We received our Panasonic SD255 bread-maker on Friday 4 September 2009, purchased via Amazon (link to product page http://bit.ly/TqLlr and now superceded by a new model – click on the image for a look)
Of course we tested it straight away by baking a loaf and a brioche (the brioche was blogged about that same day – see “Too distracted to write a blog”).
We’ve made quite a selection of loaves, cakes and dough since then and so far (touch wood) haven’t had any failures. Plain white, wholemeal, 70% wholemeal, spelt, seeded and honey and sunflower loaves have all produced excellent moist light bread, which keeps well when wrapped in baking paper and stored in an airtight bread bin (this allows the moist air to circulate around the bread and prevent it drying out). My only (very slight) criticism so far is that the [french] crispy crust loaf we baked wasn’t as crispy crusted as I would have liked. None the less the bread was as usual (with this bread-maker) very tasty and light.
For those who don’t have a sweet tooth, you may not like the honey and sunflower loaf, as it is quite sweet for a bread. Me, I loved it!
I don’t know if brioche is classed as a bread or cake officially, but I’m including it in the cake section for review purposes. For me the brioche produced by the bread-maker is the best one I’ve ever had. It was light, moist and the flavours were very fresh and buttery. Again this is a sweet loaf (or cake) and may not be to everyone’s taste. There is a recipe for Panettone in the manual for the bread-maker, this however requires that the cake itself is baked in your oven rather than the bread-maker. Our oven is not reliable enough to bake cakes of quality and put an unfair limiting factor on the outcome of this particular cake. Mr S has since adapted one of the recipes in the manual to produce a Panettone that can be cooked in the bread-maker itself and produces a cake that, in taste, very closely resembles a Panettone proper. Obviously this produces a loaf shaped cake with a crust, but flavour-wise the effect is excellent (in my opinion).
The dough that the SD255 produces is excellent. We have used it twice to prepare pizza dough and it has produced an elastic dough that stretches out nicely to form a pizza base. Again the cooking of this depends on your oven, but use a pizza stone and preheat it at the hottest temperature your oven can produce for 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza at the normal temperature and you can’t go far wrong.
The only niggle with the machine itself is the raisin dispenser. This drops down to allow the raisins (or seeds, mixed peel) or whatever you are adding to your recipe to fall into the dough at the appropriate time in the kneading process. This results in a lopsided loaf due to the imbalance in the air temperature within the machine during the final stages of the process. Mr S sorts this by listening out for the dispenser dropping and then opens up the machine to pop it back up into place. This seems to have resolved the issue of the loaf being lower in height at one end, but does depend on you being around to manually flick the flap back up. For this I deduct a point from the final score.
An improvement to the machine would have been the facilities to ‘rest’ dough or to ‘prove’ dough as separate functions. This would make making pizza dough much easier, particularly during the winter months when it’s colder. For this I deduct another point from the final score.
Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Panasonic SD255 bread-maker (http://bit.ly/SD255) to someone who wants to start making their own bread, cakes and dough. It is currently at a very reasonable price (£83.13 from Amazon UK) and consistently produces quality breads, cakes and dough.
Mr S’s pseudo Panettone recipe
Yeast 1 tsp
Dove organic strong white bread flour 400 grams (14 oz)
Sugar 3 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp
Butter 75 grams (3 oz)
Vanilla essence 3 tbsp
Medium eggs 2 yolks 1 whole
Milk 220 ml
*Candied peel 50 grams (2 oz) (in raisin dispenser)
*Sultanas 100 grams (4 oz) (in raisin dispenser)
*Zest of 2 lemons (in raisin dispenser)
Put the ingredients into the pan in the order listed above. Set your bread-maker to the ‘basic’ bread setting and select the raisin option (if your machine has this facility – if not add in the extra ingredients (marked with an asterisk) at the raisin beep or at the beginning of the cycle). Select a ‘medium’ loaf size and a ‘light crust’ setting. This should then take around 4 hours to mix and bake in total. Due to the addition of the eggs, it is not a recipe that can be programmed to make use of any delay timer option on your machine.