on July 15, 2003
[Between 4 and 4.5 stars]
The Panasonic SD-YD250 is pretty much the state of the art in bread machine technology in mid-2003. It's one of the larger units around with a 2.5 lb. loaf capacity. This size will also eat up your counter or cupboard space: you need just under 14" of width and height, and 10" of depth, so keep that in mind when you order.
The bread consistency is excellent. It's even pretty good in the "rapid" mode, though the results are a bit better in the standard bake mode so that's what I generally use. Also, the "rapid" mode for whole wheat or multigrain bread is 3 hours (vs. 5 hours standard), so it's not like you can start the machine at the beginning of a meal and expect completed bread before you leave the table. The fastest full cycle -- "rapid" bake mode for white bread -- is 1hr 55min.
The SD-YD250 is quieter than most earlier bread makers; however, you'll still hear the clicking and whirring as it mixes and kneads the dough. It's a neat idea to wake up to the smell of freshly-baked bread but the machine isn't quiet enough to run in the bedroom unless you're a VERY sound sleeper.
The options for this machine include the following:
o basic/rapid bake
o immediate start/timer delay
o white/whole wheat/multigrain
o sandwich (soft crust)
o crust color light/medium/dark
o raisin (pause and beep to add fruit or nuts)
o dough knead without bake
o bake without dough knead
Note that not all of these options can be combined. For instance: you only get crust color selection for white bread, and sandwich mode for white and whole wheat; multigrain bread always has a dark, tough crust (although the bread inside the crust is moist and well-textured).
The container inside really is nonstick (based on my not-so-lengthy use since I bought it) and the kneading blade does very little damage to the finished loaf. Ease of use and cleanup are both excellent.
Bread results are quite sensitive to variations in the ingredients in either weight, consistency, or age. Always use fresh BREAD flour and fresh yeast (bread machine yeast recommended) and the right amount of salt, sugar, and flour. The recipes in the included book specify flour weight in units like 16 3/4 oz., so it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you get a digital kitchen scale for good results. Note that this will require still more counter space.
Summary: a very good machine, but you'll need a fair amount of counter space and attention to details to get the best results from it.
on June 13, 2003
I purchased this machine as a replacement for a Philips bread machine I've had for a couple of years. It's the third bread machine I've purchased for myself, and had bought its predecessor (the SD-250) for my Parents some time ago. My Philips packed up (the bread tin broke away from its base), and they don't make spares, so I have to throw the whole machine in the bin - definitely won't buy another Philips anything. My parents have been most impressed with the Panasonic, and it's been personally recommended to me by other people, so after reading all the reviews on Amazon.com I decided to buy one.
So, to the point, I'm thoroughly impressed with this machine. It is solid and quiet. I took the first loaf I made with it and sliced it to find an absolutely even loaf (even from the 1:55 rapid mode). All the other machines I've had have had some level of streaking or unevenness in the bread.
As for all the other criticism of the recipe book for its use of weight rather than volume measurements for flour, it is a far more accurate way of measuring flour for any baking. Also the manual has since been updated (no doubt as a result of these criticisms), and now shows the approximate volume equivalents in all the recipes.
on December 8, 2006
I bought this item because I was intrigued by the reviews of other buyers. I have to say that for the most part, I was not dissapointed. I will not repeat here what has already been said by others, but I would like to add a few observations of my own.
Firstly, the item is extremely easy to use and clean. All the bread recipes included with it, come out very well. However, I would like to point out that what you in fact get, is a sandwich type bread. A very superior sandwich bread, but sandwich bread nontheless. The reason I mention this is that several people mention "crispy crust and tender crumb inside" especially on the french bread, which lead me to believe that this machine was capable of producing artisanal bread. This unfortunately is not true. The crust is a little crisp (certainly more crisp than a store-bought loaf), but this is NOT artisanal bread by any means (the kind that has rustic hard crust, and chewy crumb). I have tried many rustic recipes from other sources to achieve this type of bread in this machine, but thus far none have worked. Don't get me wrong. This machine might not have the capability to make a rustic loaf, but it still works extremely well with the type of bread it does make. In fact, when I can't make my own rustic bread by hand, I would much rather eat a loaf made in this machine than any I can buy at any supermarket or deli or even a bakery. The only store-bought loaves I actualy prefer are very fancy artisanal loaves from a specialty baker.
Now, there is one thing about this machine that drives me absolutely nuts. The loaf pan is very vertical, so whenever you choose any size loaf other than the smallest, you get this ridiculously tall loaf, which I personaly find extremely annoying. A slice of this size loaf is basically 2 slices from a "normal" bread (it's as though you laid one loaf on top of another). This wouldn't be a problem except for two things: a)I don't always want to have 2 slices, and b)it's hard to slice. I would have really appreciated the idea of being able to make a big loaf that would last several days, but this is actualy so inconvenient here, that I end up making small sized loaves more often. This, however, is a relatively small inconvenience and I would still highly recommend this product.
I also highly recommend using high quality flour. I find that the best flour is an organic flour that still has its germ. This makes a huge difference in taste (plus is very healthy), and it need not be expensive at all. Since I bake all of my bread now, I get a large 25lbs. bag, once every few months, from somethingbetternaturalfoods dot com for around $12, which comes out to less than 50 cents a pound.
Lastly, I would like to address a concern I read in someone's review. I believe one person mentions that all they get is hard lumps instead of loaves. I believe that the problem here is probably the type of recipe used. When you use a bread machine, you must use recipes developed specificaly for baking in a bread machine. Machines use ratios of ingredients that are very different from oven recipes, and most of the time, a regular recipe will not work well in a machine. If this does not resolve the issue, then the problem is most likely that the internal settings of that particular machine were not set correctly at the factory, and an exchange for a properly functioning one will fix the problem.
I have had this machine for 2 and a half years now. It is still going strong despite being consistently used every few days. I just wanted to add that I found it to be a great tool for artisanal bread making, after all. I don't bake my artisanal loaves in the machine, but I allow the machine to knead the dough for me on the pizza setting. It saves me time, wear and tear on my hands, and it produces great consistency dough.
on September 11, 2006
This is just for the record, and to prepare you for a disappointment if you have my bad luck. My first Panasonic breadmaker gave me about 12 years of good service and just slowly died of old age; I had no complaints. I was just sorry to see it go. I bought this new model breadmaker (SD-YD250) last December (2005). It has been producing SUPERB bread (about two a week, wheat or cinnamon-raisin). I have been immensely pleased with this machine. But now it has just suddenly failed. The manual is useless when it comes to trouble-shooting, and the website is a gigantic run-around: I think there is no help at all for Panasonic breadmakers on the Panasonic web site, though it takes some time to find this fact out. But now I am getting quite a run-around trying to get some action on the warranty. I am disappointed with Panasonic. I had thought they were a better company. It could be that I am just a very unlucky person, but I thought I would put my experience on record.... (Panasonic automatically sends me to a repair facility which says it does not repair breadmakers, and also says I should contact Panasonic....I am locked in a loop!)
on April 23, 2002
You get what you pay for in this world and the Panasonic SD-YD250 is a perfect example. Quiet as a mouse. No jumping around the counter and whining and improperly mixing as a Breadman we purchased (and returned) did. Had another Panasonic for 8 years. Decided to replace it when the pan seal failed and we checked out the cost of a replacemtnt pan (not realizing we could replace just the paddle mechanism/seal.) Thought we could get by on the cheap with the Breadman. Wrong. If you are looking for a rock solid, flexible unit that turns out a perfect loaf time after time (up to 2.5 lbs), this is your bread machine. The automatic yeast dispenser is a great feature, particulary if you use the timer. Spend the [money].
on October 10, 2006
This is my second bread maker. I bought Cuisinart's one last year and had used it for about a year. I had no idea how different each bread maker was at that point.
Cuisinart's one has obviously some problems:
1. Bread tends to be darker so quickly and becomes hard.
2. It is very noisy during kneading cycle as I can not hear the music from the audio.
3. Paddle is caught in the bread and hard to remove it if you do not remove it before baking cycle starts.
4. Some basic cycle have no "Pre-heat" cycle. It means I need to prepare exactly appropriate temperature water to make yeast work nicely. But it is very hard and sometimes I fail.
5. The design of the case is not great. Some unmixed ingredients are left on the corners and baked as it is if I do not mix it using a spatula.
One of my friends owns Panasonic bread maker and showed it to me. I was so surprised at it as the thickness of the case is very different. She has never had such a problem which I have had. Then I decided to get Panasonic one although my first one is still working. The bread maker was delivered in 2 days. I tried same recipe which I often used for Cuisinart's. The bread came out amazingly nice and much nicer than the one from Cuisinart. Bread is nicely blown, crispy outside and soft, fluffy inside. It is just perfect. I guess these difference come from mainly these things:
1. The case is very thick so that bread can not be brown so quickly and keep the inside of bread soft and flavorful.
2. "Pre heat" cycle adjust the temperature of water well. I do not have to make appropriate temperature's water any more.
3. This machine has the special room for yeast. It works very well to keep yeast away from the water particularly using the timer.
I think I never back to Cuisinart although I miss some points (Sophisticated design or the window on the rid which I can see inside of the case through) of Cuisinart a little bit. I highly recommend this bread maker.
The SD-YD250 does not revolutionize bread makers, but it has significantly better features than most of its competition:
- Thick pan: even rising and baking, good crust
- Thin, flat blade: the loaf slides out and you don't need to fish the blade in it.
- Yeast dispenser: contributes to a very even loaf, and makes timer operation more reliable by preventing early yeast activation
- Whisper quiet operation: even while kneading wholewheat loaves this machine's noise level is amazingly low. The loudest noise you'll hear during the whole process is a few clacks from the yeast dispenser.
- Recipes give volume (easier) and weight (more accurate) amounts for flour.
- Supports slightly larger loaves than most machines (2 1/2 instead of 2 lbs)
Having used other machines before I was surprised how effortlessly baked loaves slide out of the pan, probably because of the flat blade and the good quality pan.
Also, the crust color is perfectly even from top to bottom, whereas on most other machines I've used the crust is darker at the bottom near the heating element and lighter at the top, another benefit of the thicker, better quality pan.
Finally, Panasonic makes spare parts available.
This is a well-rounded, high quality machine at a very reasonable price. You will not be disappointed.
on February 8, 2005
Originally posted February 2005:
I just acquired this machine and have only used it twice, both on the Pizza Dough setting. My impressions are mostly based on my comparison to the Breadman (TR777-SPR) that this replaces.
The pan for the Panasonic is deeper and not as long as the pan on the Breadman. It's also heavier and feels more durable. One reason I purchased the Breadman is that I liked the idea of a horizontal loaf; however, in practice I found that the ingredients frequently didn't mix. I'd have to use a rubber spatula to push dry ingredients from the corners of the pan into the center--not a big deal, but not very convenient. Since I use my bread machine most often to make dough, the horizontal loaf isn't a major factor for me.
The Panasonic is extremely quiet! With a normal household noise level, I don't even hear it until the end-of-cycle beep.
I also noticed that the Panasonic seems to get the ingredients mixed within the first few minutes. Neither of my previous machines was so quick. I'm sure the pan shape helps. I wonder if it also has something to do with the different sequence of loading the pan (dry ingredients before liquid, instead of liquid first).
The yeast dispenser is a good idea, especially in delayed-start mode. This keeps the yeast dry and separate from the other ingredients until mixing is underway.
The instruction booklet for the Panasonic isn't the most user-friendly I've ever seen, but I appreciate the fact that it has cycle breakdowns. For example, it doesn't tell you only that the Pizza Dough cycle is 45 minutes long; it tells you that the cycle includes 10-15 minutes of kneading, 10-15 minutes of rising, approximately 10 minutes of kneading, and approximately 10 minutes of rising.
Some cycle times, according to the instruction booklet:
Basic: 4 hours (includes 30-60 minutes of rest time)
Basic Rapid: 1 hour 55 minutes (no rest)
French bread: 6 hours (incl. 40 min to 1 hr 55 min of rest)
Basic dough: 2 hr 20 min (incl. 30-50 min of rest)
French dough: 3 hr 35 min (incl. 40 min to 1 hr 35 min rest)
Pizza dough: 45 minutes (no rest)
Update (June 2006): I have now been using this machine for more than a year, and I'm still happy with it. I rarely let it bake the bread, but use it about twice a week to make dough for pizza or French bread. The results are consistently good unless I mess up the measurements.<g>
Update (September 2006): After 1-3/4 years of using this machine regularly (at least two or three times every week), it's starting to show signs of wear. The motor struggles at times, and the kneading blade doesn't fit tightly on the spindle. (It has too much "wiggle" to be as effective as it should be.) I did some quick searches online and found that the replacement blade costs $23 plus $5 shipping! In contrast, the blade for another brand of machine is $7. This just might be the downside of this machine! If I could change my rating, I'd lower it from five stars to four, for this reason.
on May 23, 2013
PLEASE READ ALL BUT ESPECIALLY THE LAST UPDATE.........
I received this bread machine on January 4, 2013. Today is May 23, 2013 and the bread machine no longer makes bread. I tried twice today to make my whole wheat bread using all fresh ingredients, as always, and both times it was just a burned lump at the bottom of the pan. I am outraged as I spent at least a couple of hours researching the perfect bread machine before ordering this one. LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS LATER AND THIS MACHINE QUITS?!?....AN INCREDIBLE WASTE OF MONEY.
Update: June 3rd and I have gone through hoops with the Panasonic Company trying to get my machine, still under warranty, either replaced or repaired. Their policy does not allow for replacement so I am required to ship my machine to the closest service center which is over 300 miles away. Panasonic will pay for repair and reimburse me up to $12.50 for shipping costs (it actually cost me [rounded] $27!!). The "guesstimate" date for receiving my repaired bread machine back is well over a month.
Update: June 25th and my bread machine is still at the repair center. I spoke with one of their representatives. YOU NEED TO READ THIS......She told me that the the number of repairs for this particular bread machine have increased significantly. She further stated that the problem is due to the parts being mass produced in China and then poorly assembled. Turns out that the main circuit board in my bread machine was fried. The rep. said that this is becoming a common problem with this machine.
UPDATE September 17th: Received bread machine back mid-July and, so far, works OK. Followed to a "T" all of the hoops required by Panasonic to receive my $12.50 reimbursement check for shipping. Now, two months later, I'm STILL WAITING for Panasonic to send me my reimbursement check. Have talked to Panasonic representatives TWICE since receiving machine back and they promised to expedite my check so I'd receive it quickly. What a joke!!
UPDATE December 2, 2013: I finally received my $12.50 reimbursement check about mid-November. So, in the big picture, from the beginning of my bread machine breaking in May until I received the check last month, it took a total of six months. Absolutely ridiculous!
FINAL UPDATE December 22, 2014: This is Christmas week and I was planning on making loaves of fresh holiday bread to give to friends and family but.....no. The bread machine is DEAD and it's not even two years old. Mind you, I take very good care of this machine and, as you've already read above, it's been repaired once. But, apparently the machine just quit right before I could make my gifts. I am extremely upset and once again encourage you NOT TO BUY THIS BREAD MACHINE.
I WILL NEVER, NEVER, NEVER PURCHASE ANOTHER PANASONIC PRODUCT!!!
ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO PURCHASE THIS BREAD MACHINE???
on February 4, 2004
We tried the Breadman 555 and we were a bit disappointed. The bread was slightly inconsistent and the crust was very dark and thick, even on the lightest crust setting. I liked the very large observation window on this model, but apparently that may not be a good thing for the bread. There were numerous other small problems and worries that we had with it, so we decided to return it.
After a lot of research and option weighing, we decided to buy the Panasonic 250. The deciding factors were performance, construction and ability to replace parts.
The construction of the Panasonic is outstanding! The sturdy die-cast aluminum bread pan has no rivets to loosen and leak. The non-stick surface on the pan and kneading blade is much stronger than on the Breadman model. The Kneader drive components are also much more sturdy. I could go on and on but I'll just say that the construction on the Panasonic is just far superior.
The operation of the machine is also outstanding. It runs very quietly for a bread maker and the motor seems very strong. I was a little worried about the way that the bread pan locks into place (kind of a twist and turn locking system) as-well-as the effectiveness of the yeast dispensing system. I am very pleased that both work great. With the yeast dispensing system you just need to be certain that there is no moisture in it, and all the yeast is distributed just fine. When you start the machine there is a waiting state at the beginning, before the yeast is dispensed, where the ingredients are warmed to the optimal temperature. This adds about 30-60 minutes to the process but apparently it's important. The dough is kneaded very thoroughly for about 15 minutes then the rise process lasts about 2 hours before the ~50 minute bake cycle. The control panel is fairly simple to use. Just select bake options, loaf size and crust darkness (on certain bake options), and that's it. There is also the ability to use custom bake only and dough only settings. It doesn't have the 300 presets like the Breadman Ultimate, but the final result is what it's all about. The bread comes out beautiful. For white bread on the basic bake with light crust setting, the bread has a very nice consistency with a thin beautiful blonde crust. On the wheat setting (which doesn't have the ability to adjust the crust (this also worried me)), the bread is amazing. The crust is obviously darker than the white bread, but not over cooked like in the breadman. A 2 pound bread loaf is about 5 inches wide, 7 1/2 inches long and 6 1/2 inches tall. The height is a little strange but using smaller recipes can adjust this. I did make a wheat bread recipe that was too thick and although the motor seems strong, the kneading blade could not turn. this could have burned up the motor if I had not been there to add water. So always be watchful when trying a new recipe!
The instruction manual has been revised so the measurements are now in weight and standard volume measurements, which makes it as easy and as accurate as you want to be. This is a great machine, and if you think your going to use it often, it's well worth the extra money.
I want to thank everyone who contributed to this review forum for helping me make the right decision in choosing the Panasonic.