Panasonic SD-RD250 Bread Maker Review by Elsy Haschke
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The Panasonic SD-RD250 bread maker is a pretty plain vanilla model, both in appearance and function and lacks a few features that are common on other models in the same price range.
Even compared with Panasonic’s venerable and less expensive SD-YD250 model, there’s still room for improvement. Read the full Panasonic SD-RD250 vs SD-YD250 comparison here.
The Panasonic SD-RD250 measures a moderate 11 1/8″ wide by 12 13/16″ long by 14 9/16″ high. That’s big enough to yield a good size loaf, if not quite a long commercial size, but it’s still small enough to fit comfortably on most counters. If you don’t have room to keep it there all the time removing it from storage and putting it away again is not a big burden, thanks to the modest 15 lbs weight.
The case design has one lack that is important to me but may not be to others. I really, really like to have a viewing window to watch the bread bake. In practice it isn’t really needed often; bread makers have been wholly automatic for decades now. Still, I like to see the dough rise and the crust darken just to make sure.
Panasonic insists that eliminating that glass window leads to a more even temperature inside and, from a purely engineering perspective, they may be right. Even so, I’ve had many bread makers with windows of all sizes and never had them produce an uneven loaf or even lighter areas on the crust. Sounds like an excuse for cost cutting to me.
The pan design is not among my favorites, either. It’s vertical and with its moderately large pan that creates a tall loaf that has to be laid on its side to slice. Not a major drawback but it’s nice to be able to slice and present the crust in the more traditional, horizontal way.
One truly great feature about the pan is the material from which it’s made. It’s coated with a diamond-fluorine compound that makes it tougher than Teflon. It lets breads and cakes slide out without struggle and makes cleanup a breeze. It will also stay like new for years and years, eliminating the need to replace the pan later even if you make loaves of bread every day.
Features and Menu Options
Oddly, for all the comfortable room of the pan, Panasonic’s designers decided to offer only two loaf sizes on the menu: Medium (M) and Extra Large (XL). That’s not the result of any limitation of the pan or the heating element so there’s really no good explanation.
Even stranger is the limitation to only two crust types: Light or Dark. Nearly every high-end bread maker (and many others) on the market has for years offered three: light, medium, and dark. So why Panasonic decided to cripple this unit and provide only two options for both features is a complete mystery considering that the older SD-YD250 offers 3 loaf sizes and 3 crust types.
Another limitation is the absence of the SD-YD250’s whole wheat and multigrain bread programs. If you’re fond of making your own 100% wheat loaves at home, this is not the model for you; it can accommodate only 30% whole wheat.
It makes up for that in part by offering a number of bread options and baking modes. You can also use it to knead pizza dough, cake dough, and many tea breads. The Bake Modes menu option lets you select in line with the bread/dough options.
Rapid Bake produces a loaf in two hours, rather than the four required otherwise. You may use it more often than you might with other models since they typically do even the longer job in three. One reason for that long baking time is the relatively low power of the heating element, just 550 watts. Many high-end models feature one that’s 700 watts, like the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 (Home Bakery Supreme).
There are additional features that bring the SD-RD250 up to better than acceptable level, however.
The LCD digital display is well-lit and uncluttered. You’ll have no trouble knowing which options are currently available for selection. It’s complimented by a row of buttons along the front that allow making those selections absolutely foolproof.
Using them, it’s also effortless to set the timer in 10 minute increments to start up to 13 hours ahead. That provides the ability to mix your ingredients, let everything rest while you’re off running errands, and come back to a finished loaf. Pretty common feature, available on most bread making machines, but handy all the same and it’s nice that Panasonic included it.
Automatic Raisin and Nut Dispenser
Best of all is the fruit and nut dispenser (no yeast dispenser here) that lets you pre-load dry ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs.
The dispenser holds up to about 150 grams (5.3 oz), which is plenty of capacity to fill your loaf to a pleasant density. It’s removable for easy clean up, too.
Similar to the top-loading yeast dispenser of the SD-YD250 model, you can add in the fruit or nuts before you begin baking and just walk away. No need to set a timer to beep part way through the baking cycle. That’s a big benefit for busy diy bread makers like me.
The package includes a measuring cup and spoon, pretty standard items and nothing to rave about here but certainly adequate. It also houses the kneading blade, though only one. The Zojirushi has two, but it’s a much larger unit and the pan is horizontal.
The instruction manual is easy to follow but you’ll probably only read it once and even that isn’t truly necessary. For all its limitations, the SD-RD250 could not be simpler to use. The buttons are clearly marked, the LCD icons and letters are large and self-explanatory, and the number of options so low you can’t go wrong.
The Panasonic SD-RD250 bread maker is utterly reliable, foolproof, and makes a fine loaf. The automatic fruit/nut dispenser is a great addition for those who want to mix everything at the beginning and then walk away for the whole baking cycle.