The Russell Hobbs 18036 is an affordable but well-featured breadmaker. That means it offers three loaf sizes, three crust colours and a dozen programs, including gluten-free and fast bake. Plus a timer delay for fresh bread in the morning.
The bread isn't the best we've had from a breadmaker, but it's plenty good enough when you consider that the Russell Hobbs 18036 costs less than half the price of some rivals.
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The Russell Hobbs is compact, boxy and white. It looks a little bit cheap… But hey, it is cheap. Build quality is fine, although the power cable is annoyingly short, which restricts your options when positioning or moving it around on a worktop. Also it doesn't seem to come with the measuring cup and spoons that are standard issue with every other breadmaker we've ever tested.
The breadmaker offers all the usual mod cons you'd expect. Its 12 programs include gluten-free and two fast bake options – 55 minutes or 1 hour and 20 minutes long. It offers three crust colours and three loaf sizes, made with 300g, 444g or 600g of flour. And its timer lets you delay the start time of the programs, so that your loaf is ready in up to 13 hours' time.
Sadly the same can't be said for its recipe book: it comes with just a dozen recipes, one for each program. While the Internet is full of breadmaker recipes, breadmakers often make the best loaves with recipes that have been tailored to work perfectly with them. Shame.
We tested the breadmaker with a 50/50 wholemeal loaf (50% wholemeal and 50% white flour). The program took 3 hours and 46 minutes, a bit slower than most, because the wholemeal program starts with 30 minutes of pre-heating the ingredients to 25 degrees.
The resulting loaf was good, not great. It was short and a bit lopsided. And the crumb was dense but with occasional bigger bubbles. The crust was evenly cooked and the bread made for tasty toast. But with a 50/50 mix of flours we'd have expected a lighter, fluffier loaf than this.
Yes, if you're on a tight budget, the Russell Hobbs makes a good loaf for the price. Unlike the equally affordable Lakeland Compact Bread Maker it offers a choice of three loaf sizes. If you can stretch to it, we'd recommend the Kenwood BM260 or, if you want the very best, the Panasonic SD-ZB2502BXC.
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The Russell Hobbs 18036 Breadmaker is both cheap and cheerful, offering three loaf sizes on a budget.