Panasonic increases its home appliances range with breadmaker and microwave

David Phelan takes the versatile breadmaker — which even includes options for fish and chips — out for a spin

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The Independent Tech

Panasonic doesn’t just make TVs and speakers, though it does both of those very well. It is a major player in the home appliance market with a range of highly successful machines from vacuum cleaners to fridge freezers, even if the brand isn’t as well known for these.

So the invitation last week to try my cookery skills using the latest breadmaker and microwave models was intriguing. How hard could it be, I wondered? My complacency vanished when I realised I was one of eight journalists cooking lunch for the rest of us, including roast beef, focaccia and more.

It turns out, it wasn't hard at all. The new breadmaker, model number SD-ZB2512, price £189.99, is especially effective. It has 33 baking and dough modes so that you can make almost any kind of bread. This includes everything from whole wheat to rye bread, pizza dough to gluten free bread and rustic scone to the jam to put on it.

And there’s a unique extra: Panasonic’s are the only breadmakers that can come up with sourdough loaves. Sourdough was a regular request from Panasonic’s customers and its engineers have been working on it for literally years. It takes more work than most loaves, requiring you to prepare a root mixture 24 hours ahead of time. Once you’ve done that, making the bread is simplicity itself.

I’ve reviewed a lot of breadmakers over the years and Panasonic machines are head and shoulders above the rest. Certainly the focaccia with rosemary was painless to make and tasted terrific, if I say so myself.

You can also make a rustic artisan loaf with sundried tomatoes and emmental, rustic scones and lemon drizzle cake as well as standard white, rye, French and other loaves. Note that all breadmakers suffer from one fault: if you set the timer wrong you are likely to wake in the middle of the night feeling ravenous as the aroma of just-baked bread makes its way to your nostrils.

The non-bread elements of the morning’s recipes were also straightforward, presided over by celebrity chef Rachel Allen. Still, the slimline combi microwave ovens had no fear, so why should I? Roast beef was exceptionally simple: sprinkle the meat with black pepper and sea salt, select the imaginatively named Beef Auto Weight program, decide on rare, medium or well-done and enter the weight. Oh, and press Start, don’t forget that. And that was literally it.

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There are programs, it seems, for almost everything, including combinations of foods – there’s one button marked Fish & Chips. Because they’re combination ovens they can do those things pure microwaves can’t, like roast potatoes. The microwave heats them through far faster than an oven would, and conventional heating crisps the skin perfectly. Since I was responsible for the baked potatoes with ham and cheese filling, I can confirm this works well. The secret is the dash of mustard I added (at Rachel’s suggestion, I admit).

The microwave (model NN-CT585SBPQ) is highly versatile, with other auto programs for items such as porridge and grilling and baking options. Oh, and they’re tremendous with supermarket ready meals. It has a large, 27-litre capacity but its slim design makes it less deep, taking up less space in the kitchen. It’s on sale now for £229.99 from currys.co.uk.

Panasonic’s precision and efficiency, matched with a not inconsiderable level of design makes these highly desirable. And lunch was great.

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