Reviews at Everyday Sandwich and Make Bread at Home describe and illustrate the Panasonic SD-YD250. It has loaf size settings for medium (1.5 lb), large (2 lb) and extra large (2.5 lb) loaves baked in an extra large vertical rectangle pan. Large loaves are shapes like a tall pan loaf. Extra large loaves are long when laid down, and relatively wide and tall, compared to other loaf shapes.
Like more expensive Panasonic 2.5 lb loaf machines – the SD-RD250 and the SD-YR2500 – it has settings for medium, large and extra large loaves but not for small loaves. The SD-YD250 seems to have the motor, drive train, non-stick pan and heating element of the newer, higher priced models.
The SD-YD250 can bake daily or sandwich bread, whether with white flour or whole wheat, as well as I can bake those loaves in conventional baking pans in an oven. It can bake light rye bread (a mixture of white flour and rye flour), and other multigrain loaves.
The pan coating releases the loaf easily at the end of the bake cycle but the paddle stays on the shaft in the pan. (Removing the paddle from the pan can be done after the pan cools after taking the loaf from pan. It works better before the bits of crumb around the end of the shaft dry out and bond the paddle to the shaft.)
The inside measurements of the pan are 19 cm (7.5 inches) long by 14 cm (5.5 inches) wide in the pan’s normal operating configuration when it is vertical. Any loaf will be or should be 19 cm x 14 cm. The pan is 14.5 cm (5.7 inches) bottom to top. In a Panasonic extra large pan, a 2.5 lb. recipe of 4.4 cups of flour and about 2 cups of liquid would bake a loaf over 14.5 cm “long”, 19 cm “high”, and 14 cm “wide”.
There is no viewing window in the lid; this is not a drawback. The yeast dispensing compartment is a rare feature. The way to keep yeast away from the water before the mixing phase starts in this machine which takes dry ingredients first at the bottom of the pan is to put yeast first, before the flour. The dispenser has drawbacks. The dropper – a little button – has to be jiggled to make sure it is seated before filling the compartment.
A medium loaf baked on a basic cycle has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water or fluid. This dough is hydrated at 71%. It could be baked in a 1.5 pound bread pan (about 2,600 cubic centimeters) – perhaps filling it.
A 1.5 pound conventional oven pan is 25 cm (10 inches) long, 13 cm (5 inches) wide and (about) 8 cm deep.
With white flour on the basic bake cycle, the height of medium loaf from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan would be around 75% of the height of the Panasonic extra large pan: about 9 cm at the side of the pan. To the top of the domed top of the loaf, 11-12 cm is reasonable; more is tall. Height changes with:
- type of flour (e.g. rye flour does not rise as well as wheat flour); or a small change in the amount of flour (1/4 cup), water, salt or yeast; or
- cycle, e.g. French Bake – the bread rises and is less dense – more space for the same mass.
Height affects how I store and slice the loaf, and can be a sign that a loaf lacks structure.
This machine’s program assumes the use want primarily to bake bread leavened with yeast. There is no cycle to mix and make bread leavened with other methods (e.b. baking powder), and no gluten free setting. Breads that are mixed but not kneaded can be mixed outside the machine, and baked on a bake-only cycle.
There are two kinds of cycle, “bake” and “dough”. Each cycle has three phases; a bake cycle has the fourth one:
- (Initial) Rest – the ingredients come to a common temperature. The heating element, as far as I can tell is used for short intervals but not enough to heat the outside of the machine;
- Knead – a two part phase. 1. Mix the ingredients together, hydrates the flour; 2. Knead to work the proteins in the flour into gluten;
- Rise – fermentation. 2 hours in basic bake cycle. The heating element is deployed to keep yeast at a good temperature (the dough may heat up on its own) on a cooler day. The mixer drive is deployed for knockdowns in this phase;
- Bake – the heating element bakes the bread.
The motor has two speeds: off and on. Mixing involves turning the power on and off in short intervals. Mixing, for a medium loaf, on any cycle, is under 5 minutes:
- 30 seconds – 40 pulses: 1/2 second on, 1/4 second off;
- 120 seconds – 120 pulses: 3/4 quarter second on, 1/4 second off;
- 30 seconds on;
- The yeast dispenser drops yeast;
- 35 second pause.
- 60 seconds – 10 pulses: 4 seconds on, 2 seconds off.
The mixing forms a ball of dough centered on the paddle.
To knead the dough, the machine pushes it around the pan. The dough sticks to the sides of the pan, and is stretched until it snaps away. This is similiar to the operation of a stand mixer, with programmed pauses. This involves longer intervals with the motor on.
This machine has a long warm rise. In this phase, it uses the motor for short intervals twice. This deflates or knocks down the dough. In basic bake cycle there are 2 sets of about 15 slow turns at – 2:00 and – 1:40 on the countdown timer. After the second knock down (which is 50 minutes before baking phase) the dough should relax and flow to fill the bottom of the pan and rise again. In the first part of the bake phase, the dough should spring. A tenacious dough holds its ball shape for a long time. It may gather at one end of the pan. The result is that the top of the baked loaf slopes. This happens with some dough in this kind of pan. There is a hydration zone. A tenacious dough may not flow. A wet dough may balloon or collapse.
It supports low sodium baking, as any bread machine does. If the salt is reduced, the yeast should be reduced by the same proportion.
This model uses less yeast than other machines. It kneads hard and gives the dough a long rise with a bit of heat to keep the dough at the right temperature to ferment. It deflating the dough softly in short knock-downs. It need only about half as much as another machine. This means, with many or most recipes, for 50% sodium, I am using half the salt and one quarter of the yeast.