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History of the Bread Machine

The first U.S. patent for a bread machine (patent number 383,938) was issued in the late 19th centurybefore electricity was even available. The modern home bread machine was invented in Japan and patented in the United States in 1985 for the Hosiden Electronics Company (patent number 4,538,509). The product was a success, which surprised many experts in the kitchen appliance manufacturing field. But once sales took off, many companies developed their own models.



The Way Kitchens Work

Patent no. 383,938

Patent no. 4,538,509

The original home model included a tank so water could be added automatically and an ice box so the water could be cooled to prevent the bread temperature from rising too high. More recent models have done away with these components; thermostats are better able to control the temperature inside the machine.

How Bread Makers Work

Its ingenious that someone thought of integrating all the steps required to make bread mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, letting the yeast rise in a warm environment, and then baking the breadinto one tabletop device. One motor, a heating element, a timer, some switches, and a sensor are basically all thats needed to make a bread machine.

Most machines make loaves of either 1.0 or 1.5 pounds. You measure out the ingredients (flour, water, yeast, sugar, a pinch of salt) and drop them into the pan. You set the timer, and the machine takes over. A mixing paddle mixes the ingredients for a certain amount of time. Then the dough is allowed to rise: With the heating element on, the motor stops to give the yeast time to convert sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The flour/water mixture becomes elastic enough to capture the carbon dioxide and form tiny bubbles throughout the bread. Next, the motor kicks on to knead the dough, letting excess gas escape. Finally, the heating element comes on to bake the bread, which also removes most of the alcohol. After the programmed baking time has elapsed, the beeper tells you its ready.

Inside the Bread Machine

Removing a few screws allows the bread machines metal outer cover to come off. The front control panel lifts out with its circuit board. Beneath another metal cylinder is the motor and the spindle that the mixing paddle rides on. The motor turns a large plastic geared wheel that turns the spindle above it. A rubber belt connects the motor, which sits off to one side, to the wheel. Inside the spindle is a temperature probe called a thermistor. It has a resistor (an electronics component that resists the flow of electricity) with a special property: its resistance changes with the temperature. It sits inside the spindle so it can get an


drive belt


Heating element

Bread Machine


accurate reading of the temperature inside the baking loaf of bread and signal when the heating element should turn on and off. The heating element itself is a coil of high resistance wire. (For more information on how heating elements work, see the introduction, p. xiii.) A circuit board located near the motor connects to two thermal switches. They monitor the temperature of the machines inner


The Way Kitchens Work

thermal switch


metal cylinder to ensure that it doesnt overheat. The circuit board also includes the piezo speaker that bleeps at you when the bread has finished baking. (A piezo speaker contains a crystal that vibrates and makes sound when it receives a changing electrical voltage.) At the bottom of the bread maker is a second motor. It directly drives a centrifugal fan that draws air in from beneath the centrifugal fan bread maker and pushes it out between the machines inner cylinder and outer cover. This is one more precaution designed to prevent the user from getting burned. Not all machines have this second motor. Bread machines seem to do best with wheat ourour that contains gluten.


History of the Can Opener

Consider this curious historical fact: tin cans were in use for nearly half a century before the can opener was invented. Based on the existing technique of preserving food in glass bottles, Peter Durand invented tin cans in 1810. The first U.S. patent for tin cans was awarded in 1825 to Thomas Kensett. The cans used then were made of thick metal. By mid-century metallurgy had improved so cans could be made of more lightweight metals. At this point, inventors turned their attention to how to better open these cans.