If you are in the market for a bread maker that is designed to last, then you probably won’t be surprised to find that Zojirushi is one of the top brands in that category. Their products may cost a bit more than the competitors, but it certainly does look like the extra cost is warranted. The Japanese company has been producing bread makers for some time now, and has gained a reputation for making quality goods. In this article we are going to look at their best selling BB-PAC20 bread maker. It has a retail price which hovers around the $300 mark, so is this a good option if you are looking for a high end bread machine? Let’s see if we can find out.
Now before we begin, we should also mention that this model is quite similar to the BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme, both in appearance and features. However, there are a few differences between the two that are worth mentioning. The BB-CEC20 is a little smaller in size, and has dimensions of 17″ x 8.5″ x 12.5″ compared to the BB-PAC20 which has slightly larger dimensions of 18″ x 10.5″ x 12.75″. The BB-PAC20 is also 2 pounds heavier, with a total weight of around 22lbs. One of the key differences between the two is that the BB-PAC20 has a heating element built into the lid, which the BB-CEC20 does not. This heating element helps to ensure that the top is as evenly cooked as the rest of the loaf. This is likely the reason for the Virtuoso costing around $30 more, but that benefit is certainly worth the additional cost in our opinion.
Let’s have a look at the design to begin with. This model features a primarily stainless steel body, which has a black trim on the top and bottom. The lid protrudes slightly out of the top, and a decent sized viewing windows sits in the center. The main controls sit to the right of this, and these are all clearly marked and easy to read. The control panel does look a little dated, but we prefer a simplistic interface to something that is hard to understand. The lcd could be a bit bigger, but it does the job adequately enough. Overall it is a nice modern design, without being too flashy or overbearing.
Now let’s talk about the features. This model bakes a standard 2 pound bread loaf, so you won’t get any weird rocket shaped bread loaves out of this model! There is also the option to make a 1 1/2 pound loaf if you fancy a slightly smaller loaf. The Virtuoso features a dual blade mixing system, which is common on higher end models. Dual blades do a much better job of mixing and kneading the dough, and they work very well on this model.
We’ve already mentioned the heating element built into the lid, and this does a fine job of controlling the shade of the crust. The default setting leaves you with a uniformly colored loaf, but it can be changed to either light, medium or dark. There are 10 built in recipe settings, which is more or less equivalent to what you will find on most modern models. Some of the recipes include the Jam setting, and the Cake settings, both of which are fairly self explanatory. The Whole Wheat setting is also worth a mention, as it dedicates more time to the kneading phase, which ensures the heavier flour needed for this bread type is properly mixed. There is also the “Home Made” recipe setting, which allows you to define the exact knead, rise and bake times. According to the manual this mode can also be used to make Meatloaf, which is a nice additional feature. This model has a built in timer can be set for 13 hours in advance, which is perfect if you like to wake up to freshly baked bread.
Now we move onto the important question of how well it actually works. The first point worth mentioning that it is quiet when in operation. Bear in mind it is not completely silent, and you could hear it working if you were in the same room. However it is noticeable less noisy than many of the other models we have reviewed, and this is certainly a good benefit if you intend to use it overnight. There is also no sign of any “counter hopping” with this model, which we suspect is partly down to the hefty build quality which keeps it in place. In terms of the bread itself, we have had nothing but positive results from the BB-PAC20. The quick bake setting produces a loaf of bread in a little over 2 hours, which is quite impressive. The resulting loaf is very good, although a teeny bit dense which is always the case with the quicker baking modes. On the regular cycle we were left with a perfect loaf of bread. The crust was uniformly done all over, and the heating element in the lid seems to do a fine job of ensuring the top is evenly cooked. It tasted fantastic as expected, and these results were mimicked over a variety of different recipe tests. On the bread making abilities alone, the Zojirushi Virtuoso is a real winner. It does a great job as long as you follow the instructions correctly, and making bread with this model could not be simpler. Once the bread is done it slides out of the pan quite easily, thanks to the non-stick coating. In each case the loaf slid out without any paddles inside it in our tests, and the holes left in the loaf were relatively minor. Cleaning up the pan afterwards is pretty straightforward, and the paddles lift up and out for easy cleanings. We recommend leaving a bit of soapy water in it prior to removing the paddles, as this helps any leftover gunk to loosen up.
So that is a look at the Virtuoso BB-PAC20 bread maker from Zojirushi. We think it is a fantastic bread maker, and it comes with a variety of different recipes and options to choose. We were very impressed with the performance, and the only obvious downside is the price. However if you are looking for one of the best bread makers you can get, it is hard not to be enticed by this one.
User Manual: You can find the manual in pdf format over here.
- Looks good
- Several modes & recipes to pick from
- Traditional 2lbs sized loaves
- Lid heating element ensures uniformly cooked bread
- Easy to use
- Makes fantastic bread
- A bit pricey
If you are looking for a quality bread maker, then the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 is certainly worth considering. It is quiet, cooks bread evenly, and is very simple to use. The only downside is the price, but this is what you can expect to pay for a top end model. You can find out more about this model and read some of the many hundreds of happy user reviews over on the Amazon product page.