In May I reviewed Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. Click here for the review. One of the things that came up in the review (and in the comments) was that the author basically says that the book was written with one bread machine in mind. That is the Zojirushi BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine. We were kind of disappointed but decided to test out the recipes using our Breadman Pro bread machine.
Roberts details a specific program for the Zojirushi that she claims is the best for the recipes in her book. Fortunately for us, the Breadman that we have is a little bit programmable. You can specify what they call “courses.” Different courses have different preheat, kneading, rising, punching, and baking times. Sienna was able to figure out which Breadman “course” was the closest to Roberts’ Zojirushi program.
After baking some bread with our Breadman and being impressed with the taste of these recipes, we had an idea. We thought that it would be interesting to get our hands on a Zojirushi and test to see if there really was a big difference in quality between bread made in a Zojirushi and bread made in a Breadman. We wrote to Zojirushi with our idea and they very kindly agreed to send us a machine for testing. Thank you Zojirushi! (Please see here for our disclosure policy.)
Differences Between the Bread Machines
Right now would be a good time to talk about some of the differences between the two bread machines. The Zojirushi has two paddles instead of just one. As a result, there tends to be less of a need to babysit the mixing process. Having two paddles means that there are two holes in the bottom of the finished loaf instead of just one. At the same time, the holes are a lot smaller and don’t tend to cut so far into the slices, so there isn’t as much “spoilage” with huge dents into the slices.
As mentioned above, our Breadman has pre-programmed “courses,” which are more like sets of instructions that govern preheating, kneading, rising, punching down, and baking. One course might have a longer kneading cycle, or punch down more times than another, for example. Thus you are limited to choosing between these predetermined courses. On the Zojirushi, you can program just about everything, and even choose to skip forward to the next step in a program. In this regard the Zojirushi is far superior to the other machine.
Some smaller but notable differences include: the Zojirushi is much more quiet when mixing; the pan on the Zojirushi is wider by maybe a quarter inch; and we felt that the manual for the Breadman is more helpful than the one for the Zojirushi. See our Bread Machine info page for more information about differences between bread machines for gluten-free cooking.
For the bake-off, we made sure to keep things as even as possible. All the ingredients came from the same place and were as equal in temperature as we could get them. We also measured very carefully to make sure that any differences in the bread would come from variations in moisture or proportion. We ran both bread machines at the same time in the same place in the kitchen. Here were our results:
As you can see, the resulting loaves are almost identical in the photos. The Zojirushi loaf, as could be expected, was a little wider and thus lost a little height to the Breadman loaf. The flavor and texture of the two loaves was basically identical. We were disappointed with how much both loaves rose, but that’s something we’re working on and are starting to have some success with.
Surrey Books, the publisher of Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine, will be happy to know that our testing didn’t reveal any great differences between loaves using any of the recipes we’ve tried (so far) when cooked with a Zojirushi vs. a Breadman. At the same time, the Zojirushi very quickly became more popular in our kitchen than the Breadman. It is programmable, quieter, and does a better job of mixing the ingredients.
We want to know: Do you have any opinions about different bread machines? Any tricks or suggestions for getting gluten-free bread to rise more? Would you buy a bread machine because of a book? Let us know in the comments!