Customer Reviews: Breadman TR520 Programmable Bread Maker for 1, 1 1/2 , and 2-Pound Loaves, Cream
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on August 19, 2010
I bought this to replace a more sophisticated programmable Breadman Ultimate that I had used once or twice a week, sometimes more frequently, for several years. The machine still worked, but the kneading assembly finally just fell out of the bread pan (the shaft, etc.), and there were no replacement bread pans available for that machine. (I looked high and low!)

I looked at a number of different machines before choosing this one. It seemed that people who bought Breadman machines were satisfied with this one, but the successor machine to the Ultimate received disappointed reviews from people who had owned the Ultimate. I also looked at other brands, and for one reason or another, rejected them. One of them, when you look at the manual, you discover that the ONLY setting for one pound and one and a half pound loaves is the "fast" setting, and the other settings are available only for the two lb loaves. Since I almost always bake one and a half pound loaves, this surprised me. (I find that the "fast" setting is hardly adequate even for a plain white loaf, but forget it for anything involving multiple whole grains.)

The Breadman TR520 isn't programmable the way that the Ultimate was, but I had only used that feature rarely, so it was something I was willing to forego. It has a plain dough setting, but no pizza dough setting, which my previous machine had. Pizza dough does not require the time and rises that a bread dough would, but that's easily worked around -- I set my kitchen timer for an hour and take the pizza dough out after an hour and it's perfect. (I use my own traditional recipe for pizza dough, not the one in the manual that comes with the machine, which calls for sugar and dry milk, which I found bizarre.)

Some of the differences between the TR520 and the Ultimate:
- the TR520 cannot be custom programmed, although it does have the "delay" feature so that you can set the machine up the night before (or in the morning before work) and set the bread to be baked up to 13 hours after you put the ingredients in the machine.
- the TR520 is MUCH quieter than the Ultimate.
- the TR520 does not have as many settings as the Ultimate (such as "pizza dough"), but it still allows you to "mix and match" your loaf size, crust setting, and loaf type (e.g., basic white, whole wheat, French, etc.), and it does have the "plain dough" and "bake only" settings.
- The display does not tell you what stage of bread-making the machine is on, only the time remaining. With the Ultimate, it was nice to glance at it and see that it was on its second rise, or whatever.
- The key to the programs and the labels for the buttons, as noted by other reviewers, is printed on the machine in white with a yellow background and is very difficult to read, though I didn't find it impossible (really a stupid design mistake). You can always refer to the manual until you memorize them.
- The casing seems to get hotter than the casing for the Ultimate used to, but that may be a subjective impression that is actually incorrect.
- It has a slightly smaller footprint than the Ultimate, and is more of a square machine than rectangular, although the loaves are the usual rectangular loaf-shape.
- Rather than having a receptacle for extras (raisins, nuts, etc.) like the Ultimate had, the TR520 has a loud beep, instead, signalling you to add the extras.
- The Ultimate had a pause button, and the TR520 does not. I would like to be able to pause the machine early on and use my spatula to push dough from the corners if necessary, and pause it when adding the extras.
- Neither the Ultimate nor the TR520 have two paddles, but they handle stiff bialy dough very well with just the one, and they don't make two holes in the bottom of the bread.

I have baked several different loaves in the machine so far, including a buttermilk white loaf, a whole wheat oatmeal loaf, a whole wheat potato bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and a multigrain loaf, and they all came out well, just as I'd expected them to. My pizza dough has turned out beautifully each time I make it, too, and I do that about once a week. I have also made hard roll dough and bialy dough in the machine. It handled the very stiff bialy dough beautifully (bialy dough is like bagel dough), which pleased me.

I have never made quick breads and cakes in my bread machine, this one or its predecessor, since I found early on that they don't turn out well for my taste. It's also scarcely any harder to mix something like that in a bowl and put it in the oven to bake, provided you have an oven!

One of the things I love about the bread machine, aside from its general ease of use, is that I can bake bread in even the hottest weather without heating up my kitchen with the oven.

The manual that comes with the machine is good and quite thorough. It pays to read it -- it is important with this machine, as with the Ultimate, to keep it unplugged in between uses, for example, and not to soak or immerse the bread pan. The recipes, however, are not any I would use as written, although I may try the pita bread recipe and tweak it a bit. I have been baking bread for about thirty years, more if you include when I would help my mother when I was growing up, and I have never, either in old-fashioned manual bread-making or in machine bread-making, used TWO TABLESPOONS of sugar for one ordinary loaf of bread. The sugar is there to feed the yeast, not to flavor the bread (unless it's a sweet bread, such as cinnamon raisin, Portuguese sweet bread, or challah). Two TEASPOONS per loaf has always been sufficient, regardless of the bread/flour type. My loaves turn out beautifully risen and golden with a lovely texture and crumb. Some breads, such as traditional white Italian and French loaves and pizza dough, do not need sugar at all.

It was a a great price for a very good, perfectly functional machine. It had the features I found essential in a bread machine, though it didn't have some of the extras that would be nice. The only flaws that were real design flaws, as opposed to just being not-ideal, are the lack of a "pause" button, and the strange choice of white writing on yellow on the breadmaker lid. But the white-on-yellow is more-or-less a cosmetic flaw that can be compensated for. I do miss the pause button, though.

It's not perfect and it lacks some frills, but it's an excellent buy, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to buy a basic bread machine.
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on September 27, 2009
For the price, it's a pretty good bread machine. One thing I would add is this... If you are not using the brand of yeast recommended by Breadman, your results may not be good. Their recipes were tested using Red Star Yeast Active Dry Yeast. Not all yeasts will yield the same result. Know how the yeast you're using will perform.

I use an organic yeast, and when I used the amount recommended in the first white bread recipe, (1 Tbsp for a 2 lb loaf), the bread rose and fell. The taste was okay, but I knew when the loaf didn't dome, that the problem was too much yeast.

I used (1 3/4 tsp of organic yeast for a 1 1/2 lb loaf) for whole wheat bread, and it came out absolutely perfect. The bread was just as good as the whole wheat bread I used to purchase at the grocery store for $3.50 a loaf. Now that I know that I have to adjust the amount of yeast since I'm not using the one tested for their recipes, I am very happy with my machine. I would not use a bread machine for quick breads because I prefer to do them by hand. I will only use my machine for yeast breads.

I have experience using bread machines and I know how my yeast performs thru trial and error. A novice would not have known that there are differences in brands of Active Dry Yeast. Also, through experience, I know that the relative humidity will affect the outcome of your bread. Check your bread while it's kneading on a humid day to see if a little flour needs to be added, only adding a Tbsp at a time.
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on February 5, 2009
I spent some time deciding between this machine and the Panasonic (which was more $$). I only considered horizontal loaves and I'm glad because they are still quite tall. I'm very happy I chose this machine and didn't spend the extra money. Having a window really makes a difference - to monitor whether or not to scrape the flour/dough down to make sure it all gets into the dough ball, and to make sure it's not too sticky (or dry). It's also just fun to peek! Of course maybe the Panasonic does a better job kneading all the ingredients together without "help"... I'll never know!
I was worried that the white-on-beige control labels might be a pain but I haven't found them inconvenient (although it could be designed better with more contrast). The options and controls are pretty simple and straightforward and easy to get used to.
I've made about 6-7 loaves and some rolls (dough cycle) and all have come out great. Although the daytime (monitored) loaves were more symmetrical than the overnight loaves, we were still very happy with the overnight loaves using the delay-timer.
I'm looking forward to doing a pizza crust and maybe some breadsticks, but for someone like me who just wanted a good alternative to the bread you get in the store (plus the aroma in the a.m!) this is a great choice. I just hope it holds up for a while being used 2+ times a week. I make sure and push it WAY back on the counter (it does "walk" a bit) and I don't immerse the bread pan (per the instructions - not sure why). The biggest problem with our breadmaker? The bread is so delicious and we eat WAY too much bread now (the homemade loaves are sometimes gone in a day compared to store-bought loaves which hang around forever!) But we're eating healthy, wholesome and delicious bread now (no calcium proprionate or other suspicious additives) and we couldn't be happier!
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on May 15, 2011
It is getting harder and harder to find foods that don't contain High Fructose Corn Syrup and other such things, and when I finally do find them they are very expensive. So I wanted to replace processed foods with homemade in my family's diet. But with 4 kids and a very small kitchen that is also used as a classroom, it is hard to find the time and space to hand-knead and etc. Mixers with kneading attachments can cost 4 times as much as this breadmaker, and I would have to be there changing the attachments, timing everything, moving things to different pans, etc. This cheap breadmaker does everything for me! It mixes, kneads, and rises bread, pasta dough, pizza dough, etc. etc. and bakes bread. All I have to do is put the ingredients inside and press a button! And the cost of the ingredients ends up being less than even the unhealthy processed foods; so we are eating healthier and cheaper.

Other people are saying the kneading blade gets stuck inside the bread, and that is true if you try to remove the bread while warm; however I have found that if I let the bread cool inside the pan, when cool the bread will side right out and leave the kneading blade behind. Also, the instructions do not mention this, but if you want the bread to be like store-bought sandwich bread, you have to wait about 24 hours before slicing. Fresh bread tastes great on the side of other foods or alone, but it kind of falls apart if you try to cut it thinly or spread anything on it without waiting a day. Having only made cake-like bread before getting this (banana bread and such, never anything with yeast), I was not aware of that fact.

Another thing the instruction book does not mention is that the pan and blade conduct heat so well that if you wash them in hot water, they will get VERY hot. I have to wash this in warm water, not hot, to avoid getting burned. However, they are so easy to clean that it is not really a concern.

I bought ingredients before seeing the instruction booklet, so if you're planing to do that, here's some tips. You'll need "active dry yeast" for the regular recipes, and "quick rise" or "bread machine" yeast for the "fast bake" recipes. You'll also need bread flour, as all-purpose flour won't work for most types of bread/dough. If you want to use whole-wheat flour, you'll need whole-wheat and bread flour, or whole-wheat that is specifically bread flour, as regular whole wheat alone will not work.

I love this machine. My only regret is that I didn't get one years ago!
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on November 10, 2009
We have two of these as well as two older Breadmans and a Sunbeam. I make bread for us and another family on an average of four loaves or more per week. I use my own recipe - a type of oatmeal/honey bread - on cycle 1L.


Makes a well shaped loaf with a nice top or dome. I have had no problems with falling after rising.
The bread has a nice moist texture with a light crust (see cons).


Labeling hard to read. Letters should be a dark color.
We all like a light brown crust that isn't tough. In order to get this even on the light setting, I have to stop the baking cycle 15 to 20 minutes before it is finished. This requires that I monitor the time thus destroying the automatic feature. If I finish the cycle, the crust is dark and hard. This may not matter to everyone so, if you can but it for $60.00 or less, I'd recommend it.

I'm still looking for a machine that has an adjustable bake cycle.
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on July 23, 2008
We bake a loaf about every 5 days, usually basic white or honey wheat. We've also made herb breads, seed breads and pizza dough. This is our first and only bread machine so we've nothing to compare it to, but seems great to us. The loaves are beautiful and almost always perfect - we've only had one loaf that didn't turn out (don't know why). There's a timer that lets us set it up the night before and wake to the smell of fresh bread baking... mmmm...... The paddle does tend to take a largish chunk of bread with it when the loaf comes out of the pan. The writing is hard to read as others have said, but we use the default setting 95% of the time so we don't have to read anything - just hit start. For an inexpensive breadmaker, it's really great. We've had ours 7 months.
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on August 29, 2013
Having been a 'scratch' bread baker for over 25 years, I was very skeptical about
buying a bread machine, but it was getting to be very difficult to knead even the
lightest dough. So, enter the Breadman. I am overwhelmed. Every loaf I've tried
so far has been better than perfect.
It is important, however, to measure carefully, and to read the instruction manual
very carefully.
If this one ever breaks, I am going to buy another, right away. The Breadman is
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on March 8, 2008
This Breadmaker is exactly what I had hoped for. In all my years of skirting around purchasing a Breadmaker, I never realized how easy it would be to use one and then we found this one on My husband is the primary cook in our 2-member family, we are retired senior citizens, and he is very pleased. The breads are delicious and there was no trial/error period! The aroma of fresh cooking bread is so good! We find ourselves waiting anxiously for the end of the cooking cycle, slice it after it's cooled, get out the butter/margarine and enjoy a very small piece and critique it. No failures! Thanks.
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on March 21, 2012
Machine doesn't turn on after 2 loaves of bread baked. Amazon will only accept it back for a partial refund. Should have paid an extra $50 and got a real breadmaker. What a waste of time and money.
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on November 2, 2012
I chose this machine because it was inexpensive but had generally very good reviews. When it arrived, I ran the fast-bake cycle as the manual instructs, to burn off the manufacturing oils. At that point, the machine broke. I could hear something rattling around inside and a screw and couple little round things fell out. I contacted the company, per the manual, and customer service agreed it was under warranty and they'd replace it BUT they are charging me $7.50 for shipping and handling the new machine, and I have to pay several dollars more to mail them the power cord and documentation of the purchase. Since price was a big reason I bought this particular machine, I'm none too pleased to be paying an extra $10 to replace a machine that never produced a single loaf of bread.
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