Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kitchen Item Review: Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme

Our lineage of bread makers goes like this: My college roommate got us a Breadman Ultimate as a wedding present.  We used it essentially weekly for nine years, replacing the pan once.  The motor eventually gave out, and we faced the need to replace it.  

It happened to be the spring, when our neighborhood holds a massive (like, 70-household) yard sale.  Desperate to have a new bread-maker, the night before the sale, my finger hovered over the mouse button to order a replacement.  Knowing how much we used our machine, we were going to buy a Zojirushi that King Arthur Flour endorses as a workhorse.  The sale the next day gave me pause because bread makers are the kind of thing that people sell in good condition because they didn't use it as much as they'd hoped to.  I decided to leave the Zoji in my virtual shopping cart. If we didn't find one at the sale, we'd come back and complete the purchase.  It was hot, and we had a small child in tow, and we found no bread machines for sale.  At a fateful corner, we could either head for home or go down one more block we'd not visited yet.  We went for the mystery block.  Halfway down, there were items on a porch with no people around.  A sign read: "Free stuff (but not the porch furniture)".  Among the free items was a brand new, in-the-box, never-used newer version of the Breadman Ultimate.  It had a horizontal pan, which produces a much nicer loaf.  I was as shocked as I was thrilled.  We carried it home and used it for about eight years.

When that one went - if I recall correctly, it was the pan, and it was impossible to buy a replacement pan for our model - I complained on Facebook about being breadmaker-less.  It was kind of a middle schooler ploy for attention.  An acquaintance replied that she had one she never used, and we could have it for free.  I'm not proud that it worked, but I was very pleased.  Hers was as old or older than our first one, a smaller vertical pan model.  But it was free, and we used it for about eighteen months, until the motor went.

This time, I wasn't messing around.  We bought the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme (Model number BB-CEC20)
from King Arthur Flour.  They don't have exclusive sales rights, but we're faithful to them.  This machine works really well.  I've talked so much about our bread machine history that I don't know how much I'll actually say in this review.  It has a horizontal loaf pan with two paddles.  This design distributes and mixes ingredients flawlessly.  A feature that really stands out is the preheat cycle.  No machine I've had has preheated the water.  It's convenient when you're going to start the cycle right away to not have to wait for the tap water to heat up (especially in the winter).  But the real money in the feature comes when you set your timer for the cycle to start later (like overnight or in time for fresh bread to come out when you get home from work).  Hot tapwater would cool down overnight; when the machine preheats the water, the results are far more consistent.  You can read up on other features, but I really don't need more than a good dough cycle and a good bread cycle. This is a rock solid, thoughtfully-designed breadmaker that looks nice, works rather quietly and turns out the most reliable loaves I've gotten.  That's a useful endorsement from a weekly (at least) bread baker of 19 years. 

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