Table of Contents
- Dimensions, Manual
- Yeast & Salt
Zojirushi started production of BB-PAC20 Virtuoso bread machine before 2016. The following reviews describe and illustrate this machine:
Zojirushi, by 2019, was marketing the BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus.
I found a refurbished Virtuoso BB-PAC20 in an online store in early 2020.
[Update. I later found the Bread Machine Diva site, which has material on Zojirushi’s BB-PAC20 Virtuoso, BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus, and BB-CEC20 Supreme, as well as 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.]
The Virtuoso BB-BAC20 is stable, and quiet. 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.
When the machine is loaded, both paddle are in the water or wet ingredients. Both paddles mix the dough. Mixing and kneading are a single phase. The dough ball will not fill the pan until the dough ferments (rises), or the loaf springs during the first few minutes after the baking phases begins. During kneading, the dough should form a single ball that moves around the bottom of the pan. A wet dough may form two balls. This can be a problem – a small problem if the dough flows together and forms a loaf when the dough has fermented and sprung
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 a full recipe in the pan. Some times, 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 – i.e. capacity to bake a large (2 lb.) loaf. 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.
The programs are called “courses”, and are made up of steps or phases. The amount of time devoted to each phase varies, but is fixed for each of the programmed courses.
The heating element is on, heating the space around the pan for:
- to 248-302 F (120-150 C) for baking the loaf in these courses:
- Regular (& Quick) Basic,
- Regular (& Quick) Whole Wheat,
- 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) during up to 3 Rise phases in these courses:
- Regular (& Quick) Basic,
- Regular (& Quick) Whole Wheat,
- Regular (& Quick) Dough,
- Sourdough starter,
The Virtuoso turns the heating element on for short intervals during the rise phases 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 phases of the baking (Regular Basic, Quick Basic, Regular Wheat and Quick Wheat) courses:
|Initial Rest||The ingredients come to a common temperature|
|Mix/Knead||1. Mix the ingredients together, hydrates the flour; |
2. Knead to work the proteins in the flour into gluten
The element warms the space around the pan to 91-95 F (33-35 C)
The mixer is deployed for knockdowns at the beginning of Rise 2 and Rise 3. A program with 3 Rise phases has sequence of rise-knockdown-rise-knockdown-rise.
|Bake||The element heats the space around the pan to 248-302 F (120-150 C) to bake the loaf.|
There is no setting to change any phase of any course (program) for loaf size.
The mix/knead phases are longer than in many other machines but not as long as in some Panasonic models.
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, Quick Basic, gluten free and cake courses (programs).
Regular and Quick
Zojirushi, like other manufacturers, has Quick progams, variations of the Regular Basic, Bake Whole Wheat and Dough programs. Quick programs are shorter than the so-called regular programs.
One difference between Regular and Quick program are the times (in minutes) that the phases are run:
|Rest||Mix/Knead||Rise 1||Rise 2||Rise 3||Bake|
The quick programs use more yeast with same amounts of flour, water, salt, and other ingredients. I compared manufacturer recipes for medium (1.5 lb.) loaves, from the manual. The differences between active dry yeast and instant yeast are minor. A user can use instant yeast, if the amount is converted. There are no functional differences between instant yeast and Fast or Quick rise yeast products.
Active dry yeast
|Basic White Bread||1½ tsp.||Basic|
4.2 g. (1½ tsp.)
|100% Whole Wheat||1 tsp.||Wheat|
4.2 g. (1½ tsp.)
Zojirushi explains that it has tested the its programs with Fleishmann Yeast products – active dry yeast for the Regular Basic, Bake (Whole) Wheat and Dough programs, and “Fast-Rise” for the Quick versions. The brand of yeast is not important. Comparing instant, “Fast-Rise”, Quick, or “Bread Machine” yeast, the yeast strains are equivalent and the amounts and types of coating are the same.
Dough, Starter, Other
This machine will mix and knead dough and rest the dough to rise in the regular and quick dough courses. In these courses, the user should turn the dough out immediately at the end course and shape and bake the loaf.
The Sourdough starter course has a short Mix phase and a single 120 minute Rise (not 3 Rises; i.e. 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.
- 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.
It provides for saving 3 “Home made” courses (custom programs) in which a user may set the time for the initial rest, mix/knead, rise (3x), and bake phases in a range. Temperatures for the rise phases and bake phase cannot be set; these are preset.
Not included, but …
The Virtuoso does not have
- a French or European bread course,
- a rye bread course,
- a multigrain course,
- a raisin or fruit bread couse or
- a No Salt course
but can manage these breads.
The Virtuoso does not have a European course which is a feature of the Virtuoso Plus.
The Virtuoso manual provides recipes for French bread styles, and a useful suggestion on programming a “homemade” course to bake a lean bread – it is almost identical to the European bread course in the Virtuoso Plus. It follows the sequence of the Quick Bake course in the BB-PAC20 Virtuoso, but gives the dough more rising time:
|Rest||Mix/Knead||Rise 1||Rise 2||Rise 3||Bake|
The Virtuoso can make a “light” rye bread with a mixture of wheat flour and rye flour. Zojirushi addressed this with recipes using the whole wheat program, in its manuals.
Most loaves which involve mixtures of whole wheat flour, bread flour and most of the no protein (i.e. no gluten formation) flours can be mixed and baked in regular bake and Bake (Whole) Wheat courses.
Raisins, Fruits, Seeds
A bake program, by default, sounds a beep to prompt the user to add raisins or other ingredients late in the kneading phase. The prompt can be turned off when the machine is set.
The Virtuoso does not have the No Salt course which is a feature of the Virtuoso Plus, but can manage to bake the Zojirushi No salt sandwich loaf (no salt but made with vinegar) in the regular basic bake course.
Yeast & Salt
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.
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, and with adaptations. I tested medium recipes if given, or large recipes 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:
|Name||Manual p.||Course||Bread flour||WW flour||Water||Salt||Instant Yeast|
|Basic White Bread||14-15||Regular Basic||416||0||240||8.4||2.8|
|100% WW||18||Regular Wheat||0||420||320||5.6||2.8|
|Italian Wheat||19||Regular Wheat||256||180||270||6.3||3.8|
|Crusty French||44||Home made|
These medium recipes worked. The doughs flowed to fill the pan, rose, sprung and baked. I put these recipes into worksheets or tables for my future reference to help work out conversions for recipes from the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook and other sources.
These recipes can be adapted to work with less salt than the recipes in manuals say.
Medium loaf recipes from the BLBMC recommend 1.75 tsp. (5.5 g.) or 2 tsp. (6.2 grams) +/- instant yeast for 3 cups of bread flour, or 1.5+ cups bread flour blended with 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 1.5 tsp salt. For this machine, I need 50-70% of the instant yeast in a BLBMC recipe. This is a little more than the amount that I would use in a Panasonic.
Low and no sodium?
This machine supports low sodium baking, as any bread machine does. But low sodium baking is not discussed in the machine manual.