Do you like waking up to the smell of a fresh loaf of bread in the morning? If so, are you willing to wake up at 4 o’clock to knead some dough? I bet that bread doesn’t smell so good anymore. But have no fear, a bread maker can make your dreams of fresh bread come true – all while you’re still in bed dreaming about it!
Do you eat bread regularly? Do you want to have bread without preservatives? Do you have dietary restrictions that make finding a loaf of bread at the store almost impossible? Or are you like me, and just want to make everything from scratch for your family, but just don’t have the time (because you don’t have a maid to clean up after your elaborate baking fun)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a bread maker could be your new best friend!
Before I bought this awesome machine, I had never attempted homemade bread, buns, or pizza. Baking bread just seemed so intimidating and time-consuming. But with a bread maker and 7 basic ingredients (water, bread flour, salt, sugar, milk powder, butter, and yeast), we always have a homemade loaf of bread in our pantry.
Other than its ability to make a loaf of fresh bread with little effort, I can’t live without its dough function! In less than 2 hours the machine produces a dough, a blank canvas, with unlimited possibilities for savory or sweet creations. For example, Chinese pork buns, pizza, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, brioche bread, challah bread, cinnamon rolls, etc. The sky is the limit!
Bread maker notes:
- According to the website Hometipsplus.com, Joseph Lee invented the 1st automatic commercial bread maker which could mix and knead dough. Most commercial bakeries started using it in the 1950s to increase production.
- For home cooks, we had to wait until 1986 to have access to the 1st one-loaf bread maker, which was invented by a Japanese company called Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (which is now Panasonic).
- The older generation bread makers only made bread, but the newer generation bread makers can make several different types of bread, dough, jam, cake, and more.
Today, I’m going to talk about my current bread maker: The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker BB-PAC20
Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker with Gluten Free Setting
- Control panel
- Lid heater
- Viewing window
- Steam vent
- Main heater
- Located inside the machine on the bottom
- Baking pan (the removable inner pan)
- 2 handles
- 2 rotating shafts
- 2 kneading blades (removable from the pan)
- 2 wing nuts (underneath the baking pan)
- Measuring cup
- It’s a standard 8 oz. measuring cup for liquid ingredients.
- Measuring spoon
- It’s used to measure dry ingredients. The large spoon on one end can measure ½ Tbsp. and 1 Tbsp., whereas the small spoon on the other end can measure ½ tsp. and 1 tsp.
Pros & Cons
- It has 8 courses:
- Basic course
- Your loaf of bread will be ready in 3 hours and 25 minutes when using active dry yeast, or in 2 hours and 25 minutes if using rapid rise dry yeast.
- Recipes included in the manual: basic white bread (regular 2 lbs. size and also 1.5 lbs. size), Italian herb bread, honey bread, cheese ‘n’ onion bread, sweet bread, chocolate bread, raisin bread (regular 2 lbs. size and 1.5 lbs. size), Russian kulick, apple oat bread, and fat free apple oat bread.
- Wheat course
- Your loaf of bread will be ready in 3 hours and 20 minutes when using active dry yeast, or in 2 hours and 25 minutes if using rapid rise yeast.
- Recipes included in the manual: 100 % whole wheat bread (regular 2 lbs. size and also 1.5 lbs. size), 100% whole wheat nut bread, 100% whole wheat apple bread (2 lbs. size and 1.5 lbs. size), 100% whole wheat fruit bread, light rye bread, seven-grain bread, honey wheat bread, fat free basic wheat bread, Italian wheat bread, and pumpernickel bread.
- Gluten free course
- Your loaf of bread will be ready in 2 hours and 25 minutes when using active dry yeast.
- Recipes included in the manual: gluten free brown rice bread, gluten free soy milk bread, gluten free cafe au lait bread, gluten free Italian herb bread, gluten free flax seed bread, gluten free cornmeal bread, gluten free raisin bread, gluten free walnut bread, gluten free chocolate bread, and gluten free apple oat bread.
- Dough course
- My favorite course!! You will fall in love with it once you discover its virtue.
- You can have dough in 1 hour and 50 minutes when using active dry yeast, or in 50 minutes if using rapid rise yeast.
- Recipes included in the manual: butter roll, doughnut, traditional loaf, cloverleaf rolls, pan rolls, bread sticks, croissants, traditional pizza dough, pizza dough with beer, bagels, and baguette.
- Jam course
- You can make jam in 1 hour and 20 minutes without standing in front of the stove stirring!
- Recipes included in the manual: strawberry jam, blueberry jam, kiwi jam, apple jam, double berry jam, mango jam, and orange marmalade.
- Cake course
- You can make a variety of cakes and specialty bread in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
- Recipes included in the manual: pound cake, lemon cake, tea cake, chocolate cake, dutch apple cake, cornmeal bread, banana bread, and spiced zucchini bread.
- Sourdough starter course
- You can make a sourdough starter for your sourdough bread.
- It takes 2 hours and 10 minutes.
- Recipes included in the manual: traditional sourdough bread and light sourdough bread.
- Home made course
- You can program each cycle (knead, rise and bake) to better suit your bread recipes.
- It will remember up to 3 of your settings.
- Recipes included in the manual: crusty french bread (2 lbs. size and 1.5 lbs. size), meatloaf miracle, home made pasta, home made tomato pasta, home made spinach pasta, fettuccine with tuna & broccoli, cinnamon roll bread, party bread, and marble bread.
- Basic course
- There is a recipe for a 2-lb basic white bread printed on the side of the machine. It’s convenient if you make it a lot.
- It has separate settings for using active dry yeast (regular mode) or rapid rise yeast (quick mode).
- It has 3 crust settings (light/regular/dark) for regular basic, quick basic, and gluten free courses.
- The panel is easy to use and the settings are clearly displayed.
- Unlike most 1-lb bread makers (which make a tall loaf of bread), it bakes a loaf of bread in the traditional horizontal loaf shape.
- Easy to clean
- The baking pan is nonstick.
- The 2 kneading blades are nonstick and easily come off from the rotating shafts for cleaning.
- Timer can be set in 10-minutes increments for up to 13 hours.
- However, it can only be used for regular basic, regular wheat, and home made courses. It shouldn’t be used for recipes with perishable ingredients, such as milk and eggs.
- You can turn off the “rest” cycle to shorten the overall time, but if you skip this step you will need to use room-temperature ingredients to ensure the dough rises properly.
- It doesn’t have an automatic fruit and nut dispenser.
- You will have to be around when it’s time to add your fruit or nuts, otherwise you will miss the chance to add extra ingredients to the dough.
- The manual does tell you approximately when the “add” beep comes on for each course.
- The beeping sound for adding fruit and nuts can’t be turned off. And the kneading process also makes some noise.
- It may wake you up if you program it to start kneading in the middle of the night and your kitchen (or wherever your bread maker is located) is close to your bedroom.
- The coating on the 2 nonstick kneading blades do slowly flake off.
- Luckily you can buy a replacement for only $7.4 per blade at Zojirushi website.
- I have bought 2 pairs of kneading blades since I bought the bread maker 6 years ago.
- Since the baking pan is nonstick, its coating can also slowly flake off or easily be scratched.
- You can buy a replacement baking pan, but it’s fairly expensive! It costs $86 at the Zojirushi website!
- I have replaced the baking pan once since I bought the bread maker 6 years ago.
- No retractable power cord–unlike Zojirushi’s rice cooker! I really hate having loose cords on the counter top or in the cabinet, so I use a cord organizer for most of my appliances.
- Big and heavy.
- It weighs about 23 lbs!
- It’s expensive!
- I bought mine for about $250 in 2014 on Amazon. Zojirushi now (2020) has a similar yet newer model called Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker BB-PDC20, which costs about $270 on Amazon.com.
- A kitchen scale plays an important role in bread making.
- The loaves of bread and dough I make are fairly consistent because I weigh all my ingredients. Measuring flour with a cup can be inaccurate depending on how tight or loose your flour is packed in the cup, but measuring with a scale yields the exact same amount of flour every time
- When the bread first comes out of the machine it’s too hot and soft to cut well with a regular bread knife. If you have to cut it before it has cooled, an electric bread knife will do the trick.
- If you want evenly sliced bread every time, you’ll have to buy a bread slicing guide.
- Homemade bread goes stale faster than store-bought bread because there is are no added preservatives.
- In my experience, a loaf of bread lasts about 3 days, so take that into account when deciding which size (1.5 lbs. or 2 lbs.) of loaf you should make.
- If you can’t finish your bread before it goes stale, don’t throw it away! You can use it to make homemade croutons. [Zero wastage–homemaking 101!]
- Remember to buy a bread container to store your bread!