My partner had been thinking about buying a breadmaker for a while, so in the end I made the decision for him...by buying him one for his birthday last year. I did my research online and kept coming back the same two recommendations - either a Kenwood or a Panasonic. In the end, the Panasonic SD256 won the day...simply because it was reduced by £30 on the Curry's website, making it a bargain at £62.99 (plus a further discount of £1.57 cashback by shopping at Curry's via Quidco), as opposed to the Kenwood BM450 which continues to retail at c£90.00.
*** WHAT'S IN THE BOX? ***
The SD256 has 18 different programmes, which allows you to make not just bread, but pizza dough, rolls, brioches and even cakes. This model has 3 crust settings, a delay timer and a fast bake programme (which can make you a loaf in just under two hours). If you're on a gluten-free diet, then this breadmaker is also very handy as the instruction manual includes plenty of useful gluten-free recipes.
It has to be said that the Panasonic SD256 is not a particularly attractive addition to our kitchen. It's a rather large white box-like object that rather insists on taking up rather a lot of space on the work surfaces...and unobtrusive it isn't! Unfortunately it's far too large and bulky to be hidden in the cupboards of most average sized kitchen units...not to mention rather too heavy to be lifted often. Although I've placed it next to our toaster which is under a wall- mounted cupboard, you cannot actually use it in its designated place. It needs to moved right into the centre of the work top with no overhanging shelves or cupboards, otherwise the lid won't open. It's worth noting here that even if you can lift the lid of the breakmaker under a wall-mounted cupboard (it opens to over 50cm in height when the lid is raised), it's not safe to leave it in that position to cook with. The breadmaker gets extremely hot when in use, so for safety reasons it needs to be "out in the open" rather than in a constricted air space under a cupboard.
Once we took delivery from Curry's, we unpacked our brand new toy to see what the box contained. Specification wise, to paraphrase Henry Ford, this breadmaker comes in any colour you like... as long as it's white. It weighs in at a rather hefty 6.4kg and stands proud at a height of 37cm, 28cm wide and 33cm deep. On the negative side it's never going to blend into the background of any domestic kitchen, but in its favour it looks like it's built to last being rather robust and substantial looking.
Inside the breadmaker itself is the bread pan and the kneading blade. You also get a plastic measuring cup (for any liquids you need to add to your bread recipe) marked out in 10ml increments up to maximum of 310ml. There's also a measuring spoon for smaller ingredient quantities, such as sugar, salt and of course yeast. The spoon is double ended with a teaspoon "trough" of 5ml and a larger tablespoon "trough" of 15ml.
*** YOUR DAILY BREAD ***
Getting to the nuts and bolts of operating the breadmaker is actually simplicity itself. To the front of the unit is an LCD display with six main touch start buttons - Select, Option, Size, Crust, Timer and Start/Stop. "Select" allows you to choose the type of bread or dough you want to bake (i.e. basic, rye, wholewheat and so on). "Option" decides on the speed of your bake. "Size" is self-explanatory in that you choose the size of your loaf (medium, large or extra-large). "Crust" gives you a light, medium or dark edge to your bread (the darker the crust, the crispier the edge). "Timer" is where you can delay the cooking of your loaf by up to 13 hours. Put simply, you can get pop all your ingredients in the bread pan the night before, and set the breadmaker to finish cooking at say 8.30am...et voila...you have a loaf ready for breakfast...simples. The final button is "Start/Stop", which not only does "what it says on the tin", but has the added advantage of allowing you to alter your cooking instructions should you make a mistake. Simply hold the "Start/Stop" button down for 1 or 2 seconds and the display will go blank, and then allow you to re-programme the machine.
Once you've pressed the "go, go...go" start/stop button, the LCD display will start to countdown the timings on your selected bake option. The quickest loaf will take 1 hour and 55 minutes (a rapid white loaf), something "meatier" like a Wheat Germ Loaf can take anything up to 4 hours and your Malted or Granary Loaf will take around 5 hours. When your loaf is done the machine bleeps quite loudly to tell you it's finished. It's best to remove the loaf immediately and allow it to cool down independently on a wire rack. However, if you forget to remove the loaf or fail to hear the alarm it's not a massive problem, but you may compromise the quality of your loaf. Allowing it to cool down on a wire rack independently of the breadmaker ensures the crust stays nice and crisp. Leaving it to cool down inside the machine allows the loaf to retain rather too much moisture, which may make the finished bread a little soggy inside. Once the alarm sounds you can carefully remove the bread pan and tip your loaf out onto a cooling rack (the bread pan may require a bit of shake to release the loaf). The bread pan and the handle will be very, very hot and oven gloves are essential.
*** UPPER CRUST? ***
I must say that the instruction book that comes with this machine is very good indeed. There are plenty of photos and diagrams showing you not only how to operate the breadmaker, but how to get the best loaf results and how to care for your machine. Included are plenty of recipes not just for bread, but for cakes, brioches, rolls and pizza dough. There are also a good range of gluten-free recipes as well as plenty of ideas for making your own dough into things like Hot Cross Buns, Panettone or even Croissants (which are then cooked in a conventional oven as opposed to your breadmaker). These more ambitious recipes we have yet to try. I, for one, have little confidence that my attempt at a Chelsea Bun or a Croissant would end up looking anything like it should...and would probably end up as the proverbial dog's dinner :o) So far we have contented ourselves with just making bread with our new toy.
The breadmaker is simplicity itself to operate and we quickly moved on from baking a simple white loaf to much more exotic fare. We started off with a simple white loaf, and then moved onto more ambitious loaves such as Wholemeal, Granary and Ciabatta...all of which turned out most successfully and very tastily. Our Ciabatta proved to be a particular triumph and we made it all that more interesting by adding some olives and a handful of parsley and oregano.
Throwing all the ingredients into the bread pan couldn't be easier using the included measuring cup and spoon. It literally takes less than five minutes, and then you're good to go with the baking. If you're in a hurry, the fast bake option works well and you can have a slice of toast and jam on your plate within less than two hours. However, the resulting bread isn't nearly as tasty as something that takes longer to bake like a Wholemeal or Granary loaf. From the off, we've baked a nigh on perfect loaf everytime we've used this machine. Granted, we had an initial teething problem with a loaf that did not rise too well and was rather holey. This we put down to using yeast that was past its sell-by date...oops.
It's worth mentioning here that you do need to use "strong" bread flour if you're making bread. We started off using the Allinson range of bread flours i.e. Allinson's Premium White Very Strong Bread Flour (c£1.50 for 1.5kg) and Allinson's Premium Wholemeal Very Strong Bread (c£1.46 for 1.5kg). However, to my mind our most delicious loaves have been made with Hovis Granary Malted Brown Bread Flour (c£1.39 for 1 kg) - this flour makes a really crusty loaf with a wonderfully nutty flavour.
Next we're going to try making a loaf with Allinson's Seed & Grain Bread Flour (c£1.10 for 1kg). As well as the flour, you will of course need butter, salt, sugar, water and of course, the second most important ingredient of any loaf....yeast. We've been using Hovis Fast Action Bread Yeast which is sold in sachets (6 per pack for c89p).
We'd never made our own bread before, and we've been more than impressed with the results we've been getting....not to mention the cost savings in making your own bread. Before we purchased our SD256, we regularly purchased at least two loaves of Hovis Granary Bread every week at a cost of c£1.35 per loaf. We've worked out that making our own loaf costs us approximately 75p, and it's a million miles more tasty. Added to which our freshly baked loaf doesn't contain all those nasty additives and preservatives they add to bread nowadays to extend its shelf life. The only drawback for us is that a freshly baked loaf in our household doesn't last nearly as long as the shop bought Hovis Granary loaf did :o( The aroma and taste of a freshly baked loaf does tend to invite a "I'll-just-have-another-small slice" mentality, or "I'll-just-try-it-with-some-honey-as-well-as-my-usual-jam".
*** COMING CLEAN ***
Looking after your breadmaker could not be easier. The outside of the machine just needs a rub over with a sponge every now and then. The bread pan itself is non-stick so you should never scrub it. However, most of the cooking debris is easily removed with soaking and a light rub with a sponge. The kneading blade will need to be inspected to check whether there is any dough stuck inside. If it proves difficult to remove, a soaking in warm soapy water usually does the trick.
*** A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? ***
The SD256 certainly is a recipe for success. It's extremely easy to operate and produces a wonderfully tasty loaf every single time. It's easy to maintain, robust and well up to the job in hand. Despite it being a rather ugly looking monstrosity on my kitchen worktop, it's more than earned its keep already in five months of usage. The instruction book is very easy to follow, and after a very short while I doubt you'd need to refer to it at all if you're making the same or similar loaf everytime. However, there are so many tempting recipes in the back of the manual, you be letting yourself and your breadmaker down if you didn't attempt as many of them as your possibly can! Highly recommended.
*** TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ***
A full description of the SD256 breadmaker can be found on Panasonic's website at http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/Products/Kitchen+Appliances/Breadmaker
* 10 x different bread and dough modes
* 3 x different loaf sizes
* Crust control
* Rapid bake = 1 hour and 55 minutes
* 13 hour delay timer
* Power Supply: 240V
* Dimensions: Width 28cm Height 37cm Depth 33cm
* Weight: 6.4kg
* Power Consumption: Maximum 505-550W
Please note that this particular model has been discontinued and replaced by a newer model -the Panasonic SD2500 WXC, which retails at anything from £98.99 (Amazon) to £108.10 (Dixons) or £119.99 at (Argos). However, you can still buy the SD256 - there are a steady stream of refurbished or second hand models on offer for anything from £60 to £70 on good old eBay :o)
After spending a week with a friend who had a bread maker, I decided I needed to have one! We did a lot of research and found this to be one of the more popular ones, fortunately I found it with 25% off in debenams one day and it has been put through a lot of use ever since. I love it, I love how easy it is to use, I love waking up in the morning to baking bread, I love the bread itself, that I know exactly what is in it and am happy to give it to my son, I love being able to add seeds and nuts, I love the rapid bake function and I love how much money it has no doubt saved us.
We use it for the majority for making regular loaves, pizza dough and bread dough for making rolls or 'tear and share' bread. But we've also used it for hot cross buns, brioche and numerous other recipes which appear in my very well thumbed little book that comes with the maker.
On the whole it produces great loaves, it's so easy to set up, simply add the few ingredients required to the tin, switch it on and leave it to do it's thing. The timer setting is fantastic, waking up to fresh bread is just wonderful, but on the many occasions I forget to set it up before bed, the rapid bake setting is very useful! The rapid setting doesn't produce such delicious bread, and it always seems a pain to slice but it's done in less than 2 hours, which is great.
I really struggle to find any faults in this machine, it has proven fantastically useful to our little family and I don't know where I would be without it now.
I had thought a number of times in the past about purchasing a bread maker but with so many on the market I was unsure about which would suit me and my family best. After researching many online products and making comparisons between them, i decided to purchase this product... and aren't I glad I did!
Lets start with the unit itself. Its sturdy and 'feels' solid, the lid is hinged well and stays up when required. The shape to is a plus, because it is taller than some similar models it takes up less room on your chosen work surface (dimensions approx 37cm H 28cm W 33cm). It fits nicely in the corner of my work space, out the way but still easily accessible. I love the fact it is white in colour, you can see it looks clean (this is important to me). The unit has 10 easily programmable bread and dough modes.
The recipe book that comes with the product is satisfactory, but if you've got a good imagination then it is possible to adapt them. I would do this with caution until you are confident in using the appliance. You can however, you can cater for specific dietary requirements if needed. You can choose the size of the loaf you want, either a 450g medium, 1kg large or 1.2kg X large, really its just preference and doesn't change the way you use the machine.
The rapid bake setting will bake a large loaf in a little under 2 hrs but my personal preference be to use the full time for baking bread and not the 'quick step', for no other reason than that the end product, on the rapid setting can be a little dense. If you haven't got the 4 hrs then the quick loaf setting is 'ok'. However, if you are organised and you have the time then i would use the timer delay (13hr delay is available) before the quick loaf setting!
A large wide white box which looks flipping ugly in my partners kitchen on the worktop. Despite its looks, the white plastic makes it durable and its size just makes it appear a quality product. It is quite heavy though, so trying to subtly hide it in a cupboard is not as easy as you believe! Its control panel is angled and has large squar etouch button controls. These allow you to choose the type of dough, the length of time baking, size of the loaf, type of crust and the option to configure a time delay. The LCD display shows the times left of baking, minute by minute countdown til the loaf is ready. When its ready the breadmaker beeps 9 times but that is all. If you miss those 9 beeps then you dont know that it is ready and you wait around like a muppet when it was already done 10mins ago!! The bread does cool quicker when left to cool on a wire baking tray as advised in the instructions. The instructions are easy to follow and though some of the techniques mentioned arent as easy as they sound, they just take a little time to get the knack of them. Fastbake programming are not great, they make be faster but they dont rise aswell. I prefer a large loaf with a medium crust. Which takes around 5minutes to prepare with instructions and then around 5hours to bake. In conclusion, I love this breadmaker, and all the manuals and instructions that help me bake great smelling bread!
Iv had this breadmaker for a few months now and made numerous loaves and cakes and such. it works great but I would say the fast bake does home out a bit raw in middle sometimes so if u have time to wait 4.5hrs for a loaf and 2.5hrs for dough your ok with this bug I do know there's ones that cook quicker on the Market. I would say only takes 45mins for pizza dough and that sure keeps the kids happy. There is also a bake only function which iv made marble cake with but need to cover the container with parchment paper so I find it easier not to use that function but it's great for making all sorts of interesting and whacky breads or even just a nice tea loaf will suit anyone who likes gadgets and likes making there own bread oh h can set timer in advance so it's ready for when you come jn from work etc
I have always thought the break makers are very difficult as, for some reason, I believe you have to put all the ingredient together, knead, left to dough for it to rise and then put it in the machine. However this product completely put my strange imagination to dust. It's so easy and simple to use.
Firstly, we have this break maker in the house but I didn't buy it, my parents bought it actually. My first thought was that it looks simple and has a very cute design and didn't take up much space. It was very easy to set up for my parents, considering they didn't ask me once for help. The price paid for was a little over £100 pounds, but it may vary depending on promotions and stores.
The best part is that it comes with an easy-to-read and understandable instruction booklet, so that even a bread rookie like me can sometimes have a go at making a bread of my choice. The instructions are simple enough and, as long as you have the necessary ingredients on hand, you can just put them in the machine, choose your programme option and wait: the machine does all the work for you.
However, the only other thing you need is patience as the whole bread making process can take about 4 hours. Note that I haven't actually timed it before, I just leave it as soon as I close the lid and go off to do other things. Another good quality is that it doesn't make much noise so even if the kitchen door is open, it doesn't disturb anyone. There is a fast bake option but I haven't used it before but it might shorten the process.
Also you can choose the type of crust you want: as my mother loves a very crispy crust, we always go for that option. If you want, you can also add savoury nuts or seeds. Again we haven't tried this option, as everyone in the family is not a big fan of nutty bread. My favourite one is white family bread with a crispy crust and tastes absolutely delicious toasted with raspberry jam and cheese.
All in all, this is a very useful bread maker and, even though I haven't tried other types of bread maker, this is really easy to use and give delicious results from my experience. At a relatively inexpensive price, this would make a very good buy.
We bought the Panasonic CD256 because the original bread machine gave up the ghost one Saturday morning when my hubby was creating the dough for his amazing french bread rolls which were our weekend treat. I'd seen the Panasonic at my mum in laws the week before and commented at how neat and compact is was compared to our old clumpy machine which had been bought by my mum a good 6 years previously but she had never used so passed it to us.
The day it arrived, we opened all the packaging, and was amazed at just how quickly you could put it all together and get it powered up and ready. Over 80 recipes come with this machine and because it has a raisin and nut dispenser it's so easy to add any extra ingredients you want to add. It tells you exactly how long you have to wait before you need to add any extras, so all the hype about this machine was definitely worthy. You don't even need to go out to buy an extra recipe book as you have all you need right there in the packaging.
The bread it makes is delicious (takes about 4 hours, but it's soooo worth the wait) and it's just as if you are getting it fresh from the bakers. My hubby's crispy, light french bread rolls are even more scrummy now as the crust comes out a lovely golden colour due to the 3 different crust settings without having to add any egg wash to them!
This is one machine that gets two thumbs up - and if you're in two minds whether or not to buy it - don't be. You will not regret this purchase ever!
I have wanted a breadmaker for a while now and i received this model for xmas. It is the best xmas present i have ever received!
This model is very easy to use it comes with an instruction booklet packed with recipes. I find the basic white loaf recipe the best to use. It makes perfect bread every time and you can change the crust settings to your taste. I prefer a crusty loaf but you can make a soft loaf too.
It takes 4 hours to bake which seems a long time but worth the wait you can even use the delayed timer function to bake the bread so it is ready for you when you wake up in the morning. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread first thing. Although there is a fast bake option which takes 2 and half hours in your in a hurry , but it is not as good as the bread made on the 4 hour programme.
My family have all gone out and got this after eating my bread and after tasting bread made from a different machine my friend has i can say that it is nowhere as good as bread made from this machine.
buy this if you want an easy to use machine which consistently bakes amazing fresh crusty bread
I have been planning to purchase a breadmaker for a couple of years, so I had plenty of time to research the best product. After reading all of the reviews, I decided that a Panasonic Breadmaker was the most reliable, as well as scoring very high on the customer satisfaction scores. In addition, the SD-256 won the, Which? Best Buy Award in September 2010.
When I saw that the Panasonic SD256 was reduced at Argos from £99 to £79.80, I went straight out to buy it.
The SD256 is advertised as having 18 programmes, 3 crust settings, a delay timer and a fast bake programme. I checked the functions of the next model up in terms of price, and the only thing that I appeared to gain by spending an extra £30 was an automatic ingredient dispenser, which I decided was not worth the extra investment.
A basic white box, the Panasonic 256 does not look attractive on my work surface, and it also takes up a lot of space (width 28cm, height 37cm and depth 33cm) so I like to hide it away in a large cupboard. This breadmaker is not light! Weighing 6.4 kg, I always have to be careful when lifting it in and out of the cupboard. However, the design is extremely practical and durable and this really feels like a quality product.
The control panel is angled which makes it very easy to see - and has large, square touch button controls - SELECT, OPTION, SIZE, CRUST, TIMER AND START/STOP. These controls allow you to choose the type of dough, the length of bake time, the size of loaf, the type of crust and the option to set a time delay. This extremely simple design makes the recipe instructions very easy to follow.
The LCD display on the control panel counts down the time remaining on the bake, minute by minute so that it is easy to see when the loaf will be ready. On completion, the breadmaker beeps nine times. There are no repeat beeps, so you have to be listening out for the alarm. If you fail to take the loaf out of the breadmaker to cool down, this is not a huge problem, but the quality of the bread will be better if the loaf is removed and allowed to cool slowly on a wire tray.
Great care must be taken when removing the bread pan from the breadmaker as it gets extremely hot. Sometimes the thin metal handle has almost been too hot to hold, even through an oven glove - and this is not helped by the difficulty I nearly always experience when removing the scalding hot bread pan. The instruction manual tells me to use a twisting motion to remove the pan, but this is a knack that I have not yet acquired and I always struggle and swear as I take it out.
Throughout the process the sides of the breadmaker remain completely cool to the touch. Some steam issues through the vent at the back, and I always make sure that the vent is kept well away from overhead cupboards and kitchen unit lights to avoid damage.
Programming the breadmaker is extremely simple, following the clear instructions in the manual. Firstly it is necessary to select the type of bread or dough, using the Select button and scrolling through the options. Secondly the type of Bake must be chosen. The recipe instructions clearly tell you which type to choose for each loaf. Next the size of the loaf is selected, using the Size Button, and lastly the Crust Button is pressed to choose either light, medium or dark crust. The digital time button will show the total bake time (usually around 4 hours for a basic loaf), but if the Timer Button is depressed several hours can be added to this total, delaying the finish time by up to 13 hours. Pressing the start button will begin the mixing and kneading process.
At first I was confused about how to stop the process once it had begun - if I changed my mind about the bake time or crust. Pressing the Start / Stop button will just interrupt the process, not cancel the programme. Switching the breadmaker off at the mains will cause the Power Alert to show - if the power interruption is 10 minutes or less, the programme will not interrupt, as a safeguard against accidental break in power supply. Consulting the manual, I discovered that the programme can be reset by holding down the start/Stop buttton down for 2 seconds. This will cancel all existing programmes.
The instructions include a one-page overview of various types of bread that can be made (ie rye, whole wheat, French, etc), with a total bake time and a breakdown of the rest, knead, rise and bake times. A few pages further on, there are fourteen pages of recipes. These pages are divided into Bead Recipes, Gluten Free Recipes, Dough Recipes and Cake Recipes. So far I have only tried the Bread recipes and all of them have worked very successfully. The Bread recipes are subdivided into Basic, Whole Wheat, Rye, French, Italian, Brioche, Sandwich - and then further subdivided into about 16 types within this. This gives a huge and very exciting range of ideas to inspire the beginner baker - for example, the Basic recipes include Cider Apple Bread, Pizza Loaf, Oak and Bran Loaf and Cheese and Bacon Loaf and many more - enough to keep me going with new ideas for quite a while!
As a novice breadmaker, I found the instructions extremely easy to follow. I started out by making a basic white loaf, on a medium crust. The results were excellent but I quickly realised that my preference was for a darker crust, as this stays crisp and firm once the loaf has cooled down. Since that time I have make wholemeal, seeded, and rye loaves - all have been absolutely excellent.
I find that putting all of the ingredients into the bread pan takes me around 3 minutes now. Then it is only a question of selecting the programme, switching the breadmaker on and waiting for the loaf to finish (on average around 4 hours).
Including a measuring spoon and jug really helps to quickly put all of the ingredients together.
I usually opt to make the large loaf, as this is an ideal size that does not dry out as quickly as a smaller loaf. The options are the medium loaf (approx 450g), large loaf (approx 1.0kg) or extra large loaf at 1.2kg.
Using the fastbake setting is not something that I would recommend, as the resulting loaf is smaller and not well risen. However, it is very useful to reduce the baking time from 4 hours to less than 2 hours when you are in a hurry, and the loaf that produced still tastes delicious.
The loaves have all been very well shaped and I have never experienced any that were soggy, pale or had holes. The blade has always stayed inside the loaf tin, and the hole that it leaves in the bottom of the loaf is fairly small and unobtrusive.
I always remove the loaf tin to put the ingredients inside, so there is never any spillage inside the breadmaker that needs to be cleaned up. The loaf tin itself is non-stick and is easily wiped clean with a damp cloth and some warm soapy water. I have never needed to scrub the tin at all and the instructions warn users not to submerge the bread pan in water.
The blade needs to be removed every time the tin is washed, as dough gets stuck around and inside the mechanism and this can burn and spoil the taste of the next loaf if left in place. It is frequently very difficult to remove the blade from the shaft as the dough glues it in place, but a little soaking and gentle pressure will sort this out. The outside of the machine is easily wiped clean with a damp cloth.
I would completely recommend the Panasonic SD256 It is very efficient, provides a very good range of programmes and is very easy to clean. The all over strength and reliability of the product is greatly helped by the excellent manual and recipes that are provided and I am confident that it will continue to provide me with delicious and cheap bread well into the future.
Short name: Panasonic SD256