Pros: Lasts a long time ( years for me). Turns out great, normal looking bread.
Cons: Can't put pan in dishwasher (is that a problem?)
Update!!!: 4/16/12. I finally have had to replace this breadmaker. It lasted 9 years!! The value for the money paid on this is the best I can recall ever realizing on a small appliance. I have ordered another Zojirushi and plan to keep that one for 10 years more.
All of my comments from the original review stand. These breadmakers are the best. I have now purchased the Home Bakery Virtuoso™ Breadmaker BB-PAC20.
(Old review) I have been using this bread maker for 5 years now. It is truly a workhorse. This bread maker gets used by me at the minimum of 5 times a month.
I bought it online at cooking.com in 2003 after having bad experiences with a Sunbeam and and Oster. Both of these bread makers had vertical pans and one
paddle. I found there were many times I would pull a loaf out of the pan and there would be unmixed flour in the bottom of both of these machines.
I began my quest for a horizontal pan, two paddle bread maker. After seeing one of the Zojirushi bread makers at a friends house and the results of this
breadmaker, I took the plunge and bought one.
The ease of use of this machine yet customization available is quite impressive. The lid had a window and vent so you can watch the progress of the bread mixing, rising and baking. The vent wafts out smells of fresh bread into your kitchen causing extreme amounts of drooling. Well, at our house it does.
The outside of the breadmaker stays relatively cool to the touch. You won't scorch your arm if you happen to touch it.
There are 6 buttons on the front panel that read:
Crust control - this allows you to select between light, medium and dark crusts
Time - This is a custom programming button that lets you change a pre-programmed baking time.
Cycle- This is a custom programming button that lets you change the time for mixing, rising and number of rises
Time - This is the delay timer
Start/Reset - Do you really need this explained?
Select Course- The button you use to choose between basic bread, wheat bread, quick bread, dough, jam, cake, sandwhich bread or homemade program.
The baking pan is very easy to clean. The manufacturer recommends you don't put the pan in the dishwasher, so I haven't. My Kitchen Aid mixer says the same thing about some of the parts so there must be a good reason. The non-stick coating on the pan and the paddles is holding up very well. In fact, there is no discernable difference between the coating from when I purchased this bread maker to today.
Some flour and crumbs will tend to collect in the bottom of the heating chamber around the inside edges. I just wait for it to cool and use a pastry brush and my Dyson to clean it up.
Results of Baking
I bake several different types of bread in this machine. Sandwich breads, wheat breads and white breads each have their own menu setting that you access through a simple single push button interface. If you pass a setting, simply cycle through the menu again and you can get it.
If you find that one of the standard settings doesn't work for you, customization of baking programs is available. I have not had a use for the customization as the pre-programmed settings turn out very nice loaves of bread.
Most of the time, I bake the 1.5# loaf rather than the 2# loaf as the 2# loaf is just a little too large for my liking. It does make a very big sandwhich for the person who likes that sort of thing so it is nice that the option for that is there.
I have made quick breads such as zucchini and banana bread in this machine. It turns out very nicely. The results are similar to what you would get with baking in an oven and regular pan.
Appearance of Loaves
The most feature that most attracted me to this bread maker, the horizontal loaf, is the best feature in my mind. It looks like a normal loaf of bread, not a chefs hat like the vertical pans turn out.
When you take the loaf out of the pan, you are left with two small holes in the bottom where the paddles remain during baking. I have not had the paddles stay in the loaf, like would happen with both my Sunbeam and my Oster bread makers.
I have had only one problem with this bread maker over the last 5 years. About two years ago one of the paddles stopped working. I took the bread maker apart and found that a nut had come loose inside on one of the augers that connect to the pan and turns the paddles. The belt that connects the motor to the paddle auguers was just turning a pulley and not the paddle. I tightened the nut and all was well again. No problem if you have some basic skills
The only problems that I can find are two:
1. You don't put the ingredients in the pan in the order the manufacturer recommneds. Yes, it does make a difference.
2. You don't have the paddles down all the way in the pan. If you don't do this, the paddles won't turn and the dough won't mix. Just put them on and pay attention and you won't have any problems
All in all, this has been a really good appliance for me and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one. This has only cost me $40 a year so far and that keeps going down as it lives longer.