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
Dish out the dough, get a breadmaker!
Member Name: luigi0778
Date: 11/06/10, updated on 11/06/10 (480 review reads)
Advantages: brioche is amazing, control of ingredients, reliable results,
Disadvantages: forward planning needed, initial cost of unit
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.
Summary: If your tired of tasteless unhealthy supermarket bread, then this is for you!
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