Review: West Bend Hi-Rise Breadmaker
e purchased a WestBend Hi-Rise Breadmaker from Amazon.com. It arrived in about five days. As usual with Amazon, the packaging was adequate to protect the merchandise, but we would have made it a bit more secure. The bread machine's box was shipped inside another box. Although there was not a lot of padding in the Amazon box, the West Bend packaging was more than able to protect the machine during shipping. We received the West Bend in mint condition.
Bread machines are large appliances and take up considerable shelf-space. The West Bend Hi-Rise is no exception. But this is to be expected from a machine with a horizontal pan sporting dual paddles. The pan is sturdy and the paddles are made from heavy, durable materials and coated with non-stick. They do not attach securely to the bread pan, but we did not have any problem with them coming off during operation. The machine itself is comparatively light, which made us wonder whether it would sit still during kneading cycles. This proved not to be a problem. In fact the West Bend Hi-Rise is among the quietest machines we have tested. In a kitchen filled with cooking activity the kneading cycles will hardly be noticed. Even the beeper alerting the user that the bread has finished baking is not excessively loud. People who are hard of hearing or occupying other parts of the house may want to set a separate timer. On the plus side, while working in the kitchen the cook will not be startled by the alarm.
The user interface has real buttons rather than a touch pad. The user will have no difficulty picking through the settings. Mostly it is a matter of hitting the "menu" button to get the desired setting, poking the time button to get the appropriate length of time, and then hitting "start". We baked several loaves before ever referring to the instructions. (Of course, we do this all the time.) The LCD display lights up when the user is pushing buttons. However, when the background light is not lit, it is a bit difficult to read the display showing the cycle, time remaining, and oven temp.
It is quite an attractive machine, black, and as sleek as a bread machine can possibly be. The two round windows for viewing the cycles were an improvement over the usual rectangular window found on most machines. The West Bend Hi-Rise Breadmaker does pretty good with dry or very thick doughs. We put ingredients for a dry dough. It stuttered once or twice. Yet, it must be said that the machine did fairly well, all things considered. Most bread machines will do this if they meet resistance. This dough eventually made a fine loaf of French Bread.
The West Bend Hi-Rise Breadmaker comes with a measuring cup and a measuring spoon adequate for the job. The manual is a slender 24 pages, but it does a good job going over procedures, maintenance, and recipes. We tried out a couple of the provided recipes. We thought the basic recipe was good, but on next attempt used water instead of milk, added a bit more butter, and less yeast. The pan is big enough to accommodate a good sized loaf (2.5 pounds). We also tried the garlic bread recipe. For this we only used the dough cycle and baked the loaf in the oven. A nice feature of the machine is that it warms the dough in the rising cycles so that there is sufficient heat to allow the yeast to work.
Although we did not try every possible bread type, the manufacturer provides menu settings allowing the machine to make whole wheat, sweet breads, cakes, and jams, as well as basic, French, and sandwich bread. It will also, of course, make dough. It is not programmable, yet the machine is quite flexible and will accommodate much variety in recipe.
We had no reason to call the customer service support center. But tested their response time. It proved to be about 15 seconds. The person on the line was friendly and helpful. The manual also provides a website and phone for ordering spare parts.
The West Bend is one of the best values we have run across. For basic bread making and daily household utility it does a great job. It is also very reasonably priced.
The WestBend Hi-Rise Breadmaker is available at Amazon.com.