285 of 292 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Every Penny!
Our trusty, 18-year-old Zo was still going strong when the non-stick coating began to peel. When no replacement parts could be found, we faced the inevitable and began to look for a worthy successor. After much research, other brands seemed to have serious issues we hadn't had with our old workhorse, despite its age (it was a hard act to follow!). Plunking down...
Published 22 months ago by 'Zannah
76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure why they limit the custom programs so much
I won't elaborate on the strengths of the Zojirushi - I think others have addressed them. But one weakness people don't talk about are the strange limits on the 'custom' bread cycles. To make a really great loaf of bread, in my opinion you need to use less yeast (or use a natural sourdough starter) than the very 'quick rise' recipes the basic Zojiruishi program are set up...
Published 22 months ago by Dylan
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285 of 292 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Every Penny!,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)Our trusty, 18-year-old Zo was still going strong when the non-stick coating began to peel. When no replacement parts could be found, we faced the inevitable and began to look for a worthy successor. After much research, other brands seemed to have serious issues we hadn't had with our old workhorse, despite its age (it was a hard act to follow!). Plunking down mega-bucks for the Virtuoso took much soul-searching, especially after so many negative reviews of its predecessor, but we checked Amazon's price daily and took the plunge when it went on sale, since it could be returned if it was a dud.
Surprisingly, this machine actually has exceeded our expectations; even 100% whole wheat bread, which in the ancestor Zo could be iffy, is perfect. In both 2 lb. and 1.5 lb. loaves, the crust is just right - not tough or hard; the top is golden and even; every loaf/cake, complex or simple, has been almost freakishly flawless (true, you are paying for those double paddles and top heater, but do they ever make a difference!). In true Zo form, it's simple to use, very quiet and stable, and finished goodies slip right out with minimal holes and cleanup. Paddles remain in the pan, not the bread, and separate easily after briefly soaking the cooled pan in warm water. A "Shape" stage can be used to remove the dough to specially form it or remove the paddles before baking (the splines will remain, but the resulting holes will be much smaller without the paddles), and raising the lid will stop the machine temporarily without interfering with the program. Like older models, the initial "Rest" period warms ingredients as needed before mixing so no need to bring them to room temp first, but a cool new feature is the ability to bypass this stage if you don't need it, which shortens the overall time considerably. The "Add" signal also beeps for a longer period so you have less chance of missing it, which is easy to do if you're not nearby since it isn't very loud. Although the DVD manual provided is unintentionally comical and prim, and mind-numbingly redundant, it does have some useful info not included in the written manual.
One consideration before buying would be your available space: since it bakes a horizontal loaf, this is a hefty machine with a footprint 18"w, 11"d, and with the lid raised, 20"h, plus space needed behind and at sides for vents. An extension cord will probably be needed unless parked directly in front of an outlet.
Although we've only begun to tap its many talents, after over a month of frequent use (2 - 3 times/wk. for whole-grain breads w/nuts/fruit/seeds, banana bread, cakes, and pizza dough so far, and hopefully noodles soon), we're delighted with our new Zo and recommend it without reservation; we also appreciate Amazon's free shipping and right-on-time arrival before Christmas.
Just an added note if you're new to bread makers (and to set straight some previous detractors' comments) - for best results with any machine, take the time to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume and add them in the order recommended in your machine's manual, since order can vary by manufacturer and doesn't necessarily match that listed in cookbook recipes. And if you need more reasons to think Zo, check out the King Arthur Flour website blog where they used one to cook almost every dish last Thanksgiving (except the turkey)!
119 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zojirushi Brings BREAD & PASTRIES Back into Gluten Free Home!,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)I LOVE my new Zojirushi VIRTUOSO Bread Maker! It has my 'GLUTEN FREE' setting and is so quiet I have to get up close to it to make sure its mixing or kneading! (I read posts on bread makers in general that said they are extremely loud! Not so with the Zojirushi!) I've had it less than 48 hours and have made 2 perfect loaves of bread! The texture, flavor, crust, etc. has been perfect, so perfect in fact that you can't tell its GLUTEN FREE! Zojirushi has definitely brought 'breads & pastries" BACK into this Gluten Free household! I heartily recommend the 'Virtuoso' model to everyone - but especially those of us that must be GF! I am totally new to bread machines - and reading all the 'How-To's' about programming bread machines that didn't have a GF Cycle really turned me off as too complicated, too much hassel, why bother. I knew I wouldn't fool with all that; or, get so exasperated that I wouldn't bother to use it if it didn't have a pre-programmed GF cycle. The first loaf of bread I made was out of a GF recipe book and it was Cinnamon, Raisin, Walnut bread. I followed the recipe to a 'T' - placed the ingredients in the baking unit in the proper order as directed - and out came the most beautifully smelling, tasting and formed bread I have had since I became GF! Next, I grabbed one of those pre-packaged bread mixes with all the stuff in the bag; mixed up the wet ingredients, slapped everything in the banking pan in the prescribed order - and wondered if this would be as great as the first....OMG! It was! Now my husband has rushed out to get cheese and tomatoes so we can use it to make Grilled Cheese and Tomatoe sandwiches for dinner! Thank you Ziojirushi for
bringing breads back into my house! (My husband thanks you the most, because he doesn't have to be GF but has been forced into it since I banned any & all gluten from this house!) He has many, many GF bread recipes marked in several GF Bread Recipe books I have! I recommend this bread machine for the novice as well as the pro!
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great machine. High price but 100% worth it.,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)I have owned bread machines ever since about 1987 at a cost then of close to $600! Since then I have had just about every brand at one time or another. My favorites have been made by Panasonic and Zojirushi. In short you really do get what you pay for in quality and durability. This new "Zo" is heavy duty and makes a truly excellent and normal shaped loaf. I say normal as most make slightly odd shapes that are a little too wide or too tall. The added top heater solves the small flaw the previous Zo had and that was the top would have less color than the rest of the crust. I have had this machine about 2 weeks and have already made 10 loaves. All have come out perfectly including 100% whole wheat.
Our favorite is a rich egg bread also know as Challah and here is my personal recipe:
2 Beaten Eggs with water to equal 10 oz
- or 10 oz water and 0.90 oz of powered whole eggs
14.85 oz BY WEIGHT bread flour (I highly suggest King Arthur!)
1.5 t Salt
2 T Sugar
1/3 stick of butter (2.66 T or just cut a stick in 3 parts)
1.5 t Yeast (buy it in bulk here or at Costco as grocery store prices are insane)
Optional: 2 drops of egg yellow food color (I suggest AmeriColor available here)
Set the machine to the quick or normal cycle, light crust, and hit start. DO NOT use the timer as eggs are perishable.
The machine is still going strong and has now produced well over 100 loaves of delicious bread. The pan has held up nicely and shows virtually no wear. In short this is a winner.
111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tasting Bread, Easy Right Out of the Box,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)We had the Cuisinart CBK-100 bread machine, which died after 2 years. The first loaf of bread we made was Honey White and it was out of this world. Tastes as good as fresh baked bread from a restaurant. Amazing DVD video and thorough instructions. Gives tips that are reinforced by reviewing both. Was suppose to save it for xmas for my wife, but the kids and I couldn't resist an early present to enjoy holiday fresh baked breads and scents every day. Thought about other Zojirushi models like the Supreme, but really liked the selling points on the added lid heater. Glad I upgraded as the crust was perfect!!! Fun to bake with children and they love the fruits of their labor. Look forward to trying all the recipes and then begin experimenting. Hands down, would never second guess this choice. Definitely professional quality after the first loaf. No need to warm up water, melt butter, etc so very USER FRIENDLY!!!
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but best compromise,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)This is the third machine in my quest for a good bread machine and the one I'm sticking with. I also tried the Breville Custom Loaf and the West Bend Hi-Rise. I will compare the three and tell you why I kept with the Virtuoso.
The Breville had the best user interface (by far) and the worst paddle (also by far). As much as I like an awesome UI, dealing with the large chunks taken out of my loaf by the collapsible paddle that is supposed to be designed to do the opposite was not acceptable. It also had the easiest pan to insert and remove. Were it not for the horrible paddle (I can't stress that enough) I would have kept it.
The West Bend had the best price and was actually better than expected for the money ($85 vs $250 for the Breville or $275 for the Virtuoso). It lacked much-needed custom programming. Folks who always use the "canned" modes would likely be fine with it. Construction was a bit flimsy (expected for the price) but livable. The paddles always fell out of the machine - either staying in the loaf or falling to the floor. That and the lack of programming made me return it.
And now on to the Virtuoso. The Virtuoso and the Breville are both well-constructed machines. The biggest difference is the Breville has a gimmicky failure for a paddle and the Virtuoso has the best paddle design of any machine I have ever seen. The two-paddle low profile design mixes well. The clever overhang design (hard to describe) holds the paddles in the machine while the blade-like paddle bottoms allow the bread to slide out easily. The whole reason I went looking for a new machine in the first place is because I accidentally sliced through a paddle that had remained in the bread on my old machine, so this is a big deal to me. I also like the handle design a lot. Much easier to deal with for both using and cleaning. The user interface is just like most bread and rice makers - nothing fancy - but I do like that it tells you the time your bread will be ready. Most machines tell you how long it will take and you can look at a clock and do the math, but I prefer seeing the actual time the bread will be ready. The Virtuoso has three completely user-configurable modes, which is very nice, though I wish they had included more. The Virtuoso was the noisiest mixer of the three machines. Perhaps that's because it's more powerful than the others, but it's as loud as my washing machine when it's mixing, yet the volume of the nut buzzer is too low. Of the three machines, the Virtuoso was the best compromise. At three times the price of the West Bend was it three times better? No - more like twice. But that's the price you pay for the best. The perfect machine would be a slightly quieter Virtuoso with the user interface of the Breville, but that doesn't exist.
84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best!,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)After reading so many of the reviews for the model just below this (same brand and style), I decided to check into this one. I am so glad I did!!! All the complaints about the loaf being irregular sized or lighter colored crust on one side is totally not an issue with this one. They must have taken the complaints into consideration when they made this. This is virtually the same one with an added lid heater for evenness. I have made seven loaves so far and they are all fabulous. All the ones I make out of the manual come out perfect. The ones I make from my other recipe books taste fabulous but they are for a one pound bread machine. Keep in mind this is for two pounds. So a one pound loaf will come out a little ill shaped, but it does not effect the flavor or texture at all. If you stick to the manual they are ALL beautiful shaped, colored, texured, and taste amazing. Not to mention the smell, WOW! This machine is very quiet, and does not move around on the counter at all. It is also way easier than I was led to believe. All the other reviews for the other model intimidated me, but all you do is hit the "select course" button until it displays the bread type your making. I love the crust control option as well and it is simple too, just pick "lite, medium, or dark". Oh, and last but not least you do not have to bring anything to temperature, it does it for you. The only maintenance is adding the ingredients and pushing a button.
59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I like it better than the supreme, it cooks the tops of the bread better.,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)I am very satisfied with this breadmaker for my purposes. I mostly make the King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat recipe (found on the King Arthur website and in the book The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook). I had the Zojirushi Supreme breadmaker, and while it was very nice I found it did not cook the top of some of the breads (especially potato bread or slightly moister breads). If I was off even a little with the ingredients it would sink. I have had excellent luck with this machine for the white whole wheat and potato breads that I like to make. I find for me I have to add 4 tablespoons extra of flour for the whole wheat but it turns out great. One other thing that I do is to look at the dough after the first long kneading. Sometimes it is substantially over to one side. I pull the dough over and even it out in the pan. I end up with a non-lopsided loaf when I do that. Even having to do this I really like this breadmaker. I really think that the extra element in the lid makes a big difference when baking. Also I do find this machine more quiet than the supreme. Other differences that I noticed were that the pan has handles and the blades are slightly thinner and tapered at the bottom (sometimes they are harder to get out of the pan after baking, but I have noticed that they have not once got stuck in my bread, so I like that better). The machine was a little taller than the supreme and the controls are easier to see and use.
76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure why they limit the custom programs so much,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)I won't elaborate on the strengths of the Zojirushi - I think others have addressed them. But one weakness people don't talk about are the strange limits on the 'custom' bread cycles. To make a really great loaf of bread, in my opinion you need to use less yeast (or use a natural sourdough starter) than the very 'quick rise' recipes the basic Zojiruishi program are set up for, which result in a VERY yeasty tasting bread and not much complexity. While the machine does offer user defined programs, they have strange limits. One can set the first rise to 12 hours (versus 24 hours on the earlier models -- why was this changed?), but for reasons I don't understand at all, the second and third rises are limited to two hours each. Because the Zo bakes at a very low temperature, you get very little 'oven rise' when the bread actually starts baking, thus you really need to make sure the bread has risen well before baking, and 2 hours in a low yeast bread is often not enough. What's particularly frustrating is that this is a completely arbitrary design decision. I'd love the machine if not for this problem.
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breadmaker Done Right,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)This is a bread maker bread done right. I began making and baking bread at the tender age of 12 some 40 years ago so it is close to my heart. This is my fourth machine and unlike all the others which are vertical loaf style, produces a loaf with a more traditional internal structure and crumb. I am not sure if it is the more thorough kneading afforded by two paddles or some other dynamic programmed into the courses. I did notice that the dough ball appears to be pulled from one side of the pan to the other during kneading. Very vigorous kneading more closely resembling what I would do manually.
Rest assured the loaf produced by this unit is perfection. Even my Zojirushi BBCC-S15 does not produce so good a loaf. It may also have to do with the greater exposed surface of a horizontal loaf and some sort of cooking thing going on.
The price point of this unit appears to be high but if you are planning on putting it to work several times weekly and its life cycle proves to be a decade or more, then this may be the machine to own bar none. I was fortunate to find this machine for $240.00 shipped from a motivated seller but still found it hard to justify such money since I'd never paid more than $25.00 for any of my prior units: A Black & Decker and an Oster for $10.00 each and the prior Zo for $25.00. So the decision was not an easy one and entailed several weeks of research and contemplation.
The verdict? Absolutely incredible that such bread can come from a machine. A well kneaded, proofed and bake loaf has many benefits. Less yeast, better texture and better slicing. The loafs from this machine can be cut thinner without the aid of an electric knife or guide and produce a lot less crumbs compared to my other machines. The bread also appears to stay fresher.
All in all, I have no regrets and am very happy with my decision to buy it.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving this machine!,
This review is from: Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker 120 Volts (Kitchen)The Zojirushi Virtuoso is my first bread machine. I've owned it for about a month now and I love it! I've made an average of 3 loaves/week. I never realized how terrible store bought bread tasted compared to fresh homemade bread. It's an attractive piece of equipment to leave on the counter and it's not too heavy to pick up if you want to store it in a lower cabinet. After the 'complete' alarm the machine automatically goes into a warming stage, so I keep the machine on a "light crust" setting for all my breads otherwise the bread seems to brown too much for my preference.
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