This review is from: Panasonic SD254 Breadmaker (Kitchen & Home)We bought one of these just over a year ago and have used if to make over 350 loaves to feed our family of five. Since we got it we have bought only one supermarket loaf (we forgot to set timer correctly) which after one slice was ignored and eventually put in the bin.
This machine almost guarantees great bread. All of the family use it, including the kids, and our only failures have been due to our mistakes: leaving out the paddle, missing out some key ingredients or the recipe proportions being way out.
We have used many different flours and all of the different settings and have learned that it is flexible and robust enough to encourage you to experiment. Despite what the manufacturer says we have had no problems using rye and spelt. We also now just dump in any added nuts, cheese, dried fruit or oatmeal at the start rather than when the recipe says they should be added (which is not feasible if, like us, you normally want to bake overnight).
We have had some fun with whackier experiments. For example, try putting in a teaspoon of yeast, around 450g of white flour, 85g packet of whichever type of Dorset Cereals muesli you prefer, teaspoons of salt and sugar, one and half tablespooon of olive/rapeseed oil, and 340ml of water. Bake on wholemeal setting.
Despite our over and mis use the pan is still like new and the bread slips out easily with a gentle shake. The paddle has stuck inside the bread a couple of times but comes out easily enough when things cool down. Very easy to wash and clean between uses.
Any negatives? Well the baking times are a bit long. While setting it to work overnight gets round this to some extent there may be times when you really need a loaf more quickly than four or five hours. The three hour Rapid setting is okay although cutting down on the proving time does mean your bread may not rise as much as it will at normal settings.
Overall a great buy and I am struggling to think of any real advantages in paying for more sophisticated and/or expensive makers.