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Customer Review

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent First Time Breadmaker - but bakes an uneven crust., Dec 8 2010
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-CEC20BA Home Bakery Supreme, Black/Stainless (Kitchen)
Zojirushi BB-CEC20BA Home Bakery Supreme, Black/Stainless

Was very excited to be buying my first breadmaker and decided to read as many reviews as possible, settling finally on the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme. First Impressions were that it was well packaged to avoid the rough handling of the local delivery company. The machine is very smart and matches my Black/stainless themed kitchen and its footprint is not so huge that I have to put it in a cupboard between uses.

Although I ordered a home baking bred book The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook: A Master Baker's 300 Favorite Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread From Every Kind of Machine
I decided to first try the simple white loaf recipe in the Zojirushi start guide. The DVD that came with the machine was useful although the background music reminded me of a different type of video entirely. Follwing the instructions, I placed the ingredients into the pan and turned on. 3 hours 45 minutes later, the loaf was ready, with only my impatience making it seem like it took a whole day.

The viewing window made it easy to see the different cycles that the loaf went through, so it was a simple job to see if I needed to add a little water or flour to the mix. As it happened, the recipe did look a little moist, with some dough sticking to the sides of the pan. This was simplicity itself to rectify by opening the large lid and adding a spoonful of flour.

When the timer indicated the loaf was ready I checked the window and saw that the side of the loaf furthest from the control panel was browner than the other side. I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be the case, but suspected that it wasn't. Tipping the loaf out, I made the mistake of tipping it head first onto the cooling try, this left a cooling tray impression on the top of the loaf.

After impatiently letting the loaf cool, I sliced into it and tasted it with butter. It really was tasty, light and fluffy but with some body. White bread has never been my favourite, but as a first attempt I wanted to keep things simple. Once the bread had cooled, the fact that one side of the loaf was cooked more than the other was even more apparent. Checking the Zojirushi FAQ I thought that perhaps because I hadn't placed the paddles facing the same direction at the beginning may have had an effect on the way the bread had cooked. Something to note for my next loaf.

Next loaf was the Maple and Buttermilk loaf, from the Hensburger book. I noted that even though she gives recipes for each loaf in 2 sizes, the amount of ingredients for her 2lb white loaf was slightly more than the equivalent Zojirushi recipe, and the first loaf had risen all the way to the top of the pan, so I decided that for safety sake, I'd use the 1 1/2 lb recipes. I really didn't want the loaf over spilling the pan, or it would land straight on top of the heating element and make a horrible mess.

Adding the ingredients was simplicity itself, and feeling that this was an ideal loaf for breakfast I set the timer for 8 hours ahead. Setting the timer was very simple, you just set how many hours ahead you want the loaf to be finished, it automatically calculates the baking time within that, so you don't have to work out anything complicated.

In the night the machine started up, and although not *very* loud, it was loud enough with its beeps and kneading to be heard up stairs in a bedroom with a closed door. It would have been nice if you could set the machine to silent mode to prevent beeps to add ingredients, etc when you know you don't want to add anything.

The loaf in the morning had the same look as the first loaf, cooked more one side than the other. This didn't affect its taste though, only the texture of the crust. I must say that this loaf surpassed my expectations and is the nicest breakfast bread I've ever had. Perfect for marmalade!

I phoned the Zojirushi customer support number and the rep advised me to use 2 tablespoons less flour to sort out the uneven baking. Unconvinced, I tried this on my 3 loaf, making the same Hensburger recipe for comparison. I made extra sure to spread the ingredients evenly across the pan, and even made several little pockets for the yeast so it would be evenly incorporated into the dough. The result was sadly the same. An even height loaf, but cooked more one side than the other.

I was about to return it as faulty when I decided to look again at the Zojirushi website for photos of their loaves. In the 'Fun Fun Fun' section I found some recipes with photos of the loaves that had ACTUALLY been cooked in the device, and not just added from stock photos. I noticed the same unevenly cooked crust that had plagued my 3 loaves!

On closer inspection of the inside of the device I noticed that the heating element is does not go equally around the inside of the baking area. Presumably this is the reason for the uneven baking.

I'm afraid I have no experience of other bread machines, so I'm unable to offer a comparison. Would I recommend this machine to a friend? Yes I would, but just beware that the loaves won't look as perfect as they do in the marketing photos.
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