Product Type: Panasonic bread makers
Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
A highly recommended bread maker
Member Name: koppaberg
Date: 06/06/09, updated on 07/06/09 (470 review reads)
Advantages: Quality of bread produced, ease of use
Disadvantages: Initial cost
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.
Summary: A fantastic bread maker, highly recommended for regular bakers
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