Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Bread Maker Review
Zojirushi is a Japanese manufacturer and marketer of a wide array of consumer products including – as you guessed it – bread machines. The company has a United States division and is often considered one of the best bread machine manufacturers on the market due to their extensive features and large loaf sizes. You can find Zojirushi bread makers in some of the biggest retailers including Amazon, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Target, Macy’s, and many more. With all of this said, we had very high expectations for this bread maker leading up to this review – so let’s see how it really performs.
I had just returned from the grocery store to re-stock on an assortment of bread flours, and as I pulled into my driveway I was surprised to see a large Zojirushi box on my doorstep that had just been delivered. I wasn’t surprised because it arrived early, I was surprised to see it looked like retail packaging; as if I grabbed this off the shelf from Target jam-packed with photos of the machine and detailing its features (and more colors than the rainbow). Personally, I prefer a standard brown box for shipment so people driving by my house don’t see a $200-300 bread machine sitting on my doorstep. With all of this said, after unboxing all of the contents, the machine was actually in perfect shape and well protected. In addition to the bread maker itself, you’ll also find a Zojirushi cookbook, a few other paper materials, optional dvd instructions (what year is it?!), and a few measuring cups.
The Zojirushi Virtuoso model is definitely the company’s best-looking machine, thanks to the clean stainless steel exterior which adds significantly to its build quality. However, other devices on the market such as Cuisinart and Breville may be a bit more modern, especially when it comes to the control panel; Zojirushi uses old-school buttons that resemble a microwave.
Another unique design characteristic in the Zojirushi bread machine is the peek-through window located on the lid. This lets you check the progress of the kneading and baking at any time without interrupting the baking schedule. Inside the unit, you will find a completely stainless steel interior with removable non-stick 2lb loaf pan.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Zojirushi Virtuoso model comes packed with features that enable you to make much more than just bread, including pizza dough, sourdough starters, fruit jams, and even meatloaf! Let’s take a look at some of the major features.
2lb Loaf Size
We absolutely love the size of the Zojirushi bread pan due to its rectangular shape which results in a traditional looking loaf of bread (like you will find in a grocery store). Most of the 1lb bread makers on the market are more square, and even a few of the 2lb bread makers are too. In addition, the great thing about this size is you don’t HAVE to make a 2lb loaf if you don’t want to – simply size down the ingredients and make a smaller loaf. I always recommend people purchase a 2lb bread machine simply for the flexibility.
Gluten Free and Custom Settings
Zojirushi bread makers come with a ton of built-in settings for gluten free breads which optimize the kneading and resting time. The second day I tested the machine out, I made a wonderful gluten free cinnamon raisin bread from Bob’s Red Mills. In total, it took about 2.5 hours from start to finish, and the result was amazing gluten free bread.
Optional crust control is available for those of you who prefer a darker crust, or conversely, lighter crust options are also available so you don’t have to cut the crust of your kids’ PB&J sandwiches anymore!
Heating Element on Lid
This is definitely the most unique and impressive feature. The Zojirushi Virtuoso actually has a second heating element in the lid of the machine to properly disperse the heat all around the loaf just like an oven would. This results in a perfectly baked crust.
Performance and Final Thoughts
After using this bread machine for a month, a few features really stood out among the rest in terms of satisfaction and performance. The kneading is consistently great and always picks up all of the flour for a thorough knead (as long as your ingredients measurements are correct!). This is largely due to the fact that Zojirushi has two metal paddles for kneading while many others, such as the Breville bread machine we reviewed, which only has one kneading paddle. The 2lb loaf size is also amazing for larger families or anyone who may take a sandwich to work every day for lunch. The finished loaves end up being similar size to what you would buy at a grocery store. Finally, the sheer amount of built-in settings for specific types of baking is really impressive. The Zojirushi Virtuoso covers everything from standard quick breads, whole wheat, gluten free, cakes, jams, and much more. Each built-in setting optimizes the kneading, resting, and baking times so you end up with a perfect loaf of bread.
Overall, the Zojirushi stood out among the rest as one of the best bread machines you can buy. The performance is impressive overall, the stainless steel design blends in with other kitchen appliances, and the large loaf size sure won’t leave you hungry; however, the best comes at a cost. If you can jump over the premium price hurdle, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.