I've had the Panasonic SD 253 for a couple of years now and it's never let me down. I use it at least one per week to make dough for pizza, and sometimes more often to make fresh bread. The machine has a number of bread functions as follows:
- Gluten free
Within each programme are additional functions such as fast bake (the speediest bake is 1hr 55 minutes), bake raisin (which triggers the raisin/nut dispenser for seeded or flavoured breads), dough only (in case you want to make buns or a shaped loaf) and timer. You can also select the size of loaf and the darkness of the crust (light, medium, dark). Bear in mind that not all functions will work on all programmes. Fortunately you also receive a recipe book with your machine that gives you lots of guidance.
Bake time varies quite a bit. For example, a basic white loaf will take 1 hr 55 mins if you select the rapid bake function, whereas the standard bake function is 4 hrs. A wholewheat loaf takes longer at 5 hrs, as does a sandwich loaf, and a French loaf takes 6 hours to bake. Pizza dough takes 45 minutes.
One of the great features of the machine is the timer function. You can time the loaf so it is ready in anything up to 13 hours (including bake time) which means that you can set the machine the night before and have fresh bread in the morning. The machine also keeps your loaf warm until you switch it off, so even if you oversleep you still have warm bread the next day. However, the timer function does not work for all programmes so, for example, you can't use the timer on a rapid bake or any of the dough settings.
I've had mixed results with the machine and recipe book. I've found the water content of the pizza dough recipe to be too high, so have had to make a few adjustments to get the best results. I don't think it is quite as simple as just chucking everything in to the machine and a beautiful loaf comes out. My machine has a tendancy to produce a lopsided loaf - I've tried different bread flours and different types of yeast, but generally there is a slight lean to one side. I've also found that after having the machine for a while it has a tendancy to give off an acrid burning smell towards the end of the bake time, rather than the lovely fresh baked bread smell, and that can be a little offputting. We've cleaned the machine thoroughly, but there are burnt patches on the base that we simply cannot remove.
On the plus side, the bread has been consistently delicious. I would tend to avoid using the rapid bake function as the results are a bit mixed (we've had a few failed loaves) so it's worth going for the longer bake time to guarantee the better loaf. The recipes are really good and varied. The bacon & cheese loaf is delicious and you can easily supplement the bacon for onions if you prefer. The seeded breads are really good and the ploughman's loaf is lovely too. Wholewheat loaves can also be a little more tricky - some of the recipes call for added vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid) but this is not generally available in the supermarkets and I've never added it. I suspect that might have sometimes affected the loaf quality.
I'd also say it's worthwhile using quality, fresh ingredients as there's nothing more disappointing than waiting 6 hours for your French loaf only to find a leaden mass in the bottom of your machine. It's worth spending a little to ensure you've got good quality flour and fresh, workable yeast.
With the differing loaf sizes, it'd be nice if you had a selection of pans for the machine as all that happens when you XL a loaf is that it gets taller! I tend to stick to the medium size, as I can't guarantee the large will fit in the toaster.
Would also mention that it's worth also purchasing a bread slicer to go with your bread machine, as fresh, warm bread is not easy to slice.
We've had lots of excellent loaves out of this machine, and it's great for that Saturday night home made pizza. There's no sign of the machine wearing out, but when it does I'd happily replace it with an identical model as we've been very happy (acrid smell aside) with this one.
My husband had wanted a breadmaker for ages (he does all the cooking). We had been looking at the budget models but didn't know which to buy. Then one evening having dinner at a friends house and tasting their delicious bread we discovered the PanasonicSD253.
Although this was much more than we had initially wanted to spend we threw caution to the wind and bought one. I have to say it was a great buy. My husband bakes white loaves for himself and whole meal for me. He has used it to make rolls, pizza dough and ciabatta. The timer is really useful as you can set it the night before and wake up to fresh bread in the morning.
The only slight niggles are getting the loaves out of the tin. Sometimes the paddle gets stuck and you end up with a big hole in the bottom of the loaf. That aside it is certainly worth spending the extra money on.
A year ago I would never have expected to be the proud owner of a breadmaker let alone be writing a review of one. Rather than being a master-baker, I am more of a mad chemist who likes to eat his experiments, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive this machine for Christmas, to aid my research. Breadmaking has never been my forte, with the exception, perhaps of pizza.
My kitchen, using estate agent language, is of modest proportions (i.e. Little more than a cupboard with a hotplate) so superfluous gadgetry is bannished, but this robotic wonder permanently occupies some very valuable work-top real estate. It too is of modest proportions, with a footprint of less than one foot (30cm) square, although fairly tall at about 40cm. It is extremely easy to operate, simply put the ingredients into the metal bread-pan, first making sure the rotating kneading paddle/blade is in place at the bottom, lift open the lid of the bread-maker drop the baking pan in, twisting slightly to engage the motor, close the lid then choose the loaf size and baking options specified in the recipe and set the timer if you want the bread later e.g. for breakfast. The controls are simple buttons on the top panel which allow you to cycle through each option. The bread needs to be removed fairly quickly on completion to prevent overcooking.
The instruction manual/recipe book is a thin A4 paper booklet, with just 35 pages, but has good operating instructions, trouble-shooting for when it doesn't quite go as planned and a very good range of recipes. The machine does all the work for you, so knowing how it is doing it is irrelevant. All you need to know is the ingredients and quantities and the options to set. There are also many books on the subject for further recipes. The main problem I found was in determining quantities. The bread-maker comes with a measuring jug and spoons, but the recipes use weights for all dry ingredients, and I have no scales so I had to convert the recipes to volumes.
The Panasonic has three loaf-size options for many recipes M, L and XL (varying in height only, and approximately corresponding to the range of sizes found in a supermarket) and many baking options including whole wheat (5 hours), rye (3.5 hours) basic white and brown loaves (4 hours), sandwich (crustless, 5 hours), French (6 hours) and Italian (4.5 hours) gluten-free (2 hours) and also a dough only setting so you can cook rolls or loaves in the oven or the fantastic 45 minute pizza mode. There are quick loaf modes too, which can be finished in under 2 hour buts require slightly different recipes and are perhaps less consistent in quality.
The results are good. Not perhaps the best bread I have ever eaten, but certainly the freshest. It really doesn't cut easily straight from the machine unless you give it a chance to cool down a little, which can be frustrating. The basic white or brown loaves are the easiest, but you can automatically add dry ingredients such as nuts and seeds and dried-fruit after the kneading stage with the nut-dispenser, a little trap-door in the lid, that opens if you set the correct option. You can also do some complex recipes that require extra wet ingredients by listening out for the beeping noise at the appropriate time. There are so many permutations that I have only tried a small fraction and of course it can also be used for a huge variety of your own cake recipes. The bread only stays fresh for a very short time so it really is worth making small loaves regularly.
The machine is also very easy to keep clean. The only small complaint is that it is a bit noisy. Loud enough to be heard in another room, but not enough to keep you awake, so it is certainly not a problem.
In conclusion, its a very good machine, well worth the money, and it it good to know what is actually in the food you are eating. It is worth buying just for the pleasure of waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread. Apparently, if you're trying to sell your house the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee will help, so buy one of these.
I think we've had this bread maker nearly two years. It's amazing. It's also pretty quiet and easy to clean. Don't buy anything else. Trust me, I spent a long time checking out which one to get and it paid off. This is the best.
I have made hundreds of loaves and doughs using this machine. This machine consistently gives me good results. I have not bought bread from the supermarket for nearly a year.
I had previously bought a budget bread maker and the results were inconsistent and often loaves had not raised during the cooking process.
The machine is very easy to use and has all the expected features. The only downside to this machine is that it is tall, so ensure that it will fit under your wall units prior to purchase.
The nut dispenses is invaluable and paying the extra money for this feature is worthwhile.
I have owned this product since last Christmas (2005)and have found it to be excellent. I use it at least one a week and rarely, if ever, buy bread anymore. The instruction book is very clear and gives quite a few useful bread recipes. It has a rapid bake cycle which I use a lot and it gives just as good a result as the "standard" longer cycles. One feature I would like to see would be a rapid dough program so that you can quickly bake your own shaped loaves and rolls - but this is a minor quibble - it does have a number of standard dough cycles.
Making bread has been on my to do list for the last 8 years. Finally realised I wasn't going to do hand made bread and bought this breadmaker (after checking out lots of different reviews). So far I haven't had one dud loaf of bread - it is as easy as measuring out and weighing ingredients, and pressing a few buttons.
Breadmakers have a variable reputation - I have friends who make great hand made bread but have used a different type of breadmaker to this and have had mixed results. So far I havent had one sunken loaf, or pale dough or a craggy crust. Just absolutely gorgeous homemade bread everytime. The electricity use is negligable - I have estimated this at around 5p per loaf. So even using organic flour, the total cost of a loaf, including yeast is less than 50p. If you use own brand, non organic flour then the cost could be around 25 - 35p per loaf. So no more (and usually less) than shop bought, for a whole better taste.
The main reason we bought the breadmaker was the amount of salt in bought bread. Even using the full amount of salt in the recipies that come with the machine, it is still significantly less than that in shop bought bread.
I have used most of the bread programs plus the pizza dough program. There is also a dough only function (so you make the dough in the machine then shape into rolls or french sticks) and a bake only function (for making cake). The timer function means you can be out all day and come home to fresh bread - or wake up first thing with a warm loaf.
The panasonic is not the cheapest on the market - but it does offer consistant results and is easy to use. It is a great investment and for a family consuming 5 loaves a week, will pay for itself in less than a year. I have a fairly small kitchen but I have managed to find a spot for it to rest on. We havent bought bread in the 3 months since I bought this machine.
I've never had a bread maker before but due to a recent discovery that I can not eat wheat; the gluten free programme seemed a great idea. There is a wide range of suggested gluten free products, with a handy * indicting the wheat free types. These products can be obtained online through a pharmacy but I found ORGRAN gluten free bread mix to be just as good. The machine produces fantastic results. It only takes 2 hours on the gluten free programme, you just put the ingredients in, choose your settings and let it go - it's that easy! It even has an automatic dispensing tray for nuts, seeds, etc. You'll also be pleased to know it's very easy to clean! This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
I received this as a present several months ago, and am I glad I did! Shop bought bread is now a thing of the past in our house.
Having never owned a breadmaker before, I can't really compare it to others on the market, but the SD-253 certainly provides everything I can imagine wanting in a breadmaker. It's spectacularly easy to use - weigh out your ingredients using the measuring cup and scoop provided, select your programme, and off you go. The machine does all the hard work for you - all that tedious kneading, leaving to rise, kneading again, etc) with delicious results every time.
The breadmaker features a wide range of possible programmes - you can select type of bread (basic, wholemeal, French, Italian, sandwich, pizza, bake only or gluten free), size of loaf and colour of crust. You can also use it to make dough (I can highly recommend the white bread rolls, much loved by my son in particular) which you can then shape and bake in your conventional oven. The nut/raisin dispenser is a handy gadget into which you can put your nuts, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes or whatever takes your fancy, and the machine will automatically add them to the dough at the appropriate time in the process.
As it's not too large, the breadmaker fits nicely onto the average work surface. (I'd recommend finding an accessible spot, as if you have to haul it out of the cupboard every time, you're far less likely to use it regularly, which frankly would be a shame.)
It does take time, of course - you can't make a good loaf too quickly. A standard white loaf takes 4 hours - others can be longer. So you do need to plan ahead - it's no use rushing home from work expecting to shove in the ingredients and have bread ready in time for your evening meal, unless you're in the habit of eating very late indeed. There is, however, a timer option which allows you to set the breadmaker to come on at a specified time, and if you can get to grips with that (I haven't, but then I haven't really tried as yet) then freshly baked bread in the morning or evening should be no problem.
The manual is excellent and contains a large number of recipes, many of which I have tried with notable success. Ciabatta goes down particularly well with my family and also seems to keep better than some other breads. The only one which didn't work for me was the pizza dough, which for some reason turns out far too wet. However, I now use a different recipe for the pizza dough programme and it works just fine. (At only 45 minutes, the pizza dough programme is one which you don't have to plan too far ahead to be able to use.)
If you're considering buying a breadmaker, I can highly recommend this model. And if you're not, please do reconsider - once you've got used to home baked bread, you'll never want to buy the pre-packaged supermarket stuff again.
As I got it as a gift, I don't know how much it cost - but Amazon (yes, they sell breadmakers as well as books) have it for £76.97 with free delivery! So it requires a bit of initial outlay, but is definitely a good investment (as long as you use it regularly and don't leave it to gather dust in a cupboard!).
Buy this, don't buy supermarket bread! - Advantages: Makes excellent bread with minumum of fuss, Easy to clean, Encourages experimentation - Disadvantages: Quite large footprint, Rapid bake (3 hours) didn't work well first and only time I tried it (but possibly my fault)
The Panasonic SD-253 automatic breadmaker has been gracing the (relatively small) work surface in my kitchen for a little over 12 months now, and I think it speaks volumes that it hasn’t just been quietly put into a cupboard to gather dust like so many other kitchen “essentials” often are. *Looks and Use* The machine is large, white, and takes up a fair amount of work surface in my kitchen. But it also means that we get fresh bread regularly at a far cheaper rate than buying it from a local baker or a supermarket. It can be ready within a couple of hours, and if I were more organised I’d keep a stock (pre-sliced) in the freezer. The problem is that the smell is so enticing when you remove it from the pan, it tends to disappear rather too quickly for that! I know people who have had good results making bread in this using cheap plain flour from Lidl or similar, making the overall cost even lower, however this isn’t something I’ve tried – I just use Asda or Tesco strong white and strong wholemeal flours, which are around 60p for a large bag. The breadmaker pan is non-stick, and so far this has worked well, the non-stick is still there after more than a year of regular use, although I have never put it through the dishwasher, which helps. The kneading blade remains in the pan during cooking, so this does mean that you will have an odd shaped hole in the bottom of your loaf. Sometimes the blade comes out stuck inside the loaf rather than staying behind in the pan, so keep a watch out for that. It’s not hard to remove it from the loaf once it’s cool enough to touch, however. Again, sometimes the blade will seem stuck into the pan – you have to remove it and clean it thoroughly between uses – but a short soak in warm water soon sorts that out. Cleaning on the whole
is very easy – sometimes as little as a rinse in soapy water will suffice. The control panel is fine – the only problem is if you have to interrupt a programme soon after it has started, for example to add more liquid (insert meaningful look at other half here…), then you have to wait for the machine to reset itself which I think takes around 10 minutes, then set it again. The panel overall is quite intuitive, and as you cycle through the options, the arrows on the display panel move to show what you currently have selected. One minor annoyance is that if you move the selector off the medium crust option, it’s not always possible to get it back, and you have to choose between light and dark. This may be a particular "feature" of the bake rapid programme, though. *General Information* The strict method that is given in the accompanying recipe book and user guide (see below for a rough idea) produces the best results in my experience, although I’m always happy to experiment – for example chucking passata and chopped sun-dried tomatoes into the body of the breadmaker on the bake rapid programme has worked extremely well for me in the past. You can only use dried yeast to make the bread – the stuff that comes in packets from the supermarket – and for best results it should be as new as possible. Older yeast doesn’t give as good a loaf due to reduced rising, as I found with my first loaf using yeast I’d had in the cupboard. One problem with supermarket bread is to do with the amount of salt it contains. This breadmaker (and I would assume others too, in fairness) produces perfectly acceptable results using lo-salt rather than normal salt – in fact they're indistinguishable from the "real" thing. Another thing I do is if I’m making a white loaf
, I throw in a couple of tablespoons of bran. This doesn’t affect the overall taste, but does give a slightly golden colour to the finished loaf, and increases the amount of dietary fibre we consume without us making an effort. Using fresh milk instead of skimmed milk powder and water also helps improve the taste of the finished product. There's a gluten free option available for those people intolerant to gluten, however the manufacturers claim that it’s only suitable for use with certain mixes, and using own mix might not work as well. I can’t comment on this as I don’t make gluten free bread, but mixes they recommend using are Juvela Gluten Free, Fibre and Harvest mixes, Trufree bread mix, Schar Mix B, Glutafin Gluten Free Bread, White, Multigrain White, Fibre and Multigrain Fibre mixes. Some of these mixes are also wheat free. As well as explaining how to use the plain mixes mentioned above, there are recipes for several other loaves with added ingredients such as honey and nuts. *The user guide* The user guide has good explanation of how bread-making works, and the importance of the various ingredients – this appealed to the other half, as he has a scientific bent. Unfortunately he seems incapable of following one recipe when making anything, so on his last attempt to make bread used flour quantities for a large loaf, liquid quantities for a medium one and forgot the salt altogether. The user guide has lots of tips on how to produce a good loaf, and if you’ve tried it and it hasn’t been as successful as you’d hoped (as above…), then there’s also a troubleshooting guide at the back. This covers everything from loafs not rising, to having a hole-y texture, to lop-sidedness amongst other things. Recipes contained in the us
er guide are hugely varied, and I haven’t tried more than a very small proportion of them, despite having had my breadmaker for over a year. I tend to use it for simple plain loaves, mainly the basic white loaf – but this takes 4 hours to cook, so decided this was too long and moved onto the rapid white loaf and more recently the rapid 50% wholemeal loaf. I’ve also tried tomato foccacia (very good) and herby bread (also good). A selection of the other recipes included follows: Spicy fruit loaf Cheese and bacon loaf Curry and mango loaf (sounds disgusting to me!) Maple and pecan nut Olive loaf Pesto and pine nuts Cumin seeds As well as these "plain" loaves, there are also instructions for making French bread (which takes 6 hours, so I haven’t tried it yet), Italian ciabatta bread (4.5 hours, ditto), sandwich loaves, a dough programme where it mixes it all up for you but then you shape it and bake in a normal oven (not bad results, but not for me on a regular basis), then using an enriched dough recipe, it moves on to Chelsea buns, doughnuts, stollen, Danish pastries, Bath buns and many more choices. All of these need baking in a normal oven, however. On the other hand, if you don’t have a normal oven but fancy a homemade cake, then this breadmaker is able to cope with all sorts, from parkin to fruit or marmalade cake. The mixing is all done by hand, as it uses the bake only programme with the kneading blade removed (so you don’t get a funny shaped hole in the bottom of your cake). The breadmaker’s pan has to be lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment before adding the mixture. I’d recommend this breadmaker to anyone who loves the taste and smell of fresh baked bread but doesn’t have the time or inclination to knead it out themselve
s (or clean up the mess that results). It really does take the hassle and time element out of baking. *Method* Press the select button on the control panel to choose between the following features: basic, whole wheat, French, Italian, sandwich, pizza, bake only and gluten free. With the option button, choose between bake, bake rapid (as bake but shorter), bake raisin (as bake but adds dried fruit and nuts automatically during kneading process), dough (prepares dough to be shaped for rolls, doughnuts, croissants etc) and dough raisin (as dough but adds dried fruit and nuts during kneading). Choose between a medium, large or extra large loaf size. Choose light, medium or dark crust. Set timer if desired (and if available – it’s not used on the bake rapid programme, for example). Press start and wait for between 45 minutes (dough programme) and 6 hours (French bake programme). Bake rapid – the one I use most frequently – takes 1hr55. *Other information* Capacity: between 400-600g strong flour for loaf Min 250g strong flour for dough Timer – can delay start by up to 13 hours so you get fresh bread for breakfast Machine weighs approx 7.5kg Dimensions around 37x34x26cm Mains power (240v) For safety, it must be placed 5cm away from walls etc, and not near any heat sources or in places with a high humidity. It comes with a measuring spoon and measuring cup which it’s strongly recommended you use, to ensure consistency. They’re fine, but I find the levels on the measuring cup quite hard to read, as they’re just raised plastic rather than printed on in black. *Price and availability* This breadmaker can be had for around £80 from amazon.co.uk (yes, they do kitchen stuff too!
), which seems like a good deal to me – we bought ours from Argos last year for around £100, in fact it’s still on sale there for £99 according to the website. As always, shop around.
The SD253 has a Raisin Nut Dispenser that automatically adds additional ingredients to your recipe and can also bake gluten free loaves on the Gluten Free Program / The SD253 has a Super Rapid Option to produce a white or brown loaf in only 1 hour 55 minutes and a Sandwich Option to bake softer bread with a thinner crust / This model also features a versatile Dough Option to make dough from white, brown or wholemeal flour for rolls, buns, croissants etc and a French Dough Option for crusty French sticks / The Bake Only Option is also ideal to cook a selection of tasty cakes and tea breads / Short name: Panasonic SD-253YYDC