Me and my mother both like to bake home made bread, but we found that baking it without a machine can be time consuming and tedious, so we looked around for a good bread maker and decided on this. We bought it at Currys, the bread maker retails on amazon for around £75.00.
Something I really like about this bread maker is the features it has E.G. Gluten Free settings, Pizza dough making, French bread setting, and varying loaf sizes. It includes a manual which tells you exactly how to make these but do be warned you will need to stick to the ingredients on the manual completely to avoid alien-looking bread!
When we first bought it we were very excited to use it, and unpacked it immediately when we got it home. We followed all the instructions precisely and made our first loaf of bread. However, we were rather shocked at what came out of the machine, as it looked like it had been mauled by a dog and half cooked. It seemed to taste alright but we didn't want to risk it and took it back to Currys and demanded either a new machine or a refund. They were reluctant to give us a new machine at first but we were eventually given one after some time arguing with the manager. We took the new one home and thankfully it has worked all the time, and we have not had any problems.
Using it is not the easiest, as you have to keep the instructions for the bread and you cannot just sling a load of nuts and seeds into the same compartment as the rest of the ingredients. Everything also has to be measured very precisely. It is also quite slow and makes a lot of noise, and you have to go and switch it off when it is done. It also shakes while making the bread, and cleaning the spinny thing in the bucket is a chore because all the bread gets stuck to it
However, it does produce tasty gorgeous smelling bread, that is your own! It will make your home smell like a bakery; everyone comments on the smell and taste of the bread. You definitely reap the benefits of making your own bread!
So to quickly summarise the Panasonic bread maker:
- The bread it makes is tasty and it makes your home smell like a bakery.
- Gives you a true home made bread taste.
- It is a reliable machine (but please note we had to take the initial machine back for being faulty)
- Works out cheaper to use this machine than buying branded bread (for bread of the same quality).
- Doesn't waste a lot of electricity.
- It has a lot of different settings.
- Cooks the bread really slowly (but it is still a lot quicker than baking by hand)
- Very noisy! comparable to a washing machine.
- It shakes and causes my table to wobble.
- You have no other choice but to keep to the precise quantities of ingredients stated in the manual.
- Very annoying to clean - the bread mixer in the machine gets dough stuck to it (will take hours of soaking before you even begin to get it off).
I have been using this breadmaker for about 3 months and am very pleased with it.
I have to say, though you cannot get very small breadmakers (they have to fit a loaf of bread in them after all!) this is a big breadmaker. Either you need to have enough work top space to use it or somewhere big to store it, though I think with breadmakers if you don't have them out, you won't use them.
Ease of use
This machine is very easy to use, but having the instructions and recipes is vital, and as with most breadmakers, you MUST put the ingredients in in the right order or your bread won't turn out right! The press buttons are great as they are easy to use and wipe clean. You can also set a delay so you can cook your bread for when you get up in the morning- fantastic!
There are lots of functions for various bread sizes, though not all types of bread can be made all sizes, for example you can only make large Italian loaves or medium sandwich loaves, but this is not much of a hardship. There is a place to put raisins or nuts, which I think means for a more even distribution during baking.
We like the pizza dough setting best, so you can make fantastic homemade pizzas without the hardworking of kneading the base.
A medium sized loaf is one that uses 400g flour, a large loaf uses 500g. Bake time is somewhere between 4 and 5 hours, though the rapid bake is 1hr 55min
On most occasions the bread turns out very well, a couple of loaves have been a bit brick like but I think it might be that the yeast i used was a bit old!
40cm x 34cm x 23.2cm
This is the second breadmaker I've owned and the better of the two.
It's quite large, make sure you check the dimensions fit your kitchen or wherever else you are going to have it. This isn't a criticism, it has to be large. The colouring is just plain white, not too glossy, so blends in well in most kitchens I'd imagine.
There's plenty of options for things you can make with it - I've used it to make bread, croissants, pizza dough, hot cross buns, pastry and more. Especially useful is the built in raisin/seed tray - you fill this with whatever extra ingredients you want to go into your dough and at the preset time it'll open and drop the contents into the mix. Perfect for granary bread, raisin bread and much more.
In addition to the basic options (covered below) you can set the crust colour (light or dark) for bread, and set it on a delay timer too which is great - I can go out at lunchtime and come home in the evening to fresh bread knowing it's finished just a few minutes before I've come back through the front door.
Basic preset options are:
Bake normal (mix and bake the bread in the normal time)
Rapid bake (mix and bake in around 2 hours)
Raisin bake (open the raisin/seed tray during the mixing stage)
Dough (mix dough but don't bake it)
Aside from the normal and rapid bake the baking time is set by the type of flour used which you also select - basic white dough, whole wheat, French, Italian, gluten free...you can also set to bake only if you've already made the dough.
The only criticism I have is that some of the recipes (e.g. pizza dough) take longer to make in the unit than they do by hand...but then I guess it's hassle and mess free!
--In the Box--
The recipe book that comes with the unit is very good and covers just about everything you want to make unless you get ambitious. No pictures but clear instructions.
I bought this breadmaker a couple of years ago, I read online reviews and decided to buy this one, several members of my family, including me and the baby, cannot eat wheat/gluten. So having a breadmaker with a specific function for gluten free bread was a necessity, I don't think any others have this facility.
I buy Dove's Farm Gluten free breadmix which is about £1.50 and can do two loaves a packet, this is the nicest gluten free bread I have eaten. I use this breadmaker twice a week to make gluten free bread and have never had a dud loaf, unless I use the prescription bread mix which I have not managed to get a decent loaf with.
I keep my breadmaker out in the kitchen all the time, I have a small kitchen so it's on top of the tumble drier! If you had to put it away after using it I think that would be so tiresome you wouldn't use it very much, so, if you are going to buy this breadmaker - make sure it has a space in your kitchen without going into a cupboard, it's a heavy piece of kit.
I paid almost £100 for my breadmaker but I do consider it a good buy, the Panasonic range of bread makers is very popular and online there are bargains to be had. Of course, it doesn't just do gluten free bread, it has a wide range of breads and cakes to make, also you can use it to make dough for pizzas, doughnuts, lardy bread and french sticks to name a few, you make up the dough in the breadmaker and then take it out and use as required and cook in the oven. It also has a cake and teabread programme, where you mix the ingredients first and then line the baking tin with greaseproof paper and bake in the breadmaker. It also has a raisin dispenser that I haven't used, it means if you want to you can put the raisins in the dispenser, choose the right programme for this and the dispenser will open and drop the raisins in after a certain amount of time.
You can also make lots of different kinds of loaves, including malted brown and maple and pecan nut, what could be more enjoyable than eating a slice of bread or cake which is still warm from the breadmaker, and you made it yourself! You can also set the timer to start working in the early hours of the morning and wake up to the smell of fresh home baked bread. Another good thing is that the paddle in the tin doesn't come out with the bread, it stays in the pan and you don't have the task of trying to get the paddle out of the middle of the bread and ruining it ( I had this problem with my last breadmaker).
It's one of those things every kitchen should have, I've forgotten to say that once you have bought this breadmaker you will be able to make really tasty, healthy and cheap bread, using the Panasonic to make "normal" bread is incredibley cheap, and you can shop around for strong bread flour, it is sold at most supermarkets and a bag is considerably less than the plasticy, unhealthy loaf you may usually buy. I'm talking about strong bread flour for 59p, which would make several loaves of bread, but you do need to use yeast!
Homemade bread and cakes of any kind is always nicer (and probably healthier) than buying expensive supermarket bread. It's one big disadvantage is that you have to wait for the loaf to cool before you start to cut it or it won't slice evenly, I use an electric bread knife to cut my bread tidily, and then freeze it and take out slices as required.
We had been talking about getting a bread maker for a while and had looked it to them. After reading a lot of reviews and opinions the Panasonic bread makers seemed to be coming out top. When looking around online the bread machines are quiet pricey being near to £100 for the newer models. Luckily we found ours in a charity shop for much less.
Our bread maker came with a recipe booklet, measuring cup and teaspoon and tablespoon measure so all we needed to buy were the ingredients to make our bread and some kitchen scales for weighing out the flour.
The recipe booklet contains a number of different recipes to try as well as telling you how to work the machine. There is also a helpful trouble shooting section in case you have any problems. The recipes are very simple to follow and the bread machine easy to use.
The machine is relatively large and tall, we have found it not to be too intrusive in our small kitchen but if you are limited on space this may not be the bread machine for you. The machine is also white in colour, which may not fit in with everyone's kitchen decor but is fine for us.
When kneading the dough the bread maker can be slightly noisy and wobble around if it's not on a flat surface but is generally very quiet and not at all disturbing.
There are a number of settings available and you can see what you have selected on the display window, which will also show how long your bread will take. There are 3 loaf sizes to choose from, medium, large and extra large and 9 different settings: Basic, Whole Wheat, French, Italian, Sandwich, Pizza, Bake Only and Gluten free. You can then choose how well the crust is cooked for your bread from 3 options, light, medium and dark
The bread machine has a raisin and nut dispenser on the top, which you put your added ingredients in to be added at the correct time. This is very useful when using the maker on the timer function so you don't have to be around to add any seeds in.
There is a rapid loaf option which will produce bread for you in just under 2 hours or the normal bake cycle which takes 4 hours when making a basic medium white loaf. We have found the timer to be extremely useful for setting up and leaving so that the bread can be ready for the morning. On completing the baking the machine will beep so that the bread can be removed.
We have made a lot of bread in this machine now and the only problem we have ever had with bread coming out wrong was when the yeast was past it's best. Apart from this the bread has come out perfect every time and tastes delicious. I have found the bread easy to get out of the pan and find that the paddle does not get stuck in the bottom of the bread, which has been a problem in the past with other machines.
As well as making bread for you this machine also has settings so that it can make dough such as pizza dough and a bake only option that can be used for baking cakes as well. We have tried this a few times and the outcome has always been big
Another handy feature that this machine has is that if there is a power cut or if it is accidentally unplugged for 10 minutes or less then it will resume making the bread when power is restored and indicate on the screen this has happened.
Overall a great bread maker and we wouldn't be without it after getting used to fresh bread everyday.
There aren't a lot of things nicer than baking your own bread at home. Using a bread-maker is a great solution for people who love high quality fresh bread on demand.
I owned one machine before this one and there is no comparison. I've used a Panasonic for several years now and can't say I've ever had better bread.
It comes with a comprehensive recipe book and many functions. It will mix dough for rolls or a pizza base and give a warm environment for it to rise. There are also a huge variety of baking functions including an express loaf which will bake in around 2 hours.
Personally I like to use a mix of white and wholemeal flour when baking using this machine as I feel it adds taste without compromising too much on texture. Bread should be left out to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before you even try to slice it or the inside will end up too doughy and the slices will fall apart.
I have a lot of faith in my breadmaker and hope it'll continue to be a part of my kitchen for many years to come. This one has put up with baking 2/3 times a week for several years now and there's no real sign of wear and tear.
We've always liked good bread, & the attraction of being able to produce it at will was obvious. However, our first breadmaker ( I think it was a Morphy-Richards one) was a large, double-paddle job that never made a decent loaf. A friend owned one of these Panasonics, so we thought we'd give it ONE more try before collapsing back into the arms of our local supermarket. Happily, we've bought very little bread since getting the SD253.
It sits on a worktop, & doesn't take up too much space, & its almost idiot-proof. The instructions are quite easily followed, & in addition to the range of 'ordinary' loaves we've turned out, we've also made excellent pizza dough, and made/proved dough for rolls that are then simply finished off in the oven. My wife has also ventured into the land of seeds & nuts, but I'm a plain bread man, & tend not to use the nut dispenser.
We always use dried yeast, & strong flours. Using the handy measure, I always put the yeast into the pan first, then the flour, sugar, dried milk, butter, salt & water. I emphasise this because, on one recent occasion, I forgot to put the paddle in first, & had to push the dry ingredients aside to get it in. Don't do this! The resulting "loaf" was a flop, but the birds seemed to like it.
The delay settings for overnight baking work well, which is useful when some loaves take 5 hours to complete, & as others have said, theres' nothing quite like the smell of new bread. When the timer goes off, its as well to open the top & get the loaf pan out soonest. Beware!! Its VERY hot at this point, so oven-gloves, or similar, are a must. If you leave the bread in the maker with the lid shut you'll get a slightly soggy top/bottom as the water-vapour present condenses. We turn it out onto a wire rack, then put the hot pan aside to await washing.
A little water poured into the pan will loosen the paddle, & then a careful wash sorts out any residue. They say in the book not to immerse the pan, so we haven't, but the inside comes up OK using a non-scratch sponge. Do make sure the paddle is clean, too, as some residue tends to collect in its spigot-hole. An old (clean) toothbrush does the job well.
We have absolutely no regrets about buying this Panasonic SD253, although it has probably done nothing for our waistlines!
The first bread maker that I bought was a special offer from a magazine. Big mistake! The recipies had been translated into English and, in some cases, were not complete. The results, of course, were not very successful. Then I spotted a work colleague munching her way through lovely sandwiches every day and she told me that she had a Panasonic SD 253.
A little research proved that to buy it from a Panasonic shop was considerably more benficial price wise. I have never regretted spending the £99 that it was some five / six years ago.
I have to say that I have only used it to make bread, although it contains many recipies for muffins and cakes. Some are just to mix the ingredients and some to bake the cake in the bread pan itself.
It is particularly useful that there is a delay timer for a number of the recipies, so I set it up before going to bed , to awake to the smell of freshly baked bread. It does take a particular type of knife to slice, neatly, newly baked bread.
Although I always set the crust to be lightly browned, I do find that the bread comes out crusty all over. If, like me, you have loads of fillings and crowns, really crusty bread can be a problem so.. as soon as it is cooked, I take the loaf out, wrap it in a clean tea towell and pop inside a large plastic bag. As the steam comes out of the loaf it condenses in the bag which would make the loaf soggy, except the tea towell absorbs the moisture. When the loaf is cool I transfer to a dry plastic bag or container.
Because there are no preservatives in the bread it does not keep as long as shop bread, and if you put it in the fridge it goes hard. Not that it stays around vey long, it is so absolutely scrummy. But on occassion, I have sliced up the end of a loaf and popped in the freezer, as it is useful for toast.
There is another advantage to no preservatives; for many decades I suffered, most embarrassingly from antisocial wind. I noticed that this ceased when I started to eat my own bread. Proved many times when having bought a shop made sandwich.
The instruction book takes a little wading through and it has taken a while to really get to grips with it. But it does contain a very useful 'troubleshooting' section.
I mostly make white or wholemeal bread but have experimented with Curry & Mango, Cheese & Bacon, French, Pizza dough, Ciabatta, Sundried Tomato but there are many many more, including GLUTEN FREE. There is a problem if you wish to make granary bread, the whole grain in it is sharp enough to damage the non-stick lining of the bread pan. There are two ways to get around it; firstly you sieve the flour and grind up the whole grains before adding to the pan (slightly defeats the object but you do get all the goodies in) or again, sieve the flour, retain the whole grains, mix the other ingredients on Dough mix, take out, add the wholegrains and bake in the oven. You can do this with the packet mixes also, let the bread maker do the hard work and then make rolls, twists any shape you like and bake in the oven.
The first couple of times the little paddle that kneads everything up came out with the loaf and I only discovered it when slicing the bread. Now I look for it.
This particular model has a compartment on top, to which you can add various things like bacon, nuts etc, for certain recipies. At the appropriate time in the cycle, the compartment opens and in drops the contents. Personally, I have not been very successful with this but that might be me not the machine
Buy a breadmaker, they said. It's so delicious and easy, they said.
Mine arrived for Christmas. I was off to a bad start because I thought all you needed was flour and yeast. The list of ingredients for a basic loaf was annoyingly long, and every single one of them managed to find its way to the back of the cupboard between loaves. The bread was nice-a bit sweet; the children liked it (they would), but it was a chore to make and bread was so easy to pick up at the supermarket. Gradually the breadmaker slipped into disuse. It sat...no...loomed on the worktop, inducing guilt and gathering dust. If it had been any smaller, I could have hidden it in a cupboard with the juicer, but it was so huge that even that escape was denied...
Fast forward a year or so, and a family member was put on a salt-free diet. No more conventional bread. With an audible groan, I pulled out the manual again. I looked again at the long list of ingredients, and rebelled. So I can confirm that you can indeed make bread in a Panasonic breadmaker using flour and yeast. And some salt, unless you *really* have to skip it.
It's now in use every couple of days, and I love it. Simple fresh bread, made with simple fresh ingredients. I wish I'd had the confidence to ditch the manual from the start.
This is a fabulous item and I can't recommend it enough. I've had it about 18 months now and have used it on average about 3 times a week. I have never bought a loaf of bread since buying it. I get great satisfaction out of giving my young son bread and I know is not full of additives/preservatives and SALT! Yes the recipes do contain salt but no where near as much as shop bought stuff. I recently had a sandwich at my parents house and couldn't eat the bread as it tasted SO salty - what's the need? Not only do I make standard bread, I also use the recipe for pizza bases, ciabatta, foccacia and naan bread - so much nicer than shop bought stuff, and so easy - just bung the ingredients in the machine, let it do it's thing, then shape into pizza etc - jobs done! With the pizza bases, I usually double the mixture, so I freeze a couple of basis (cook for 5 mins in over first) then use these for garlic bread during the week - amazingly easy and delicious. I will never ever go back to buying shop bought bread products again. I'd like to add too that my nut and seed dispenser stopped working so I called the Panasonic help line and they sent me a new one that arrived the next day, free of charge - excellent customer service.
We bought this Breadmaker from Comet about five years ago and it has served us very well ever since. I got advice from the shop assistant who recommended it on the basis that he had one for several years and it had given no trouble. When I was paying for it he tried to sell me an exztended warranty. I declined and said if it was as good as he said I didn\t need it!!
It has been very reliable except for the raisin and fruit dispenser. Over time for some reason it has lost its ability to stay shut until the machine releases it. The other point was the yeast. We got a large box it it went flat in a short time, so we recommend buying the saches instead. All the family use it for different programmes like the pizza base but my favourite is the wholemeal bread loaf first thing in the morning by using the timer.
I bought this bread machine for my mother a few years ago, but now find that I use it more than she does. I absolutely love making my own bread, you know pretty much what's going into it (depending on the ingredients you use of course, though I tend to try and use products which are chemical/processing-free as far as possible).
The machine came with an excellent instruction and recipe booklet which I use regularly, I love to make bread with all kinds of seeds and nuts, even lavender in, and as long as I follow the easy to-to-follow instructions, every loaf turns out well. I have had a couple of bread-disasters, but they only occurred as a result of human error, or if I decided to try and be a bit creative and add less or more of something than they recommend. Learned my lesson though, to be honest the best thing to do with this machine is to do what you're told and save creativity for hand-baking (which I also like to do from time to time)!
I realise that this may sound restrictive, but in actual fact there is a really good amount of choice here with all the built-in functions.
All you have to do is remove the pan from the machine, then bung the ingredients into the pan (it tells you all the quantities required for whatever size/type of loaf you want to make), select the settings you require, such as type (Basic White, French, Italian, Sandwich, Gluten Free etc); Small/Medium/Large, and Light/Dark setting options.
Yes, Gluten-free is included as an option! A real bonus, and the bread turns out much better than anything shop bought (which is really not that difficult, I know!) but all the same, for this function alone I would recommend this machine to all coeliacs.
Not only that, but it has a nut dispenser tray into which you can place your nuts, raisins or seeds for release into the mixture at the right time during the process.
Since I began using this machine I have gone right off shop-bought bread. The only trouble is that my loaves from the machine never last very long because I tend to cut it into door stops, and end up eating it as soon as it is cool enough! It keeps well though, it can be frozen (although I would recommend slicing it first, and perhaps evn freezing it in portions so you don't have to defrost all of it when you only want a couple of slices).
The only other bad point I would make is that the cost of any spare parts is huge. When I bought the machine I think it was about £80. I expect you can buy it for much less now, as it will have been superceded by newer models, but you can probably buy another machine for the cost of let's say, a replacement pan. And a nut and raisin dispenser is going to cost around £30 if bought separately (bonkers!). That said though, I have never had any cause to replace anything, and this machine has had an awful lot of use over the past couple of years.
The pan is quite robust, though you really don't want to be sticking a knife or other metal object in there to dig your loaf out as the sides will scratch and then lose their non-stick qualities. Best thing I found is to lightly brush the inside of the pan with a bit of oil before adding the ingredients, and to allow it to cool before trying to tip the loaf out.
In terms of cleaning it couldn't be simpler, you lift out the pan and pull out the kneader from the centre (which just slots on/off a spindle) and give both pieces a wash with a cloth dunked in warm soapy water. The instructions do advise against immersing the pan in water, though I must confess to having done so, only once or twice, but as I was an idiot and stuck a knife in there once (wasn't I just advising against doing that?!) and scratched the inside of the pan it sometimes will get cooked mixture stuck inside, which of course shouldn't happen if you a) don't scratch it, and b) use a little oil to line the pan, as suggested earlier. You can reach into the machine and give that a wipe around every so often, but I don't find that it gets all that messy, as the contents are added to the pan when it's removed from the machine, and they all tend to succesfully remain there.
The machine weighs 454kg, a bit heavy to keep putting away/taking out, so I tend to keep it on the worktop ready to be shoved out when it is to be in use, and as this is quite frequent, it's more convenient for me to have it out all the time. When it's working, it does need to be positioned with nothing too close around it, this is to allow for air cirulation around the machine, which will prevent any overheating.
When I make a loaf it takes about 4 hours, though depending on the type of bread you want to make, this can be halved. The final 30 minutes or so is when you start to get the wonderful aroma, a sure signal that there is no reason on the planet why you should ever buy a rubbish nasty tasteless and chemically processed loaf of bread from the shops again. Second only to hand-baked, THIS is the best bread ever! It smells tasty, it tastes tasty, blow me if it isn't just the tasiest bread from a machine!
Although I've used it regularly, I surprise even myself as I haven't yet used it to it's full potential, for example I have yet to attempt the pizza base function, though I do really love the sound of home-made pizza, not to mention the cakes and biscuits!
This is the first bread maker I ever bought, and it was chosen on the strength of reviews I read, such as this one! Oh the irony... however I believe it was a very good purchase, well worth paying the extra for at the time, and I would consider another Panasonic machine in the future (if the reviews said it was a good 'un!), though I'm hoping that I won't need to buy another one for some time yet.
I bought the Panasonic SD253 18 months ago for about £90.
What's in the box?
A breadmaker with the bread pan and blade, a measuring cup, a measuring spoon and a recipe book.
My experiences of different breads I've made:
Bread (like a sandwich loaf)
I've made white bread, brown bread, wholemeal bread and half and half bread. It says in the recipes to use Strong flour. Although I think Strong White flour gives better results, I think for day to day and if you're on a budget then Value/Basics/Smart Price plain white flour is OK. I find the bread to be good enough for sandwiches for 2 days, and after that only good for toast. I've also found the best way to store it is to leave it out with the cut side down. In a bag it tends to go 'soft'. It's hard to explain.
When the bread is no good for eating fresh, I slice the rest up and freeze for toast.
I tend to make medium size bread on fast bake which for white bread is 2 hours. I find the bread to be nicer if it's done for the full time (4 hours), but I generally do this for if I have guests.
We now make our own pizzas. I always use Strong white flour for pizza dough and roll it out thin on a baking tray. The pizza bases turn out lovely. I always use olive oil instead of butter though.
Dough for rolls
There's a dough setting so you can make rolls. The rolls freeze really well if they actually make it to the freezer before getting eaten.
Dough for croissants
I tried this once but it was too much hard work for my liking.
There are some recipes for cakes. However, I won't be trying anymore after I followed the Gingerbread recipe. It just didn't seem to cook. I think I'll stick to making cakes in the oven.
Bread with nuts/fruit in
There is also a nut/raisin dispenser which means you can put the dried ingredients into it and the machine will automatically release them into the dough at the right time. I've not actually used this feature myself, so cannot comment on it.
Ease of use
I read the instruction book from cover to cover before I used this breadmaker. It has lots of useful information, such as a troubleshooting section for if your bread does not come out as expected. It also explains the reasons why the certain ingredients are used which is good to know.
In terms of switching the machine on and operating it, I think it's very intuitive. You simply select the bread type, (e.g. basic, wholewheat, french, italian, sandwich, pizza, bake only or gluten free), then the type of bake (e.g fast bake for white), the size of bread you want, and the darkness of the crust.
It does make a clunking noise when it's beating the dough mixture, but it's only for a while. Most of the time it's resting, or cooking so it's silent then.
I think it's very easy to clean. The bread pan itself is a non-stick type material, so I just wash it with a sponge. If I've just mixed dough, I find it easier to let the bits of dough left in the pan to dry out, then they just brush off easily.
Sometimes a bit of flour gets on the element and around the bottom under the bread pan. I just wipe with a damp sponge occasionally.
Size and storage
It is fairly big. But I'm a firm believer of not keeping gadgets in the cupboard. If they are hidden away I don't use them. I keep mine on the work top, but I do use it every other day.
It measures approximately 14.5 inches tall, about 9 inches in depth and just over 13 inches in width. You also need to consider the clearance for opening the lid, as at my previous property I couldn't open it fully as the cupboards on the wall were too low. With the lid open it's just over 21 inches high.
At the time of buying it only comes in white - I had really wanted a chrome effect breadmaker to go with my other kitchen appliances, but the good reviews persuaded me to get this one despite it not coming in chrome.
The only other problem I have, is I'm quite forgetful and there has been a few times the alarm goes off to let you know it's ready and I'm in the middle of something and I don't remove the bread straight away - I forget and then half hour later the bread has been sweating in the pan...it still tastes OK, but the crust goes more soft and chewy. I think it'd be handy to have a beep every 5 minutes after it's finished until you physically press a button on the machine.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Panasonic breadmaker, it's very easy, takes a few minutes to bung the ingredients in, and you get lovely fresh bread with ingredients that you know have gone in. The only problem is trying to stop yourself from eating the whole loaf while it's still warm :)
I was not a big fan of home made bread but my husband simply loves freshly made breads and he convinced me that this bread maker will be very useful and so I bought one. Initially we used it quite often and the lovely aroma of fresh bread being baked filled the house. The digital display is very convenient and lets you know how much time and baking remains.
The entire process of baking takes about 2 hours( also depeding on the type of bread you are making). The owner's manual has recipes for various kinds of breads that can be made. Most convenient part of this electric bread maker is that the dough turns out to be very smooth. You can even make just the dough and store it for later use.
I preferred Panasonic because this brand seems always reliable to me. Even after the initial regular use, we constantly used it for making fresh breads especially when we ran out of store bought one. I would suggest all the fresh bread lovers to pick this product.
Several years ago we went for a meal at our friends' house and they cooked home-made pizzas for us. The pizzas were delicious, and having discovered that they'd made the bases in their breadmaker we had the first thoughts that a breadmaker may be useful. However, we were unsure how much we'd use one and didn't feel it was justified just for making pizzas! A few days later we were out shopping and a very nice lady in John Lewis offered us some bread that had been made in one of their breadmakers. I have to say it was the nicest piece of bread I'd ever had and from that moment we knew we were going to get one.
After some online research, we discovered that the breadmaker with the most recommendations was the Panasonic SD253, which just happened to be the one we'd experienced at John Lewis. We ordered one the next day and since it's arrived we haven't looked back. Our breadmaker cost us around £80 I believe, although it's quite a few years ago, so couldn't be exact. As it's an older model, I'm not sure it's even available now, although you may be lucky enough to find one in a shop somewhere. The closest I could find online is the SD255 for £88.83 from Amazon - it looks like an updated version of the SD253 and when our breadmaker eventually conks out I won't hesitate to buy one of these to replace it.
The SD253 looks much like most other breadmakers I've seen - a large white box with a hinged lid on top and a set of buttons with digital display to the side of this. It also has a separate small lid built within the lid, which is the seed and nut dispenser. This covers a small compartment with a hinged, trapdoor style floor which drops away at the appropriate time to add seeds/ nuts/ fruit etc to the mixture. Initially I was a bit disappointed that this model doesn't have a viewing window - however, my research revealed that this is the reason for it being highly recommended. Apparently the lack of a window means the bread is less likely to get soggy during the breadmaking process - something to do with steam escape, sounds illogical to me but is apparently true.
Within the main compartment is a removable bread bucket with its own removable kneading paddle. This clicks into the main compartment so that the kneading paddle is rotated by the breadmaker mechanism and sits on top of the heating element which winds round the inside compartment. Also included in the package are a plastic measuring cup and double ended measuring spoon for teaspoons, tablespoons and fractions of each of these.
As someone who'd never made bread before and never seen a breadmaker in action, I was a little concerned the process would be complicated. This couldn't be further from the truth with the SD253. It comes with a fantastic instruction/ recipe booklet which starts off by going through the essential ingredients needed for breadmaking and more importantly how each one works in the process (this is really essential if you want to experiment with your own recipes). The main additional items that we needed to purchase to use our breadmaker were yeast, strong bread flour and milk powder. Everything else is ingredients that you're likely to already have in your kitchen cupboards. An extensive list of recipes is included, making use of all the different programs on the breadmaker and assisting you to make anything from a plain white loaf to pesto and pine nut bread and encouraging use of ingredients as diverse as sundried tomatoes, apple juice, bacon and Branston pickle (although not all in the same loaf!). The recipes are as simple as measuring out each ingredient and adding it to the breadmaker in the order given in the recipe, then pressing the appropriate buttons to make the machine work. In some recipes there are different options for size of loaf, so you have to be careful to follow the same list of ingredients so you don't use the amount of flour needed for a large loaf and the amount of yeast for a medium. To be fair, we've never done this, so I don't think it's a big issue!
There are only six buttons to worry about - select/ option/ size/ crust/ timer and stop/start. The select button allows you to choose which of the bread types you wish to cook - basic, wholewheat, French, Italian, sandwich, pizza, bake only or gluten free - this is usually just a case of following the recipe, and if we're using a recipe from another book or experimenting with our own we've just guessed which setting seems most appropriate. Option allows you to cycle through whether you wish to use the nut/ seed dispenser and whether you want to make a rapid loaf (which dispenses with some of the time allowed for resting of the dough to make a quicker loaf). We've always preferred to wait that bit longer for a fully prepared loaf, as the longest program on the machine only takes 5 hours. The breadmaker can also be used just as a kneading machine to prepare the dough for individual rolls or cakes such as Chelsea buns, which can then be formed into shapes and baked in the oven. There are three size choices, medium, large and extra large - we've most often used the large setting - as the width of the bread bucket is fixed the extra large just comes out taller and can seem a bit out of proportion. Crust can be light, medium or dark, although with some of the settings there's no option for this. The timer allows you to set the breadmaker so that freshly baked bread awaits you when you wake up, although we've never used this setting so I can't comment on how good it is. Finally, the start/ stop button is obvious.
As mentioned earlier, knowledge about how the breadmaking process works is really useful when it comes to experimentation. Although there are plenty of recipes in the book, I've experimented from quite early on. Sometimes because we haven't had quite the right ingredients in stock or just because we fancied something a bit different. I've usually used a recipe from the instruction book as a guide and made sure to keep the proportions of different types of ingredients the same, so for example one dry ingredient can be substituted for another or oats can be used to replace some of the flour. In this way, we've had some wonderful breads over the years and amazingly we've never had a loaf that was inedible.
After use the breadmaker's reasonably easy to clean - the bread bucket and kneading paddle can be removed and are quite non-stick so clean without too much effort. The measuring cup and spoon aren't suitable for dishwashing but are easy enough to hand wash and they can be stored within the breadmaker bucket when not in use. The most difficult part of cleaning is the main compartment itself - during the kneading cycle, little bits of ingredients can go over the edge of the bread bucket and get burnt to the main compartment during cooking. These burnt on bits can be difficult to remove, particularly if they get beneath the visible heating element at the bottom of the machine.
Overall the SD253 is a fantastic breadmaker, we've been using it for about 4 or 5 years now, have never had a problem, never had an inedible loaf and enjoyed many delicious loaves, cakes and pizzas from it. Our friends love to come round and do make your own pizzas using bases from the breadmaker, and we'll often make a fresh loaf to accompany a sit-down meal, so it can even be used for a dinner party! I cannot recommend this breadmaker enough and won't hesitate to buy the upgraded version when ours eventually gives up (although there's no sign of that happening any time soon!)
Delicious bread every single time
Huge variety of possible recipes
Very easy to use
Very very reliable
Difficult to get hold of now (although there appears to be an up to date version)
Slightly difficult to clean the main compartment
Three loaf sizes / Also has nut and raisin dispenser / Short name: Panasonic SD253