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If you're in the market for a new bread maker, you've probably heard that Panasonic is the brand to watch. However, the tech company has several different models (some with quite similar names, too), so it can be tricky to know which is the right one for your family.
Retailing at around £240, the Panasonic SD-YR2540 is the most expensive pick on our round-up of the best bread makers, but it earns a place on our shortlist due to its impressive features and high-tech design. When spending that much on a kitchen gadget, you want to know that it really does do a good job, so we enlisted the help of our trusty Mumsnetters to see if it's really top-notch after extensive regular use.
Claire is a mum of two boys, one of whom has complex special needs and is on a ketogenic diet to control epilepsy. "The diet has stopped his seizures, but he needs toast! It’s really hard to get hold of fresh, tasty, kid-friendly keto bread," Claire told us, so finding a bread maker that could produce keto bread was essential. Since buying the SD-YR2540 over a month ago, it’s been used on average two to three times a week (sometimes more when the outdoor pizza oven is used and dough is needed!), and there's been a lot of trial and error to get the right loaf for her son. Read on to see an in-depth account of how Claire found this high-spec bread maker.
Our verdict at a glance
Price on writing: £200 (RRP £239) | Buy now from Amazon
What we like
Versatile with 32 different settings
Four gluten-free settings
Choice of three loaf sizes and crust colours
13-hour delay timer for convenient baking
Very easy to use
High-quality design that is built to last
Easy to clean
Good for those with dietary restrictions (after some trial and error)
Has a fruit and nut dispenser
What we don't like
Lack of guidance for those with dietary restrictions in the instructions
No viewing window
Panasonic SD-YR2540 summary: what is it?
What sets the SD-YR2540 apart from other Panasonic bread makers? With 32 settings, it mainly comes down to its versatility (for comparison the Panasonic SD-B2510 has 21 programmes and the SD-YR2550SXC has 31), and its ability to make spelt bread, which is made out of spelt flour instead of wheat flour.
It also has four gluten-free settings, a choice of three loaf sizes and crust colours, dual temperature sensors for optimum results, and a 13-hour delay timer, so you can set it so you wake up to the smell of fresh bread every morning. We're also impressed that it has a fruit and nut dispenser - something the SD-B2510 is missing.
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How easy is the Panasonic SD-YR2540 to use?
As with many Panasonic bread makers, this is a bulky machine. "It is large and remains on the kitchen surface but that is understandable. It's not exactly sleek but not too ugly," Claire said of the design. So, if counter space or cupboard space is at a premium, you'll have to measure up whether it can easily slot in beside your food processor or other kitchen gadgets before you splurge.
She also found it was a lot easier to use than she anticipated, as "the programmes listed also specify what they are for, e.g. 15 is gluten-free bread, so there's less chance to make an error". Claire's main need when buying the SD-YR2540 was to make carb-free bread for her son on a ketogenic diet, and she's found there's a lot of trial and error involved with getting the perfect loaf. "I’m still trying to find the perfect mix and get the right setting! I add the ingredients in a specific order and in a particular way e.g. salt, erythritol (replacement for sugar), honey and butter are placed around the perimeter of the loaf tin."
"It's much easier to use than I expected"
One the whole, Claire found the bread maker very easy to use and set up, but one drawback she experienced was the quality of the instructions. She wished there was more guidance on varying the recipes and also more carb-free recipes for those with dietary restrictions. "It’s sometimes tricky to get the balance right when it comes to following the general instructions for the bread maker and following the instructions when using, for example, a YouTube video. Often, for keto/carb-free bread, you should use the gluten-free setting. However, sometimes this results in a loaf that looks like mummified brain tissue (not appetising!), and when you’re using a recipe that’s not specifically for a Panasonic bread machine, it’s sometimes unclear if you should select a particular loaf size. I’ve had to try all different permutations to see which gives the best loaf."
When running the machine, there's an occasional 'clack' sound, but other than that it has "quite a quiet and pleasant thrumming noise". We were also delighted to hear that it's easy to clean, too, and the bread pan easily slots in and out of the machine. "[Trying to make carb-free bread] has been tricky and I've had a few disasters, those were harder to clean up, but standard bread usually leaves the pan looking clean and it just needs a gentle wipe and a pat dry."
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What are the results like?
Onto the most important thing: the results. Whatever kitchen gadget you're investing in, whether it's a do-it-all multi-cooker or a simple sandwich toaster, you want to be sure it'll produce tasty treats, even more so if you're splashing out over £200 for a bread maker.
After some experimenting with using different settings, Claire has been happy overall with the bread this machine produces. "The need for keto/carb-free bread was becoming pretty desperate, but this machine along with many, many trial and error bake attempts has finally led to my son being able to eat a slice of his much-loved toast, as well as crunchy bread sticks and, as we are still in the early days, hopefully lots of other tasty bread-like treats!"
She also found the bread rises evenly and is the colour and texture she was expecting: "This can be tricky with gluten-free and carb-free bread especially but [there's been] mostly good results." Another highlight is the standard large white loaf, too, which she describes as "delicious".
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Star rating: 4/5
The Panasonic SD-YR2540 bread maker stands out from the competition with its impressive 32 settings, offering a wide range of options for baking delicious homemade bread. It's actually quite similar to Panasonic's SD-YR2550SXC, but the main difference is this model has an extra setting for spelt bread.
Although the instructions could include more variety, we think it's ideal for those with dietary restrictions; after a trial and error approach to using the machine and testing different settings, Claire has managed to bake keto bread that her son can enjoy. It's also easy to use and clean, too.
There are few drawbacks: it's costly, bulky, and doesn't have a viewing window, but overall this is a fantastic bread maker if you're looking for versatility and a quality design that will last. We also awarded it the top spot for gluten-free bread in our full round-up - see all our best bread makers here.
Dimensions: H36.2 x W39.5 x D25.2 cm
Delay function: Yes
Viewing window: No
Fruit and nut dispenser: Yes
Crust choices: Three
Size choices: Three
How we tested
We first asked our Mumsnet Voices panel about the bread makers they love because if anyone can give honest advice on the best buys that work for family life, it's the parents who have put these products through their paces with real-life testing and use.
Once we had collated these results, we consulted with our Mumsnet tester, Claire, to get her insights into how she found the Panasonic YR2540 Fully Automatic Breadmaker. We asked her all about her experiences with bread maker, including the ease of use and cleaning, versatility, design, and how tasty the results were. Through using real, independent Mumsnetters for reviews, we ensure we get honest opinions and feedback from people just like you.