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Sage by Heston Blumenthal: The Custom Loaf review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £200
inc VAT (as of 25th of May)

A huge and hugely versatile high-end bread maker


Fruit and nut dispenser: Yes, Number of programs: 68, Time to make standard medium white loaf: 3h 5m

Buy the Sage Appliances The Custom Loaf now from John Lewis

Out of the bread makers I’ve seen, Sage by Heston’s model certainly tries the hardest to do things differently. It gives you a large amount of freedom when it comes to tweaking your bread recipes, and has by far the most in-depth control system I’ve seen on any bread maker.

The Custom Loaf’s steel finish looks great, but the machine is almost as big as a desktop PC, so won’t be the model for you if space is at a premium. I’m a big fan of the breadmaker’s controls. A large, clear, backlit screen shows you the available recipes, and you select what you need with a spin and a click of the large selection knob.

It’s simple to create your own programs, too, aided by the clear tables in the breadmaker’s instruction book that detail each of the baking process’ 11-13 stages. You just select the Custom mode, choose a recipe to use as a base (such as Wholewheat) then use the selection knob to set the time or temperature for each stage. You can create up to 13 custom recipes, and the back of the manual has several spare pages where you can note down your own custom recipe charts.

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The Custom Loaf comes with a smart full-colour recipe book with some words of wisdom from Heston Blumenthal, and has breadmaking tips throughout to go with the recipes. There are two paddles in the box: a fixed paddle for making jam, and a collapsible paddle for bread. The collapsible paddle is designed to fold away when no longer needed, in order to leave a smaller hole in the bottom of the loaf. The design also means the paddle won’t get stuck in the loaf; an affliction common to breadmakers, which can make a mess of the loaf when you extract the paddle.

This worked to a certain degree, as the paddle never became lodged in any of the loaves I made. The paddle hole was larger but shallower than normal, so the collapsible design is a qualified success.

I liked the Custom Loaf’s large bread viewing window and backlit baking chamber, which make it easy to keep an eye on your loaf’s progress. I was less keen on how much noise the breadmaker makes during operation; it wobbles around violently and makes quite a racket. I’m not convinced it wouldn’t wake up the household while baking the morning loaf.

The loaves the Custom Loaf produced were quite different to what I’m used to. Most breadmakers produce even-shaped square-ish loaves, but the Loaf Pro’s white loaves were oblong and more like those you’d buy at a bakery. They were an odd shape on the top, too, with all kinds of swirls and patterns.

The white bread had a consistent texture, but I found it rather chewy for my tastes. The wholemeal bread loaf was an even stranger shape, but was lovely; just the right density and not chewy at all. The bread maker’s automatic fruit dispenser can’t be removed from the machine, so you have to measure your ingredients into another container and decant them into the hopper on the top of the Custom Loaf. My dried fruit was eventy distributed throughout the loaf, but it ended up a little dry for my taste – I preferred the fruit loaf produced by the Panasonic SD-ZB2512.

If you want to get seriously into your baking, the Custom Loaf is the bread maker for you; it offers a host of advanced settings for only a fraction more cash than the Panasonic SD-ZB2512. However, if all you want is to produce consistently good loaves with the minimum of fuss, Panasonic’s model is a better bet. Buy the Sage by Heston Blumenthal: The Custom Loaf now from John Lewis

Timer type13-hour delay
Fruit and nut dispenserYes
Number of programs68
Time to make standard medium white loaf3h 5m
Time to make standard medium wholemeal loaf3h 32m
Custom bake memoryNine recipes
Accessories includedBread paddle, jam paddle
Dimensions (HxWxD)344x399x263mm
Power usage
Making white loaf peak729W
Energy used for white loaf0.43kWh
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Part CodeBMM800BSS

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