Zojirushi BB-PDC20 Bread Maker Machine

The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso is a high-end bread machine with an impressive set of features and a high Amazon rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 2,731 customer ratings. Zojirushi refers to it as its most technologically advanced bread maker. It’s currently listed on Amazon.com for $428. That puts it towards the top in terms of price, but it does offer a significant set of features including heaters on the bottom and on the lid of the bread maker with the promise of even baking and browning.

Almost all owners are very enthusiastic about its overall performance:

“Best kitchen appliance ever! I’ve been making bread in this beast from the minute it arrived. It is quiet, consistent, highly programmable, and efficient.”

It’s worth noting that not all owners were quite as enthusiastic although a lot of factors could cause a recipe to fail other than just the machine:

“I tried the banana bread recipe and the machine produced a very sweet loaf that was overcooked on the bottom and undercooked on the top.”

Even some customers who were generally enthusiastic took issues with some of their results:

“Even with the extra heater in the lid and the option for a dark crust, the top of the loaf is never really thick and crunchy. But even with Rye, Emmer and Spelt, loaves come out consistently in great shape.”

These types of comments were rate and overall the comments on the Virtuoso were positive with regards to the dual heater in both the base and the lid.

Bakes a 2-Pound Horizontal Loaf Using Twin Paddles

Most bread machines bake a vertical loaf from 1 to 1.5 pounds in size. Zdojirushi and a few other manufacturers are known for baking a horizontal loaf and the Virtuoso will bake up to a 2-pound loaf. The size you desire in terms of weight is determined by the recipe so the Virtuoso can bake 1, 1.5- and 2-pound loaves depending on the amount of ingredients you add to the bread pan and the size setting you choose.

Another innovation that Zojirushi is known for is the use of twin paddles in the bread pan. These are actually needed to knead the dough across the horizontal shape of the pan. I’ve baked hundreds of loaves in a Zojirushi using two paddles and have never had a problem.

Extensive Menu Settings

The number of menu settings on the Virtuoso is a good rationale for the price. Few bread machines offer this range of options. They include:

  • White
  • Whole Wheat
  • European
  • Multigrain
  • Gluten Free
  • Salt Free
  • Sugar Free
  • Vegan
  • Rapid White
  • Rapid Whole Wheat
  • Dough
  • Sourdough Starter
  • Cake
  • Jam
  • And 3 programmable, custom settings.

Across the settings, owners have made very favorable comments especially with one of the most difficult breads to make: gluten free.

“I have made several Gluten Free loves and they came out perfect.”

It should be noted that the gluten free setting on any bread machine does not magically make any ingredient gluten free. The ingredients themselves like rice flour or buckwheat flour are gluten free to begin with, all the gluten free setting does is run specialized cycles of kneading and rising to get the best gluten free result.

European Menu Setting Bakes Light and Savory Breads that Pair Well with a Variety of Cuisines

The Virtuoso has a setting that you don’t often see on a bread machine. A “European” setting that’s designed for a style of bread popular in Europe. The recipes for these types of breads are included in the instruction book but the reference to “European” did cause one owner some concern.

:Nothing in the product description mentioning anything about only working in the US and Canada. Was really disappointed when it arrived. Why ship internationally if it only works in 2 countries.”

This happens often with electronic appliances given the wide range of power outputs and plug outlets around the world. There are adapters and converters that can address this issue. The problem for most manufacturers is the inability to customize products for the wide range of electric power standards across every country. As a result, they default to power outputs common to North America.

3 Homemade Memory Settings Allow you to Customize the Knead, Rise and Bake Times

This is another setting that shows up on other bread machines, but rarely. It’s a good feature for the experienced baker who wants to experiment with artisanal breads or unique recipes that even a wide range of settings couldn’t accommodate. One owner stated their enthusiasm for this feature this way.

“There are three programmable homemade bread settings with rise times up to 13 hours!”

Crust Control Lets you Choose from Three Available Crust Colors: Light, Medium, or Dark

Almost every bread machine has these 3 options for crust colors.

12-Hour Clock With 13-Hour Delay Timer

This is another feature that is popular with many people who want to wake up to fresh baked bread in the morning or come home to a fresh baked loaf of bread after work.

Large, Easy-to-Read LCD Display with Convenient Key Code on Lid Simplifies Course Selection

The display lets you program the machine with a series of prompts to choose the setting, crust color, set the timer or customize a program. The subject of the display did bring out one interesting observation from an owner.

“No backlighting on the display, black digits on a grey background, can barely make the settings out, terrible. I keep a small flashlight next to it to illuminate the display, shouldn’t have to do that.”

Large Viewing Window to Watch the Process

Most bread machines have a view window although the sizes vary. The Virtuoso has a large window. What’s important about a viewing window is it inhibits the urge to peek. Opening the lid, especially during the rising cycle, can cause the dough to fall and bake with a collapsed crust. A viewing window makes it easier to track progress and satisfy your curiosity.

FAQ About the Zojirushi Virtuosos

I selected these questions because the answers address some of the concerns and issues raised about the Virtuoso in the general comments section on Amazon.com.

I’d like to hear from anyone with experience making artisanal style breads – e.g., baguettes, Italian breads, other long-rise breads.

It’s great for that. There are three programmable homemade bread settings with rise times up to 13 hours. There are breads where I’ll use two or three, setting a timer to go off when it’s time to go to the next program. Right now I’m making olive oil-saffron ciabatta.

My 1.5 loaf of white comes out lopsided. 2lb perfect. Yeast is correctly placed, counter level. Could this be uneven heating? or something else

I had a similar problem but discovered I had not put enough flour in the mix. I stick mostly to the 2lb. recipe and it comes out perfect every time. I would just suggest double checking the mix and making sure the water is as it should be. The machine is a great bread maker.

Will this work on Australian 240V power sources?

I use my 120V machine in India with a 220-120V step down voltage transformer. It works perfectly fine. The frequency is not converted (60/50Hz), but that is not a problem: all the timings work precisely

Additions

The Virtuoso includes a Liquid Measuring Cup, Nested Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoon and full color recipe book with 50 recipes and an Instruction manual. The Recipe Book is written in English and French.

Specifications

  • Product Dimensions 5 x 18 x 12.9 inches
  • Item Weight 24 pounds
  • Electrical Rating 120 volts/700 watts

Recommendation

The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso is an expensive bread machine for the serious bread baker. Its range of features makes it one of the most versatile bread machines on the market and it show a consistent pattern of positive comments related to its durability and dependability. Most significant was the high rating it received from such a large sample of customers (4.6 out of 5 stars with 2,726 owners rating).

If you’re in the market for a new bread machine and bake bread on a consistent basis, the Home Bakery Virtuoso is a very good choice.

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