Zojirushi is often thought of as the high-end of bread machines. One of its primary features is an elongated bread pan that bakes a horizontal loaf similar to the loaf shape you would buy at a store or a bakery. It also features a two paddle design to more thoroughly knead the bread before rising.
Customer reviews of this particular model are extremely positive although there was a pattern of complaints from some owners related to the browning feature. The machine offers 3 crust options from light to medium to dark. In spite of this feature there were a few negative comments about the crust:
“Had an anemic crust even though it was on medium or dark setting.”
“The top of the loaf does not brown.”
I’m not sure, but I suspect the individual machines may have had a defect because so many other comments and reviews were so highly positive with no mention of problems or concerns about the crust
10 Baking Cycle Settings with Customizable Features
The machine features 10 settings including Basic, Basic Wheat, Basic Dough, Quick, Quick Wheat, Quick Dough, Jam, Cake, Sour Dough Starter, and Homemade. The Homemade setting lets you program 3 custom settings that allow you to adjust kneading times and cycles, rising time, and baking time in addition to the 3 crust settings. This is a relatively unique feature and allows an experienced bread machine baker to adjust settings to unique or challenging recipes. In addition, The sourdough starter cycle will help you to create a sourdough starter in about 2 hours for various sourdough recipes. A sourdough starter cycle is relatively unique on bread machines.
“You can program every single thing it does longer or shorter if you have some recipe of your own that you want to knead longer or shorter, rise longer or shorter, etc etc.”
Automatic Delay and Shut-Off
The machine also has a 13-hour delay so you can add ingredients and set your program or cycle and have your bread freshly baked and hot when you wake up or come home from work. It also has an automatic shut-off feature. As well, many customers were very positive about its performance related to challenging breads like whole wheat and gluten-free.
“This bread machine is very simple to use and perfect for gluten-free baking.”
One thing I noticed was that this particular model did not have a dedicated “gluten-free” cycle indicated on it’s panel. That’s probably because of the customizable “homemade” cycles and the instruction book tells you how to set the machine for gluten-free. This might actually be a unique advantage. Many gluten-free recipes call for a blend of gluten-free flours and the ability to adjust settings easily would allow us to fine-tune the machine for the kinds of gluten-free breads we want to bake.
Unique Horizontal Loaf Pan
The bread pan will make loaves in sizes from 1 pound up to 2.5 pound loaves although a 2.5 loaf on a typical high-rising bread like white-bread might cause it to rise to the lid. That can be a mess. The pan is elongated and creates a horizontal loaf with is a signature benefit of Zojirushi bread machines. However, Be careful with your recipes if you’re going for a 2.5 pound loaf.
The pan has a non-stick coating which Zojirushi states is “not Teflon.” One customer confirmed that in a review.
“My manual says it is not Teflon and as a chef who avoids it, it’s obviously not.”
They are not clear about what kind of coating they use, but if you are specifically concerned about Teflon this machine does not appear to use that substance for it’s non-stick bread pan. I tried to find out what the coating consisted of, but no information is available. I wanted to find out because I came across one manufacturer once who proudly stated that they used a “diamond-flourine” non-stick coating. After doing some research I discovered that diamond flourine is the industrial trade-name for, you guessed it: Teflon. If you happen to discover the nature of this non-stick coating, please leave a comment. We’d all like to know.
The 2 Paddle System
The 2 paddles are standard, fixed paddles and can be removed for cleaning. Yes, they leave paddle shaped holes in the bottom of the bread but this happens with every bread machine and most people simply accept that. The two paddle system does a very good job of kneading which is particularly important with whole wheat and gluten free recipes. Some customers complained that the two paddles resulted in a lop-sided loaf, but you can easily relieve that in any bread machine by reaching in after the kneading cycle and rearranging the dough a bit before the rise cycle.
Frequently Asked Questions
“My loaf was formed nicely but the top crust was not browned. What would cause that? How do you add more time to the baking cycle during baking?”
I had the same issue. The book suggests adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon more of sugar. It works for me. I’m still not getting well browned top crust but that’s because the loaf rises so high there isn’t enough air movement across the top to spread the heat to brown it. When the bread rises less the top is browner.
“Can it make dark rye bread?”
It can make any type of bread. I even converted a 100 yr bread recipe to work in the machine.
“How well does it make 100 % whole wheat bread?”
We’ve had very good luck with wheat bread. I think you need to add some vital wheat gluten (in the recipe booklet). You have to eat it up within a few day though as it dries out quickly.
“Does it have a setting for pasta? If so, can you make spinach or whole wheat pasta?”
There is no setting for pasta. You can try the dough cycle.
“Does the machine beep in the final kneading to let you know to add things like raisins or seeds?”
Yes! It beeps for 30 seconds.
“Gluten free settings?”
It does have Gluten-Free recipes in their book, but no special cycles. You use the Basic or Quick Bread cycles. It does make a beautiful and tasty loaf of bread. My brother has one and he uses the Gluten Free recipes and has been very pleased
“What size is the loaf pan / what are the dimensions of a loaf of bread?”
It’s 8 1/2″ long, 5 1/2″ wide, by 4 1/2″ deep. Those are the inside dimensions.
“Are the horizontal as good as the vertical loaves? I had heard that they don’t mix as well.”
Horizontal is better. I had a Toshiba vertical before I bought the Zojirushi. The Zojirushi has two paddles rather than one on vertical machines and it mixes better, the dough rises better and the resulting bread texture is better. Horizontal is the way to go.
“Is this made out of Teflon?”
I just called the company and asked if the coating was Teflon. The gentleman responded “Yes, it is a similar material to Teflon. It is a PTFE non-stick lining.” So YES it does contain a “generic” Teflon. Stay way if your avoiding Teflon products!
“Where can I get a Zojirushi bread maker manual BB-PAC20?”
You can find it online at http://www.zojirushi.com/servicesupport/manuals/manual_pdf/bb_pac20.pdf
A Heavyweight, but Quiet
The machine weighs 20 pounds which is a bit heavy, but it does not vibrate or move around on the counter and is reportedly quiet relative to other machines. Here’s what one customer had to say:
“The Zojirushi is much, much quieter in operation. Very quiet, in fact.”
The machine comes with an instruction book, a video, a recipe booklet, a measuring cup and a measuring spoon. It has a large viewing window in the lid or you can open the lid to assess progress across all cycles. The LCD control panel is easy to use and lit so it’s easy to see. The color of the machine is black with a stainless steel base and it measures 17 x 8-1/2 x 12-1/4 inches. Given it’s relatively short height many people liked the fact that it would fit easily under cabinets and still allow them to life the lid. This is largely due to the horizontal loaf construction as opposed to the usual, tall vertical loaf that most machines offer.
As usual, there were some complaints about the instruction book and the recipes. This seems to be a common lament with many bread machines, although I suspect people are just looking for additional recipes that they can easily find on the Internet or in bookstores. Significantly, there were no complaints about inaccurate or confusing instructions or recipes that I’ve seen with some other bread machines. One customer appreciated the dedicated website as well:
“The fact that there is a supporting website and spare parts is very comforting.”
If you’re wondering why spare parts were an issue for this particular owner it’s because the lack or difficulty of acquiring spare parts for many bread machines is such a common complaint. This is often heard in relation to replacement kneading paddles. It’s good to know Zojirushi is sensitive to the spare parts concern.