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Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC breadmaker review: The easiest way to bake crusty, artisan-style loaves

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
240
inc VAT

A brilliant breadmaker for those keen to experiment, but other models in the range are a better bet for novices

Pros 
Bakes artisan-style bread
Ceramic-coated pan and blade
Makes pizza dough, jam and cake
Cons 
No dispenser
Expensive
Large worktop footprint
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Breadmakers are great for throwing all the ingredients in and walking away, but the downside can be feeling like you haven’t had much input in the final loaf. Up until now, the only alternative was baking by hand. Panasonic’s Croustina is a breadmaker that seeks to bridge the gap, allowing you as much or as little control as you like. It features the latest technology for creating ultra-crusty loaves that look and feel more like authentic home-baked treats, as well as making cake, gluten-free bread and jam.

From crusty breads flecked with cheese or bacon, to those made with quinoa, polenta, turmeric, rye, nuts and more, the Croustina is the automatic maker that loves to be given a helping hand.

Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC: What you need to know

How the Croustina bakes differs from most breadmakers, in at its design is geared towards making a loaf with a thick, hard crust. While it’ll still produce soft loaves, it takes its lead from artisan bakeries, including a kneading process that’s more like doing it by hand, and heat reflection from the lid that’s closer to the convection of an oven. This may be the reason why there’s no viewing window or dispensers in the lid like other machines.

A final point of difference is its ceramic-coated blade and oval-shaped pan, moving away from typically boxy breadmaker loaves towards one more reminiscent of what you’d get from a good bakery. In addition to this, some programmes feature the option to take out the blade before baking, so all you’re left with is a less obvious round hole.

Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC: Price and competition

While it’s priced similarly to Panasonic’s top-of-the-range SD-ZX2522, it’s worth noting that it’s not a comparable machine in terms of the amount of programmes (just 18 instead of 37) or extras (there’s no yeast or fruit and nut dispensers or additional rye paddle). The higher price tag instead comes from the technology and pan design used to create a crustier loaf. As it offers something different, competition is scarce, with Sage’s The Custom Loaf being the only vaguely similar product on the market.

Buy the Panasonic SD-ZP2000ZXC from AO.com


Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC: Features and design

You’ll need to clear some worktop space for the Croustina. Compared to the SD-ZX2522, for example, it’s not quite as tall and is slightly lighter but it is wider and deeper. This means that it has a better chance of fitting below wall units but would need a decent amount of room in a cupboard. This additional size doesn’t translate to extra large loaves, though – most of its crusty recipes are portioned for one size, with an average 400g of flour, and two sizes available for soft bread programmes. Similarly, the option of crust colour only applies to five programmes.

Its controls are similar to sister machines, with one button each for the menu, loaf size, crust colour, start and end, and up and down buttons for setting the delay start, which can postpone baking for up to 13 hours. However, its programmes work a little differently, with many featuring a pause for additional ingredients to be added or for the loaf to be removed and replaced.

These pauses are indicated on the LCD display by a pair of hands as well as an alert. Helpfully, when the programme is initially set, the display will show the whole time it’ll take, followed by a countdown until the manual part is required, meaning you can leave it kneading until it’s ready for the interval. And, should you forget to return, the programmes will carry on by themselves.

I started by baking brioche using the recipe supplied, with programme 12 and a medium crust darkness. This programme featured two intervals, one after 55 minutes, when additional butter needed to be added, and another after a further 45 minutes, with a total baking time of 3hrs 40. This second interval required the loaf and hook to be removed but I found the dough was too loose to be taken out of the pan easily. Instead, I let the programme continue until it was finished.

The final loaf was disappointing, in that it had sunk in the middle and had a slightly greasy exterior – it may be that less butter would have prevented these issues. However, the bread was otherwise moist and airy with a soft browned crust and was easily removed from the pan.

Next, I made wholewheat bread using programme 4. There was only one size option and crust colour and the programme took five hours. I used seeded wholemeal flour, and this programme had no pauses for manual additions, although once kneaded, it would be simple to add ingredients by lifting the lid. The kneading with this heavier, bulkier flour was much quieter than with other breadmakers I’ve used, so it could feasibly be used as an overnight programme.

After it had finished baking, the loaf turned out easily, and had a noticeably harder, crustier exterior than usual. While still a relatively dense loaf, the rise was good and the seeds distributed evenly.  

Finally, I made a basic white loaf on programme 1, which ran for 3hrs 15 without any additions, although there was also the option of programme 3, which was similar but with a built-in interval. After baking, the resulting bread was impressive – not only did it emerge beautifully risen but as it cooled, it made a crackling sound as the crust hardened. Its thick, golden brown exterior made it easy to slice and was delicious. While the first recipe didn’t turn out especially well, this satisfying white loaf more than made up for it.

Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC: Cleaning and maintenance

While neither the blade or bread pan can go in the dishwasher, the ceramic coating makes sure they’re simple to clean. Any baked-on residue can be wiped away after a quick soak, which I only had to do once.

Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC review: Verdict

While it’s great to see Panasonic advancing breadmaker technology, it’s hard to escape the feeling that the Croustina isn’t quite there yet. The recipes and instruction guidance need a tweak to come up to the excellent standard of its other machines, while the handy yeast dispenser is sadly missing. Novices will want to give this one a miss.

For those keen to experiment, however, the Croustina has far more flexibility than your average breadmaker. Not only will it provide a level of freedom that most machines can’t stretch to, it’ll bake the sort of loaves you’d never imagine could be made by a breadmaker – beautifully oval, audibly crusty, and irresistibly moreish.

Panasonic Croustina SD-ZP2000KXC specifications
Timer type13-hour delay
Fruit and nut dispenserNo
Number of programs18
Time to bake - white loaf3hr 15min
Time to bake - wholemeal loaf5hr
Custom bake memoryNo
Accessories includedBread paddle, measuring spoon, measuring cup
Dimensions (HxWxD)340x273x404mm
Weight7kg

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