Breadmakers? Which ones are the good ones?
I'm looking at the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 bread machine and was wondering how it compares to other machines. I'm thinking that this might be a better value then the $100 machines because they seem to break down in a year or two though this one hasn't been on the market that long. It's predecessor was highly rated and this machine has a heavier duty motor and a heating element in the lid for more even baking.
What bread machines do the Chowhounder's recommend?
Zoshi is the best IMHO.
I have had bread machines since the origional Panasonic I had to import from Japan in the early 80's (US model cale out soon thereafter). I have always been satisfied with the Zoshi models. The one I replaced the Panasonic with (28?) years ago is still going strong.
The Panasonic (national) units are good as well.
If you are wondering about a zoshi, check your salvation army stores. I picked up a spare
BB20 for $5 in one. Zoshi customer service is wonderful.
If you do not think that you will be using a bread machine a lot, or want to try one out for a low cost - hit a thrift store. When I drop off clothing, etc I walk around and always see many of them on the shelves. The west bend dual loaf size seems to hold up quite well if just doing white breads.
i can't speak to other models but we've had the Zo mini for about four years. We run it about three times a week to make bread or dough. We haven't had a problem that wasn't the human's fault. It bakes evenly and gives a nice even browning on top except sometimes the yeast is a little over-zealous and the bread rises so high that it doesn't brown where the little oval window up top is.
I have the Zojirushi too. I got it to replace a wonderful National that I had for more than 30 years.
The pluses of the Zojirushi are that it makes a horizontal loaf. It uses 2 paddles to knead so the dough is thoroughly worked. It has all the bells and whistles like a jam making function and an alert for adding things you don't want kneaded out of existence like fruit. It has 3 cycles that you can customize. It begins by preheating your ingredients.
The negatives are that the controls aren't very intuitive and the machine is more complicated than it needs to be. If I could get my old National rebuilt, I'd prefer it to the Zojirushi even tho it didn't have *any* bells or whistles. My Zo has gotten one of the paddles welded onto the spindle somehow and that makes it very difficult to clean thoroughly.
I've only baked in mine when I am using the bread as an ingredient as for stuffing or bread pudding. To my mind, the crust comes out pale and uneven. I would never bake in the machine if appearance was an issue (and it's *always* an issue for me). I use the machine most for creating and fermenting a sponge on the "Sourdough" cycle and then I finish with a customized cycle followed by hand shaping and baking. However, it does a great job of making up to 3 pounds of dough and the customizable cycles will allow you to do it any way you want.
I have the Sunbeam. Usually run the dough cycle twice to get close to the "window pane" for Japanese/chinese style buns then bake in the oven.
We owned the Panasonic. It was ok. I gave it away via freecycle.com. A few years back a friend introduced us to how he makes bread and there is just no comparison at all. His bread is "food of the gods delicious". Seriously amazing bread.
He uses those enameled cast iron pots or dutch ovens. Mine is just plain cast iron. Either can be used. I promise you that the results will be vastly superior to any stand-alone electric appliance.