If you want a bread machine that does it all, and don't mind the accompanying price tag (upwards of $100 more than basic machines), the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme is worth a look. It has a wide array of specialty settings including a sourdough starter, jam maker and a homemade function that allows you to program three baking cycles to your own specifications. Most reviewers laud this machine's performance and features. Ironically, the functionality trips up some bakers, who report that recipes and settings require tweaking in order to achieve perfect results. But if you like to experiment and tinker when cooking, this model is the one to buy.
Serves up excellent breads and other goodies. While professional reviewers tend to focus on this model's appearance, construction and functionality, it's the home bakers who report on taste, texture and loaf shape -- all areas where the BB-CEC20 really shines. Hundreds of Amazon.com and Cooking.com users provide reviews for this machine, and most say it performs superbly, delivering breads and cakes that have great taste and texture. Loaf and cake appearance is also important to users of this machine, with the majority noting that baked goods turn out nicely shaped. Interestingly, some users complain about bread that turns out hard, under-mixed, or overcooked in the crust -- but many bakers report that after a few recipe tweaks or cycle time adjustments, they achieve excellent, or even perfect, results. There are a few other isolated complaints that the dual paddles leave holes in the bottom of loaves..
Easy to use despite multiple options. Although it can be overwhelming from the start with so many settings and programmable options, most reviewers find the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 easy to use. The delay-start function and preheat cycle are baker favorites, and the model is widely considered easy to clean. BreadInfo.com, however, points out that baking cycles tend to be longer with this unit than with others, although the editors attribute long cycle times to careful engineering. Some reviewers also wish the accompanying instructions were more straightforward.
Sharp and good-looking. Unlike some other bread makers, whose appearance garners nary a comment from reviewers, the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 earns high marks in this area. Laura Moser, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says she likes the look of the black-and-stainless-steel version (there's also a white version, whose appearance she doesn't address), while the editors at BreadInfo.com say the machine has a "sharp" design. Reviewers also praise the BB-CEC20's sturdy and solid appearance, and some add that the large viewing window is a nice feature and the slanted surface makes the control panel easy to read.
Relatively quiet, but for the add-ingredient signal. While not considered silent, or even close to silent, the BB-CEC20 is relatively and reasonably quiet, according to both professional reviewers and home bakers posting to retail websites. Users say they have no problem with its noise level, and in her review for The Wall Street Journal, Laura Moser says the machine "did its work with relatively little racket."
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1. The Wall Street Journal
Review Credibility: Excellent Laura Moser tests an unspecified number of bread makers by preparing five types of bread: white, wheat, pizza dough, French bread and sweet loaves. The Zojirushi is among the summarized five top picks. Editors like the sleek black-and-stainless design and say it is relatively quiet. They do complain that the instruction book is hard to follow and are left pondering, "Why so pricey?"
Review: Bread Makers, Laura Moser, Feb. 5, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Devoted to tips and advice for bread enthusiasts, this website reports its editors' experiences with eight different bread makers. Noting that bakers "can't go wrong with any of them," it nonetheless calls the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 "probably the best deal" on the basis of its flexibility, features and price. They praise its sharp design, solid construction and large viewing window. The only negative comment they make is that its "careful cycles" mean that baking times are longer than those of other models.
Review: Side by Side Bread Machine Comparison, Editors of BreadInfo.com, Undated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme BB-CEC20 earns an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars from nearly 500 users posting to Amazon.com. Reviewers say it is easy to use and clean, delivers excellent results in terms of both bread taste and loaf appearance, and has a large number of settings and options, including sourdough starter and jam maker. A relatively small percentage of users, however, complain that their loaves come out unevenly baked, fallen, too hard or with unmixed flour pockets.
Review: Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 230 users post to Cooking.com about the Zojirushi BB-CEC20, giving it an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Most users speak highly about the machine, commenting that it produces tasty bread, is easy to use and serves up good-looking loaves. Many point out that the range of cycles is especially large, and find the unit sturdy and durable. Some complain, however, that breads turn out hard, overcooked or under-mixed, and some say that recipes and settings must be tweaked to achieve the best performance.
Review: Black/Stainless 2-lb. Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker by Zojirushi, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Fair While she does not review Zojirushi's BB-CEC20 model, About.com's Jessica Harlan does review its predecessor, the discontinued Zojirushi BBCC-X20, which has similar functions. She notes a few drawbacks about the earlier model. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine (Model BBCC-X20), Jessica Harlan, Undated