Is the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 bread maker better? This bread maker is a hot selling unit packed with features and a slightly higher price tag than many other models. As we go through the features and benefits below you will start to see why it is such a hot seller. It provides amazing flexibility, ease of use, and superior features. This unit is aimed at people who have higher expectations and plan to push the limits of what a bread maker can do. Let us take a look at the features and see how it stacks up.
Two Handed Kneading Without Using Your Hands
If you have ever done your own mixing and kneading of bread dough you know it takes two hands to do it right. Have you ever wondered how they accomplish the task with one kneading blade? Zojirushi wondered the same thing. The BB-CEC20 automatic bread maker has two kneading blades which help to mix and knead the bread more effectively. It makes sure there are not hidden pockets of dry ingredients which did not get properly blended into the dough.
The kneading action of two blades provides for bread dough which rises more effectively and more consistent baking. As you read through user comments about this bread maker one thing becomes apparent. It can produce any recipe of bread you can imagine. Users report trying hundreds of different recipes and never experiencing and issue with ingredients not blending properly throughout the dough. This is one of the reasons you may wish to invest slightly more.
Cooking Surprises Hidden Inside
You usually think of your bread maker as being good for only one thing, making bread. This Zojirushi bread machine can help you expand your use and have fun. They include recipes for a variety of traditional breads, specialty breads, dessert breads, and cakes. So far you may not be seeing anything really unusual, so let’s try this one. When is the last time you saw a bread maker that could make meatloaf?
Zojirushi provides you with cooking instructions for making jams, meatloaf, and other interesting additional items in your bread maker. You can bake a fresh loaf of bread for breakfast in the bread maker and then when you come home at the end of the day you can make a delicious meatloaf for supper. This is not the reason to buy the Zojirushi but it shows you the amazing flexibility and performance the machine is capable of.
Another favorite hidden inside is the loaf size and shape. Most of the time people can tell a loaf was baked in a bread maker and not the oven. It just looks different. This is not true with the Zojirushi. With the dual kneading blades and properly shaped pan your bread looks just like you hope. It is a perfect loaf every time. The only telltale signs it was made in a bread machine are the two indentations where the kneading blades baked into the bread.
Fast Cleanup with One Minor Hiccup
A feature you want to watch for on any bread machine is fast clean-up. You do not want to be stuck in the kitchen scrubbing the bread pan endlessly once the baking cycle is finished. Less work is the primary reason you wanted a bread maker in the first place.
The BB-CEC20 uses a non-stick surface which makes the bread fall out of the pan with ease. Cleaning the pan just takes warm soapy water and a cloth. You should avoid the temptation to use any kind of abrasive sponges on cleansers which may scratch the surface and reduce the non-stick surface effectiveness. Cleaning the exterior requires just a quick wipe down with a damp cloth. We need to point out one other major note from Zokirushi concerning cleaning which reads “Do not immerse the Baking Pan in water or any other liquid.” They recommend filling the baking pan with warm water but to not put the entire pan in a sink full of water.
The baking pan and kneading blades are NOT dishwasher safe. Trying to wash them using normal dishwasher settings can lead to deformation of the components and lead to failure of the entire bread machine.
Where is the hiccup in the cleaning process? It comes from the same feature which helps create those perfect loaves, the dual kneading blades. The kneading blades and spindles are the toughest area of any bread maker to clean. You can ease your cleanup effort for soaking the blade in hot soapy water for a few minutes before cleaning them to soften any bread which stuck to them during baking. Check the two spindles carefully to make sure they do not have bread trapped around their base. The cleanup is no different than other bread machines except now you have two blades and spindles to clean.
The Power of Programming at Your Fingertips
One feature which is missing from most bread makers is the ability to take complete control. You may have some special recipes handed down from family or from friends which require some special considerations. You would love to use your bread maker to make them but the settings are never quite right. This is where the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 steps away from the crowd. They provide a setting called Homemade which turns over complete control to you. You set the mixing time, the rest interval, the kneading time, and even have complete control of baking heat and time. Suddenly you can dial in those exact settings needed to make that special recipe which has never worked quite right in a bread maker.
What makes the homemade feature even more powerful is you can save the settings. You can create up to 3 different programs under the homemade setting and reuse them in the future.
For most baking tasks you will not need to use the homemade option. Zojirushi has preprogrammed settings for a variety of different mixing and baking needs including:
- Basic Bread Recipes
- Whole wheat and whole grain breads.
- Basic dough. (No baking.)
- Quick white bread. (Using fast rising yeast.)
- Quick wheat bread. (Fast rising yeast.)
There is virtually no bread recipe you cannot bake in the BB-CEC20 due to the flexible programming options.
Size, Weight, and Appearance
The Zojirushi BB-CEC20 tips the scales at a hefty 19.8 pounds making it one of the heaviest bread makers we have reviewed. The shipping weight is over 23 pounds. This extra weight is not unexpected since you have two mixing blades and drive mechanisms.
The size of the bread maker is similar to other automatic bread makers.
- Height – 13.6 inches.
- Width – 18.9 inches.
- Depth – 12.8 inches.
Zojirushi offers the BB-CEC20 in two different color options.
- Black Upper/Gray Body
The large top door includes a small viewing window for watching your bread bake. The controls are top mounted to the right hand of the door. They use a large LCD display surrounded by push buttons to choose your baking mode or to set the timer for delayed baking. Delayed baking can be set for up to 13 hours in the future.
Additional Features, Accessories, and Options
The bread maker comes bundled with a few small accessories you will find helpful. They include:
- Measuring Cup
- Measuring Spoon
- Instruction/Recipe Book
It is incredible how often people want to overlook instruction books. Do not make that mistake with your new bread maker. The manual included with the Zojirushi unit includes dozens of great recipes, instructions on use, and advice on proper baking. Taking a few minutes to read through the manual will help ensure you get great looking breads every time. Some of the fun recipes in the manual include:
- Russian Kulich
- Honey Wheat Bread
- Beer Pizza Crust
- Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Loaf
- Citrus Fruit Bread
- Chocolate Bread
- Basic White Bread
- 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Those few recipes probably already have your mouth watering imagining the delicious flavors which will be emanating from your Zojirushi bread maker.
The one additional feature which cannot be seen in pictures is construction. The unit is strong, durable, and reliable in construction.
Pros and Cons
It is time for us to go over the pros and cons of the Zojirushi BB-CEC20. Let us jump right into them.
- Dual kneading blades.
- Fully programmable baking option – Homemade Option
- Multiple pre-programmed baking choices.
- Regular shaped loaf pan.
- 1 year warranty.
- Viewing window for monitoring baking process.
- 13-hour delay timer.
- High quality user guide and recipe book.
- Non-stick baking pan.
- Two color options.
- Consistent mixing and baking.
- Warranty requires paying shipping both directions.
- Short power cord.
- Slightly longer cleanup due to dual kneading blades.
- Baking pans and blades are not dishwasher safe.
- You cannot immerse baking pan in water.
The biggest issue in our list of Cons is one you are unlikely to need and is not significantly different than other manufacturers. The requirement to pay shipping both directions on a warranty repair places the entire burden on the buyer for the faulty product instead of the manufacturer. This should not be considered a big issue since the odds of your bread maker failing during the first year is low.
The issues with cleaning are consistent with many bread makers but may still be frustrating to you. The biggest issue to keep in mind is the unit is sealed from the inside going out. If you immerse the pan in water you may cause future issues with the kneading blade spindles not turning smoothly requiring replacing the baking pan. You can soak the pan for putting water inside the pan, just not on the outside.
Zojirushi has elected to follow the path of many other small appliance makers and include a short cord on their bread maker. Keep this in mind as you plan where you will be setting up your bread machine. It will either need to be located very near an outlet or you will need to purchase an extension rated to handle 700 watts of power.
Consumers are very outspoken about the Zojirushi BB-CEC20. Fans of the product cannot say enough. They discuss the flexible baking options, consistent high quality loaves, ease of use, and the advantages of dual kneading blades. Their voices far outweigh the people who have discovered issues with their bread maker, but the voices of the disappointed individuals are very strong.
The individuals with problems report issues with inconsistent mixing, uneven baking, or failed control systems. The negative reviews account for about 10% of all reviews. The biggest frustration expressed by these reviewers is the fact they are forced to pay to have their defective unit repaired or replaced through shipping charges. If you compare the positive reviews and negative reviews it becomes apparent it is not an issue with the product line from Zojirushi but only an occasional defective unit.
Conclusion and Recommendation
This slightly more expensive bread machine is an excellent choice for individuals wanting to push the boundaries of bread making. It gives you greater control with the homemade option than almost any other bread maker on the market. The consistent quality created by the dual kneading blades and 700 watt heating element make this an outstanding bread machine for all kinds of breads including gluten free, whole grain, and basic white.
Our recommendation is to consider this bread maker strongly if you want the added power of taking control of the baking process. If you are just planning on baking basic breads and not venturing on a journey of trying new recipes on a regular basis you may be just as happy with a slightly less expensive bread machine like the Panasonic SD-YD250. Take a few moments to think about your plans and desires for making bread and then choose the unit which matches your baking plans.