Zojirushi Home Bakery Traditional Bread Maker

Pros: Huge loaves of bread; easy operation; comes with lots of recipes
Cons: Opening it disables the “add things” beep; flimsy non-stick coating; not entirely durable
Rating: 3 out of 5

First posted 12/30/2000

We never quite got around to making fresh bread, but we thought a bread machine was just unnecessary. Then a friend of ours got a bread machine and started raving about it. We gave in.

This bread machine will make a two-pound (i.e., horkin’ large) loaf of bread. This is wonderful, as fresh homemade bread goes away fast.

We found the touch-pad controls fairly easy to navigate. The booklet that comes with the machine clearly details the controls for each type of thing you might want to make with it.

The booklet also has recipes. Normally this wouldn’t excite me all that much, but these are actually some fantastic recipes. We ended up making the Italian herb bread and the chocolate bread over and over and over again. The recipes are disturbingly simple, so no matter how bad you think you are at making bread, you should end up with amazing bread.

The viewing hole at the top is a bit small, but with the aid of a flashlight you can still see what’s going on.

You can set the timer so that you can dump everything into the machine late at night, and have fresh bread in the morning. Or when you come home from work. This is nice. You can’t do this with all recipes, though – certainly not sourdough, nor anything that requires perishable ingredients (milk or eggs) or ingredients that get added after the dough is mixed (raisins, nuts, chips, etc.).

There’s a warm-up cycle that will bring the ingredients to room temperature, so you don’t have to bother with that yourself.

The spiffy rotating things on the bottom of the pan actually do a remarkable job of mixing the bread dough up well and kneading it. Just make sure you spray them with cooking oil before putting your ingredients in, or the bread may be a bit difficult to remove from the pan when it’s done.

This bread machine has all sorts of cycles. There’s a quick cycle you can use with “instant” yeast for a very fast, under-two-hours loaf of bread. A normal cycle takes about 3.5 hours. There’s even a whole wheat cycle.

The problems

So, this is probably obvious to everyone else who bought this machine, but hey, everyone’s entitled to a few moments of stupidity in their lives. Us, we put toffee bits into a loaf of bread. Hard toffee bits getting swirled round and round on a flimsy non-stick coating… well, you can guess what happened, I’m sure.

The good part is that the damage was fairly limited, and we were still able to use the bread machine.

Speaking of that non-stick coating, you’ll need to be a bit careful levering the bread out and cleaning the pan. We recommend non-metal implements (like a good hard-plastic spatula) and a cleaning brush. Maybe a nylon scrubbie pad (like Dobie) for the hard-to-clean bits.

Every bread machine book will tell you that the amount of flour and liquid needed by a loaf of bread machine bread depends on the weather, the pressure, the humidity, the time of year, and so on. So you always want to open up the bread machine and check the dough to see if you should add more flour or more water. Unfortunately, with this model, that disables the “add things” beep that tells you when to add your raisins, chocolate chips, and so on. The solution to this is to set a timer when you start your loaf of bread, and so even if you have to open the bread machine you’ll know when to add things. (King Arthur even included a free refrigerator-magnet timer with our order, just for this purpose!)

The last problem, however, was not one we could overcome. And I find myself wondering if others had this problem too, as King Arthur now recommends a different bread machine. After a while, although the bread machine still worked, it started making a god-awful sound while it worked. And no matter what we tried we couldn’t figure out what it was, and it wouldn’t go away. It eventually got so grating that we couldn’t stand running the thing.

But that’s okay. By then we were hooked on our fresh bread, so we started making bread from scratch and discovered that it no longer seemed so difficult or time-consuming after all. In fact, it didn’t seem to take up all that much more time than the bread machine did.

We’re still glad we bought the thing – it got us making bread again. But we aren’t going to replace it. We’re just as happy to be making bread by hand now. If you too need to ease into making your own bread, this is a great way to do it. Just check first to see if there’s a better bread machine out yet.

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