Yes the Zo is an investment ($275), but if you have the counter or pantry space available, and if you love fresh bread and preserves, we think that it is well worth the price. If you use it often, studies have indicated that over time, homemade bread costs substantially less than store bought bread, and is of course healthier, (We guess that depends on your ingredient choices.)
Why did we select the Zojirushi? – We compared many popular bread machines, some less costly, but liked the features on the Zo. The Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker (BBBAC20). If you plan to become a regular breadmaker...these features are important.
The Virtuoso bakes a traditional, horizontal-shaped 1 ½ - 2-lb. loaf, has dual kneading blades, 13 hour delay timer, easy to read clock and many varied menu settings-including basic bread, wheat bread, gluten free bread, sourdough starter, dough, jam, cake, quick bread and 3 home made settings for custom recipes. Trust me, we are not techies, but the accompanying recipe book and DVD offers easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for each setting. Additionally, the Virtuoso has an exclusive lid heater, which makes even baking and proper browning possible. The dual paddles ensure thorough mixing and kneading, and result in a higher rise. The bread pan includes easy-lift handles, ensuring quick and safe loaf removal of the loafs. And there is a large window to watch what's happening.
And, we must share one of our favorite features..the 13-hour delay timer – which allows us to go to bed and wake up to fresh homemade bread in the morning. Sounds so good, doesn't it? Yes, it's truly amazing. We also especially like the dough cycle, which is perfect for mixing up a batch of cinnamon buns, challah and rolls.
We find the 2 lb. size loaf convenient, some to slice, some to store and even some to freeze. For Shabbos challah, the Zo delivers fresh challah in a hurry on a Friday morning. One 90-minute cycle provides enough dough to make two 1 lb. loaves. We shape them, place them in loaf pans or on our Silpat mat, let them rise for 1 hour and bake for 30 minutes. Done! By the way, for those readers who are gluten free, the Zo even offers a setting for you. So, dear readers, if you are in the market for a breadmaker, do consider the ZO, and share your thoughts (and recipes) with us.
For some of the best bread machine recipes, see the following in our KosherEye recipe library: