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Bread makers put to the test

Date

James Smith battles a collapsed loaf and an extensive instruction booklet to judge two bread makers.

The winner ... Panasonic SD-2501 bread maker.

The winner ... Panasonic SD-2501 bread maker.

 

Panasonic SD-2501
rrp $249

Never judge a book by its cover - or bread by its appearance. The first loaf I pulled from the Panasonic was tall, proud and boasted a lovely golden crust. Then it collapsed like a sorry blancmange, teaching me an invaluable lesson: "bread improver" can be a bread ruiner in the hands of the overzealous. And, as with first impressions of said loaf, so it is with the SD-2501. It's an unassuming, white-plastic affair next to the Breville's brushed metal yet offers much the same: automatic fruit and nut dispenser, rapid-bake mode and the ability to make jams in less than 90 minutes. It does so without sounding like Vesuvius giving off a warning rumble, too, and, like the Breville, has a timer to ensure you awaken to a fresh, piping loaf.

Breville Custom Loaf Pro
rrp $349.95


Once you add up ingredient costs, baking time and cleaning, you might wonder why you don't nip to the bakery. Yet the aroma as your loaf nears completion and the ability to get creative have their appeal. Certainly you can go nuts (or seeds or fruit) with this, which comes with an instruction book that's as much bible or thesis. It will get you baking breads you've never heard of and goes into fine detail about ingredients; it even, as step 14 of its 15-step Beginner's Guide, reminds you to "Slice the Bread", in case you were thinking of devouring it in one. A hefty steel unit, it's not exactly quiet - banging out African drum rhythms at times - but it boasts dexterity, too, such as the ability to pause baking so you can mould or decorate your bread.

VERDICT
And the winner is ... the uber-keen can find more to fiddle with in the Custom Loaf Pro but the unassuming SD-2501, with its smaller footprint, softer hum and impressive results, takes the chequered flag.

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31 comments so far

  • Not much of a review!

    Still, you're right about the bread improver - a very little goes a very long way!

    Commenter
    Stephen
    Date and time
    May 16, 2012, 11:47AM
    • Err, $249? The Aldi one for $79 works well for me.

      Commenter
      Sam
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 12:02PM
      • Sam,
        How noisy is the Aldi one? I have an old Breville and, much as I would like to, I can't use it overnight because it makes too much noise.

        Commenter
        Stephen
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 12:17PM
      • Who cares how noisy the Aldi one is, chuck it in the laundry by itself and no one notices, $79 and three years later my Aldi one is still kicking strong and for two years there, we made bread twice every week!

        Keep up the good work Aldi.

        Commenter
        JMF
        Location
        Melb CBD
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 12:44PM
      • I have the Aldi one and I don't think it is too noisy. It works like a charm, I've made some wonderful loaves. (Hint) Cook most recipes on the 750g setting or the base will overcook and the paddles will get stuck in the loaf.
        I have had a couple of major collapses too, just as the bread started baking. I was thinking it was because I tried to reduce the salt a little, but maybe it was a bread improver issue.

        Commenter
        bargosal
        Location
        Bargo
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 1:03PM
      • Before you get creative with bread, how about going back to basics and understanding the relationship between ingredients, process and time. Simple bread is made from strong flour, salt, yeast and water. Perhaps try playing around with these before adding "improver" and other ingredients. I am yet to see a loaf collapse.

        Commenter
        Novice baker
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 1:36PM
      • I got a breadmaker from an Op-shop for $5. Works a treat ;)

        Commenter
        C
        Date and time
        May 19, 2012, 9:20AM
    • The Aldi one is brilliant, I've owned a Panasonic previously, but it couldn't handle the flexibility I required for making sourdough breads. The Aldi one also makes THE BEST jam I've ever tasted - bonus! And only $79! Oh, and Stephen it is as quiet as any other bread machine.

      Commenter
      Jufo
      Location
      Camberwell
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 1:16PM
      • Hi Jufo
        Can you post your sourdough and jam recipes PLEASE.
        I'm itching to try jam and I'd love a good sourdough recipe.

        Commenter
        bargosal
        Location
        Bargo
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 1:56PM
    • The Jam recipe comes with the Aldi machine, you throw in the Strawberries (or oranges for marmalade), some sugar, lemon juice and pectin (I do still wonder if that's necessary, but haven't tried it without), and hit the setting for jam, and the machine does it all. The beauty is you can make small quantities. I used Xylitol instead of sugar, for diet considerations and ended up with rich, thick, flavoursome, sugar-free jam. The sourdough, is a bit more complicated. You need a sourdough starter (that can take up to two weeks if you can't get hold of some already started). Then 3 1/4 cups flour (I use spelt), 1tbsp olive oil, 1tsp salt, 2 tbsp gluten flour, 310mls water and 2/3 cup sourdough starter. Knead it on the knead cycle and then turn off the machine, leave to rise for an hour or two depending on the weather, knead cycle again, turn it off, and let rise until doubled (this can be 4-6 hours), and then put it on bake cycle when you think it's risen enough. There's a lot of baking-by-feel with this, but that's how I cook. You just need to keep your eye on it. It's still easier than baking sourdough without the bread machine, I enjoy kneading bread but it's very sensitive and can deflate trying to get the bread into a conventional oven, this way it doesn't have to be moved. Cheers!

      Commenter
      Jufo
      Location
      Camberwell
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 2:18PM

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