**Updated in Jan2018.
I finally grew tired of hand kneading and decided to use the help of a breadmaker. I was looking for something that is not too big, just enough for a 1-pound loaf, and can be easily carried around and this one fits the bill perfectly! Having used it to bake some bread, it is now time for a review!
The price is considered to be at the higher end (>RM700) for its size. Initially, it was at RM899 but after almost a year, it has dropped to ~RM730, but you get what you pay for. The quality of the product totally justifies its price.
The other contender within this range is the Zojirushi BB-HAC10, but it’s less available in Malaysia.
**Update: The price is back up at RM799 the last time I saw in Dec 2017. 😦
This is a very well-made machine. It is very sturdy – there are no loose, fiddly parts. It has got a good shape and clean lines, so it won’t take up much counter space. It’s easy to be move around too thanks to the handle and light body weight (~5-6kg).
The rubber feet are strong and well-balanced – the machine does not wobble at all.
Heat insulation is sufficient as it does not get too hot during the baking cycle (won’t get burns if accidentally touching the sides). The air vents are mostly at the top part of the machine.
The cord is not very long. It’s only about 2 feet plus.
Yeast Compartment & Nut Dispenser
The yeast compartment has the shape of a slanted funnel and it holds one teaspoon of yeast comfortably. (Bread of this size generally need a teaspoon of instant yeast).
Personally, I don’t fancy using this, because:
A. Too much electrostatic.
The instant yeast I use is the light, superfine type, not the heavier, granular kind. They are not able to hold their own weight and are hugely affected by the electrostatic force. Every time I try to load them, most of them will drop into the dispenser but a good portion will stick to the surrounding plastic. When you try to sweep them into the hole, they repel and ‘fly’ further away. It’s a bit like iron powder on a magnetic field. This is made worse by using the plastic measuring spoon, or anything plastic.
B. Undissolved yeast.
The timing of the programme is such that the yeast only drops after the dough has been formed. The machine scatters the yeast onto the dough, rest for a bit and proceeds to knead them in. This means that the yeast do not get the chance to dissolve in the liquid long enough before being incorporated into the dough. If you have a slightly wet dough, then you’ll be fine, but if you happen to be making a drier bread dough, the little bits of undissolved yeast will be visible on your final dough.
Because of this, I never use the yeast dispenser anymore. Adding the yeast together with the rest of the ingredients at the beginning produced a much better dough.
If you would like to set the machine overnight and have fresh bread in the morning, I suggest adding the ingredients into the bread pan in such a way that there’s a portion of dry ingredients that is at a higher level than the liquid ingredients, then you can put the yeast on top of the dry ingredients. Hope it makes sense, haha.
The nut dispenser is great, but there is a limit to how much or the size of the nuts you can put in there. Big nuts have to be manually added in by lifting the lid of the machine.
The kneading process is vigorous enough to break up raisins / dried berries into small pieces. If you’d like your raisin to retain it’s proper shape, try adding them manually towards the end of the kneading process. You could use the yeast-drop beep as a guide, as the machine goes into final kneading after dispensing the yeast.
The Bread Pan
Is good. I have been using it for almost three years now for all sorts of bread, it’s still in mint condition. Never had any problem with it. Just remember not to use metal utensils and always clean it with soft, non-scratch sponge only.
I haven’t tried this but I would try to avoid baking anything with cheese in this, because from my experience, burnt cheese tends to stick to surfaces and is tough to get off.
It makes a 1-pound (~450g) loaf. The loaf pan measures 13cm in height, 13.7cm in length and 11.5cm in width. These measurements are based on the open end of the pan. It very slightly tapers down towards the bottom. Instead of baking a typical horizontal loaf, this breadmaker bakes a vertical loaf, so the bread slices will be tall and slim (this is if your dough has risen enough!) So far, I have tried recipes that call for up to 300g flour + 200ml liquid, which makes a ~600g dough, and the machine handled the dough just fine. Yes, it’s a big forceful dough but just make sure the breadmaker is on a stable surface.
There are altogether 13 baking options: Bread, Rapid Bread, Soft Bread, French Bread, Whole Wheat Bread, Rice Bread, Rice Flour Bread, Stuffed Bread, Bread Dough, Pizza Dough, Dumpling Skin Dough, Cake & Chocolate. The basic bread option takes 4hr, rapid bread option 2hr, and bread dough option 1hr. Longer programmes have one or two knocking-outs and rises.
Most baking options come with long periods of ‘resting’, either before or in between kneading. Resting basically means being stand-by and not doing anything. I am not sure what this ‘resting’ is for, maybe it’s to allow the flour more time to absorb the liquid.
There are two options for crusts: ‘Light’ or ‘Medium’. I like to go with ‘Light’ for a thinner and softer crust.
The raisins (or nuts etc) option is very convenient. To let the machine automatically add raisins, push the ‘raisin’ button once. To manually add in the raisins, push the ‘raisin’ button twice and the machine will beep to tell you when you need to add in the raisins.
The manual does not indicate exactly how long each process takes, so you have to time it yourself if necessary.
The machine beeps when a cycle ends. However, the beep sound is very soft, so it’s better to have set a timer yourself, so that you know when your bread is ready.
**One important thing to note is that the programmes are completely automated. There is no way to do minor alterations (e.g. prolong the proofing time) to the pre-set programmes at all. Plus, there isn’t a ‘bake only’ option. The stop button is only used to end the cycle, there is no option to pause the cycle. The machine will enter the baking cycle even when the dough has not risen enough. This is why push-button bread cannot be compared to oven-baked bread.
Also, the display only shows the finishing time. It does not show the current time and the time lapsed. It only starts counting down from 59 minutes. You have to time it yourself if you want to know the exact duration of each cycles of the programmes.
Kneading & Rising
This breadmaker kneads very well. Kneading starts slow for maybe half a minute before going on full speed. The machine provides a warm and humid environment for the dough during kneading and rising (The dough feels warm to touch). I guess this is why the recipe book says to use cold, wet ingredients. I found that my normal recipe usually end up a little wetter and flabbier in this machine as compared to hand kneading.
I am particularly impressed with its handling of sticky dough – I poked the dough and my finger came out stuck with some dough, but the loaf pan was so non-stick that nothing much was stuck on it!
The kneaded dough is usually not perfectly smooth. For a perfectly smooth dough, just take it out and hand knead till smooth then put it back.
Another thing. At the beginning of kneading, some flour is always projected upwards and land all over the bread machine. I always use a small plate to cover the bread pan as it kneads until all the flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Bread dough proofs well in this machine. The temperature rises slightly when final proofing starts. Opening the lid to peep while kneading/rising will not affect its function.
After a good couple of uses, I realised that the dough kneads best in a cool and less humid environment. It also helps to keep the lid ajar during kneading to prevent the dough from getting too hot / moist. The machine makes better bread during rainy days. 😉
Takes around 35-40 minutes.
Very important: Do NOT open the lid when baking has started. The heat could burn your eyes!
The top crust is usually fine, but the side crusts can be thick, rough and tough. There is no way to control the side crusts, so this is a major letdown. I found taking out the bread 5-8 minutes earlier can prevent thick crusts. Some said wrapping the tin with foil. I tried this and my bread came out half-cooked. Some good recipes can produce thin, finely textured crusts. The bread itself is usually soft and nice.
If you prefer not having a huge hole at the bottom, you could take out the blade before the dough goes for its final proof. It would still leave a hole, just a smaller one. However, the rod that holds the blade in place isn’t non-stick. By removing the blade, the dough will still stick to the rod. No big deal, but it would just take extra effort during cleaning.
Slicing the bread can be tricky due to the vast difference of hardness between the crust and the bread. Best to use a serrated knife and slice it in a seesaw motion.
A typical loaf gives about six to seven 1cm slices.
Cleaning is a breeze with this one. The place that tends to gather dough is around the blade. The dough came off easily after soaking the pan in water for 5 minutes. The yeast and nut dispenser are to be wiped clean.
I also wipe down the inside of the machine (after it cools) with a damp cloth every time after use.
For my first bake, I followed strictly to the recipe provided in the manual:
250g high protein flour
24g granulated sugar
6g milk powder
1tsp instant dried yeast
180mL refrigerated water
The pictures of the loaf in this post are from this first bake. Honestly, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.
Of course there are very helpful materials on the manual as well, such as this one that tells you approximately how long each cycle is for each programme:
Also, there are some troubleshooting stuff at the back.
Quick Summary of Pros & Cons
- Kneads well with minimal intervention (no need to scrape the sides of bowl all the time).
- Works much quietly compared to hand / stand mixers and won’t stress out the motor / gears / parts.
- Non-stick bread tin. No need to grease and easy to clean.
- Kneads, proofs and bakes in one machine. Can set timer to when you would like your bread to be ready.
- Does not get too hot during baking.
- Completely automated, no room for any adjustments.
- Bread may be under/over-proofed.
- Leaves a hole at the bottom of the bread.
- No ‘bake only’ option.
- Bread crusts on the sides tend to be thick.
- The cable is rather short.
It has been two-and-a-half years since I started using this breadmaker and it’s still going strong. I rarely bake my bread in it though, as I still prefer little buns rather than bread loaves. It’s used mainly for kneading now, and it has saved me so much energy and mess it’s amazing. 😀
This bread maker definitely makes good bread. For me, it has been a bit of a hit and miss. Some recipes turned out great the first time round, while some took a few trials to perfect.
For more recipes using this bread machine, look for ‘Breadmaker bread’ under ‘Bread’ in the menu on the homepage. I posted the failed attempts too, lol!
Hope you find this post helpful!