|West Bend 41300|
It’s time for a two paddle battle. Let’s see which machine comes out on top.
A popular feature on some bread machines is a horizontal loaf pan. This allows you to bake a loaf of bread in the longer, horizontal loaf shape that you would find at a bakery or grocery store. Most bread machines bake a tall, vertical loaf but if you prefer a horizontal shape these two machines will deliver.
Why Two Paddles are Needed
Manufacturers of horizontal loaf bread machines like to tout the two paddles in the bread pan as way to get better kneading and rising of the dough. What they neglect to mention is that two paddles are necessary in a horizontal bread pan. A single paddle can’t reach into the corners and any recipe would require constant spooning of flour from the corner to the paddle. Two paddles avoid this problem and actually do result in a better rise and smoother texture in bread.
On both of these machines the paddles are fixed or stiff unlike some of the collapsible paddles on other machines. The idea of a collapsible paddle is to minimize the hole that is left in the bottom of the loaf by the paddle. Many people report problems with the collapsible paddles failing to collapse and they can actually leave a larger hole in the bottom of the loaf than a fixed paddle.
The essential difference between the two machines is that the Zojirushi has an internal light that allows you to more easily observe your progress through the viewing window, and 3 customizable settings for gluten free, 100% whole wheat or other specialty recipes like sourdough. The WestBend does not have the internal light and no specific settings for gluten free or 100% whole wheat.
The rest of the features stack up about evenly. Here’s a snapshot summary of both machines followed by some notes.
It’s interesting to note that both machines can bake up to a 2.5 pound loaf. This is due to the horizontal pan. This is unusual in any vertical loaf machine which usually tops out at 2 pounds.
Both machines have a Teflon coating on their bread pans although Zojirushi says it is similar to Teflon but is not called Teflon. Zojirushi identifies it as a PTFE non-stick coating. Considering that Teflon is actually a brand name for a non-stick coating it’s possible that the Zojirushi is using the same substance but not referring to it by the “Teflon” name.
An interesting option offered by WestBend is the ability to cook two 1 pound loaves simultaneously. This would give you the opportunity to make a 1 pound white bread loaf and a 1 pound herbed white bread loaf at the same time. The recipes need to be similar for this option because only one baking cycle can be chosen for both loaves, but if you like variety or prefer smaller loaf sizes you might enjoy this feature. The two 1 pound loaf pans don’t come with the machine but are available as an optional purchase.
Size and Weight
The Zojirushi is a big machine weighing 20 pounds while the WestBend weighs 16 pounds. Some people like a heavier machine because it’s less likely to wobble or walk on the counter top during the kneading process. The Zojirushi is also bigger in size which could be a problem if you have limited counter space.
A curious benefit of the Zojirushi are the reports that it is surprisingly quiet for a bread machine. Many bread machines can be quit loud during the kneading cycle. Curiously, there were some complaints about the loud, 30 second beeps that the Zojirushi puts out to mark the beginning or end of certain cycles for the addition of fruit or nuts or other added ingredients. As a side note, neither the WestBend 41300 nor the Zojirushi CEC20 have an automatic fruit and nut hopper.
Support and Instructions
Both machines get high marks for their support and service with many people appreciating the dedicated Zojirushi website for questions and ordering parts like replacement paddles.
Zojirushi also got high marks for it instruction book and video. Unfortunately, WestBend had numerous complaints about its in instruction book and settings. For some reason there is a pattern of problems with instruction books for many other bread machines, but Zojirushi seems to have figured it out quite well.
And the Winner Is…
It’s actually a tough call. As a chef I love the idea of two 1 pound bread pans baking simultaneously in the WestBend. I like to experiment with recipes and try different things and this would allow me to do more.
However, I also like baking gluten free, 100% whole wheat and sourdough bread and the Zojirushi makes that very easy to do. You would have to do some trial and error with the WestBend because it lacks those dedicated settings.
I also like the idea of an internal light in the Zojirushi. Lifting the lid frequently or at the wrong time can compromise both the rising and baking process. Most times it’s the kneading process that requires the most inspection and the possible addition of flour or water, but the lid should remain closed during any rising or baking cycle. A lighted interior option makes that easier to do.
I’m not too worried about the poor instruction book from WestBend. I develop many of my own recipes and there are many to be found on the Internet and in cookbooks. That’s up to you but just using the recipes on our website should more than suffice.
Is The Zojirushi Worth The Extra $20?
Yes. The multiple settings and ability to easily bake specialty breads is probably the most significant difference between the two machines. I’m also a big fan of internal lights in bread machines. Now if only the “Zoj” would let me bake two loaves at the same time….
|West Bend 41300|