Top positive review
500 people found this helpful
Excellent buy for a very good machine - 4 and a half stars
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.