Death of a Bread Maker

July 26, 2009

My bread maker died. It's not the first bread maker we've lost in our family, so it's a tragedy we've experienced before. The gaskets just couldn't take it any more and the paddle started wobbling too much. After exploratory surgery it was determined that it needed a loaf pan transplant, but there were none available quickly enough to save it.

Funeral services were short and attended by the immediate family. The empty space next to the bread box, where the bread maker used to live, will be a hollow spot on our kitchen counter for some time. Donations are being accepted to help the surviving bread box overcome it's grief. Please leave any messages of consolation in the comments.

Does any one know how long is appropriate to mourn for a kitchen appliance, before looking for a new one?

Bread Maker Review - Zojirushi BBCC-X20

July 16, 2009

zojirushi bread maker reviewThe Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker is the Rolls Royce of bread makers, and is considered by many to be the best overall bread maker machine on the market.

It makes horizontal loaves, between one and two pounds, valued by most bread machine owners as being the most pretty, and most like those oven-baked in a conventional bread loaf pan or available from bakeries. To handle the mixing challenges a horizontal loaf brings, the Zojirushi bread maker uses two mixing / kneading paddles. Experts agree that this is a serious advantage over the more usual single-paddle machines. More thorough kneading leads to a more consistent rise and crumb.

The Zojirushi has more useful cycles and options than any other bread maker I've come across, including a sourdough starter cycle. I've never seen that in any other bread maker. As a fan of sourdough breads, this is a real “plus” to me. Owners say that the Zojirushi bread machine is very flexible and can do more than just make bread. There are cycles for jam, cakes and even meatloaf. There are three custom-memory settings and a long, 13-hour delay timer.

The Zojirushi gets solid reviews from owners, with over 300 written reviews at and anthoer 200 or so at I did find a small number of complaints about durability, but nothing that seemed any different from other high-end bread makers. Some others complained about how large and heavy the machine was, but I think that's to be expected with a bread maker of this quality and capability.

If you don't care about custom cycles, the Panasonic SD-YD250 may be a better option for you. It costs less still got great reviews. If you want nothing but the best in your kitchen, though, you'll want to pay the extra cash to get the amazing Zojirushi bread maker.

Bread Maker Recipe – Semolina Sourdough Bread

July 13, 2009

bread maker recipe - semolia sourdoughYes, Virginia. You can make sourdough bread in a breadmaker, or at least start it in the breadmaker. This open textured sourdough bread comes from the Puglia region of southern Italy, and is commonly known as Pugliese. It readily absorbs oil and is a perfect bread for making Bruschetta. The semolina flour gives it a lovely golden color and a crispy crust. This recipe yields two small loaves.

1/4 cup water
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
1 1/2 cup semolina flour (often sold as pasta flour), plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1/4 teaspoon dough conditioner
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast

Add the ingredients to the loaf pan of your bread machine in the order listed by the manufacturer. I've listed them in the order they work best for my machine.

Set the machine to run on a dough cycle. When the cycle is complete, remove from loaf pan and place in a large bowl, lightly oiled with olive oil. Turn the bread to coat. Cover with a dish towel and put in a warm place in the kitchen to rest for ten minutes.

Oil a baking sheet and dust with semolina flour. Divide the dough into two pieces. Shape each piece into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet, with plenty of room between each loaf. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with semolina flour. Cover with a dish towel and let them rise until both loaves have doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until lightly golden, about 30 minutes. They should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Cool completely on a wire rack.

My family loves Semolina bread, broken apart and dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as part of a great Italian dinner.

Bread Maker Review - Panasonic SD-YD250

July 5, 2009

According to reviewers, the Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker is the best mid-range bread machine on the market. It's a sturdy, easy to use bread maker that makes regularly shaped horizontal loaves, which most people prefer over the more common, vertical ones. I did find it odd that this breadmaker lacks a viewing window, a pretty standard feature on other bread makers. Given how little you can see through the prots of other models, however, I doubt you'll miss it.

Owner's love how durable the Panasonic breadmaker is. Of the more than 350 owner reviewers have rated the Panasonic SD-YD250 breadmaker at, more than 70% give it a top, 5-start rating. It consistently makes good bread. The only “con” than reviewers at mention is that now they're eating more bread than ever before.

Many write that say they've used their machines for years. There are only a handful of complaints about breakage problems. While it's not the cheapest model of home bread maker, we often get what we pay for. I've had to replace more than one bread maker simply because I'd worn them out. In such cases, “inexpensive now” creates a false economy – meaning you pay more for it, later. Given the Panasonic's record of durability, however, I'd say it's great choice.