle of the night be aware you can’t turn off the beep.
Speaking of the Delay Start Timer, a nice “set and forget” feature – there is a flaw in Cuisinart’s implementation with this model: the + and – up/down toggle button. Setting the maximum delay takes a long press and hold or a ton of taps. The raised ‘bar’ is better than the less expensive CBK-100 design, which is a pair of flat buttons. But I would still prefer setting it more directly through a number pad.
Other than that I’m pretty fond of the menu pad in general. It’s not the prettiest thing around but, girl, is it functional! Here again, Cuisinart went with raised buttons in contrast to the CBK-100’s flat ones. Thank you, Cuisinart. We’re all used to touchpads by now but I prefer the old-fashioned feel of actual buttons.
Equally good is the visibility and simplicity of the layout. The list of 16 menu options is done in a clear, large font. The LCD is easy to read even without my glasses. Ditto the list of indicators around it, which show the loaf size, crust color, and bread making cycles.
The Convection Fan
This feature deserves a section all its own. I’ve owned or researched a large number of bread makers and I can’t recall seeing many other models with this. The Breadman TR2700 comes to mind.
It adds a bit of noise to a bread maker but less than, say, a microwave produces. And, it’s optional; you don’t have to use the feature if you don’t want the effect.
That effect is well worth a little hum and whirr in the kitchen, though, in my judgement. It helps make very even crusts with that beautiful brown glow you’ve seen in commercials.
It does have one potential drawback, though. The CBK-200 has a warming feature that lets you leave the bread in the pan after baking (for up to an hour). The steam rising off a moist loaf can soften the crust, which tends to counteract that delightful crispness.
Also, you need to take extra care not to add too much flour since the convection fan can blow some through the vents. That small amount won’t have a large effect on the bread but the burnt flour smell may be annoying.
Here, my “gee, I wish it did this” list is pretty short. I try to be reasonable!
Like some other manufacturers’ models, the CBK-200 houses a power outage compensation feature. No, none of them have a battery backup to keep baking when the utility power is off. That would require a large built-in battery. But this feature does adjust the timer.
Here comes the wish: it needs to be longer! This Cuisinart model only allows for a 15 minute outage. That’s fine for those little blips but won’t cover the long ones we get around my neck of the woods. Even an hour (as on some other bread makers) would be a big help.
The Cuisinart CBK-200 bread maker isn’t my personal favorite. But it’s a fine unit, especially at this modest price. The menu system options are very extensive and the convection fan is a really great feature.