(Zojirushi has a new model that we have reviewed, the Zojirushi BB-CEC20)
We have been the proud owner of a Zojirushi BBCC-V20 for a few years now, and just like when we first got it, we still love it. Of all of the bread machines we own, use, and test, the Zojirushi V20 is our favorite. The quality is incredible; and it has a nice looking compact design. It has all of the features we want and need, including a very useful custom programmable cycle. The true horizontal pan with dual kneading blades does an incredible job of kneading the dough, including the heavy and denser whole grain doughs. It has proven to be a durable and reliable bread machine, and one we gladly recommend to the novice or advanced bread machine baker.
While the Zojirushi V20 is marketed as a 2-pound machine, our experience shows that it is best to stick with 1-1/2 pound recipes when you plan to bake the bread in the machine. If you are going to make dough and then bake it in the oven, a 2-pound recipe is just fine. The problem with baking a 2-pound recipe in the machine is that it tends to rise too much and makes an odd shaped loaf. A 1-1/2 pound loaf and a 2 pound loaf baked in the machine produce the same number of bread slices. The difference is that the 1-1/2 pound recipe gives you a better size and shape slice of bread, which is perfect for toasting and sandwiches.
While the Zojirushi V20 doesn’t have hundreds of cycles like the Breadman machines, it does have all of the cycles one needs to make any type of bread or dough you want, including basic, quick basic, basic wheat, quick wheat, dough, quick dough, jam, cake, sandwich, and homemade. You can also set the crust color for most of the cycles; crust color choices are light, medium, and dark.
For those of you that use mostly the dough cycle, you will love the quick dough cycle. This cycle gives you ready to shape and bake dough in about 45 minutes. This is about half the time of the regular dough cycle.
The other cycle I really like is the jam/jelly cycle. Using this cycle you can make homemade jams and jellies. While overall jam and jelly is easy to make on the stove, the advantage to the bread machine is that it makes smaller batches so you don’t have to worry about canning up the extra. You can have a different flavor each week, and best of all you just toss in the ingredients and walk away. In about an hour and a half, you have fresh jam or jelly.
One of my favorite features of the Zojirushi V20 is the custom programmable cycle. Using this cycle you have complete control over the preheat time (including turning it off), the length of the kneading times (including turning them off), the length of the three rise times (including turning them off), the length of the bake period (including turning it off) and finally the length of the keep warm period (including turning it off).
The control panel of the V-20 is set to the side and at an easy to view/read angle. The buttons are large and well labeled. The LCD screen is large and easy to read; however people with poor eyesight might have some problems. Overall, I think the control panel is very well done, and I like it at an angle.
The V20 like all “good” bread machines has an add ingredients feature that, when activated, beeps during the last 10 minutes or so of the final kneading cycle, indicating you should add in your raisins, etc. at that time.
Before I go on, I want to talk a little about the crust color controls. As with every other bread machine, we have used and tested (over 30), we have found that the crust color control doesn’t do very much. With this in mind, we recommend using the light setting for everything. In addition, the pan in the Zojirushi is medium weight aluminum and tends to make lighter thinner crusts. If you like dark thick crusts, look for a machine with a heavy cast aluminum pan.
The V20 is one of the few machines on the market with dual kneading blades. This is important because it ensures proper and complete kneading of the dough; it helps ensure that the corners of the pan are cleaned of ingredients so you don’t end up with icky ends on your loaves; and it helps ensure even distribution of the dough in the pan for a level finished loaf.
HINT: When you put the paddles on the posts, put them on so they face away from each other. This helps ensure proper kneading and dough distribution, and it helps make sure that the dough is passed from one paddle to another while it is kneading.
Like with most bread machines today the V20 has a small glass window in its domed lid. However, because there is in interior light, it is worthless unless you have a flashlight handy. I wish manufacturers would start putting lights in their machines; this would be a nice touch. The V20 has a domed lid. The advantage of this kind of lid is that it allows the bread to rise without you having to worry about the bread reaching and then sticking to the lid. If you have ever had a recipe overflow your pan, you can appreciate how important this can be.
I do have one complaint about the V20. It’s the only machine with a “safety switch.” This switch stops the kneading when you open the lid; this is a very bad thing. It is so important to check the consistency of the dough after the kneading begins, and it is helpful to see it while it is kneading. This switch is a pain and should never have been put in. You can, however, disable it with a bit of work, but that requires a little modification of the lid and the permanent tripping of the switch.
The manual included with the V20 includes a nice raft of recipes; however, like every bread machine manual we have seen, it is far from complete and should only be used to acquaint yourself with your new machine and its basics. This web site contains information that is more complete and many more recipes.
The V20 is our favorite machine. If you are a new bread machine owner or if you’re looking to upgrade from a cheaper lower end machine, the V20 is what you want. It has all of the features you could want, and it is a quality bread machine that will give you years of service.