I bought a Panasonic SD-YD250 bread machine in 2016. After some setbacks, I put it aside. I came back to it and spent time troubleshooting the main problem: the right amount of yeast for bread in this machine.
Reviews at Everyday Sandwich and Make Bread at Home describe and illustrate this machine. Like other Panasonic 2.5 lb loaf machines, the SD-RD250 and the SD-YR2500, it has loaf size settings for medium (1.5 lb), large (2 lb) and extra large (2.5 lb) loaves baked in a tall vertical rectangle pan. It does not have a setting for small (1 lb.) loaves. Medium and large loaves are shaped like tall loaves baked in loaf pans. Extra large loaves are long when laid down, and relatively wide and tall, compared to other loaf shapes.
The lid does not have a viewing window. Unlike most bread machines, it has a yeast dispenser. The dispenser has drawbacks. The dropper – a little button – has to be jiggled to make sure it is seated before filling the compartment. The yeast dispenser is not an essential feature. Users can keep yeast away from the water before the mixing phase in a machine which takes dry ingredients first (at the bottom of the pan) is to put yeast first, before the flour.
The SD-YD250 can bake daily or sandwich bread,with white flour or whole wheat. Also, loaves made with specialty varieties of wheat, (e.g. spelt). It can bake loaves with other flour or meal added to wheat flour (e.g. light rye – a mixture of white flour and rye flour, although manufacturer deprecates using rye flour).
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 immediately with an oven mitt, or 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”.
The instruction book recommends dry ingredients be loaded first.
There are two kinds of program, bake and dough. The dough process 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. 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.
It has basic and whole wheat programs. The basic and whole wheat bake programs have variations – basic, sandwich, rapid, and raisin. In the bake programs, there is a setting for loaf size, M, L, or XL. This affects the length of knead and rise phases.
There are no notable differences between the basic bake and bake sandwich programs, or the whole wheat bake, whole wheat sandwich bake, and multi-grain bake programs. There are no differences between the whole wheat dough and multi-grain dough programs. The raisin programs are the same as the bake and dough programs, with an added warning sound when raisins can be added to the dough. Other programs:
- a rapid dough program called pizza.
- a program called bake only.
- a French Bread program. This provides a longer rise in dough and bake modes, and a longer bake time. There is no loaf size selection; the recipe in the manual for the bake mode has three cups of flour, (which would make dough for a medium 1 ½ lb. bread machine loaf) but produces a loaf that fills the XL pan.
It does not have an identified gluten-free program. There is no program to mix and make bread leavened with other methods (e.g.. baking powder). Breads that are mixed but not kneaded can be mixed outside the machine, and baked in the bake-only program. It does not have customizeable settings or custom programs.
It has a delay timer that can be programmed to finish (and start) at a time up to 13 hours after loading and starting the machine.
A medium loaf in the basic bake program has about 3 cups of flour and 1.25 cups of water or fluid. Dough for a loaf this size, hydrated at 71, 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 in the basic bake program, 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 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.
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 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 pauses. This involves longer intervals with the motor on.
This machine has a long rise. The manual does not indicate that the heater warms the pan while the dough is “rising” (either primarary fermentation or secondary/proofing) but there may be some heat to aid the dough to rise.
The devices uses the motor for short intervals twice to deflate(knock down) the dough. In basic bake there are 2 sets of about 15 slow turns at – 2:00 and – 1:40 on the countdown timer. After the second knock down (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 Panasonic model uses less yeast than machines by other brands. 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 deflates the dough softly in short knock-downs. It needs only about half as much yeast as other machines. This means, with many or most recipes, for 50% sodium, I am using half the salt and one quarter of the yeast.