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I've used various breadmakers in the past and this is the best of them. Mines in white, looks good, easy to clean and gives a very good finished product, whether it is a loaf, dough, pizza base, Etc.
It comes with a simple guide and recipe book to get you started. Recipes are easy to follow and understand.
You can bake basic bread, wholemeal, ciabetta, seed, dough only, bake only, pizza base (great pizza dough), rye bread.................... The list goes on.
To use, open the lid, remove the bread pan, add ingredients to the pan and put back in the breadmaker, close the lid and select the programme and options you want - easy peasy! A novice bread maker can use it with no hassles.
The buttons and read out are on the top front and can easily be selected and seen. The read out gives you all the info. You need and informs you how long the cycle has left. It has a beeper to tell you when it's finished and will keep your loaf warm in the bread pan until you switch it off.
The timer is great, you can set it to start at four in the morning and you will wake up to the smell of freshly baked loaf.
It also has a 'raison tray' which allows ingredients to be mixed at the appropriate time of baking.
Once finished the bread pan is easily cleaned and replaced in its home. It's an upright appliance and can either stand on the worktop or be placed in a cupboard when not being used.
I use mine every other day and the quality of bread/dough has remained constant. It is robust and solidly built.
You can set it up and leave it to get on with your own life.
About 10 years ago, my brother gave us a bread maker for Christmas. I remember being a bit nonplussed, thinking it was something we'd try a few times then end up storing it in the garage. I was wrong. We grew to love the bread from this basic appliance. By the time it gave up the ghost we knew we'd buy another. We looked at what was available and we ended up with the Panasonic SD255.
** What does it make? **
Bread! And dough and cakes. There are lots of recipes in the recipe book which came with the bread maker. I've tried quite a few but tend to most often make the 70% wholemeal rapid bake loaf.
As well as the basic setting, there are wholewheat, rye, French, Italian, sandwich, gluten free, pizza and bake only settings.
** What ingredients are needed? **
For most breads the main ingredients are strong flour, water, salt, fat, sugar and yeast.
The recipe book which comes with this machine says to add dairy products as well but this is not really needed. In our last machine we didn't have to add milk or milk powder and as I try to avoid dairy products I wasn't keen to add them. I called the Panasonic helpline and they said it was an optional ingredient and only included for extra nutrition. So why add it then, you may well ask. It would have put me off buying this model if I'd read the recipe book before buying the machine and I suspect I wouldn't be the only one. Anyway, I've never added any milk or milk powder to any of the recipes and nothing seems amiss with the bread.
** What is the bread like? **
Very good actually on either the basic setting and the rapid bake setting. The crumb is quite dense but soft (you can tell I've watched Paul Hollywood on the Great British Bake Off.
A large size 70% wholemeal made on standard setting (not rapid) is 14 centimetres tall. An extra large size 70% wholemeal made on rapid setting is 16 centimetres tall and the medium size is about 12 centimetres tall. All decent sizes for sandwiches. I get about 12-14 slices per loaf but I like my toast quite thick so you could probably squeeze a few more slices out of this if you were less greedy than me.
There is a little hole in the bottom of the loaf. This is because there is a metal paddle in the tin. This paddle does a lot of the work but there's no way of removing it from the dough once it starts to bake (unless you make dough only).
We often make pizza dough in the bread maker as well as standard loaves. We've had to tailor the recipe a bit as it made a very floppy base when baked which meant the toppings fell off when you lifted the pizza. I think we've got it right now though.
From time to time I've experimented with making various fruit and nut loaves. Unlike my last machine, this one has a fruit and nut dispenser on top and it drops these ingredients in at the right time so I don't now need to stand beside the machine waiting for a 'bleep' to tell me to throw them in. Pecans, walnuts, honey, sunflower seeds, raisins and cranberries have all found their way in to a loaf at one time or another. They've all worked well and the fruit and nuts have been well dispersed through the loaf.
** Any problems? **
My one real disaster was an attempt at a banana and walnut loaf. This was from a recipe in the book. It was horrible. Very wet and squishy and the bananas seemed to have oozed out from the other ingredients. The cake wasn't brown on top either and I will never make one of these again!
Other than another time when I put all the ingredients in except the water (made everything very toasty but unsurprisingly not like bread), everything hhs been fine.
** Cleaning **
The bread tin and the paddle are the only bits that need cleaned. They are easy to clean as the bread comes out of the pan quite easily. The exterior just needs a quick wipe down as it doesn't seem to attract stains and marks.
** Cost **
When we bought this bread maker, it was around £100.
The main cost of a loaf is the cost of the flour. An extra large loaf uses 450g of strong bread flour. I use Doves Farm organic strong flour which is £1.99 per 1.5kg pack. So the flour cost is about 60p. The other ingredients cost pennies. The electricity to operate the machine must be another few pennies. So, overall I get good value for making loaves at home.
** Overall **
We use this bread maker 2 or 3 times each week. This machine has a timer which is really handy. I can set it up when I go to bed. The machine operates very quietly (unlike our last machine) and when we get up in the morning there is a fabulous smell of fresh bread in the kitchen and a fresh loaf staying warm in the machine. A loaf stays warm for up to an hour after it's finished baking.
I like knowing exactly what has gone into my bread and I do when I make it myself. But I've not got time to make it from scratch so this bread maker is perfect. The bread tastes really good too.
If this machine ever packs up then we'll be getting another Panasonic. Very impressed with this model as long as I don't attempt to make another cake. I'd give this 5 stars instead of 4 stars if it wasn't for the unnecessary milk products in every recipe, and the cake disaster.
The first bread maker I ever owned taught me that making my own bread at home was very much what I wanted to be doing. It made baking it easy, and it saved me an absolute fortune. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best bread maker in the world and it certainly didn't make the best bread even if it wasn't bad. As it aged, I started looking round at various bread makers and chatting to online friends on a 'green' (environmentally friendly) forum about which ones others recommended. Unfortunately the really good ones it seemed cost a LOT.
Then Christmas came.
My mum who is an extremely generous person, knew exactly which bread maker it was I'd been coveting, as she'd not long treated herself to one and realised just how good it was. Well it seems she'd been shopping en masse for us all, and my gift, my step sisters gift, and my brother's gift were all that of a beautiful new bread maker. It was in fact, the trusty Panasonic SD-255.
Now bearing in mind that these retail around the £100 mark, you might be fooled into thinking that it was ridiculously over priced, and that we were going a bit over the top in wanting such an expensive model. But if I tell you that I've never had a bad loaf from this, and that it's been an absolute joy to use every single time, you might think ok then well... but if you were to actually TASTE the bread that this bread maker produces, then I really think you'd understand immediately where I'm coming from.
~*~Some Quick Facts~*~
This is a largish product and does take up a reasonable space on your work top, however, it's not as large as some, and looks pretty good all in white as it is. But you do need somewhere to keep it on the surface if you're going to use it regularly as it's a little hefty to be moving in and out of a cupboard all the time.
Unlike some bread makers, you're not assumed to be unable to weigh and measure, and instead of giving you all the quantities in cups and spoons, this gives you weights and quantities properly which I like.
It isn't a drop paddle blade, but the slit left in the loaf is ridiculously small compared to many bread makers, and is in fact smaller than the hole left by the paddle in our last bread maker where the paddle dropped flat supposedly to leave no hole (yeah right!).
~*~Ease of Use~*~
So this is a very simple device to work. There are a number of different settings you can select from, but the booklet that comes with it gives not just recipes, but precise instructions about which settings to select depending on what type of bread you're making.
You get a measuring spoon and a measuring cup with this, but to be honest it's just as easy to use your own spoon and jug measures if you want to as everything is like I mentioned given in weights and quantities, and you will need to own some scales for weighing things.
Each recipe gives the list of ingredients in the order you need to add them to the machine, but to be perfectly fair, we don't always follow the directions to the letter in terms of the order you add things, and we've never had a problem with this. So, Flour, yeast, sugar, water, fat and salt - that's all you need for a perfect loaf - and of course the SD-255.
There are two main modes for bread, a regular bake and a rapid bake. The regular bake takes around 4 hours, while the rapid bake takes just 2 hours - this is for a white loaf (wholemeal takes a bit longer). We have tried both, and in all honesty we generally use the rapid bake setting for our every day bread as it uses less power overall to cook the loaf, and is extremely tasty. Within this you can choose your crust setting as well so that you can select how light or dark you want the crust of your bread to come out. We like ours lightly done, so use the lightest setting which gives a nice soft crust to the bread, but my brother I know prefers a firmer crust to his so uses a darker setting. The main difference between the rapid and regular settings is the amount of time and number of times the dough rises for.
The only thing I would say is that unlike with some bread makers, there's no keep warm facility on this one, so you do need to be around to remove the loaf when the machine beeps to say its ready as leaving it in there for more than a few minutes after can result in the crust going rather soggy. I have to admit I've never really found this a problem though.
~*~Ease of Cleaning~*~
One of the things some people seem to worry about with a bread maker is how much cleaning will be involved in the process. Well basically you have a pan with a small paddle that sits in the bottom, and to clean these, you part fill the pan with water, leave for 5 minutes so the paddle lifts out easily, use a bottle brush cleaner to clean out the hole in the centre of the paddle where it attaches to the pan, and then wipe the inside of the pan with a sponge or cloth.
You do have to avoid popping the pan into water, or using anything abrasive on it, and it can't go in the dishwasher, but it's SO easy to clean that it's really not an issue - it's more like wiping a plate that's had a sandwich on it, rather than cleaning a casserole dish that's been baked in the oven you know. I have heard people moan about how their paddle sticks after a few years, or the bread becomes difficult to remove because the pan has got scratched, but almost a year after I got this, mine is fine probably because I don't let anything abrasive near it.
~*~Making other things~*~
As well as the obvious loaves of bread, we've also made a selection of other things using the bread maker. The pizza dough recipe makes excellent pizza bases, and there are some very nice fruit bread and hot cross bun recipes given too though I have to say we prefer to add a touch more spice than they suggest.
A number of the recipes only make the dough and then leave you to bake the resulting item (pizza bases or bagels for example) in the oven, but you know how long each cycle takes so you can plan this ok and make sure you put the oven on at the right time, and apart from shaping these things all the rest of the hard work has been done for you so again it does really simplify things a lot.
~*~Storing the Bread~*~
We store ours in a plastic bag, and then that's placed in the bread bin. I know other people who just place it straight in the bread bin, so I would say just store it in the way you might a loaf you've bought fresh from the bakers really and you'll be fine. In terms of how long it will keep this bread has no preservatives in it other than a bit of salt, so you don't really want to be keeping it for too long. However, ours is normally eaten within 2-3 days and is fine, and in fact I've used the last bits up on day 4 with no problem in the past, though I don't think it's ever lasted longer than that for us.
This model comes with an automatic dispenser for things like seeds, fruit and nuts - basically the sort of things you might want in your loaf, but that are better added a little way into the mixing process so they don't get destroyed by early mixing.
It also comes with a second paddle which has a different look. I believe this can be used to make certain specific products like rye bread and a few other things, but I have to admit that so far it's just sat in the drawer for me.
The next model down (254) is the same as this, but without the automatic dispenser. I believe it is slightly cheaper, but personally for the ease of not having to listen for a beep to add the fruit/seeds/nuts at the right time, I'd prefer to pay the extra few quid and have this one.
~*~A Few More Thoughts & Experiences~*~
We initially started using a bread maker because we wanted to be more environmentally friendly and have less packaging to deal with as well as knowing what was going into our food. We've continued to use one for these reasons, but also because of a few other things too. Firstly having really nice tasty bread to eat that's fresh is lovely. Secondly it's a lot cheaper than buying even a cheapish loaf from the supermarket.
We have tried different yeasts and flours over our years of bread making first with the previous bread maker and now with this one, and the quality of the flour and yeast does make a difference to the quality of the bread you get, but so does the bread maker itself. We now buy our flour by the sack direct from a flour mill and our choice is for a Canadian strong white flour for our basic white loaf, and this combined with a wholemeal flour (again strong), for wholemeal or half and half loaves. For yeast I like the Doves Farm yeast which comes in a bright orange 125g pack - you get a good quantity for a decent price (99p), and it lasts well if kept in an air tight storage container in the fridge. For fat we use olive oil or butter generally, but it'll work with pretty much any fat you've got really, and doesn't change the loaf much.
I really love my bread maker, it gives us lovely light loaves that are tasty and much more filling than the cheap nasty bread you can buy in the supermarket, and I can't see us ever going back to buying bread when we can make it so easily. This particular bread maker has made me realise that there is quite a difference in the loaf according to the machine used to make it, and I hope this lasts me a LOT of years because I really do love the bread that it makes us. It may seem like a lot of money to lay out initially, but if you work out the cost for making bread in this compared to buying it in the store, you'll find it will soon pay for itself too.
I love homemade bread. I love coming down in the morning to the smell of a fresh loaf. So I have a long history with bread makers- I wore three out before buying this one. The Panasonic is the best one I have owned and is standing up well to four or five loaves a week.
The layout of the machine is simple and yet packs in a lot of features. There are nine basic programs and various options within these programs-my personal favourite is the raisin option which operates a nut dispenser at the top of the machine after the initial kneading so that you get a Granary type effect. You do need to make sure the nut dispenser is pushed fully home when you are using it of course. There programs for French Italian and pizza dough as well.
The instruction and recipe book is very comprehensive and has a genuinely useful selection of recipes. It's true that the machine is expensive but this is one way it really justifies its price tag. It is very well set out and easy to follow- everything is explained clearly. It's a real pleasure to see the effort and thought that has gone into this. The recipes are logically divided up into sections such as dough, cake, wholemeal and gluten free (a special paddle is supplied for this).
In use it is the quietest bread machine I have used. This is not a major issue because I mostly use it at night with the timer, but it is a strong indication of quality. The pan is robust, and fits neatly and easily into the machine-no pushing and pulling as with some machines, but a gentle twist is all that is needed. The paddle fits on to the spindle in a way that looks sloppy, but this is a false impression. I have never had the "paddle stuck in the finished loaf" issue with this machine. The construction is robust and is lasting well- I have now owned it for over two years.
I would thoroughly recommend this machine-it is versatile and very well made and produces excellent bread.
This is our second Panasonic breadmaker and I'd cut off my arm before I'd go without it. We use the SD-225 for our 'basic' family loaves; most usually the granary or 50% wholemeal loaves. These are uniformly successful and can be cooked in as little as 3 hours (1hr 55m for a rapid brown loaf). This is useful if there's been a run on bread (with two teenagers this happens often). I also use the pizza dough setting regularly: a cheap and quick way of putting a meal on the table. If I have friends to lunch I often produce a focaccia or Tear & Share loaf.
How does it work? There's a control panel on the front, allowing you to choose the type of bread or dough (whole wheat, french, etc) and an option for how quickly you want to bake it or whether you're just producing a dough for a pizza. Then you can refine your choice by adding a size and crust. You might want a light crust for sandwiches, for example. A timer will allow you to set up the machine before you go to bed and wake up to the scent of freshly baked bread. Then you just press 'Start' and you're away.
The machine comes with a measuring cup and spoon, so you know you're being exact in the way you put in your ingredients. It's vital that you put them in the order the recipe states. Usually yeast and flour go in first. Don't be tempted to switch them around. One tip would be not to forget the water. Over our 12 years of breadmaking we have been known to do this.
I would thoroughly recommend this Panasonic and just wish I could spend more time with the recipe book and experiment more.
I had previously bought a breadmaker when they first started to get fashionable but it was not a regular brand and soon ran out of steam.
I had been looking for a replacement and the Panasonic SD-255 seemed to have a lot of the necessities I wanted in the breadmaker such as the rapid bake mode (2 hours) and a 13 hour time delay to enable you to wake up to a fresh loaf of bread.
It is modern in looks with a white with a cool to touch exterior. It has an angled control panel which is easy to operate. This breadmaker makes 3 different sized loafs - medium, large and extra large. It has many different baking settings including 100% wholemeal, multigrain, gluten free, sandwich bread, dough setting for pizzas and rolls.
What I really love about this breadmaker is that it will add all the extra ingredients you need by itself - such as adding nuts or raisins etc. I also love the fact that you can make pretty much any kind of bread.
I generally use it to make bread that I may not be able to purchase easily in the supermarkets. This is such as Rye bread and yeast free bread.
I really love the timing aspect of this breadmaker, where you can state the time you would like to wake up to the fresh bread. I have also found that the inside is non stick and it has been easy to get out the bread once it is ready - unlike my previous breadmaker.
This breadmaker really is attractive with it's digital display and viewing window. It really would not look out of place on display in any kitchen. However, I generally prefer the less is more appearance. I have been using ours regularly each week for my immediate family, plus friends for over two years now.
The breadmaker really does do what it is supposed to but may cost too much for everyone's budget.
I started bread making with a cheap brand to see if I liked and got on with it. It was great, so I moved up the ladder a bit & got a Morphy Richards item. This didn't last long so I bought the best thing that I couldn't really afford - the Panasonic 255. I was thrilled with this so called high end appliance & started baking.
The first few loaves were o.k, but then I noticed that after 4 hours, the machine hadn't started its program. I switched it off & left it long enough to clear its memory & tried again. This time it worked properly.
After a few weeks, I now saw that although the program had started, it hadn't mixed the ingredients. At the end of the program time, the machine had baked the contents, not knowing that they weren't blended, so I ended up with a 2 inch slab of uncooked snotty dough, with a baked crust on the top.
The following time it was alright again. A few weeks later it failed to start & a couple of times it didn't blend the ingredients.
I wrote to Panasonic (who's customer care used to be so good) and they said "we have no idea what's happening. If you really must, you can send it to us, & we'll have a look". I asked how long it would be away for, as I'm disabled and only eat my own home made bread (I won't go into details here). The women said "it might be away for two months". At the time, I was so worried, that I decided that a/ I couldn't afford to send it around the Country and b/ that I couldn't be without my own bread for that long, so decided to keep it. It has now not mixed the ingredients a number of times.
On top of that, there are brown burn/scorch marks around the lid & opening & a grill where the heat escapes from the body. In my opinion, these things are designed & built to bake bread. This uses HIGH temperatures. Shouldn't they be designed NOT TO BURN ?
I now thought that their comment about being away for two months was a bit of blackmail to stop me sending it in.
It got to the point where I could no longer rely of this piece of garbage and I had to get another brand.
My advice: If you want a machine that will last a while and be reliable - look for a different brand.
I will never buy Panasonic again.
I bought this breadmaker from Amazon 4 months ago and it is all that I hoped for. I have had breadmakers before and found the whole process very hit and miss, but this machine is pretty much infallable. Instructions are simple, easy to follow. The recipes work. I tend to need two loaves a day and don't want to spend ages getting the mix ready - I can literally put the ingredients in and press the bake button within 5 minutes.
The machine remembers my last setting unless I delete it which all saves time and I can even set it on timer to have fresh baked bread for when we get up. The loaf is also easier to remove from the baking tin than other models and there is no big horrible hole in the bottom of the loaf. The premium price is well worth paying and I would highly recommend this machine.
With the price of bread being so cheap, it does seem rather a strange purchase these days, a breadmaker.
However, you have to consider that bread, and real bread are different things. A freshly baked loaf wafting the scent of yeast, rye or baked wheat around your house, is worlds apart, from the artificial doughy, colon clogging, mush, you get from supermarkets.
Also haven't you noticed how supermarket bread seems to keep for ages, bread simply refuses to go stale, or mouldy these days. Have you ever considered why that might be, or ever wondered what is being added.
Beware of the "false" promise of no added artificial preservatives, colourings or flavourings. The word "artificial" can be missleading. There are a host of ingredients which are considered "natural", which are far from storecupboard items, and probably more at home in chemists labarotories..
But, when you are able to control the ingredients, your able to produce a loaf of bread that not only tastes good, but is good for the familys health. Wether it be a plain white loaf, a wholemeal, an Italian ciabatta, or even a dark eastern european rye, you know its good for you.
So not even yet thinking about versatility, this is reason enough, in my opinion to purchase a breadmaker.
^My thoughts; Panasonic SD-255^
-Why choose Panasonic-
When it comes to breadmakers, there are really two categories to consider when making a purchase.
(1) Those that deliver reliable results;
(2) Those that don't;
Depending on which category you made a purchase from, will depend on your view of breadmakers in general, and this is the reason why many people hate them.
OK I can't speak for other manufacturers/models, but after owning the Panasonic SD-255 for over two years, I can categorically confirm that the Panasonic is a model that does work and deliver reliable, consistent results, in fact it performs exceptionally well.
The Panasonic SD-255 boasts an array of impressive features amongst which is it's capability of producing three loaf sizes, various crust settings, a rapid bake mode (2 hours) and a 13 hour time delay. Which enables you to wake up to a fresh loaf, and the arousing aromas assosciated with that. In addition the unit comes with a raisin/nut dispenser (fully automated), and two kneading hooks; a basic paddle, and one especially designed for rye flour.
It is also worth mentioning, stylish looks (so far as can apply to a breadmaker), the touchpad control screen, the stay cool side walls, the extensive recipe booklet. And the relatively small footprint of the whole unit, which probably equates to the size of a sheet of A4 paper, and the unit sits at approximately 12-14 inches high. So can sit quite comfortably on most kitchen worktops.
This isn't cheap, you can expect to pay around £70-90 for the -255, it is however worth every penny. I am not going to pretend that you will save money, because in all honesty it would take an age to recoup the outlay. You can't however put a price on the health benefits, and the vast improvement in taste and quality you will experience.
While talking about cost, it is worth mentioning that on average you can produce a loaf including energy consumption (at current prices June '10) for approximately 60-80p per large loaf. Which isn't excessively high given the difference in quality between mass produced bread.
-Using the unit-
I have to admit, I was quite dubious that breadmaker bread, would actually be any good to eat. I just couldn' t picture how that tiny little paddle in the bottom of the bread tin, was going to knead a loaf, and how on earth it wasn't all not going to end in a sticky mess. To this day, I don't know how it does it, but it works. Even the paddle, leaves only an insignificant small dent in the bottom.
It also always comes out of the tin, without any fuss. No sticking, no mess. Washing up just consists of a wipe with a soapy cloth, and/or a quick soak for the paddle. Very sad to get excited about food, but it is quite "magical".
To make a loaf, you essentially drop the paddle onto the peg in the tin, add all the dry ingredients into the tin, add the required amount of water, set the tin into the base unit, select the desired product (more on that later) using the touchpad, press start and away you go, and wait for the beep. The time display, shows the status, and the time left to completion. That is all you basically do, it really is fool proof. If you wants nuts/seeds within your loaf, just select the setting, and the unit will automatically add these into the mixture for you, all you do is add them into the special compartment at the start of the process.
The timer I mentioned earlier, is really quite clever. As it isn't just a delay as I expected, it actually is the time when the loaf will be ready. So if you set an 8hr delay, the unit will switch itself into action a few hours prior to the 8hrs, so that the bread is actually ready when the timer beeps. As a cautionary note, depending on what your making, baking times vary. Basic loaf can be ready in 2 hours, but some wholemeals can take 4-5 hours. A little forward planning is required.
In my opinion the best part of all, is the huge array of things you can do with this breadmaker reliably. It can start a sourdough "starter" for you, so that you can make things like real Italian Ciabatta, or French breads. It can of course make every type of loaf you can imagine, or experimental combinations you want to try.
For example, one of my favourite breads, is a mixture of wholemeal, rye, and "spelt" flour. I don't actually bake the loaf in the breadmaker, but use it only to make the dough (yes there is a setting for that), the loaf can then be later baked conventionally in an oven. Just to get that extra hard crust, or traditional shape. That isn't to say the breadmaker doesn't bake well, because it does, the only word of caution is it will come out far hotter than you imagine, so handle with care, and cool on a rack.
Aside from making dough as I loosely just mentioned (did I mention Pizza dough, no, well yes that too), the machine can do the opposite and allow you to just "bake", so you can do things like cakes etc, without using your full size oven. This feature also enables you to make jams/chutneys, that is probably an unofficial use, but plenty of information on how to do it, can be found on the net. And in fact my friend and I, did make loads of green tomato chutney in there last year.
Almost forget to mention Brioche, if you love this French speciality, you will love it freshly baked. I promise you, few things can beat warm brioche, and lots of strawberry jam. A few presses of the pad, a nights sleep, and you can wake up to a freshly baked one. In fact, my house mate is obsessed with it, and since I love it too, it has become a tradition, without fail ever sunday morning in our house, the divine smell of freshly baked Brioche is wafting around.
Owning a breadmaker can be hit and miss, some units are definitely superior to others, equally some are inconsistent, or plainly don't deliver results.
Rest assured though the Panasonic SD-255 is undoubtedly one of the better ones, so if your keen on eating healthier, being in control of salt intake, or wanting to make sure you know what your family are eating, go for it and buy one! You won't be dissapointed, I gurantee.
You probably won't save too much money, but you will with very little effort, and forward planning, continually enjoy a variety of breads/cakes that you enjoy. This product will deliver consistent results, and is economical to use. I could hardly praise the unit anymore than I have.
As a 'foodie' family of five, all boys except me, who love good honest homemade food, I had had a good bash at baking our own bread from scratch. Although it was very tasty, it was also very labour and time consuming. So after much deliberation and reading reviews on breadmakers, we finally purchased the Panasonic SD255. I was worried it was going to end up in the kitchen gadget graveyard, ie. at the back of the cupboard with steamers and sandwich toasters, but oh no! - THIS IS THE BEST KITCHEN APPLIANCE I have ever bought. Firstly, it is so easy to use, with a comprehensive recipe booklet. Secondly, having the aroma of freshly baked bread waft up to us in the mornings is heaven. But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and it tastes WONDERFUL and I will never buy another supermarket bread again. This breadmaker is easy to use, easy to clean, sits neatly on my worktop and is quiet. I wouldn't pay extra to have the nut/raising dispenser as after having tried a couple different timings, I put raisins/nuts etc in at beginning with other ingredients and our fruit loaves are perfect. Not only do the loaves turn out perfectly every time, but it has more than paid for itself in the past 4 months.
The only downside is I wish I had bought the Panasonic SD255 breadmaker years ago!
My other half had been badgering me for one of these for ages and upon the advice of family, I was recommended Panasonic.
I bought the newest version - the SD255 - for around £90 a few months ago.
Although, as a family, we don't eat a massive amount of bread, I have to say that this has still been a worthwhile addition as you really can't beat your own homemade bread!
I mainly use the bake rapid setting which gives you a normal loaf in 2 hours (regular bake setting is 4 hours). The results are fantastic!
* Lovely bread - made to how you want it - ie. adding seeds, raisins etc
* Very versatile - I quite often make pizza dough in it - just 45 mins in the machine, take it out, put on a tray and cook in oven for 20 mins!
* Great recipes come with it
* Easy to clean and use
* No preservatives added - you know what you're getting because you made it!
* Obviously making bread with no preservatives means that it lasts a day or two and that's it. I tend to make one loaf to last the weekend for the two of us.
* If you choose to make an XL loaf, it just means the loaf is 'taller' rather than being longer. So, in essence, you just have taller slices - sometimes I cut these in half so I get two slices from one tall slice.
* Although you can make cakes in this, my experience of cake making hasn't been great. I tried the banana bread recipe which should take 45 minutes but this was still uncooked after this time and despite me adding extra time to it (to around 2 hours in the end!), it was still no better so I had to throw it away. I have friends who have made cakes in this breadmaker and they rave about it so it might have been my own bad experience, over squidgy bananas etc.
Overall though, if you can spare the cash and tend to get through a lot of bread, this could be a great investment and the smell of bread being baked is always homely and lovely!
As a family of 4, we have now been baking our own bread daily for nearly 2 years using the Panasonic SD255 Bread Maker. The quality and range of different types of bread on offer is exceptional. The machine is easy to use, has clear well written instructions, and from start to finish each loaf takes less than 5 minutes to put on to bake. Because of the delayed starting time, there is nothing better than to come down stairs each morning to the smell of newly baked bread. Friends and relations who regularly stay with us say how much they enjoy our bread, and the multitude of different types of loaves on offer. Indeed, several of them have now bought this bread maker themselves and say how much they enjoy using it and wouldn't return to shop bought bread. On an economic front, I estimate we save pounds each week. Although this is one of the more expensive machines, we covered the cost of buying it within weeks due to the savings made baking our own. The extra cost is SO worthwhile because of the sturdiness of the machine - it still performs as well as the day it was bought after daily use nearly 2 years later. The bread contains no preservatives, so does not last as long as shop bought bread, but then again, because of the choice of different sized loaves, you need only make the size of loaf required each day. One small negative, the bread does not freeze well. Shop bought bread soon begins to taste quite bland within a very short time of baking your own. I cannot rate the Panasonic SD255 breadmaking machine highly enough, and the accompanying recipe book - which includes a vast range of bread recipes, pizza bases, specific dietary requirement breads etc -is a real added bonus. Get baking your own bread and you will never want shop bought bread again!!
After using a Lidl bread maker for the past 3 years I finally upgraded to the Panasonic SD255. Wow what a difference! With the Lidl bread maker I would use it for pizza dough and 2 or 3 loafs a week. The bread paddles in my old bread maker always stuck in the bread. Which meant after fishing around for them there would be two fairly big holes in the loaf.
Since buying my Panasonic SD255 a month ago, I haven't bought any bread. I've made white, wholemeal, 50/50, dough, fruit loafs and loads more. All without a single failure. The quality of the bread is in a completely different league and easily competes with any artisan shop bread. All 6 in our family love the bread from the Panasonic.
One of the best things about this bread maker is the timer delay. My old bread maker had this function too but only turned out inedible bricks the following morning. With the Panasonic I set it up before I go to bed. Even the most complicated recipes take no more than 5 minutes. I add a timer delay so we wake up to fresh bread each morning.
This bread maker only has one paddle and so far it's remained in the tin. So there is only a thin tare in the bottom of the loaf.
The loaf sizes are smaller than my previous bread maker with the XL being 2lb. But because the shape is different it slices better and goes further. The smallest loaf the M size is 1lb and I get between 14 and 16 slices from this. The L & XL loafs are taller but pretty much the same length.
With my old bread maker I rarely got a proper shaped loaf. With the Panasonic it looks like a traditional loaf every time.
The programs seem to take between 4 and 5 hours on average. Which is longer than my older bread maker. But the improved quality makes up for it easily. There is a rapid bake which I think is under 2 hours but I haven't tried this yet.
This model is also very quiet. Mine is sitting on my kitchen counter and I hardly notice it when it's on.
The SD255 model has a raisin dispenser. For us it was work the extra as we like a lot of fruit and nut breads. You can't add anything sticky or soft to the dispenser, so things like chocolate chips still need to be added at the raisin beep.
You do need to follow the instruction book and recipes provided, as Panasonic have a difference way of doing things. My old bread maker and any of the books I've read have the wet ingredients in first with the dry and yeast last. In the Panasonic it's the yeast and dry first. Loads of recipes in the booklet, you won't need to buy a separate bread book
Can't comment on the life span, as we've only had it for a month. But I know that replacement parts can be got easily and from various places including eBay. This was important to us as this was an issue with our last bread maker.
In terms of improvements the only things I would recommend would be to make the overall machine smaller and add a viewing window. Neither of these is critical but would be good enhancements. This bread maker is very tall, make sure you have somewhere to put it.
Overall extremely pleased, this appliance has been added to our household's can't do without list.
Like many others, I went through a few breadmakers before finally finding the "Panny", as it's affectionately referred to in my house. My previous machines had been good at producing housebricks, but not a lot else. I approached the Panny with trepidation. Was this going to be another mistake?
Not one bit! The Panny produces perfect bread, every single time, so long as you follow the instructions and the recipes! Handily there are recipes for all kinds of speciality breads as well as your common-or-garden white and wholemeal loaves. Fancy making pizzas, ciabattas, rye breads, or even doughnuts or cakes? No problem, the instruction guide contains recipes for all of these and more, and each of the recipes I have tried so far have been spot on. It does take a little bit of time to get your head around the idea that ingredients must be added in the order given in the recipe: The reasons for this are that liquids and yeast must be kept apart, and to ensure that the ingredients mix properly.
The unit has a small footprint compared to many breadmakers, and it is, on the whole, a smart looking, well-designed unit. The console contains all of the settings you need and it is pretty self-explanitory, very easy to use, you even get a measuring cup and measuring spoon, and it is backed up by excellent instructions. You simply scroll through loaf type, speed, size and browning level, and you also have the option to set a timer and run the machine later. The machine is relatively quiet, so great for setting to run in the night so you wake up to the aroma of fresh bread in the morning! For standard loaves the settings are fairly self-explanatory, but for the more exotic recipes you will need to check which settings to use, but as these are included alongside the recipe it is no great hassle.
The unit is easy to clean, fairly lightweight, and it boasts a handy storage compartment in the lid for the spare paddle and measuring spoon too! I would have liked a cable store to have been included, and if I had any niggle with this machine it is that the cable is not quite long enough - siting it can be an issue in my tiny kitchen as the machine has to be so close to the plug sockets. The outer unit gets warm but not dangerously hot during use. I prefer to wait a few minutes after the cycle has beeped to say it is finished, otherwise there is a risk if getting burned by the steam escaping as you remove the loaf. The loaf pan is non-stick and dishwasher safe, but I have been told that actually it is better to just give the pan a quick wipe each time, to preserve the non-stick and help the paddle to settle in the loaf tin better. So I only give mine a 'proper' wash if I am making dough, where bits stick round the sides, rather than a finished loaf that slides out leaving nothing but a dusting of flour behind.
The only drawback is the price, which is around the £80-100 mark depending where you buy it - although I was lucky enough to have recieved this as a gift ;-) - this is an investment item and it will take a little while to pay for itself, but if you are keen to bake quality bread on a regular basis, I highly recommend this machine. The SD254 is very similar to this machine; they differ in that this one boasts a not and seed dispenser and rye paddle which the 254 does not have. The rye paddle I find very useful for wholemeal and seeded loaves, but not compulsory. The dispenser I use infrequently, and suggest that if you won't be using it that often you save yourself £20 and get the 254 and add your nuts manually at the beep instead.
The Panasonic SD255 Breadmaker makes 3 different sized loafs medium, large and extra large / There are many comprehensive bake modes including; 100% wholemeal, multigrain, gluten free, sandwich bread, dough setting for pizzas, rolls etc / Short name: Panasonic SD255