The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
I love fresh bread and had been finding it increasingly difficult to find a decent bakery. The bread produced by supermarkets that masquerades itself as fresh bread just doesn’t hit the spot for me. I also like to know what’s in my food and how it was made. I have tried many times to make bread but have never had good results.
I first came across the Panasonic bread maker at a friend’s house. I loved the taste of the bread she gave me for lunch and was determined to start saving for a bread maker of my very own.
Before I finally decided to buy a Panasonic I did some research on the internet and was impressed both my the glowing reviews of the Panasonic sd-253 and by the fact it received the best rating of any bread maker by Which.
I price checked and found John Lewis to be about the cheapest and, to my mind, the retailer with a good customer service record. I paid £99.99 for my bread maker with free delivery.
The machine. ************ This is no small gadget to be hidden in the back of a cupboard and does take up a fair amount of worktop. The machine measures H40xW 34 x D 23 cm. It is only available in white. You do need to make sure the machine is at least 5cm away from any wall when in use to allow the steam to escape. I simply pull mine away from the wall when I’m using it.
Open the lid to reveal a non-stick bucket with handle. The kneading blade fits at the bottom of the bucket and has to be removed after each use to clean.
I have never put any of the parts in the dishwasher and I think this has helped the bucket to retain its non-stick coating. I have been using my bread maker for over 7 months now and I have never had a problem with a loaf sticking.
Using this machine really is Childs play it is so simple! There is an excellent instruction booklet included with the machine that also includes loads of recipes in addition to very easy to follow instructions.
At the side of the machine is a digital control panel and display window. All you do to make a simple loaf is to measure out your ingredients as per the recipe booklet and place into the bucket. It is important to ensure the kneading blade is in place at the bottom of the bucket!
First press the select control pad to choose the type of bread you are to making. You can choose between basic,wholewheat,French,Italian.sandwich,pizza or gluten free. The machine can also act as an oven and be set to bake only for making cakes or tea breads. As you press the pad an arrow will move down the display so you can see which programme you have selected.
Next press the option control pad to select the bake option you require. There are several options including –
Bake-with this option the machine will mix, knead, rise the dough and then bake it.
Bake rapid- this is the same as bake but is used for making a faster loaf.
Bake raisin-the same as bake but adds fruit/nuts automatically during the kneading process.
Dough- this option prepares dough ready for you to roll out and make pizza or rolls.
Dough raisin- as per the dough option but adds fruit and nuts to the dough.
Below the option pad is a pad to select the size of loaf you are making- the machine can make medium, large or extra large loaves.
There is a pad to select the colour of the crust you want ranging from light to dark.
It is possible to set the machine to delay the start of the bread making process. The timer can be set to allow your bread maker to switch itself on and have the bread ready for when you wake up. The timer can be set for any time up to 13 hours. This is really useful!
Finally when you have selected your options all you do is press the start key pad and relax! One word of warning if the power is interrupted for anything more than for 10 minutes the final result may be affected. I have never had a problem with this.
At the top of the machine is a small container to put any fruit or nuts when making fruit breads or dough.
Also included is a plastic measuring spoon and a small plastic jug.
What can this machine actually do? ****************************
I have been using my bread maker for over 7 months now on an almost daily basis. I can honestly say I have never had a disaster. My husband did once forgot to put the kneading blade into the bread bucket and he ended up with a horrible mess and no bread!
It is possible to make numerous different types of gorgeous breads in this machine all with very little effort and hardly any washing up or mess.
To make a basic white loaf you will need dried yeast, strong white bread flour,salt,sugar,milkpower and water. All the ingredients are readily available at most supermarkets. I like to use organic flour and pay about £1 a bag. You will need 500 g of flour to make a large loaf. Even with the cost of electricity I reckon each loaf is a fair bit cheaper than that you buy from a supermarket. If you use the basic white recipe the loaf then it will take 4 hours to cook. I often use the bake rapid programme that takes 1hour and 50 minutes. I really can’t tell the different in the results.
When the bread is ready the machine beeps several times. You can leave the bread in the machine for up to an hour after it is ready. If you leave it for any longer it tends to become soggy due to the steam.
I love the granary loaf this machine makes. The only downside is that it takes 5 hours to produce! I also make a basic wholemeal.
The French bread is to die for and is fantastic eaten warm with French cheese and olives. I also love the ciabatta that uses olive oil.
I would also recommend the raisin and hazelnut bread. The best fruit bread I have ever tasted!
There are so many recipes to try and I love to experiment too. Having said that I have found that by far the best results are to be had by following the recipe book to the letter.
In addition to making bread the bread maker makes excellent pizza dough. The machine kneads the dough and all you do is roll it out and leave it to rise. Then add your chosen topping and bake. The resulting pizza tastes wonderful. I no longer get pangs of guilt when my children eat pizza, as I know what’s in it! I like to add pineapple and cheese for a healthy topping. Homemade pizza has become our Friday night treat.
The machine can also be used to bake cakes. I have never tried this option though so can’t comment on the results.
I have made gingerbread and found the result a bit dry. If you use the bread maker to bake you will need to line the bucket well with greaseproof paper.
The dough option can be used to make muffins, hotcross buns and brioche to name a few. I have made all of these with god results.
The pros. ******** To put it in a nutshell this machine is the best kitchen gadget I have ever bought. We now enjoy fresh home made bread every day. I like to know what we are eating and I have been able to reduce the amount of salt in our bread with no loss of taste,another benefit. I often take a fresh loaf of bread when I go to visit friends and this has always been a welcome present.
The cons. ********* I would have liked Panasonic to have placed the controls and display window at the front of the machine. They are placed awkwardly at the side and I have to stand on tiptoe to read the display.
I would also have liked the machine to have a viewing window so I could watch my bread through its stages.
Having said that I see that Panasonic has just updated this model and the new version does have a viewing window and the controls are now at the front of the machine. The price is the same. I did check with Panasonic and they tell me everything else about this machine remains the same.
The kneading blade leaves an odd hole in the middle of the bread although this isn’t really a problem just a small annoyance. The kneading blade does on occasion come off and imbed itself into the bread. It is not difficult to remove and luckily has only happened a few times.
Each time the machine is used you will need to ensure it is well cleaned. I always soak the bread bucket in soapy water but the kneading blade can be awkward a to clean as bits of dried bread get stuck to it.
Panasonic provide a cookery advice line. However on the few occasions I have tried to phone the number it has always been on answer phone. I have phoned at the times specified but still had no luck. I hope Panasonic will take note and improve the service, as it would be useful.
You do need to be organised to ensure you always have bread in the house. As there are no preservatives the bread will only keep for a short time. I always put my loaf in a plastic food bag once it has cooled. However the bread tastes and smells so wonderful it doesn’t hang around for long! It is possible to freeze a loaf.
Overall I would highly recommend this machine. I forgot to mention that the customer service department is excellent. I have had no problems with my machine but did phone once when I couldn’t get the machine to switch on. The operator quickly sorted out the problem-turned out to be me at fault and not the machine!
The machine is easy to use and makes delicious bread. What more could you want?