Product Type: Panasonic bread makers
Newest Review: ... 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... more
I'm A Panasonic Loaf Lover And I'm Not Afraid To Admit It!
Member Name: Claire_DC
Advantages: Gorgeous bread, easy to make, easy to use, cheap bread, healthier
Disadvantages: Initial outlay but worth the investment.
Firstly, it's so easy to operate... I was very apprehensive that I'd end up choosing the wrong settings thus making brick loaves that tasted awful or were completely inedible; it's for this reason that my first couple of loaves were made from shop bought bread mixes so that I'd have less chance of messing them up. Those loaves turned out really nice and this in turn gave me the confidence to start using the ingredients separately, carefully following the instructions, that are actually a lot more straight forward than I was anticipating.
Secondly is the quality of the bread that is produced and the fact that I haven't had a duff loaf as yet, and don't plan to start having them either *touches wood... and keeps using this bread maker*. This to me is a massive plus as I hate waste and also it would be so frustrating to wait for 2 hours on rapid bake, only to be disappointed with the result, so I am happy to say that this doesn't seem to be an issue.
This brings me onto my next point; I've seen at least one person saying that they found that the rapid bake function didn't make a loaf that tasted very good, but I have been using the rapid bake a lot and am more than happy with the results. Obviously doing it on a longer cycle makes even better bread, but when you want/need your bread quickly I find this does the job perfectly.
I've also seen a couple of people saying that the wholemeal bread didn't turn out as good as they had expected, but having made a few wholemeal loaves myself now, I can honestly say I've been happy with every one of them... in fact I've been happy with everything I've made so far! One point to note is that on rapid bake, wholemeal loaves take 3 hours if you use the right setting, which could be a reason why some other people have had disappointment... although I don't see how as it's so easy to get the right settings in my opinion.
The booklet that comes with it is full of recipes and information about using your bread maker; it's easy to follow and isn't bogged down with information that isn't of any use. It goes from making normal breads, to more fancy breads, to dough for pizza and even cakes. There's a recipe for maple and pecan bread, and this is delicious.
The fact that you can do so much with this bread maker other than just making normal bread is what really makes this bread maker so versatile and I find myself using it all the time, making different kinds of breads, dough and cakes. It's one of my favourite kitchen appliances, and one my fiancé thought we didn't need and wouldn't use; how wrong he was as it's been used loads since we got it and I see this continuing for the foreseeable future. Not only do I bake for myself, I actually make loaves for my family so can often make 4 loaves in a day to give to my dad, my mum and my sister with one to spare for ourselves. I find that because this is so easy, it's no bother to bake so much for my family and they really appreciate it and think the bread is amazing.
This next little section is to give you a quick idea of how to use this machine for a normal loaf without going too far into areas that the manual covers. You literally just measure out yeast (I use measuring spoons as they're quick and easy) and put that in the bottom of the bread tin, next you measure out your flour into your 'tin', then add your fat (butter or oil), salt, sugar and finally you measure out your fluid (water or milk, or a mix of both) and plop your bread tin back in the bread maker. It's then just a simple case of pushing a few buttons to the right setting for the kind of loaf you want to make, and pushing start.
Don't be afraid of putting the bread on a dark crust setting either, it's actually not that dark and tastes gorgeous... I haven't tried a lighter crust as I'm happy with how it turns out when darker.
The bread maker isn't terribly noisy; I was expecting it to be a lot noisier but it's by no means silent either, I haven't found this to be an issue anyway.
The machine then mixes the ingredients, lets the dough prove and do its thang... then finally bakes it, and beeps at you when it's finished. It's a good idea to make sure you're around pretty quickly when the bread has finished baking to ensure your bread doesn't get soft and soggy from staying in the warm and then cooling bread maker - which I assume would be the case with any kind of bread maker. I don't think this is a problem as it tells you how long the cycle has left on the front of the appliance at any given time anyway.
After baking your loaf you will need some oven gloves, or a thick clean tea towel as the bread tin is red hot. I find that running a silicone spatula around the edge of the loaf very lightly makes the loaf a bit easier to remove from the tin - not that it's stupidly difficult without doing so as the tin is non stick and the bread doesn't seem to stick at all, unless the non stick coating is damaged in any way.
You may find that your dough blade bakes into your loaf and gets stuck in it, apparently this could be down to 2 things (according to Panasonic), the first one is that your dough is too stodgy so they advise to add another 10mls fluid in white bread and 20mls in wholemeal to loosen it a bit. The other reason is that the dough blade is damaged as it is non stick and could be sticking to the dough, in which case they seem happy enough to send you a replacement out.
This leads me to the cleaning of the machine, or shall I say the wiping down of the machine as it is an absolute dream to clean. You should not submerge the tin in water, just put some water in it and give it a wipe; it won't need much as it actually looks pretty clean after the bread comes out. I was expecting a lot of cleaning up but luckily this is not the case.
We usually can't wait to try a bit of the loaf and usually slice of the crust to share immediately but it's a good idea to get a wire tray and let the bread stand and cool on there for a while as it lets the air circulate so the bread doesn't go soggy.
We were unsure of how to store the bread, once cooled but I've found that using greaseproof paper wrapped around it works a treat for keeping it from going stale. If you can, put it in a tin or a plastic tub too so that it doubly protects the bread. As this bread has no added preservatives you will find that it doesn't last as long but then as this bread is so tasty, you will also find it doesn't last as long, due to being devoured very very quickly.
There is a cheaper model by Panasonic, roughly £20 difference between the 2 if you can't stretch to this model. The main differences between the 255 and 254 models (apart from the price difference) seem to be that you get an extra dough blade that enables you to make rye bread, and also that you have an automatic dispenser for adding in other ingredients like seeds, nuts or raisins (among others) at the correct time so as not to spoil your dough by adding in at the wrong time. The 254 model does beep at you to add in your ingredients but if you get caught up doing something else, or want it done overnight ready for when you wake up then you're going to miss this alert so it's nice to know that it's all done within the preset cycles available in this model.
The price may seem hefty as an initial lay out cash wise, but I feel that this would make that money back in savings from not buying shop bought bread. If you think, it would be about £1.39 for a loaf from the supermarket and it would be full of preservatives and all kinds of rubbish, not to mention you don't know who has made it, or their personal hygiene for that matter. Anyway, back to the money side of things, if you buy 2 loaves a week at that price, over the space of 1 year you'd have spent £134.16 on bread.
The ingredients for making my own loaves cost hardly anything really, I bought doves' farm fast action yeast for 99p for about 125grams-ish which goes a long way, so I'd expect to only have to buy one of these per month at most, probably even less but we shall say 1 per month. The flour we bought was 85p for 1.5kg (although we could have bought cheaper flour) which makes roughly 3 loaves depending on the size you make, but at least 3 'large' loaves, approximately 60p for butter per month (well for the olive spread that we use which does the job brilliantly for us), only pennies for salt and sugar and free for water.
This comes to approximately £44.84 for the year if I've worked it out correctly and not factoring in electricity (although I am sure it's only a matter of a couple of pounds) and this is based on having the same thing every time but is comparable to having 2 of the same Warburtons toastie loaves per week, every week; even if my calculations are a bit off, you can see it's still a saving of almost what the machine costs. This machine will pay for itself in no time, and there's no doubt your taste and quite possibly your health too will benefit from making your own bread.
On the Argos website the bread maker looked a lot bigger than it actually is in reality it seems much more compact. The quality is much better than the Delonghi machine we took back, although still plastic and it is white, which doesn't match most of our kitchen appliances, but we thought it would be better to have an appliance that does a good job and lasts well rather than one that matches the rest of the kitchen.
Summary: Go on, you know you want to.
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