I love baking and it was only recently that I decided to focus on making bread, more specifically those nice and big sandwich loaves. There is nothing better than piece of toast topped with egg and bacon on those mornings when I need to rush to work. One can't exactly rush out the door munching on a bowl of cereal or sinangag (fried rice) but bread, lightly toasted and folded in half with the egg and bacon - instant breakfast on the go.
Unfortunately, I suck at making loaf bread. It just doesn't come out right for some reason. Maybe I over knead or I don't knead it enough, I don't know but most of the white loaf I've made turned out either too dense or pockmarked like Swiss cheese. I was going to keep at it since I wanted to cut down on all the 'over processed' commercial loaves that my family was eating since not only were they full of preservatives, the price of a loaf kept going up. I could just picture myself happily slaving away in the kitchen, kneading each loaf, waiting for it to proof, punching it down, proofing it again and then baking it while my sink piles up with dirty dishes and bake ware and my baby screaming for its mother in the background. Uh, no thank you.
So we just stayed with the commercial breads for a bit while Mommy looked to the thrift stores for a second hand bread machine and browsed the web for the pros and cons of each. I can't tell you how many second hand machines I found that were not only priced to steal (their owners were practically giving them away) but I also saw how many of them were barely used. Even on dear old Wallymart, I found returned bread machines and I began to question myself as to whether I really wanted to get one or stick to the old fashioned way of making my dream loaf until I remember the scenario I was dreaming of above and the debate ends up being whether I wanted a 'starter' machine or go with a slightly more expensive but 'proven' machine. I figure I'd go with the 'proven' one since based on previous experience on other buys I was leery of spending money on a machine that I would just end up selling because I was disappointed in its performance, no matter how much cheaper it was.
I ended up getting the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker from Amazon. Based on multiple reviews this was one of the better brands and from the moment I started to make bread with it, I fell in love. My bread making was now just a simple matter of measure, pour, turn machine on and wait. No whipping out my Kitchen Aide mixer, no messing up the counter kneading dough, no standing by as you 'proof' and wait or watching that the oven doesn't run too long so that your bread is burnt because you didn't get to the kitchen fast enough from getting a fussy baby to sleep. Zojirushi, did I say your name was bliss?
What I love about this bread machine:
- The Shape - I really wanted a bread machine that baked bread in the traditional horizontal shape. The vertical orientation of the other bread machines just looked off to me. I once saw a photo of bread baked by a friend on her Cuisinart and it reminded me of a giant mushroom since the loaf had expanded to beyond the pan's capacity. I'm sure it tasted fine but I couldn't get the image of a mushroom headed toast dancing inside my head. I'm weird, I know but I wanted my bread to look like regular bread.
- Ease of Use - This machine is such a breeze to use. I was initially leery of all the functions and thought I'd have to do extensive reading before I baked anything but it was so easy, I baked a loaf minutes after I took it out of the box. No rocket scientists needed.
- Quieter than a Mouse - Okay, maybe not that quiet but this machine is as subtle as can be. No heaving cranking noises, you barely notice it working, except for the occasional beep signalling you need to add fruits or nuts or a beep telling you that the bread is done.
- A Sturdy Machine - I love how solid this machine feels. I browsed around local shops looking at the different bread machines they had on hand but none of them felt as sturdy as this machine. Its heavier and more solid than the ones I looked at.
- The Double Paddle - I love the double paddle on this machine. Okay, this is subjective, but I feel it makes kneading the dough so much easier with the ingredients being thoroughly mixed in so that the bread rises better and bakes tastier.
- The Heater on the Lid - This just makes the crust brown ever so nicely and evenly.
- It Bakes Gluten-Free! - Okay, so I don't necessarily need to bake gluten free bread but its an awesome option to have.
- Dough and Home-made Setting - You can use this machine not just to knead and bake but also just to knead dough (like when I'm trying to make dinner rolls or pizza) and you can program it for those special bread recipes that Grandma used to make when the definition of a bread machine was a human with ridiculous upper body strength making bread in wood burning ovens. Okay so that's an exaggeration but I like that I can program it to bake my own recipe like when I'm making pandesal.
I haven't tried out all the settings yet, so far I've just made raisin bread, pizza dough, dinner roll dough and regular white loaf with this machine but they all turned out awesome all the time, especially the loaves. I've used the recipe that comes with the machine and I did a modified one using tangzhong (water roux) to see if I could make the bread softer and my results were pretty much the same for both regular and modified versions - both excellent bread. I've also used this recipe for the Perfect Rich White Bread from Cooks.com and so far this was the one that turned out the best loaf so it'll be my default recipe (I have to warn you this makes a HUGE loaf so I wouldn't bake this on a smaller bread machine).
Back to the Zojirushi though, if there was a CON to buying this machine, I'd have to raise the same one as other people who have reviewed it before - the price. It is one of the more expensive machines on the market and that's getting it off Amazon. Still, I'd have to say it was worth every penny and according to my calculations, it would have paid for itself in about a year or so since we go through a minimum of 2 loaves a week in my house. If you're like me and are looking to take the hassle out of bread making either because you neither have the time to devote to traditional bread making (i.e., you have a new baby at home or you just would rather spend that time with your kids) or you aren't physically able to make bread the old fashioned way because of health constraints and you want a quality machine that would last, then I'd go for this machine. Sure its pricey but you do get what you pay for.
Jun 22, 2004 by Mari @katnapersdenproduct
This hReview brought to you by the hReview Creator.
This hReview brought to you by the hReview Creator.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Zojirushi, nor am I being paid to write this review. This review is based on my personal experiences with use of this machine as I strove to verify what other reviewers have said about it. Google