Best sourdough breadmaker

I’ve been researching the best breadmakers for sourdough bread. Can’t afford Breville’s $420-plus whizbang machine, but see some prices ranging as low as $56 cor a KBS. Basically I’ve been using my Panasonic with a French bread setting to make sourdough but friends tell me there are far better breadmakers with sourdough program settings that actually work. Any recommendations out there?

Would you believe that a cheap Lodge 3.2 qt combo cooker (or a suitable dutch oven) and kneading by hand would be cheaper and make a far better loaf than a bread machine?

I own one of those “whiz bang” Breville bread machines and used it for many years and I have put it into storage and never use it now. I also wouldn’t use it to knead dough because it only does a maximum of 600g of flour anyway and if I’m going to the trouble of making sourdough over 2-3 days I want two loaves from the effort - so about 1000g of flour (dough weight around 1800g). If you want to use a machine to do some of the dirty work then a stand mixer with a dough hook would be the best option.

Anyway that’s my opinion and others may have a different one. Finished these ones today and I couldn’t get a result like that with a bread machine. Also bread machines often have programmed cycles that don’t really suit sourdough which takes longer to rise as a rule. They may not like dough with a high water content and when they bake they don’t really develop that sort of crust.

Maybe this might interest you.

Thanks but you’re both more expert than me. I simply want a good breadmaker with a sourdough setting where I can insert starter and other ingredients, sit back for however many hours it takes and pull out a loaf that is actually more sour than the “sourdough” sold in grocery stores. Maybe I’m dreaming the impossible dream of all lazy bakers.

Well you could use a sourdough starter in a bread machine recipe while simultaneously using regular instant yeast so it works with the bread machine cycle times. Probably keep the hydration/water amount down to something approaching the recipes that come in the instruction manual.

The resulting bread wouldn’t really be like artisan sourdough but it would be slightly flavoured by the starter and again the crust would just taste like bread machine bread. Using the instant yeast would keep the dough rise times to what the machine anticipates but really it’s time that develops that classic sourdough taste so it may not meet your expectations. It’d still be homemade bread though and taste nice - so that’s something…

I use a similar strategy when making some quick sandwich breads ie. use some of my excess sourdough starter while using regular instant yeast for a quick result.