Zojirushi BB-PAC20

Table of Contents

Reviews & Acquisition

Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Virtuoso bread machine started production before 2016. I found a refurbished BB-PAC20 in an online store in early 2020. The following reviews describe and illustrate this machine:

Zojirushi, by 2019, was marketing the BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus.

[Update. I later found the Bread Machine Diva site, which has a great deal of material on Zojirushi machines – including the BB-PAC20, the BB-PDC20 and the BB-CEC20 Supreme and recipes. Some recipes are specifically for modern Zojirushi 2 lb. machines. It has resources that may assist users of many machines – e.g. a page of links to manufacturer service sites and manuals.]

Dimensions, Manual

The BB-BAC20 Virtuoso is a stable, and quiet, compared to other machines I have owned. It doesn’t rattle or try to dance off the counter. It has been built to high standards.

It has a horizontal pan with two paddles. The paddles should be pointed in the same direction. A crossbar on the end of the drive shaft fits into an opening in the drive system. The paddles are designed to rotate in equal jumps. In some circumstances the drive system will release one of the paddles. When this happens, the dough ball may stay at one end of the pan or split into two masses. They will eventually reunite if there is full recipe in the pan, but one end of the loaf may be bigger and rise higher, or the loaf may show other signs of the way it rose and and sprung in the pan.

The inside measurements  of the pan are 22 cm (9 inches) long by 13 cm (5 inches) wide. It is as long as a large (2 lb.) baking pan for loaves baked in an oven; the pan is slightly wider. The pan is 13 cm (5 inches) high, and has clearance under the lid and lid element to bake a large (2 lb.) loaf. It has capacity to bake a large (2 lb.) loave. Most of the recipes in the manual are for large (2 lb.) loaves.

The base of the pan has a metal rectangle that fits into a rectangle in the base of the pan. There are blade clips at the long ends of the outer rectangle. The pan is pushed into the base to lock the pan in the clips,and tilted slightly to unlock. Locking the pan puts the bars on the drive shafts into the two connecting fittings of the drive system. Seating the pan in the base requires some pressure. I had to learn how to seat and check the pan. The lid is a rectangle 33 cm. x 22 cm. The outer shell is plastic. It has an inner shell that aligns to the top of pan. The lid is substantial, with a long hinge with stops that hold the lid just past vertical when raised. The viewing window in the lid collects a little condensation during the pre-knead rest and in the early minutes of kneading, but clears up. It lets me observe the knead and spot a problem with the dough. Raising the lid turns off the motor, pausing kneading until the lid is lowered into place. This facilitates adding a few grams of flour or water if needed. The pan coating releases the loaf easily at the end of the bake cycle; the paddles stay on the shafts in the pan. It has a delay timer, as most bread machines do, that can be programmed to finish (and start) at a time up to 13 hours after loading and starting the machine. The timer is integrated with a clock, and can be set to time when the bread can be taken out of the machine, which saves the user from the calculations involved with a simple timer.

The manual recommends wet ingredients be loaded first. This machine uses the usual way of keeping yeast away from the water: the user puts yeast in last, after the flour.

The manual includes a number of recipes. The manual, in English, can be viewed at the manufacturer’s USA web site.

Programs

The programs are called “courses” and are made of steps or phases. The amount of time devoted to each phase varies between courses but is generally fixed for each course.

The heating element is on for:

  • the baking or heating phases, heating the space around the pan to 248-302 F (120-150 C):
    • Regular (& Quick) Basic,
    • Regular (& Quick) Whole Wheat,
    • Gluten-Free,
    • Cake
    • Home-made
    • Jam (heat). 
  • at a low temperature to heat the ingredients in the initial “rest” phase, which occurs in most courses,
  • at 91-95 F (33-35 C) to keep yeast during up to 3 Rise phases in these courses:
    • Regular (& Quick) Basic,
    • Regular (& Quick) Whole Wheat,
    • Regular (& Quick) Dough,
    • Gluten-Free,
    • Sourdough starter,
    • Home-made. 

A default setting turns on the heating element during the rise phases of the baking programs to raise the temperature in the mixing/baking pan to enhance or speed up fermentation. There is no way to disable or avoid this setting or to pause the machine to delay fermentation. The two rise phases in the dough courses and the rise phase of the sour dough starter course are warmed/enhanced.

The bake phases of a Regular baking course:

NameActionRegular BasicRegular Wheat
Initial RestThe ingredients come to a common temperature31 minutes 31-41 minutes
Knead1. Mix the ingredients together, hydrates the flour;
2. Knead to work the proteins in the flour into gluten
19 minutes22 minutes
Rise(s)
Fermentation.
The mixer is deployed for knockdowns at the beginning of Rise 2 and Rise 3.
i.e. rise-knockdown-rise-knockdown-rise.
35+30+40 minutes27-37+20+20-30 minutes

Bake
The heating element bakes the bread.60 minutes60-70 minutes

The mix/knead phases are longer than in many other machines but not as long as in some Panasonic models.

It has:

  • dough and Quick dough courses, and a Sourdough starter course;
  • cake course for cake mixes, soda bread, corn bread and non-yeasted mixes;
  • gluten-free bake course for yeasted gluten-free breads, which has a 17 minute knead phase, and a 35 minute three step rise phase;
  • a Jam course which heats and cooks the ingredients, then mixes them.

The Sourdough starter course has a short Mix phase and a single 120 minute Rise (not 3 Rise; no knockdowns). It will mix any preferment whether called a starter, sponge, poolish, biga. The fermentation time can be extended by leaving the preferment in the pan longer. It is a useful feature for users who want to use a bread machine to assist with more complex recipes.

There is no setting to change any phase of a program for loaf size.

It provides for saving 3 “Home made courses” (custom programs). Times for initial rest, mix/knead, rise (3x), and bake phases can be set in a range. Temperatures for the rise stages and bake phase cannot be set; these are preset at 33 or 35 ℃. It does not have a French or European bread course, a rye bread course or a multigrain course. (The Virtuoso Plus has a European course). The Virtuoso manual provide recipes for French bread styles, and suggestions on programming one of the 3 “homemade” programs to bake a lean French bread.

There is no raisin program. A bake program, by default, sounds a beep to prompt the user to add raisins or other ingredients in the kneading phase. The prompt can be turned off when the machine is set.

The control panel has a control button to set a crust setting of light, medium or dark. This function is active only in Regular basic bake, quick basic, gluten free and cake programs.

This machine can be used to mix and knead dough but if a user wants to try any artisanal fermentation and/or proofing, the user may have to stop the machine and turn the dough out immediately at the end of the mix/knead phase, or learn how to work the setting of one of the “home-made” programs.

Medium Loaves

A few recipes in the manual are for medium (1.5 lb.) versions of large loaf recipes.

I tested the 1.5 lb. (medium) recipes in the manual. I tested the recipes as written – no attempts to reduce salt or yeast. I tested medium recipes if given, or large scaled to medium, for loaves made with Bread flour and/or Whole Wheat flour. I converted yeast in these recipes from Active dry yeast to Instant yeast. Weight in grams of main ingredients for medium loaves:

NameManual p.CourseBread flourWW flourWaterSalt Instant Yeast
Basic White Bread14-15Regular Basic41602408.44.1
100% WW18Regular Wheat04203205.64.1
Italian Wheat19Regular Wheat2561802708.43.8
Crusty French44Home made
i.e. custom
41602405.64.1

These medium recipes worked. The dough flowed to fill the pan, rose, sprung and baked. I put these recipes into tables for my future reference to help work out conversions for recipes from the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook and other sources. Medium loaf recipes from the BLBMC recommend 2 tsp. (6.2 grams) +/- instant yeast for 3 cups of bread flour and 1.5+ cups bread flour blended with other flours, and 1.5 tsp salt.. For this machine, I need 65-70% of the instant yeast in a BLBMC recipe, more than the amount that I would use in a Panasonic.

The pan is short and narrow enough that a medium recipe can be mixed, kneaded, proofed and baked in the pan. This machine can bake a medium (1.5 lb.) loaf, which is 75% of a large loaf recipe, on the factory settings for the regular bake and whole wheat bake programs.

If the dough can relax, flow in the pan and rise. It will bake a medium loaf on the default (i.e. large loaf) settings. The height of  a medium loaf from the bottom of the pan to top of the loaf at the wall of the pan is about 8 cm at the side of the pan; to the top of the crowned (domed) top of the loaf, 10-11 cm. Medium loaves may slope but generally will flow and fill the bottom of the pan.

Low and no sodium?

This machine supports low sodium baking, as any bread machine does. But the Virtuoso does not have a “no salt” or No sodium” program like the newer Virtuoso Plus model, and low sodium baking is not discussed in the machine manual.


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