Bread Baking, Summer 2022

Table of Contents

Bread Machine Broken

The failure

My bread machine, a Zojirushi Virtuoso model BB-PAC20, stopped working on Monday June 27. The pan would not even seat on the drive connectors in the machine. One of the drive shafts was seized. The pan was already loaded with unmixed ingredients for a light rye bread. I dumped the ingredients into the bowl of my stand mixer, mixed the loaf, and baked it. I guessed at a temperature and time, and kept baking until the loaf was done. It had not mixed and risen properly, but it was edible.

At the time, Victoria was on the third day of high temperatures although it was not terribly hot in July like the summer of 2021 had been.

Warmed ingredients and warmed Dough Rising

The Zojirushi Virtuoso model uses the heating element to bake the ingredients, and also to:

  • warm the cold ingredients in a period of “rest” before the machine mixes and kneads the dough, and
  • raise the temperature in the pan to 91-95 °F (33-35 ºC) in the “rise” periods before baking when the leavening agent (yeast or chemical) is active and the dough is being inflated.

None of the bread machines on the market surveyed by Beth Hensperger in her Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (2000) were said to have worked that way. The machines on the market at that time had timers setting the “rest” times. The dough was warm and moist after kneading (it makes dough warm). The machine kept the heat and humidity by the insulation of the pan, machine, and lid. The possibility of heating the unmixed ingredients and dough was not mentioned in that book. This development involved different control chips and switches. It is a feature on the Zojirushi Virtuoso, the Viruoso Plus, and other modern machines. I think it was a feature on my Panasonic, although it is not discussed in the the Panasonic material. I don’t know if this heated “rest” (during primary fermentation and proofing) has become common or standard. I haven’t researched this.

Timed warm fermentation is a feature when the machine is used to produce a predictable loaf in the set time. Artisan bakers extend and delay fermentation by mixing pre-ferments, and by refrigerating pre-ferments and doughs.

Replacing the Pan

The drive shafts are integral to the pan. I could not see a way to remove the shaft, the bearing and the seals. This is the same with most or all bread machines. A user can replace the pan but service for shafts and bearings is labour intensive and requires an inventory of repair parts.

Zojirushi has a Canadian service/parts agency, Beaver Creek Electronics, in Richmond Hil, Ontario (in the Greater Toronto area). In Canada, Zojirushi sells machines through select retailers. On Vancouver Island, the retail distributor is a store in Duncan BC, with an online presence. The shaft and bearing were not available as repair parts. The retail/online store in Duncan advertised the newer Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus, model BB-PDC20, and a replacement pan for the BB-PDC20. The pan looks the same as the pan for a BB-PAC20. Beaver Creek Electronics was selling both:

  • 8-BBP-P080 pans for the BB-PAC20 Virtuoso and
  • BX167810A-00 pans for the BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus.

I ordered the pan for the BB-PAC20 from Richmond Hill. I was looking at several days to replace the pan. It arrived July 5.

For several years, it seemed that bread machines were becoming generic automated appliances capable of turning flour, water, elecrtricity and time into reasonably good bread. There are several machines that do a good job making some or all of:

  • white flour sandwich loaves,
  • French or European crusty loaves;
  • 100% whole wheat loaves, and
  • gluten free (no wheat flour, chemically leavened) loaves.

Mixing and Kneading – without a bread machine

Effort and Costs

I haven’t hand mixed and kneaded, or used a stand mixer (or made no-knead bread) much since I began to make low sodium bread in a bread machine. The bread machine makes good sandwich bread, if I get the flour, water, salt and yeast right. The bread machine and pan do not require the cleaning that mixing bowls and tools require.

I had a big home kitchen Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I did not use it much. It is a specialty appliance, marketed as if all home cooks need one.

I have a Bosch Compact stand mixer. Like other Bosch mixers, it is a multi-function device that powers a food processor, a blender and other powered accessories. It is are smaller than the machines made by other manufacturers for American consumers. Americans like big appliances.

It has a 4 quart bowl, which is supposed to be big enough to mix and knead dough with 8 cups of flour – enough for two 9 inch x 5 inch loaves baked in oven baking pans. The motor is rated at 400 watts. Bosch’s larger (6.5 quart bowl, 18 cups flour capability) Universal stand mixer has been down graded by American Underwriters Laboratory from 800 watts to 500 watts.

Oven baking, summer 2022

The first hot spell ended the day the bread machine broke this happened. I only tried a few oven loaves on cool days. I found the dough rose slowly, and did not rise after I had put dough in bread pans. I wondered what was causing the results:

  • my low yeast/low salt approach,
  • my kitchen was just too cool those days,
  • I was not giving the dough time, and/or
  • I handle dough roughly.

There were several more hot days in August and early September. I avoided oven baking. I thought I would experiment in the fall and winter.

Vital Wheat Gluten

Before the pandemic, it was possible to buy vital wheat gluten (“VWG”) in grocery stores in Victoria. Some stores stocked a brand milled by Millstream Natural Foods. Others stocked Bob’s Red Mill brand Vital Wheat Gluten. I can’t find Millstream. That supplier may have ceased offering it. The stores in Victoria that used to sell Bob’s VWG no longer offer VWG; Bob’s has stopped offering the product under that name. Bob’s offers “Gluten Flour” which seems to be a new name for VWG. VWG is still being milled and marketed.

Sodium

The baked bread sold in stores and bakeries is high in sodium due to the amount of salt used in baking, and due to sodium in some other baking ingredients including baking soda, baking powder, milk and powdered milk. Home baked bread is high in sodium due to the amount of salt in most recipes.

Bread machine bread is high in sodium, if baked with standard recipes. Even bread made with 1/3 of the salt in a standard recipe has enough sodium to make it hard to restrict sodium consumption to the USDA daily limit of 2,300 mg., the daily WHO limit of 1,500 mg., or to to follow a DASH diet with sodium limitation. There are few recipes online for no- salt bread machine bread or no-salt bread. Another baking project …

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