A personal aside and disclaimer: I love my Zojirushi products, and I especially love my Zojirushi bread maker. My Zojirushi obsession began with the purchase of a Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker in 2012, and I was so impressed with the quality and reliability of it that when I decided to buy a bread maker in 2013, a Zojirushi bread maker was the natural choice. I decided on the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme and haven’t looked back. This Zojirushi bread maker review is the result of over 3 years experience living and cooking with this exceptional appliance – and I assure you, it’s been rigorously tested!
The Zojirushi BB-CEC20, the Home Bakery Supreme, is the smaller, simpler, and slightly less expensive cousin of the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Bread Maker. Depending on what features you need, you will find either bread maker an excellent choice, but you may be able to save a little bit of money by choosing the Home Bakery Supreme over the Virtuoso.
Features Of The Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker
The BB-CEC20 Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker offers many features, including:
- Bakes a “normally shaped”, rectangular, 2 pound loaf
- Dual blades ensure even mixing of ingredients
- Easily cleanable non-stick surface (even on the mixing blades)
- 10 pre-programmed settings; 3 crust shades; LCD control panel; 13-hour delay timer (includes a “Quick” setting)
- Measures: 9-5/8″ X 17″ by 12-1/5″
- 1 year warranty
Our Expert’s Review of the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker
- Shape of loaves is good for all uses, including sandwiches
- Making your own bread is great for your health and budget
- You can make other things like dough for pizza or pasta
- A quality appliance that will (probably) last generations
I chose the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker because I knew that Zojirushi made great, reliable products. I also chose it because I’m not a fan of bread makers that produce “tub-shaped” loaves of bread either. It was important that I get real, rectangular shaped loaves of bread. You know the kind of bread I’m talking about: the kind you can use to make sandwiches, or toast. I’ve never found the “tub shaped” loaves to be that useful other than for straight consumption.
Having experimented with this bread maker, I’ve found many more uses for it than just bread. Our favorite use for it right now is actually making dough – specifically, pizza dough. You can also make jams (it has a jam course), and I’ve also recently realized you can make pasta dough as well. We haven’t gone out for pizza in months, and the pizza we make here is far healthier and tastier than you could ever purchase.
That said, this bread maker does have some shortcomings (which I’ll address below) and some “tricks” to get the absolute best performance from it. But I would purchase this bread maker again without a doubt. I also believe it’s durable enough that my grandchildren will be using it long after I’m gone (another reason I’m endorsing it so heavily).
Pros of this Zojirushi Bread Maker
- Quick mode is great for impatient cooks
- Preheat and rise cycles ensure consistent results and can be adjusted as needed
- Dual blades ensure that dough preparation is as good as homemade kneaded dough
- This bread maker is unbelievably consistent
The Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker has a lot of features I’ve found useful. It has a variety of pre-set baking and dough preparation cycles. Most of those cycles even have a “quick” mode for instant or quick-acting yeast. Since I’m an impatient cook, I usually use quick yeast – though to save money, I’ve started experimenting with regular yeast (Red Star brand, always!) that I buy in bulk from Costco. (The regular sized packets are so tiny for the price).
Another feature of the Zojirushi Bread Maker that’s really awesome are 2 particular cycles it offers: preheat and rise. The preheat cycle allows all your ingredients to come up to an even temperature, which ensures much more consistent results. The rise cycle allows your finished dough to rise while the bread maker applies a low level of moist heat, helping the dough develop.
A quick tip on the rise cycle: I frequently let my dough rise beyond the conclusion of the “rise” cycle if it hasn’t risen enough, and it works a charm. If your dough hasn’t risen to the height you’re used to by the time the alarm sounds, just let it continue rising – assuming your house isn’t as cold as the inside of a refrigerator, the Zoj will continue to hold heat for a while, and if you don’t open the lid, the retained moisture will assist in the rising.
One of the things that makes preparing dough in the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme so easy and effective are the dual blades. Dual blades are a feature you don’t find in standard bread makers, which are more “bucket-shaped” than this Zojirushi bread maker. The dual blades really knead the dough in the same way a chef would if preparing dough by hand – ensuring that the the dough develops the same, strong gluten strands you’d expect from homemade dough.
The most phenomenal feature of the Zojirushi Bread Maker is its consistency. If I’m consistent with my recipe (by using the same high-quality ingredients, and weighing them) then I always get the same result. As a dedicated cook, this gives me the ability to experiment, knowing that the Zojirushi always delivers the same results without fail.
Cons of this Zojirushi Bread Maker
- Lack of heating element on lid doesn’t work well with sugar-heavy breads (see Virtuoso)
- Hard to clean, especially when making dough
- No pre-programmed cycle for gluten-free breads (see Virtuoso)
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme does have some “quirks” and shortcomings that, if you know them, you can either work around or minimize. There are only a few, but if they are potentially issues for you or your family you may want to consider stepping up to the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso.
The first issue with this Zojirushi bread maker is that it does not have a heating element on the lid. As a result, the bread maker applies all the heat from the bottom, which can cause uneven browning in sugar-heavy breads like banana bread. Every time I cook my oatmeal-banana bread in the Home Bakery Supreme, it comes out with a darker bottom that shades to lighter at the top – not affecting the taste of the bread (still delicious and moist) but it does keep the bread from being “perfect” appearance-wise. If this bothers you, or you cook sugar-heavy breads or cakes a lot, you should probably consider the Virtuoso Zojirushi bread maker instead.
The second issue I find with the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme is that it lacks a pre-set cycle specifically for gluten-free bread. It does have the ability to set custom cycles, so with some experimentation, I feel like you could probably program a custom cycle that would work; however, I feel like without the heating element on the lid, I’m not sure you’d get satisfactory results. All things considered, if you’re going to be baking lots of gluten-free bread, I’d recommend you step up to the Zojirushi Virtuoso bread maker which already has a gluten-free cycle.
The last, minor issue I’d point out has to do with cleaning the pan of this Zojirushi bread maker. I would not consider the tradeoff between cleaning the Home Bakery Supreme and having to knead dough to be a bad one; but it’s worth considering that if you’re making very stretchy, highly developed dough (like pizza dough) that cleaning the dual blades can be troublesome if you let it go too long. The dough just has a way of getting underneath the blades, and if you let it harden, it really makes a mess. After making dough, I always put the bread pan right into the sink with some soapy water and remove the blades, which makes cleaning much easier. Unfortunately, there’s no “other option” or workaround for this – it’s the price you pay for having dual blades to ensure even mixing.
Tips to Get the Best Performance Out of Your Zojirushi Bread Maker
I’ve lived and cooked with my Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme bread maker for 3+ years. I’ve developed a few tips and tricks I’ll share with you that will help you get the most out of your Zojirushi bread maker (or any other brand, for that matter).
For the Zojirushi, there’s a few things to remember. First, you must add wet ingredients first, followed by dry ingredients, and add the yeast (if using) last. This is so important, I’ve written it on the lid in a paint marker (so I don’t forget, if I go awhile without using my bread maker). I’m not sure if it applies to other bread makers, so refer to your user’s manual.
Secondly, with the Zojirushi, it’s important to stir your ingredients during the “add ingredient” cycle. This applies even if you’re not adding anything. I recommend using a stiff spatula, as softer materials can actually get harmed by the blades.
If your dough hasn’t risen as high as you want, you can let it continue rising in your Zojirushi bread maker. This may apply to other bread makers as well, but I’m not sure. I do know that the Zojirushi does a great job of maintaining heat (even after it turns off) and keeping moisture in.
A few other general bread-maker tips apply as well:
Weigh, don’t measure, your ingredients. It’s so important that you weigh them, I actually have the weights recorded in my recipes. A simple kitchen scale like the Etekcity 11lb 5kg Digital Multifunction Stainless Steel Kitchen Food Scale is cheap and effective. (I recommend this one because I own it and like it).
Heat up the ingredients; most importantly, heat up your water. You want it hot, not boiling. A minute or two in the microwave will really “wake up” your yeast.
Speaking of yeast – always use fresh and high quality yeast. If you’re on a budget, you can buy in bulk to save money. I personally recommend and use Red Star Brand yeast. You can buy it at Costco if there’s one nearby and you have a membership, or you can buy it online at Amazon and probably still save some money. It’s not as fast as instant yeast, but the results are still great and you save a ton of money over the tiny packets in the grocery store. Take the package, put some in a mason jar in your refrigerator, and some in the freezer (remember to label it with the use-by date on the lid).
Finally, always use high quality flour. I always use King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour. It’s a high-protein, high-gluten, non-GMO flour that always produces exceptional results. You should be able to find it at your local supermarket – if you can’t, the Amazon Pantry price is competitive.
Our Expert’s Rating for the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme bread maker
After living and cooking with this Zojirushi bread maker for over 3 years, I’d give this appliance a solid 4.5 star rating. It loses half a star because of the uneven heating due to the lack of a heating element in the lid (fixed in the Virtuoso) and the fact that it weights a bulky 20 lbs and takes up a LOT of counter space. Unless you’re baking with it every day, it’s slightly aggravating to move around. It’s 4.5 stars due to its superior durability, consistency, and versatility. I feel like this is the home bread machine that would convert anyone to a home bread maker believer, if they’d give it a try.